This year we found the cutest stockings at the store, but I wasn’t willing to p art with the money for them. They were knit stockings with beautiful designs on them, so soft and warm. But when we started putting up our Christmas decorations and I took out our old boring stockings (you know, the kind with the iron-on transfer names), they just didn’t have quite the same feel. Plus, I’ve still not gotten around to doing the iron-on transfer name for our youngest, who is now 3. It might have something to do with me not knowing the location of my iron, but that’s a story for another day.
At any rate, I kept thinking about the gorgeous stockings and how much cooler they would be in our living room. At first, I thought maybe we weren’t going to DO stockings this year. We’re still working on establishing our Christmas traditions to some extent – our oldest son is 6 now, but for the first few years we could just wing it and he wouldn’t notice. But the kids were very excited about stockings and kept asking me when I was going to put ours up, so it occurred to me that I do have another option – my oft-neglected sewing machine!
After scoping out Pinterest for a while (solely for research, not because I was sucked in after trying to search for extra cool gag gifts that would top the tin foil hat, box of tinsel, and hand drawn flip book cartoon (I can’t draw to save my life) that I gave my sister last year…
Actually, you can read more of my craziness with gag gifts and wrapping over here on last year’s wrap wars post. Since it’s not yet Christmas and I haven’t quite finished all my devious wrapping, I don’t have one for this year yet…
But the point is – while I was on Pinterest, I happened to see some super adorable sweater stockings. Easy DIY stockings that are made of recycled sweaters (upcycled?) that you either don’t want anymore or purchased at a thrift store. I thought it was a win win win winwinwinwinwin!
So the boys and I headed out on an errand day and stopped at the Goodwill in our town to shop for sweaters. My kids had a blast trying to find the just right sweater for their stocking. I was looking for sweaters that had some visually interesting knitting, but my kids were looking for cool colors. My youngest (he’s 3), fond a blue sweater with metallic thread in it that is very shiny. My oldest first picked up a sweater that he thought would be perfect for my husband, only to change his mind and say that he wanted it to be his. I found a very pretty sweater with pink and silver stripes in it, and we can always use more pink in our house. For my husband, we found a red sweater that had very nice knit stitches on it. We tried to stay away from sweaters that were too bulky, had too loose of stitches, or were too plain. I also picked up a white sweater – just a plain white ribbed turtleneck sweater – to use as a cuff for all four stockings, partly so that they would match, and partly because my other idea for the top was cotton balls and I didn’t think that would really jive with the beautiful sweaters.
So we took our sweaters home, I cut them up and sewed them together (it took me a little over 2 hours for the sewing of all 4, and I’m not the best seamstress, so I’m sure it doesn’t take too long. I broke two needles and ran myself out of bobbin thread without realizing it in the process – I’m quite accomplished). But, at the end, we had four beautiful stockings and my children could not be happier. Here’s the results:
We have mine with pink and silver stripes, my husband’s which is a solid red that has very pretty knitting, a very patriotic stocking for my oldest son (we love this theme, especially with the last name Liberty!), and the shiny solid blue stocking with interesting knitting that is my youngest son’s. I posted this quick sneak peek of the stockings last night after I had finished them on Instagram and shared it on Facebook as well.
I don’t have a mantle, so today we rounded up some Command hooks (that hold 5lbs, these are pretty hefty stockings with the sweater bulk), and shared a quick picture of the finished, hanging stockings:
My friends and family love them! That’s an added bonus to the kids loving them, because let’s be honest, they’re the real judge of Christmas worthiness for stockings. My husband thinks that they look very much like socks and would have preferred for the body of the stocking to be larger, especially in the foot area. That’s definitely doable, but it all depends on the pattern you start with. Which reminds me of the purpose for writing this post – a few of my friends asked for a tutorial for it. I love to share links to patterns and tutorials I find online, but the problem today is that I sort of mashed a few different ones together. See, I don’t have buckets of ribbon to pick a coordinating one for each stocking, but I wanted to use more of the sweater, so I made the loops out of the sweaters so they would match. And the cuff is not something that you see on most of the sweater stockings I found. I didn’t line it, but it’s definitely possible for you to line them, and easy as well. So let’s get to it, time for the…
DIY Sweater Stocking Tutorial with Cuff and Coordinating Loop
What you need:
- Sweater (find at thrift store, or in your own closet)
- White sweater for cuff
- Sewing machine
- Pattern (more about this next)
- Lining fabric (totally optional, but you could do just a cotton, and scrap fabrics work fine)
About the Pattern:
Most of the sweater stocking tutorials or posts that I’ve seen suggest that you start with a pattern of a stocking that you already love. I wasn’t able to find my old ones at the time, so I scoured the Interwebs to find one that I liked. I didn’t want to have to take the pattern to a copy shop to make it bigger, so I was abundantly happy when I found a tutorial online from FabricWorm that includes a pattern you print out on 3 pages and tape together. If you do have a stocking that you already like the shape of, trace it on to some paper (like a brown paper bag or newspaper), and then make sure you add an additional inch or so and cut around that extra line for seam allowance. Otherwise you’ll wind up with a skinny sock and not the beautiful one you’d imagined.
Preparing the pieces:
You need to have 4 pieces cut before you start sewing – 2 sides of your stocking, 1 cuff, and 1 loop.
To cut your stocking sides, I laid my pattern out on top of my sweaters to find a pretty spot to put it. For example, on my youngest son’s blue stocking, that interesting knit pattern only ran down the middle of the sweater, so I centered the stocking body (not foot) there. On my husband’s, it was the opposite with the middle being plain and the interesting knit pattern on the two sides of the front panel, so I centered the stocking body on one of the most interesting parts. I traced my pattern with a Sharpie, although normal people would probably use a fabric pen.
Next you’ll need to cut out two layers of the stocking. I cut through two layers at one time. Again, normal people may do this differently – for example, they may trace the stocking pattern, cut one, trace and cut the other one. I just make shortcuts. As you can see, I’m using a different sweater here because when I made the original four, I didn’t take any pictures, so I had to make an extra stocking for my dog today.
Once you have your stocking cut, you’ll need to cut a small piece (about 3″x8″ or so) from your sweater. For two of our sweaters I used sleeve cuffs, I think I used at least one hem, and maybe even a neckline on one. It doesn’t matter where you pick it from, but the sleeves and hem generally have more ribbed areas rather than fancy stitches that could be hard to work with on a small piece.
The final piece you’ll need to cut out is the cuff. For our stockings, I cut up the sides of the white sweater, to about the armpit area and then cut each piece in half where the breastbone would be if you were wearing the sweater, right down the middle. I did this for the front and the back, so I ended up with 4 pieces that were the same size rectangle – about 6″x16″. You can also open a sleeve and cut a similar sized rectangle, which is what I did for this fifth stocking:
And now that our pieces are cut, we are ready for assembly! This part will go fast, I promise.
Assembling the Sweater Stocking:
I started with the loop first when I did my stockings, something about it being the smallest piece. I also have a hard time turning them inside out (yes, even with tricks to do it), so it actually took me the longest of the entire process. If it’s taking too long, you can always cut a wider piece and start over. So basically, for the loop, all you do is take your fabric piece – it’s about 3″x8″ – and fold it in half lengthwise so that it’s now about 1.5″x8″, right sides together. You might want to pin, or you can live radically and just use your hands to keep it together. I’ll be honest – I only pin when I’m taking pictures. Seriously, I did one whole stocking without pinning anything when I did these, but I would totally not recommend that shortcut.
You’ll want to use at least 1/4 – 1/2″ seam allowance on the side, depending on how bulky your sweater is and how much it looks like it’s about to fray on you. For the big chunky blue one I made for my youngest son, I used the about 1/2″ and that was the biggest. Use a zigzag stitch for strength. So after you sew it, you’ll have a tube. Turn it inside out – I use a crochet hook to help flip it, but you can use whatever method you’ve got that works.
Yay, good job! Now the next part is to prepare the cuff. You don’t have to do them in this order, but I apparently went smallest to largest, so that’s what I’m telling you in this tutorial. So next is the cuff. You should have a piece of fabric (if you’re choosing to use a cuff) that is about 6″x16″. Place it in front of you so that the longest way is running from right to left. Fold in half, right sides together so you have a piece that is 6″x8″. Now you’ll want to sew this together with a zigzag stitch on the edge so that you have a tube. 1″ seam allowance will help with even the bulkiest of fabrics.
Next for the cuff, you’ll flip if halfway down so that right sides are now out and wrong sides are in. It’s important to note at this stage, that you can press the seams or since we’re using a sweater, open up the seams like you would if you had pressed them so that it’ll be easier to sew through later and lays nice and flat.
At this point, you’ll want to pin your loop into your cuff at the cuff seam. This will be going on the back of the body of your stocking. You want the loop part pointing down, so the raw edges of the loop and the cuff are aligned. Pin so that they stay together. You may want to leave your loop a little extra long so that it doesn’t get lost when you’re sewing up the cuff into the body of the stocking.
So now we have our cuff and loop assembled. Time to move on to the stocking!
First, make sure you have your two pieces of stocking with right sides together. Sew with a zigzag stitch around the outside of the stocking, leaving about 1″ seam allowance (you can trim later, but this allows for any sweater fabric, even bulky ones). Be careful if you have a sweater with a very loopy pattern, because your sewing machine foot could get stuck in the stitches. This happened with a couple of my stockings, and can be totally annoying.
After you have your stocking pieces sewn together, you can trim the seam allowance – make sure to pay special attention to curved areas so that when you flip it right side out they won’t look weird. If they look weird, flip it back wrong side out and cut a triangle out of the seam allowance where it looked weird, this will help it lay more smoothly. Once you have it trimmed, flip your stocking right side out.
If you wanted to use a lining for the stocking, this is the time to prepare that. Simply cut 2 copies of your stocking pattern out on your lining fabric and sew with right sides together. Here’s the important difference though – DO NOT FLIP LINING RIGHT SIDE OUT. If you’re using a lining, it stays wrong side out and goes into the stocking at this point, after the stocking is flipped right side out and before the cuff assembly has been added. So if you’re adding a lining, do it now. If not, continue on.
The cuff assembly is the tricky part to explain, it will make sense when you do it. Place the cuff and loop with the folded edge pointing down toward the heel of the stocking into the the open stocking, aligning the raw edges of the stocking, cuff, and loop. The loop and cuff seam should be on the back seam of the stocking, the seam that goes down to the heel not the toes. Pin the cuff assembly into the stocking opening, raw edges together.
In this picture, I am showing you if you align the loop raw edges on one side, and the other side I left the loop extra long so that it wouldn’t get lost when I was sewing up the cuff. It’s totally possible for layers to get lost in a big sweater sandwich.
Now that you have it pinned, you just sew up the side with a zigzag stitch so the cuff is sewing to the stocking. Use the 1″ seam allowance again. I went over the loop pieces with forward and back stitches a couple of times to make sure there was a tight hold.
All sewn up? Trim off loop/thread ends and flip cuff out – your loop will pop up with it!
And voila! You’ve made a stocking from a sweater!
I would love to see any sweater stockings that you create, even if they’re not following this tutorial – heck, I rarely follow tutorials completely. Feel free to tag me on Facebook (@JustJoannaBlog or @Joanna Liberty) or Instagram/Twitter (@way2gomom) so I can see! And finally, I hope you have a beautiful and GREEN Christmas! So many times people mention that green is either expensive or shabby, but here’s proof that it doesn’t have to be either!