Primitive Painted Gingerbread Men

Add a little whimsy to your holiday decor with these coffee and cinnamon scented primitive gingerbread men Christmas decorations made from fabric scraps.  
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I hope you're enjoying this season and all it brings! Today I'm excited to share a drop cloth Christmas craft with you. These charming gingerbread men can be crafted with supplies you likely already have in your home, and they're so cute to tuck into stockings, tiered trays, dough bowls or to give as gifts. 

Welcome to the Homespun Holiday Hop, hosted by Laura of Decor to Adore. If you hopped over here from Yvonne at StoneGable, didn't you love the way she transformed old Christmas ornaments into works of art? Several of us are sharing our handmade Christmas ideas and decor today, and you'll find all the links below my project!

How to make Primitive Painted Gingerbread Men from Drop Cloth

Please note that I used a sewing machine to stitch my DIY gingerbread men. You could probably use fabric glue or Surebonder hot glue sticks made for fabric if you don't sew, but I can't guarantee the results.

Is there anything cuter at Christmas than gingerbread men? Gingerbread houses, ornaments, cookies and decor are classic, and I'm smitten! I recently turned a dollar store embossed tile into oversized gingerbread men ornaments, and now I'm happy to show you how to make these stuffed homemade gingerbread men that you can enjoy for years to come! 

Supplies Needed:

Step 1 - trace and sew

Start by tracing the gingerbread man cookie cutter or wood shape onto a double piece of drop cloth (you can use a pencil, just go over it a couple times so it's visible).

Don't cut it out yet! If you're using a sewing machine, sew along the marked lines, backstitching at the beginning and end. Sewing around the curves of the gingerbread man is much easier when the fabric is larger!

Step 2 - cut out

Now cut out the shapes, leaving about 1/4" allowance. You'll want to use nice and sharp fabric scissors. The ones I linked in the supplies list work well and they're less than $10! We are not turning these gingerbread men inside out, you'll be happy to hear! The frayed edges will add a distressed, primitive look to these cute fabric gingerbread men! And don't worry about those pencil marks, they will be completely covered with paint!

Step 3 - snip the back

We need to be able to stuff the gingerbread man, so we're going to make a little snip at the back. It sounds harder than it is, but it's really easy! Look at the pictures below, and then read my descriptions to help you understand how to do this.

Here's how to do it:

  1. pinch the center of the fabric at the back, making sure you haven't caught the other side
  2. use scissors to make a tiny snip
  3. with scissors, open up the snip about 1-1/4" long
  4. use small pieces of polyester stuffing and firmly stuff gingerbread man
At this point, your ginger dude should look something like this.

Step 4 - stitch

Using a needle and thread, hand stitch the hole closed. Be sure to knot the ends.

You can expect some fraying of the drop cloth. Gently remove what you can, and/or snip with scissors. You want to be careful not to get too close to your stitches!

Step 5 - mix paint and stain

It's time to make this little body look like a gingerbread man! We need to thin down the acrylic paint to avoid just making a blotchy mess, and my coffee stain recipe is perfect for this.

Coffee Stain Recipe

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup instant coffee granules
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (and other warming spices if you want!)
Mix all together in a glass jar with lid. Stir to combine. Store in fridge and when needed, heat 30 seconds in microwave (with lid off).

Make a batch of the coffee stain, and mix a little bit with a couple large squirts of the chestnut acrylic paint. Sorry I don't have a more precise measurement! My tip is to start with two healthy squirts of paint (maybe 3-4 tablespoons), then add a tablespoon of the coffee stain at a time until it's the consistency of chocolate milk. You will need to really stir this mixture well with a craft brush to combine and break down the acrylic paint blobs.

Step 6 - paint

Set the drop cloth gingerbread men on parchment or cardboard and generously paint with the coffee stain/acrylic paint mixture. Paint both sides and be sure to paint the edges and stitches. The foam brush makes it easy to pounce over any areas that need more paint.

Step 7 - cinnamon

At this point, I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper and moved the wet    gingerbread men to that. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon (don't use your good stuff! Just cheap dollar store cinnamon is perfect) and rub it into the wet fabric a little bit.

Don't forget to do both sides. Because the gingerbread men are wet, much of the cinnamon will stick.

Step 8 - bake

Place the cookie sheet in a 170° oven (or as low as your oven will go). Flip the men every few minutes until they are dry. OR you can set them outside in the sun to finish drying, which is what I did.

Funny story - I had one of the gingerbread men in the oven when Mr DIY came into the kitchen, asked me "what's for dinner?" and opened the oven to peek inside (the gingerbread man was looking a little creepy at this stage lol). Mr DIY's face was priceless, wish I had a picture of the confusion haha 😄

Once the fabric gingerbread men are dry, brush off any excess cinnamon.

Step 9 - decorate

You can add a sweet face to your gingerbread men using acrylic paint. I dipped the end of a slender paintbrush into acrylic paint and dabbed it on to make eyes and cheeks. While the paint was wet, I sprinkled a little bit of fine glitter onto the faces.

Rip some fabric for a scarf (or used ticking striped ribbon). I also cut out a few fabric buttons and hot glued them on.

Really, you can do what you like at this point to give your DIY gingerbread men some personality! I love cheesecloth, homespun and rusty jingle bells for that primitive touch.

The tall gingerbread man was traced with the same dollar store cutout I used for my tile embossed gingerbread men. The shape looks a little funny when cut out of fabric. If I made another like this, I would make him a little chunkier in the belly and legs.

The fabric gingerbread men pair beautifully with the primitive ticking candy canes (tap to watch video) I made, as well as the vintage inspired trees made from dollar store embossed tiles.

Have fun making your own drop cloth gingerbread men! I'm thinking of making a few more to look like cookies with white accents. They would be so cute tucked into stockings or tied on packages as gifts!

Coco of The Crowned Goat is next on this hop, and I'm sure you're going to be inspired by her champagne wishes tour! Please visit all the crafts, projects and decorating ideas below by clicking on the links below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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  1. Your gingerbread men are so adorable and I imagine they smell fabulous!! Love the step by step diy. Kids would love this too!! Happy Christmas, Cindy!

  2. These are adorable, Cindy. I know they must smell amazing too. My nephew loves "stuffies" and he would be tickled pink to get one of these. I can't wait to make him one now. Thanks so much for all the easy to follow step by step directions. They're fabulous! Big hugs and happy holidays, CoCo

    1. So happy to inspire your holiday gifting CoCo! Merry Christmas my friend! xx

  3. I'm smiling as I'm reading your post and looking at these cute gingerbread men! Love their simple details and can imagine the wonderful aroma of cinnamon in your kitchen!

  4. Cindy these are the cutest gingerbread that I have ever seen. I can't wait to try making some! Thank you so much for adding such a fun craft to the hop. Have a wonderful holiday season!

    1. Thank you Laura, it was a fun and inspiring hop! Merry Christmas xx

  5. These drop cloth gingerbread men are just the sweetest Cindy! And the fact that they smell good too, icing on the cake. What a great idea my friend.

  6. Your little men are so adorable! I would love a bowl full of them! They would smell good enough to eat! Thanks for the simple and easy to understand directions! Merry Christmas, Cindy.

  7. These guys are too cute! I'm so amazed at all these cinnamon projects; who knew it was a craft project staple?

  8. Oh goodnesssss.... these gingerbread men are SO adorable! That texture though is everything!


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