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Upcycle old clothes to create easy DIY holiday stockings

diy holiday stockings

Christmas decor is fun. Americans love it so much, in fact, that they spent an average of $215 on holiday decorations in 2018. Luckily, there are many ways to gussy up your house without breaking the bank or creating a lot of unnecessary waste this holiday season. Enter the upcycled holiday stocking. With just a few items — including some old clothes — you can create an adorable Christmas staple for the season.

When looking for old clothing to use as fabric, pick something that is oversized and has a good surface area of fabric to cut from. A tightly woven fabric or knit sweater is ideal. If the knitting is too loose, it will be harder to transform into a new stocking shape. Think maxi skirts, oversized sweaters and wide-leg pants. 

Follow along below to see how we turned an old knit sweater and linen skirt into two adorable upcycled holiday stockings.

MORE: Creative and sustainable ways to wrap gifts

To make this upcycled holiday stocking, you’ll need

  • Old sweater
  • Large sock
  • Yarn
  • Large needle 
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Pom-pom maker

holiday stocking materials

Step 1

Lay your sweater flat on a table, and place a large sock in the center. Eyeball 1 or 2 inches away from the sweater, and then mimic the curves of the sock. (If you happen to have a Christmas stocking lying around, then trace that.)

stocking tracing

Step 2

Cut through both sides of the sweater so you have two pieces in a Christmas-stocking shape. 

MORE: How to find the best holiday deals (Spoiler: Start now!)

Step 3

Thread your needle with yarn. (You also can use embroidery floss if you double up the thread to be thicker.) This will help keep the stocking together and give it more of a stitched aesthetic.

Knot the end of the yarn and hand-sew from the top left corner of the stocking. Work the needle in from top to bottom of the edge, and then around it. Then, pierce it again from top to bottom. This is called a whip stitch. Repeat this pattern as you make your way around the perimeter of the stocking. Remember to keep the top open for presents.

When stitching a knit material, make sure to pierce the fabric about ¼ inch inward. If you sew too close to the edge, the stitches will fall out (and so will your presents). 

stocking stitching

Step 4

Fold the top inch over and whip stitch just the top edge of the stocking to create a brim. This is also a great place to embroider a name if you’re feeling ambitious. 

top sticking stocking

Step 5

You can’t hang your holiday stockings by the chimney with care if there isn’t a loop! We created a braid with nine strands of yarn (three per leg). Fold the brain in half; place one end on the outside of the stocking, and one end on the inside. Sew this piece on as you would a button: Use a simple stitch over and over again to secure the braid in place.

holiday stocking loop

Step 6

Finish off the stocking with colorful pom-poms and tassels, if you like. (Can we get a round of applause for rainbow yarn?)

diy holiday stockings

Making a linen holiday stocking

Follow the instructions above to make a stocking from a linen skirt. This fabric is a lot easier to sew because you don’t have to worry about the large weave of the fabric. Still, your stitches should be about ¼ inch from the perimeter of the fabric. Not only will this create a uniform look across your upcycled stocking, but it will also ensure a secure bind around the perimeter.

navy holiday stocking

Paint pens are your best friend for creating patterns on fabric, leather, glass … you name it. Cheetah print has been everywhere this season, so we decided to create a cheetah-print holiday stocking. We used a gold paint pen for the inside of the spots and a silver paint pen for the outside. (Google is a great resource to find a pattern. Just reference the shapes in the pattern as you draw with the paint pens.) Test your paint pens on the fabric before beginning. The darker the fabric, the more muted the paint pen pattern will appear.

All you have to do now is wait patiently for Santa!

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