Cardboard Tube NFL Referee (Standard and Pandemic Versions)

It's that time of year when searches for football crafts explode. Most of the crafts out there are based on the field, goal posts, stadium, and the ball itself. I went a different direction and made a referee out of a cardboard tube. 

This is the pandemic version:

His mask is removable, if you prefer the pre-COVID version. Affiliate links below. 

Cardboard Tube NFL Referee



Paint the cardboard tube. The top 1/3 should be your skin tone of choice (I used Camel) and the bottom 2/3 should be white. Paint a tiny scrap of cardstock with your skin tone color. You'll be cutting it out to make ears. 

While the paint dries, cut a circle of black cardstock with a diameter about 1" larger than that of the cardboard tube. Make cuts in the circle from the outside toward the center (like you're cutting pizza slices), stopping 1/2" from the center. This will be the top of the hat. Set it aside for now. 

Use a black Sharpie to draw a collar and stripes on the referee's shirt. Draw a rectangle where his pocket goes, then color the red and blue of the NFL logo with the ultra-thin Sharpies. It's really tiny, so don't expect perfection. Color around the logo with the black Sharpie.

Cut a tiny shield from white cardstock and use the red and blue Sharpies to make a second NFL logo. This will go on the hat (but not yet). 

Return to the hat circle. Cupping the circle in one hand, overlap the flaps you've cut so that each piece sits onto the one next to it. This will form the crown. Add craft glue all the way around the circumference of the crown and glue it to the top of the referee's head. You may have to hold it in place for a few minutes while the glue sets. Then cut a black visor. 

You should be here:

Glue the googly eyes in place and add a nose and a smile. Glue the logo to the crown of the hat and add the visor. You should be here:

Cut a short length of embroidery floss, then remove 4 strands (leaving 2). Put a dot of glue on his chest where the whistle will sit, then additional glue on each of his (non-existent) 'shoulders' and another dot of glue on the back of his neck. Place the center of the floss on his chest, then wrap the ends around to meet behind his neck, making sure the floss rests on his shoulders. 

Cut a silver whistle (basically the shape of a comma) and glue it on his chest. 

Cut two ears from the painted cardstock. Glue them in place. Now you're here. 

To make the mask, cut a small piece of seam binding and two short lengths of embroidery floss (use all six strands this time). Glue the ends of each piece of floss to the corners of the mask, leaving just enough slack so you can get the mask in place after it dries. If you don't care about being able to remove the mask, just glue it in place. That's easier. 

I had a lot of fun making my referee. Enjoy!


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