Wednesday, December 12, 2012

holiday diy | no-sew personalized felt stockings

Today's project came upon me entirely by accident.

You see, there are a set of very ugly stockings sitting on my dining room table. These stockings were my first attempt at "personalizing" $1 stockings I found at the Dollar Tree. I thought I was being so clever. I wanted to cut out some cute ornaments in colorful felt, hot glue them to the stockings, and somehow they'd turn out just like these adorable bright, modern stockings on Etsy by rikrak. Yeah... not so much.

The first problem is that I was limited to the colors of felt available at Michaels (which honestly wasn't very many), so the colors were kind of clashing with those already picked out for my wreath and pom poms on the Christmas tree. Normally I'm all about making do with whatever I have on hand adding eclectic flare to any project, but if there's one thing I won't stand for, it's clashing colors. Still, blinded by the cheap nature of the felt I found ($0.29 a sheet, I mean come on!) I forged ahead in my stocking endeavor.

Guys, it ended in disaster. I contemplated posting them here because I actually love that this is a blog all about celebrating the imperfection of life, but y'all, I hated them that much. I don't want them to be hung in my house, much less live on for all eternity on the web like a bad tattoo reminding me of my past poor decisions.

So I scrapped them. It was an easy decision given they had cost me about $1.75 per stocking. Scared I might be stockingless, by some stroke of luck I happen to spot plain red felt stockings with cute rickrack detail at Target, yet again for $1! (What can I say, inexpensive craft supplies flock to me like a moth to a flame.) I was most excited because I had wanted felt stockings the whole darn time but with version 1.0 I had settled for the typical bushy red fur stockings. (You guys know which ones I'm talking about, right? I don't know what the actual material is. Synthetic something, no doubt.) So yes, the whole first run-through was a blessing in disguise because I ended up getting something closer to my original vision.

Now, how to decorate them? The biggest lesson I learned from my first endeavor was that I needed a template. As much as I want to believe I'm a freehand master, me trying to sketch letters and cut them out of felt just left everything looking a bit too messy for me. I also went with just the first letters of our names on the first go round, which made me realize I actually wanted full names. So I took to Photoshop, scaled my canvas to the size I wanted the names to be on the stocking, and picked out a nice font to type each of our names in. (For my fellow type-aholics, I chose Pacifico. It's informal yet sleek and I've seen it used beautifully in lots of holiday layouts.)

After printing out my templates, I honestly thought I would just cut them out, trace them on my felt, cut out our names and glue them on my felt stockings. But there was just one problem. None of my felt colors were contrasting enough with the red of the stocking. I had pink, blue and red, and obviously the names barely showed up. In my head I envisioned stark white scripty names across the body of the stocking, but I had no white felt (and NO intention of going back out into the madness to run back to the craft store.)

This is when it pays to have a small arsenal of craft supplies on hand. Remember the white thread I used for the word "JOY" on my ribbon wreath? I decided it might be cool to actually fill in each of our names by wrapping the white thread around itself and gluing it to my paper template. To my absolute surprise, it looked cool!

I took each paper template and hot glued it to the felt stocking where I wanted it. Then, using Elmer's glue, I covered the area of the letter I wanted to fill in and gently laid the thread in whatever pattern I wanted. Now, this is definitely not a quick and easy project by any means. It's long and tedious, but I love discovering new ways of doing things and so I didn't mind taking the time to perfect my technique.

A couple things to mention in case you want to try this yourself. Definitely go with Elmer's glue because it's slow drying so you can slide the rows of thread around a bit until you line them up just the way you like. Getting the thread to bend around sharp turns can be tricky, but I found that if I used a simple needle in my right hand to hold down the thread on a curve, I could guide the thread around the turn with my left hand. Also, be very purposeful about the way you "cut up" your name into smaller shapes to fill in. I always tried to direct the thread in the way that the letter would actually be drawn so the script still maintains its flow. This is why my "Plaximus" is much better than my "Carol" - because I did Plax's last and finally figured out what I was doing. (Also, in case you happened to notice, I didn't want the names on our stockings to be so formal, because, let's face it, this family is anything but formal. That's why I opted to go for "nick names" on everyone's stockings. Just a little touch but I think it adds a playfulness to the set.) Also, if I had known I was going to use my templates as the foundation to lay all the thread, I would have made them in white, not black and blue like I did. (It still bothers me a little that you can see the black and blue peeking through.)

"Hey guys, did you check out my cool stocking? Who knew yarn pom poms could be so manly, right?"

All in all, I'm really happy with how this accidental project turned out. I love the way they look right when you walk in the door. I added some of my yarn pom-poms to tie in the colors and the garland on the tree. Also, yes I'm aware our stockings are hanging in the middle of the wall. The only place we could fit our tree was smack dab in front of the fireplace so we had to figure out a plan b for the stocking locale. (The empty space on that wall actually drives me insane, so I love this solution.)

Do you make your stockings or do you buy them? Have you ever accidentally created a fun new craft project after a failed attempt?


  1. These are wonderful. Your creativity never ceases to amazing me. Where the heck to you find the time to do all of this? You're a great inspiration!! xo

  2. Thanks, Sash! And to answer your question... sometimes literally from the time I get off work to the time I go to bed, I craft. (With breaks only to make dinner and watch The Voice, ha!) It's kinda nerdy, but I just love it. It brings me joy. And I know that it won't happen unless i make time for it. Same thing with the weekends. I dream up projects I want to do during the week and then I plan my weekend around doing it. It's all about making the time!

  3. man you can make anything turn out great!!!! great tips for people to use who are on a budget to make it still x-mas in the home!!

  4. I really need to make some stockings. We don't have any!! These are so cute and I love the how you added the names and the pom poms. :) Have a Merry Christmas!

  5. I'm the same exact way.... so I'll be seeing you at the next craft-o-holics anonymous meeting, right?!! ;)

  6. Thanks, Erica! So sorry for the late reply... your comment snuck past me! I hope you had a fabulous Christmas!