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  • Writer's pictureKat Zimmermann

How to Sew a Christmas Stocking

Updated: Dec 2, 2023


A Christmas stocking made with of red flannel with a green and white plaid pattern hangs in front of a lit Christmas tree. A cursive F is embroidered on the front in white yarn and a cuff at the top is turned down to show a white sherpa.

It's that time of year again and my son, being new to the world, is in need of a stocking. I still have my stocking which was gifted to me on my first Christmas and hang it every year so I wanted to make sure that my son will be able to hang this stocking, knowing it was made with love, for a long time.


In this tutorial, we'll walk through the steps needed to make a stocking just the way you imagine it. I've included several optional steps to make the stocking as shown in the pictures and noted where you can skip if you prefer a simpler stocking. See the notes on stocking options for a walkthrough of style choices.





Q: What materials do I need to make this project?

A: To make a stocking, you will need (*optional items marked with an asterisk):

  • Fabric - about 1/2 yard will be plenty - see notes below for advice on choosing fabric

  • *Contrast fabric for the stocking cuff

  • *Binding for the stocking cuff (may not be needed, depending if the fabric will fray)

  • *To include embroidery you will also need:

    • *Yarn

    • *Tapestry needle

    • **Awl (if the stocking will be quilted)

    • *Embroidery hoop

  • *To make a quilted stocking you will also need:

    • *Batting

    • *Walking foot (optional but recommended for quilting)

  • Thread

  • Sewing machine

  • Scissors or rotary cutter with cutting mat

  • Stocking pattern (see instructions below on how to make your own)

  • Fabric marker or tailor's chalk

  • Straight pins and/or hem clips

  • Ruler or quilter's rule

  • Iron and ironing board


Q: How long will this project take?

A: This depends on the choices you make - A basic stocking without a cuff can be completed in under 2 hours. The cuff adds about 30-60 minutes, partially depending on whether you need to bind the free edge. Quilting will take 30-60 minutes extra and embroidery with yarn will take 30-60 minutes extra as well. Add more time if you will do more complex embroidery.


 

Notes & Learnings

(Fabric Choice) You can use just about any woven fabric for this project. I recommend choosing something you think will wear well over time. That is, don't use a very thin fabric unless you will give it a backing or quilt it. I used some Christmassy flannel from my stash which worked great when quilted but probably would have been a bit flimsy on its own. For the simplest project possible, go with felt - affordable, won't fray, easy to stitch, a good choice for beginners. Felt will also take fabric paint well which makes a great holiday project for kids.


Stockings are also a great opportunity to recycle or upcycle fabrics. For example, a favorite shirt that no longer fits or the clothing from a loved one, a child's blanket on it's last legs, or an old family quilt that didn't quite make it back from the last picnic in one piece.




A Christmas stocking made with of red flannel with a green and white plaid pattern hangs in front of a fireplace. A cursive F is embroidered on the front in white yarn and a cuff at the top is turned down to show a white sherpa.

(Stocking options) As partially noted in the materials list, you have some choices to make on what style of stocking you would like. The stocking shown in the pictures (and the tutorial below) includes all 3 of the below options.


Quilting: Quilting the fabric creates a thicker, sturdier stocking. If you choose to quilt the stocking, you will need to cut out 4 of your stocking pattern fabric instead of 2 and sandwich batting between them before quilting at the machine. You can quilt in any pattern you choose and using any color thread. If you don't want to do embroidery but still want a design on the stocking, choose a solid color fabric with a contrasting thread and quilt it in instead!


Cuff: A classic Christmas stocking is usually made of red fabric with a white cuff at the top. However, plenty of stockings don't include a cuff. If you don't have the fabric to include one, go ahead and skip it! If you think the fabric you've chosen won't look good with a cuff, skip it! If you want that classic Christmas look, definitely include it.


Embroidery: One way to tell multiple stockings apart is to decorate them with the initial(s) of the person they belong to. I chose to embroider my son's first initial on the front of the stocking using white yarn for a chunky look. Embroidery can be done using regular embroidery floss and needle or using yarn and a tapestry needle, as I did. This is, however, one of those times where you want to be sure to do the embroidery BEFORE stitching the front and back of the stocking together. If you plan to do a complex piece of embroidery, baste around the outside of your stocking piece to prevent fraying before attaching to the embroidery hoop.




 

How to Make a Christmas Stocking Pattern

If you have a stocking already, you can simply trace around the outside and add a 1/2 inch seam allowance to duplicate it. If you don't want to or can't do that, you can use the instructions and images below to draw your own stocking pattern. Cardboard boxes, paper grocery bags, and poster board all make great options to create your pattern.


*Note that the steps below include a 1/2 inch seam allowance*


A rectangle labeled 11 inches by 17.25 inches.


(Step 1) Draw a rectangle 11 inches across and 17.25 inches long. The entire pattern will fit into this rectangle.





Step 2 of making a stocking pattern


(Step 2) From the top left corner, measure 8 inches to the right and draw a vertical line downwards, perpendicular to the top line. Make this line about 10 inches long.





Step 3 of making a stocking pattern



(Step 3) From the top left corner of the big rectangle, measure 13.5 inches down along the edge and mark.





Step 4 of making a stocking pattern


(Step 4) From the bottom left corner, measure 4 inches to the right and 1 inch up and mark. Connect this mark to the mark from step 3 with a smooth quarter circle (trace a round object like a plate or tub lid to make this easier!). It's OK if it doesn't line up perfectly, just adjust a little bit to get a smooth line.



Step 5 of making a stocking pattern

(Step 5) From the bottom of the vertical line in step 2, measure 1 inch down and 1 inch to the right, make a mark. From the bottom right corner of the big rectangle, measure 3.5 inches to the left and make a mark. From the bottom right corner of the big rectangle, measure 3 inches up along the edge and make a mark. Connect these 3 marks with a semicircle to make the toe of the stocking.


A completed Christmas stocking pattern


(Step 6) Connect the semicircle to the quarter circle with a straight line and smooth out any weird shapes. Connect the vertical line to the top of the semicircle with a smooth curve. Adjust any lines as needed. Cut out the pattern.





 

How to Sew a Christmas Stocking

*Optional steps are marked with an asterisk - see the note above on stocking options to decide what you will skip and what you will include.


Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance for all seams.


A white woman uses a stocking pattern to cut mirrored pieces from flannel fabric.

(Step 1) Cut out all pieces.


For a regular stocking, cut 2 mirrored pieces of the stocking pattern (instructions above). For a quilted stocking, cut 2 sets of 2 mirrored pieces of the stocking pattern (4 pieces total). If the fabric you're using frays a lot and/or you plan on doing elaborate embroidery, baste around the edges of the stocking pieces.


For ALL stockings, cut one 1.5 inch x 5 inch rectangle to make the hanger. You can also use ribbon for this, if you prefer, by cutting a 5 inch length.


*For stockings with cuffs, cut out:

  • EITHER two 8 inch x 4 inch rectangles OR one 15 inch x 4 inch rectangle, depending on how much fabric you have on hand.

  • One strip of binding, 1.5 inch x 16 inch rectangle - press this into single or double fold tape (no need to cut on the bias). See the post on making bias tape for help pressing the tape.

*For stockings WITHOUT cuffs, cut out:

  • One strip of binding, 1.5 inch x 20 inch rectangle - press this into single or double fold tape (no need to cut on the bias). See the post on making bias tape for help pressing the tape. You will only need this if the top edge of your stocking will need to be finished with a binding. This is necessary for quilted or very thick fabrics.



Two stocking piece sets with batting between their layers are pinned, marked, and ready to quilt. Some fleece has been used in place of missing batting.

(*Step 2 - for quilted stockings) Place 1 stocking piece wrong side up on the table, then layer it with your batting. Carefully align a second stocking piece right side up so that the stocking pieces match through the layers. Pin through all 3 layers. Repeat with the other 2 stocking pieces.


Use tailor's chalk or a fabric marker to draw your quilting lines on the stocking pieces, then quilt in place using a walking foot. Trim excess batting.



A quilted stocking piece being embroidered with yarn on a tapestry needle. An awl sits at the ready.


(*Step 3 - embroidery) Decide which stocking piece will be the front of the stocking. Using a fabric marker (recommended) or a pencil, draw on your embroidery pattern and set the fabric in an embroidery hoop.


To embroider as shown in the pictures, use yarn and a tapestry needle to work a chain stitch. If you are making a quilted stocking, you may need to use an awl to poke holes for the tapestry needle before making the stitches.




Two stocking pieces with right sides together held together by hem clips all around the edge.




(Step 4) With right sides together, line up the stocking pieces and pin around the edges. Stitch all the way around, leaving the top edge open. Clip the curves and trim the seam.










(Step 5) Prepare the hanger. Fold the hanger rectangle in half the long way with right sides together, pin and stitch. Turn right sides out. Press. Top stitch if desired.



A sewn stocking next two two cuff pieces with right sides together and hem clips along the short edges.


(*Step 6 - cuff) With right sides together, clip and stitch the short ends of the cuff together. Grade the seam by trimming only half of the seam allowance (this will help it sit flat, even though the fabric is very thick).




A stocking turned inside out with a cuff clipped to the top edge. The right side of the cuff is facing the wrong side of the stocking.



If the cuff requires binding, add it to the open edge now. See my post on Sewing a Circle Cape for tips on applying the fabric tape you've made (about 1/4 of the way into the post, in the Notes & Tips section, labeled "Bias Tape Binding Tips").







The hanger of the stocking is stitched into the cuff seam at the top edge, with the loop of the hanger along the heel seam of the stocking. As the stocking is inside out, the hanger lies between the cuff and stocking layers.


With the stocking still inside out, match the RIGHT side of the cuff to the WRONG side of the stocking and pin along the top edge. Fold the hanger in half to make a loop and insert it into the edge seam so the raw edges of the hanger line up with the top edge of the stocking. The hanger should be on top of or right next to the stocking's heel seam.


Stitch. Grade the seam.





(*Step 6 - NO cuff) If you are NOT including a cuff, it's time to add the hanger and finish the top edge.


If the top edge will be finished with a binding, do that now. See my post on Sewing a Circle Cape for tips on applying the fabric tape you've made (about 1/4 of the way into the post, in the Notes & Tips section, labeled "Bias Tape Binding Tips").


If you don't need to bind the top edge, make a double fold hem by folding down and pressing 1/4 inch, then 1/2 inch. Stitch in place. Note that if your fabric won't fray (e.g. felt), you can skip finishing the edge altogether.


Tuck the raw edges of the hanger into itself at both ends and baste. Fold the hanger in half to make a loop and pin it to the heel seam of the stocking. The short ends of the hanger should be touching the wrong side (inside) of the stocking with the loop sticking out over the top. Stitch in place several times to make a strong seam.



(Step 7) Turn the stocking right sides out and press. If you included a cuff, fold it down and press, if desired.




 

A closeup of a walking foot quilting the stocking pieces.

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you are able to make exactly the stocking you envisioned. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Of course, if you made a stocking and share it out on social media, please tag me @craftematics on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook - I love to see your makes!


Don't forget you can follow the blog by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. My posts have been sporadic now that I have an infant, so this is the best way to make sure you never miss a thing!

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2 Comments


cre8majic
Dec 02, 2023

What a sweet stocking! I love that you machine quilted the pieces BEFORE assembling them. I suppose a family with multiple stockings could have them all face the same way or divide them between left- and right-facing for hanging. The large initial makes it clear whose stocking this is, and I wish you many happy years using it! That you say your posts are now 'sporadic' with your son here made me laugh, but Christmas is viewed best through the eyes of a child!

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Kat Zimmermann
Kat Zimmermann
Dec 02, 2023
Replying to

It absolutely is best through the eyes of a child! I'm so excited to share the holiday with my son and bring back that Christmas magic ✨

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