I’m pretty crafty, but there’s one thing that I have yet to tackle and conquer: sewing. Even just stitching up a hole is a major undertaking for me. My sister, on the other hand, is really good at it—and with a degree in fashion design, the girl better be!
Since I really want to learn my way around my sewing machine, I’ve roped my sister into giving me some lessons. I thought it would be cool to share her tutorials with you guys too. Whether you’re a clueless beginner like me or someone who knows her way around a machine, our goal is to encourage ladies to make more things with their own two hands.
Without further ado, here’s her first tutorial: a DIY Christmas stocking that any of us should be able to tackle.
Step 1: Buy your fabric
When choosing fabric for a stocking you should stay away from anything that stretches too much. These types of fabrics will be a little difficult for new sewers to manage and you want a sturdy stocking rather than stretchy one. Some good choices are a heavyweight 100% cotton, corduroy, non-stretch velvet or suede. If you feel confident enough, you can even go for a fur. If you’re only making one stocking you can get away with buying half of a yard.
Next, pick your lining. This shouldn’t be stretchy either. This lining will be seen on the outside of the stocking (the top will be folded over, exposing it) so pick something that is nice and either matches or contrasts with your stocking fabric. Don’t forget to pick up some interesting trim and thread too. You can decorate your stocking with lace, buttons, fur, embroidery, even zippers if you’re a little daring. Your thread should either match your fabric exactly or directly contrast it for an interesting look.
Step 2: Prepare your fabric
It’s important to cut your stocking out along the grain of the fabric. This prevents stretching. In order to find the grain of the fabric you need to find the selvage (see photo above). In this picture the frayed edge of the fabric is the selvage. The selvage is the end of the fabric that is not cut in the store. Once you have found the selvage, fold the right sides of the fabric (meaning the side you want to see on the front of the stocking) over each other, selvage to selvage and pin them together as shown in the picture above. Repeat this step on your lining fabric as well.
Step 3: Create your pattern
For this step you will need an old stocking that’s similar in size and shape to what you want to make (it doesn’t need to be exact, but the closer it is to what you want, the easier it will be for you to make the pattern), a ruler and a piece of chalk. If you have pattern paper, you can do this step on that.
Line up your stocking straight along the selvage, this is where the grain of the fabric is. Once you’ve lined it up, trace the shape of the stocking with chalk. You should use a dotted line to trace it so that you can tell the difference between your new and old lines later. You don’t need to worry about drawing on the fabric because you folded the side you’ll see into itself. You should be drawing on the back of the fabric.
Once you’re done tracing the stocking remove it from the fabric and get out your ruler. Use your ruler to change the shape however you’d like. You can make it bigger, smaller or rounder. Just move your ruler around your traced edge marking off a new shape and measuring evenly all the way around. You will probably also have to straighten your traced lines along the sides and the top.
After you’ve gotten a good shape, use the ruler to add a half of an inch seam allowance around the entire stocking. This is where your seams will go.
Cut the entire pattern out, straight through both layers of fabric. You can now use one of your stocking pieces to trace the exact pattern on your lining and cut those out as well.
Step 4: Time to sew
Get out your sewing machine and thread it. To prepare your fabric, take the stocking pieces you cut out and put them together with the right sides together again like you did when you cut the fabric. Line them up well and pin them together as shown with the middle of the pin running along the half inch mark on your seam allowance (see photo above).
It’s important to pin them the way it’s shown in the picture because you will be sewing straight over the pins, you do not want the needle of the machine to nick the head or the tip of the pin because they will break and fly off in your face. Let this be a warning. Pin all the way around the stocking to ensure none of the fabric slips (if you’re using a shiny fabric it will be extra slippery and you’ll need to do more pinning).
Once you’re ready, put the fabric under the needle of your machine, lining it up so that the end of your fabric is at your machine’s half inch mark (use this opportunity to check that you pinned correctly!).
Take a couple of deep breaths and sew! Don’t forget to leave the top of the stocking open. Repeat this step on your lining.
Step 5: Put your stocking together!
When you have finished sewing, clip the rounded edges of your stocking as shown above. This will give the rounded sides a smoother edge when you turn your stocking inside out. Next, trim your seam allowance down to a quarter of an inch (see photo below). By doing this, you will have less bulk inside. On the lining you only need to trim the seam allowance. Turn only your stocking inside out, revealing the right side of the fabric. Leave your lining the way it is. Look over your stocking and pull out any corners with a pin.
If you would like, you can use this opportunity to give your stocking a top stitch, or stitch in the ditch. This is entirely based on the aesthetic you’re going for, it’s not necessary, you can also iron your seams open.
Once you’re done checking over your stocking and giving it any finishing touches, put the lining inside of it. Now you want to connect the stocking and the lining to each other at the top (see photo above). Fold the two open tops of both the stocking and the lining down one half inch, towards each other. After this put them together and pin them, as shown in the photo. You should first pin the seams, if you do this and then pull the seams it will make the fabric naturally fold over a half inch on the sides.
Hand sew the two pieces together at the top. Close the stocking up all the way around and then fold the inside over to the outside, exposing your lining. If you want to hang your stocking, this is the time to put in a loop you either make from the fabric your have or buy already made. Just simply open the seam where you want the loop to be with a seam ripper (don’t open it too much! Just enough to get the ends of your loop in). Put the ends of the loop in the hole and sew it back up by hand.
Congratulations! You did it! All you have to do now is make it fancy with your trim!
That was a lot of information, huh? If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or email me. I’ll make sure to pass them along to my sister and get you an answer that is more helpful than a clueless shrug and a giggle.
Also, if there’s anything you’ve always wanted to learn how to sew (pillow covers and curtains are on my list!), let us know that too and we’ll consider it for future installments!