In my family, we don't do the whole matching Christmas stocking thing. In fact, it's an unspoken rule that they all must be homemade by a member of the family, no matter how old or impractical they might be, or how they might clash with their fellow family stockings. My sister and I have quilted ones made by our grandmother, my dad has a beautiful needlepoint number done by my mum, and mum has an ancient flannel stocking which I'm pretty sure was sewn by her grandmother.
The only problem with my mum's stocking is that it's quite small, and we (excuse me– Santa) end up having to put most of her stocking stuffers beside it rather than in it, somewhat defeating the point. So this year, I decided to offer her an alternative, in the form of a brand new, but still handmade, stocking.
I've made a few of these in recent years, for new members of the family who were sadly stockingless (boyfriends and husbands, basically). Sometimes they're quite simple and sometimes I go all-out with the design — it all depends on how much time I have and what fabrics I have lying around. This time around, I decided on a rustic linen number with candy cane stripes and a fun contrast lining.
- Sewing machine, scissors, pins, thread, etc...
- Front/back fabric
- Lining fabric
- Red and white bias binding or ribbon for candy stripes and edging
1. First, find or make a paper pattern for your stocking. I used an old one I made years ago on spot-and-cross pattern-making paper, but you could even freehand a stocking shape on some newspaper. Note: for this pattern you don't need to add any seam allowance, as we're binding the edges together with tape.
2. Using your pattern, pins and a sharp pair of scissors, cut out one pair each of your main and lining fabrics.
3. Put the back stocking piece and lining pieces aside for a moment. Using a ruler, graph paper or simply by eye, pin strips of the red and white bias tape diagonally over the front of the stocking. Note: you could use ribbon for this step, but cotton bias is my favorite because it's slip-proof and easy to work with.
4. Using matching thread, machine-stitch these strips down, as close to the edges of the bias tape as possible.
5. Trim away all the excess bias from the edges of the fabric.
6. Carefully sandwich all four layers of the stocking in this order: front piece with bias stripes up, linings with right sides facing each other, and back piece with right side facing down) together and pin all around. Put a pin about one inch down from the top of the stocking on each side– this is where you will start and stop sewing.
7. Starting and stopping at your pin markers, carefully sew all the way around the stocking, going through all layers, about 0.25" in from the edges.
8. Using another piece of binding, sandwich together the front stocking and the front lining along the top edge of the stocking. Pin and then sew along the edge of the binding, and repeat with the back pieces.
9. Trim very neatly all the way around the stocking, quite close to the stitches you've already sewn. The bias tape will wrap around and hide the stitches. Note: the narrower your binding, the more important this step is. I used a very narrow one as it was all I had, but a wider one (like the red) would work better for most fabrics.
10. Starting on the top of the "toe" side of the stocking (as opposed to the "heel" side), pin the binding as tightly as you can manage around all the layers, which are now sandwiched and sewn as one. Leave about 1" extra binding at on top of the toe side, and about 4" extra on the top of the heel side.
11. Start sewing through the binding and all layers, beginning on the top of the toe side. To make everything look clean, tuck any extra bias tape around the top of the stocking edges and inside (as seen above). Some extra pins or even a few hand stitches can help with this. Go slowly around the curves so that the machine catches through the binding on the back.
12. When you get to the top edge again (of the "heel side"), keep sewing the extra four inches of binding that you left.
13. Tuck the end back into the top of the stocking to form a loop, and go over a couple times to secure.
(Image credits: Eleanor Busing)