Saturday 15 December 2012

DIY: Craft a COOL Christmas Stocking


Most of us (who celebrate some form of Christmas) have a Christmas stocking of our own. For many, the norm these days is to have a store-bought stocking where a parent has written our name onto the cuff with puffy fabric paint, and that's about it. But I grew up with a crafty mom, and my stocking was made from scratch--and when it eventually became so moth-eaten that all my tiny oranges would fall out the toe, I replaced it with another handmade stocking, made by my best friend MJ. Much like Hallowe'en costumes, I still believe that Christmas decorations should be handmade whenever possible, so I'm going to show you a fairly easy--and very nerdy--stocking tutorial you can try yourself.

I made this Captain America for a 41 year-old kid named Rob. You can follow this tutorial using different colours, shapes, etc, and make any other superhero or theme you might like. Here we go:

-a 1/2 metre of flannel or flannelette (or some other thick, non-stretchy soft fabric)
-about a 1/4 metre of flannel or felt (or fur, etc) for the cuff
-crafting felt squares in the colours that suit your project
-glue gun and glue
-really sharp scissors
-sewing materials and/or a sewing machine.

This is easier than it looks, people. Just draw a big sock shape onto the backside of your flannel, cut out two identical sock shapes, and sew them together. Be sure to sew them with the pretty sides facing in towards each other so you can pull it right-side out when you're done, thus revealing the pretty side again. With some fabrics, this won't matter, though. Rob's stocking, for example, was accidentally sewn inside-out, but luckily this flannel is nearly the same on both sides.
(We'll do the cuff in a bit.)

I used various dinner plates and bowls to make the rings of Captain America's shield. I traced a star onto the white felt for the middle of the shield by holding the slightly translucent felt over my iPad screen like a light table. I love cheating like this. I cut out the wings for the toe freehand, but you could easily find something to trace on the internet. Google things like, 'Mercury messenger wings'. 

If you're a sewer, you could sew these layers onto the stocking (ideally before you sewed the sock pieces together in step 1); but I'm a glue gun fanatic, so I just glue gunned the layers down one-by-one. Generally I recommend that you cut out all your shapes before you start gluing, make sure everything is perfect, and then carefully glue each piece down. If you screw up, you can usually yank the felt off, but you may damage your fabric or your felt, so get it right the first time instead.

Cuffs can be easy, but I made mine the hard way for no good reason, really. I took a square of white craft felt, glued it onto itself to make a tube, then flattened the tube by applying pressure to crease the felt. Think of it just like making a tube out of a piece of paper and tape, then squishing it flat. I had to make two of these flattened tubes in order to go all the way around the stocking. I just glued it to the lip of the blue sock. On the back side of the stocking, I tried to hide any seams by folding the end of the flattened tube so that the 'raw' edge would be glued down under and wouldn't be so obvious that I'd used two pieces.. It worked pretty well.

Cut a strip of fabric or felt to make a sort of bracelet; glue this inside the lip of the stocking to make a loop for hanging the stocking.

Puffy-paint on your friend's name, or cut out the letters in felt. Or use gems to form letters. Or anything else you can dream up. I like the control I have with puffy paint, and I'm a natural with lettering so I don't need a stencil. But you can always cut out letters from a printed sheet of paper and use them as a stencil to trace. If you totally mess up, you could always tear off the cuff and start again. No biggie.


If you've mastered this relatively simple stocking, you may be ready for some more elaborate projects.  
For Kaia here, I used basically the same technique, except I did a much more complicated series of felt pieces--these little Totoro characters were harder to cut out than the circles for Captain America's shield. I freehand drew the characters out, but you could print and cut out the characters to again use as a stencil.

For Karter, I made a basketball by gutting an old teddy bear (sorry, I'm a re-purposer without a conscience) and used his stuffing to fill up the little basketball I'd made from corduroy. I used puffy paint to draw out a basketball court...and then we get really advanced with the score board. I remembered I had these little blinking LED lights that were intended for a mini Christmas village. I salvaged them, cut the strand to the right length, then glued them all around the edge of a charcoal-coloured rectangle of felt. I then made a slightly smaller rectangle and glued that one on top to make it stiffer and hide the wires a bit. I used puffy paint to draw on my scoreboard. I made a little pocket on the back of the stocking to hold the battery pack for the LED lights just by gluing an extra piece of felt onto the back. The end result is something that Karter will LOVE and other crafters will go crazy over, but really it's exceedingly easy. The hardest part was deciding who Karter would be defeating in the basketball game; naturally, I went with the Galactic Empire. 

Be creative, play with your materials, and don't worry about mess-ups! My first handmade stocking is the ugliest thing you'll ever see, but MJ refuses to let me remake it for her because it's made with love. And that's what your family will feel every time they see their special personalized mini-orange-carrying-sock.

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