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Holiday Elf Stockings with Curlicue Toes

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One of my favorite books as a child was a Little Golden Book version of the classic story, The Elves and the Shoemaker. I forced my mother to read it over and over until the binding split. What I loved the most, and wanted for my very own, were the curly-toed boots the little elves wore. These stockings are modeled after those very same elf boots. And they are just as cute as I remember.

This project is a bit advanced, but you don't have to be a shoemaker to make it happen. Read through the instructions first and study our helpful step-by-step illustrations and photographs, as well as the links to additional how-to tutorials.

The trick is to feel confident working in three-dimensions. If you find yourself working in a fourth dimension… you need to take a break!

These Christmas stockings are so eye-poppingly bright and fun, they're sure to put a smile on Santa's face when he lands at your house on Christmas Eve. 

We made one trio of stockings (above) in Heather Bailey's delightful Pop Garden & Bijoux collection, a vibrant option sure to make you kick up your heels and curl your toes.

For our second set, we started with the traditional Christmas colors of red, green, and gold and turned them on their ear with stunning zebra prints from Super Fly by Jennifer Paganelli, topped with lime stardust medallions from Tina Givens' Star Flakes and Glitter. 

We always try to give you links to buy the exact fabric we've used, but with older collections, our mix-and-match options are not always available as is the case with these selections from the three talented FreeSpirit Fabrics designers mentioned above. However, the inspiration and color blends are the perfect starting points for your own creative combos. 

Of course. traditional colors and designs are also allowed. Your could even look for elf motif fabric to provide a fairy tale look through and through.

If you plan to use the stockings for more than decoration, and intend for Santa to fill them with heavy objects (like gold and silver coins, because you've been very, very good), you should consider reinforcing the stocking seam. After sewing the ¼" seam around the outside stocking edges, sew another ¼" seam directly on top of the first to give extra strength. You could also try a heavier fabric.

Our Elf Stockings finish at about 16" high.

Sewing Tools You Need

  • Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
  • It is optional, but we do traditionally recommend a see-through foot for appliqué; such as the Janome Satin Stitch foot, which is a standard accessory with most Janome machines. This foot is clear, so you have a better view of your stitches. It also has a slightly recessed bottom, which allows it to easily travel over a dense satin stitch. And, the bright red arrow at the front of the foot provides an excellent stitching guide as you twist and turn. A second option is the Open Toe Satin Stitch Foot, which has a very wide opening in the front so you have a clear view of your work. The bottom of this foot is also very slightly recessed, like its regular Satin Stitch cousin above. Another helpful foot is the Janome Appliqué Foot. This foot is shorter than average, making turning and pivoting easier. If you don't use a Janome, your sewing machine should have similar options. 

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • ½ yard of 45"+ wide quilting weight cotton for EACH stocking body; 3 different stockings = 1½ yards total if you want to use the same fabric for all your stockings
  • ¼ yard of 45"+ wide quilting weight cotton for EACH stocking crown shaped cuff (4 cut pieces total); 3 stockings all in the same fabric = ¾ yards total
  • ¼ yard or scraps of 45"+ wide quilting weight fabric for the monogram letter and stocking hook
    NOTE: ¼ yard actually provided enough fabric for all 3 stocking letters and hooks we made.
  • ¼ yard of 20"+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing or fusible web for the appliquéd letters; we used Pellon Wonder Under
  • All purpose thread to match fabric, including for the appliqué stitching of the optional monogram letters
  • Large single pom poms in a contrasting color to sew onto the six crown points; 6 pom poms per stocking - you can buy single poms at a craft store or buy pom pom trim and cut away individual poms
  • ⅔ yard of rick rack per stocking in a coordinating color; optional as shown around the top edge of our zebra stripe samples
  • Small handful of polyester fiber fill to stuff into the toe of the stocking
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the two pattern pieces for the stocking body: Stocking Top Half and Stocking Bottom Half and the one pattern piece for the stocking crown: Stocking Crown.
  2. If you'd like to add appliquéd letters as we did, also download and print: Letters Pattern: A-LLetters Pattern: M-WLetters Pattern: X-Z.
    IMPORTANT: Each pattern piece and template is one 8.5" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF files at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. 
  3. Cut out the two pattern stocking body pieces along the solid lines. A ¼" seam allowance around the stocking and a ½" seam allowance at the top of the stocking have already been added to this pattern.
  4. Following the directions printed on the pattern, overlap the two pieces at the dotted line to form the full pattern. Tape in place.
  5. Cut out the one stocking crown pattern piece. A ¼" seam allowance around the sides and points, and a ½" seam allowance at the top crown edge have already been added to this pattern.
  6. Cut out your chosen appliqué letter(s) from the printed template sheets. Set aside.
  7. Using your see-through ruler and fabric pen or pencil, draw two rectangles 18" high x 12" wide on the ½ yard of fabric you are using for the body of your stocking. Cut out along the drawn lines. 
  8. Place the two cut rectangles right sides together, lining up the raw edges all around. Center the stocking pattern on the layered fabric, pin in place, and cut around all edges. These pieces are the front and back of your stocking, so if your fabric has a dominant design(s) as ours did, fussy cut to take best advantage of those design(s). Set the cut pieces aside. 
  9. Using your see-through ruler and pencil, draw four rectangles 8" high x 10½" wide on the ¼ yard of fabric you are using for the stocking crown. Cut along the drawn lines. 
  10. Place two of the cut rectangles right sides together, lining up all four raw edges. Pin the stocking crown pattern to the layered fabric, and cut out the crown pieces. 
  11. Repeat this step for the remaining two fabric rectangles, so you have cut a total of four stocking crown pieces.
  12. From the fabric for the letters and loops, cut ONE 7" high x 2¼" wide rectangle for each stocking loop.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Optional appliquéd letters

  1. If you are adding appliquéd letters, for each letter you wish to use, cut out a square of fabric and a square of fusible web 2½" x by 2½".
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, adhere the fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric - paper side up. 
  3. Remember, your images will be reversed on the right side of the fabric because you're working on the wrong side of the fabric with the fusible web. Simply flip over your letter template, tracing it backwards so it will be going the correct direction when viewed from the front.
  4. Cut out the fabric letter and peel away the paper backing. 
  5. Place the cut-out fabric letter at the center of one of your four stocking crown pieces.
  6. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the letter in place.
  7. Appliqué around the outer edges of the cut-out letter. We used a tight satin stitch. Go slowly! Appliquéing a more intricate shape, such as these letters, is a more advanced technique than appliquéing a simple circle or square. Stop as often as you need to, with your needle in the DOWN position, and adjust your fabric so you are stitching in as straight a line as possible. For more tips, read our tutorial: How to Appliqué Like a Pro.

Finish construction

  1. Pin the right side of the stocking crown piece with the letter to the right side of a second plain stocking crown piece.
  2. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along the left and right sides of the crown. Repeat this step with the remaining two stocking crown pieces.
  3. Press the seam allowances flat and open. You now have two sewn stocking crown "circles"- one circle with a letter (this will be the crown showing on the outside of the stocking), and one circle without a letter (this will be the inside lining of the crown).
  4. Turn the stocking crown circle WITHOUT the letter right side out. Slide this circle inside the other circle with the letter. You now have the two circles facing right sides together.
  5. Pin these two circles together so their side seam allowances line up, as well as all the crown points.
  6. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch around all the edges of all the crown points, leaving the top of the crown open.
  7. Clip the tip of each point and into the "Vs" of the points. 
  8. Turn the crown right side out.
  9. Using a long, blunt-end tool to gently push out each point so it is nice and sharp. A knitting needle or chopstick works well. Press flat and set the crown aside.
  10. Find the 7" high x 2¼" wide rectangle(s) you made for your stocking hook. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to create the finished stocking hook(s). Set the hook(s) aside.
  11. Find the front and back stocking pieces you cut out. Place them right sides together, matching up all raw edges.
  12. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch all the way around the side and bottom edges of the stocking, go slowly and carefully around the curlicue of the toe. The top of the stocking remains open. 
  13. Clip the seam allowance at the points and curves. If you are new to either technique, we have full tutorials on both cutting corners correctly as well as sewing smooth curves.
  14. Turn the stocking inside out through the open top. Take a small handful of the polyester fiberfill and lightly stuff the toe point.
  15. Find a completed stocking hook. Fold hook in half to make a loop, lining up the raw edges so the loop is facing down inside the stocking. Pin in place right on top of the back seam.
  16. Edgestitch the hook in place. Keep the seam very close to the raw edge, about ⅛". 
  17. Slide finished crown, with the letter facing out, inside the stocking, lining up the top raw edges and the side seams. The toe of the stocking should be facing to the right as you slide the crown down inside.
  18. Pin the crown to the stocking top. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around the entire top edge.
  19. After sewing the ½" seam, flip the crown to the outside of the stocking - almost as if you were turning up the cuff of a sleeve. Press the edge of the seam flat.
  20. Hand stitch a pom pom onto each of the six crown points.

Hints and Tips

The addition of rick rack around the top of the cuff slightly changes the  order of construction as follows:

  1. Cut the pieces.
  2. Apply the appliqué letter.
  3. Sew the crown and crown lining, and turn right side out.
  4. Baste the rick rack to the upper edge of the crown, centered on the seam line (½" from top).
  5. Baste the hanging loop to the upper edge of the crown, just to the left of the back seam.
  6. Sew the stocking with a ¼" seam. Trim seam with pinking shears, or clip to the line of stitching (careful - don't clip through) every 1". Turn right side out and press.
  7. Insert the crown into the stocking, matching side seams. Pin in place. Stitch around the top on the previous line of rick rack basting. Turn the crown to the outside and press along the seam.
  8. Add a pom pom at each crown point.
  9. Stuff the toe of the stocking lightly with Poly-Fil® to maintain its curlicue shape.

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation & Instructions: Gregory Dickson


Comments (2)

Barbara said:
Barbara 's picture

Wonderful! Perfect for my adult kids this year! Thanks!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Barbara - Indeed -- perfect they will be!

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