Fireplace mantle with Handmade DIY Christmas stockings made from old recycled sweaters

Christmas Stocking Ideas and Tutorial

Homemade goods seem to touch a place in our hearts, and I think you’ll agree these Christmas stocking ideas (and tutorial) are no exception. They combine cozy sweaters and the holidays; a perfect recipe for the season. I hope you are inspired to make one yourself or to give one as a gift.

This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I cannot take any credit for the design. These are completely inspired and knocked off by products, I’ve seen in stores for years. You’ve probably seen many variations too. Christmas stocking ideas are abundant; knit, pieced, or patched, made with beautiful fabrics, yarn, or fur. For some reason, they are very personal to us and often become treasured keepsakes.

This tutorial is not difficult. If you know your way around a sewing machine, you’ll have no problem. The hardest part is finding sweaters! My girlfriend, Ruth and I had a major advantage because Ruth’s Mom, Gerry (of Mittens by Mom & Me) has been buying and upcycling wool sweaters for her beautiful handmade mittens for years. She has a large (with a capital L!) inventory of old sweaters and was generous enough to let Ruth and I have our pick to try this out.

If you are interested in making your own stocking(s), let’s get started. First of all, you will be deciding on the shape and size of your design.

Making A Paper Pattern

It’s best to have a pattern, especially if you are making more than one. Any kind of paper or cardboard will work. I love the Medical Pattern Paper on Amazon (affiliate link). The paper is relatively inexpensive and it’s nice and thin, like commercial sewing patterns. We used the thinner paper to determine the overall shape of the stocking, then used rigid cardboard for the individual piecework. The thickness and durability of cardstock made it easier to trace and cut around.

How many Pattern Pieces

You’ll need 3 pattern pieces. One for the front, one for the back and one for the cuff. If you choose to piece the front in sections, make a pattern for each of those pieces also.

Remember to add a seam allowance on the edges that will be connected with another piece. You can draw this into the pattern or add as you cut out the sweater fabric.

You won’t need to add a seam allowance around the perimeter of the stocking if you are finishing with a blanket stitch like we did.

What is a Seam Allowance?

A seam allowance is an area between the raw fabric edge and the stitching line on the pieces of material being sewn together. They can range from 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) wide to as much as several inches. It’s up to you how wide you’d like to make yours. I typically use a 5/8 inch (1.5cm) seam allowance.

Shopping for Old Sweaters to Upcycle

As you source your sweaters, (obviously…) keep in mind the decor of where it will be hanging. You can find sweaters in all kinds of colors and patterns. There is something for everyone, from woodsy/cabin, or playful/juvenile, to traditional Christmas colors or simple creams and neutrals. And everywhere in between.

Also, consider combining colors, prints, and trims. Have fun and use your imagination to make each Christmas Stocking your very own or personalized for its recipient.

Another important thing to keep in mind when you are looking for the perfect specimen is the weight and strength of the sweater. It needs to be structurally sound, not too flimsy and strong enough to hold the contents of your stocking. Fragile sweaters and loose weaves do not work well.

You can use a sturdy sweater for the back piece, but we have found a heavier weight fabric or an old coat fabric is easier to find and it also will give the stocking a lot more strength and stability. No one really sees the back anyway, so go ahead and cheat here if you must!

Ruth in her element

When designing the cuff of your stocking, a great place to look is the waistline edge of sweaters that have nice details or ribbing. Fur trims from old coats can work well also.

If you are lucky, you have a bunch of wool sweaters laying around your house that you don’t want, but chances are you don’t. Enter thrift stores! I hadn’t really been a fan since my college days but Ruth reintroduced me. She has been shopping to help support her Mom’s business for years. If you are not a thrift shopper, it does take a new level of intention and open-mindedness. It’s a great way to recycle and be a steward of the environment. And it’s actually a lot of fun too. Thrift stores are great places to find wool sweaters. If they have a half-price day, even better! You’ll want to look for 100% wool fibers, interesting trims or fur, and long coats (which are perfect for the stocking backs.)

If you don’t have these kinds of stores around you, ask family and friends, near and far if they are planning to clean out their closets anytime soon. You never know what you may find!

Shopping for the Trims, Tassels or Buttons

Trims are icing on the cake. You may find what you need just looking around your house. There are also wonderful selections at fabric and craft stores. Decorative trims, buttons, bells or pom-pons can be the perfect accents. Enjoy creating your stocking just the way you want it.

Preparing your Recycled Sweaters

Whether you have bought or begged for your sweaters, now it’s time to wash them. I’ve consulted Ruth’s Mom, Gerry, the expert who has been making pieced wool mittens for approximately 10 years. She has always washed her sweaters in a regular washing machine but suggests putting them in a zippered bag or pillowcase to protect them. Next, finish in the dryer. I would recommend checking on them from time to time. I did have one shrink, but Gerry says she has had great luck with the majority of her sweaters using this method.

Materials Needed

Pattern Paper or Cardboard
Sweaters
Fabric or Coat Fabric for the back piece
Cuff Material
Trims, Tassels, Buttons, Bells and/or Pom Pons, optional
Sewing Scissors
Paper Scissors
Pins
Thimble or Finger Protector
Washing Bag or Pillowcase
Yarn or Embroidery Thread
Upholstery Needle
Sewing Machine

Step by step Instructions

Instructions to make Handmade DIY Christmas stockings made from old recycled sweaters

Designing your Christmas Stocking

1 Design and draw your stocking on paper or cardboard. Decide on which sweaters or fabrics coordinate best. Choose a fabric for the back. The stiffer fabric seems to work best here. Try a sturdy fabric, recycled coats or felt. Choose your cuff material. Consider old fur collars or the ribbed waistline of a sweater, or piece together sleeve ends.

Cutting fabric and Beginning to sew

2 Cut out all the sweater pieces; the front sections, the back of the stocking and the cuff pieces. If your fabric has a pattern design, don’t place any markings that you want visible near the very edge of the stocking, because it will be slightly covered up with blanket stitches.

3 With the right sides of the fabric together, sew the front pieces together.

4 Attach the cuff to the body of the stocking. Important: Pin pieces together first to be sure you have it positioned correctly before you stitch. It’s easy to mess this part up. (I’ve done it!)🤦‍♀️ It is confusing and easy to sew the fabric wrong side up because the cuff folds over.

If you are combining more than one piece of sweater fabric to create the cuff, first, sew the whole cuff strip together into one long band. Next, with right sides together fold the cuff in half lengthwise and stitch the end of the band closed with a straight stitch. Now you should have a complete circle.

Sew the top of the back of stocking to the cuff. Then sew the top of the front of the stocking to the cuff. Flatten and sew the bottom edges of both extended ends horizontally so they are closed on each side. Turn cuff to the outside. Good job! If you got that right…that was the hardest part. It’s downhill from here!😁

Embellishing your Stocking

5 Sew on any embellishments, pompons, trims, tassels, or hanging loops now.

To attach a ribbon loop for hanging the stocking, first stitch one end of your ribbon or leather cord along the back edge, where the stocking meets the cuff. Place it in the seam allowance and on the wrong side of the fabric. Stitch, then reinforce by backstitching a few times. Thread the bell on your ribbon and then stitch the other end the same way.

Finishing

6 Blanket stitch sides together with yarn or embroidery floss. Here’s a great tutorial for how to blanket stitch.

YAY! You are done and ready to hang your stocking.

For your more inspiration, check out Ruth’s latest creations below. Aren’t they beautiful?

Please let me know if you make a Christmas stocking in the comment box below. I would love to see your holiday projects! Are you inspired to BLOOM & SEW? Tag me @bebraveandbloom or use #bebraveandbloominspiration

Happy sewing!
xo,
Cindy

For More Information

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2 Comments
  • Kim
    Posted at 17:57h, 22 November Reply

    These are adorable! We need to Black Friday shop at the thrift store!😁

    • cindy munson
      Posted at 17:54h, 24 November Reply

      Thanks Kim!😁 That’s a fantastic idea!

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