How to Make Eco-Friendly, Upcycled Sweater Stockings (Tutorial)

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This year, for the first time ever, we have a fireplace and a mantel where we can hang our Christmas stockings. In years past, we’ve used ledges, wall hooks and even window sills since we never had a mantel. Last year, we bought two stockings from Amenity in their silver print for my husband and I. But the kids were still using cheap felt stockings we’d gotten from a dollar store years before. This year, I was determined to give them better stockings. I was also determined to get far, far away from the traditional red, white and green color scheme that I can’t seem to avoid, no matter what I do.

The color palette we chose for Christmas 2010? Silver, white and orange.

A few weeks ago, I saw some Christmas stockings at Target that were made of cable-knit sweater fabric, and I was inspired. I thought I had taken a picture with my phone, but I can’t seem to find it. In any case, I knew I could make similar ones myself. And if you’d like to do the same, here’s a step, by step tutorial for making a sweater stocking. Keep in mind that I am no seamstress, and all I can really do is sew a straight line, so these directions are in layman’s terms. I know very little about seam allowances, specific stitches, etc.

You’ll Need:

  • An old turtleneck sweater (I got mine from Goodwill for $2)
  • Coordinating scrap fabric for lining and hanging strap
  • Sewing machine OR a needle & thread (and tons of patience)
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Step 1.

Cut the turtleneck off your sweater as close to the seam as possible. Set it aside.

Step 2.

Lay another stocking (or this template) on top of the part of the sweater you’d like to use for the stocking and cut about an inch outside it for your stocking shape. You’ll need to cut through both front and back of the sweater. Note: I personally knew I wanted to make 2 stockings from of each sweater, so I folded the sweater in half. I aligned an old stocking with the edge of the sweater (side seam) and used it as a guide to cut the shape. This also meant that I could use the side seam as a seam in the finished stocking, giving me one less edge to sew. I also aligned the top of the stocking with the bottom edge of the sweater so I’d have a nice straight edge there.

Step 3.

Open up the stocking shape. Lay it, face up, on top of a piece of scrap fabric that you’d like to use to line the inside of your stocking. The scrap fabric should be face down. Cut out the same shape from the scrap fabric.

Step 4.

It’s time for that turtleneck you cut off earlier. Cut the turtleneck open at the seam in the back. If you’re making just one stocking, you’re ready for the next step. If you’re making 2 stockings from 1 sweater, fold the turtleneck in half horizontally and cut it in half.

Step 5.

Position your sweater fabric face down and your lining face up. Make sure that it is open, and not folded into the final stocking shape.. Lay the turtleneck at the top of your sweater fabric and your lining fabric. Slip 1/2 inch of the raw edge (the part that was attached to the neck of the sweater) between the sweater fabric and lining fabric at the top (the part of the stocking that will be open. Align it with the edge and pin it all the way across. Cut off any excess that you have beyond the width of the stocking.

Step 6.

Stitch the turtleneck between the two pieces of fabric all the way across.

Step 7.

Cut a piece of scrap fabric 6″ long and 2.5″ wide. Fold it in half, so you have a folded piece that is 6″ long and 1.25″ wide. Iron it down so your fold will hold. Sew along the open edge along the whole 6″. This will become your hanging strap. Turn the 6″ by 1.5″ tube of fabric inside out, and iron it flat again.

Step 8.

Fold the stocking shape. The sweater fabric should be on the inside, with the lining fabric on the outside. Find the center of the stocking. Pin one end of your strap to folded edge on one side of the stocking, with the seam of your strap facing up. Then fold the strap over the top of your stocking and pin it in the same place on the other side. In both cases, you want to go through only 2 layers of fabric — one layer of lining and one layer of sweater. Sew the strap to the stocking shape, right along the seam where you attached the turtleneck (NOT at the very top of the stocking).

I forgot to take a photo of this step on the orange stockings, but you can see what it looks like below with the strap sewn onto one the white stocking. I didn’t turn the strap inside out because I was lazy 🙂

Step 9.

Now that you have your turtleneck cuff and hanging strap attached, you can close up the stocking. Line up the edges of the folded stocking and pin around the bottom and one side. You can avoid pinning the folded edge (no need to stitch that…yay!) and the top, which will remain open. Sew around the edges that you pinned, being sure to sew through all layers of fabric.

NOTES: Thinner sweaters work better for machine sewing, which I learned the hard way. If you don’t’ mind sewing by hand, feel free to use a thick cable knit sweater. If you want this project to go quickly, a thinner, tighter cable knit will be a better fit for your sewing machine, since you’ll have to sew through 2 layers of fabric. I did the orange ones by hand (and not very well, as you can see in the photo below…lol)

Step 10.

Turn your stocking inside out. Fold down the cuff, and hang!

As you can see in the image at top and the one below, I made 3 of these. My sewing machine died on me when I was making the second white stocking.

Tips

Feel free to embellish these however you see fit. I made a rosette from rolled fabric and hot glued it to the top corner of the white stocking so it would better coordinate with the orange ones. You can make sweater balls that you can attach with needle and thread, cut shapes or letters from fabric, etc. Use your imagination to really make them yours!

If you make one of these, I’d love to see how yours turn out. I learned by trial and error, and I’m sure there are better ways to do this!

THE DECORATE GREEN SERIES

I have a confession to make: I generally do very little decorating for the holidays outside of our Christmas tree. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that having lived in a series of apartments and other people’s homes for most of my adult life has made me less than enthusiastic about spending a lot of time on my holiday decor.  This year though, I plan to do more holiday decorating, both inside and out. How much more, I don’t know, but I’ll share stylish, eco-friendly ideas with you as I refine my plan. Come back often to see what the Decorate Green series has in store for you!

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11 comments… add one
  • Avatar Nicole December 6, 2010, 5:33 pm

    Wonderful job! Now I’m thinking if I have any sweaters around the house. My hubby has some in the closet muhaha!

    • Avatar jennae December 7, 2010, 1:26 pm

      Nicole, I’d love to see how it turns out if you try it — and the look on your hubby’s face once he realized your new stocking is made from one of his sweaters 🙂

  • Avatar Kathleen December 6, 2010, 6:18 pm

    Ooh, I love these! I can see you making new ones each year, depending on your color scheme and what sweaters you find at Goodwill.

    • Avatar jennae December 7, 2010, 1:29 pm

      That’s a great idea! They’re really easy to make. I’ll just have to remember to opt for thinner sweaters (and a better sewing machine) next year 🙂

  • Avatar CM December 7, 2010, 9:08 am

    So nice! One would never think that those stockings were formerly sweaters. You’re very creative! Me, my creativity stems from copying someone else’s work. I hope you won’t mind my copying your technique. Happy holidays! My son will love this.

  • Avatar Andrea December 13, 2010, 3:35 pm

    This is a great idea–I’m so glad I found your post. Our family has grown and I needed to add more stockings to the mantle….but couldn’t find stockings that matched what I already had! It was so much cheaper to buy some sweaters at Goodwill and make my own. By the 6th stocking, they were starting to look pretty good…LOL! And now I have a mantle full of unique stockings! Thanks again! 🙂

  • Avatar Elizabeth B December 18, 2010, 10:02 pm

    I just finished making these for me and my new husband! I used an old sweater I never wear (but still like the style), some fabric (that sort-of matches) I had laying around and scraps from my wedding dress for the cuff (because my sweater wasn’t a turtleneck).

    Here’s a not-so-clear pic: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizzybeans11/5272485403/in/set-72157623276791847/

    Thanks for sharing this idea!!!

  • Avatar Leah November 12, 2011, 9:57 pm

    I came home from Target (after seeing the same stockings you did) and googled what others had done to make similar ones. Glad to have it already figured out for me, thanks!

  • Avatar DONNA October 13, 2014, 4:59 am

    An old sweater and the Christmas stocking idea is so very cool. If you made the foot part as big as your actual foot and shape these would make good winter high-top booty slippers to wear around the house. To keep them from sliding down you could either add elastic band or a wrap around ribbon to tie in a bow. Now all I need is an old sweater LOL !

  • Avatar Nanette June 19, 2016, 9:25 pm

    Sounds great! I can’t wait to try this myself!

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