When I was little we had the hardest time making ourselves go to sleep on Christmas Eve because we were so excited for Santa to come. I think we probably woke up around 3 in the morning to go down and gaze in awe at the Christmas tree, and the presents, and the stockings lined up on the mantle.
My mother hand knit stockings, complete with our name on the top, for each of her five children. We regularly found a little stuffed animal peeking out of the top. (This is a tradition my husband and I agreed to continue when we started a family of our own.) One year, I realized my mother had never made a stocking for herself or my father. This made me a little sad but since knitting was never really my thing I decided to make them some stockings from fabric. I pulled out some felt and got to work. I can’t believe I actually found a picture with those little stockings!
I don’t know if it was those stockings that finally made Mom decide to make her own, or if my sister realized mom and dad needed official “Johnson Pup” stockings, but Mom and Dad did eventually join the knit stocking club. When each of us got married, my mom made a new stocking for our spouse. Then, when we added little kiddos she made stockings for them too. Eventually, my sisters Linda and Kathi picked up the baton and carried on the tradition of knitting stockings for new family members.
My mom taught Kayla to knit when she was still quite young and Kayla picked it up again in late middle school/early high school. It was so fun to watch my daughter develop a hobby my mom loved so much. My sister, Linda, taught Kayla how to make the stockings one year over Thanksgiving. There is no written pattern, the knitter just uses the ‘original’ stocking as a guide to make a stocking for the newest member of the family. In typical Kayla fashion, she handed off the final finishing work to someone else, and my sister attached all the sequins and other decorations. But at least we know that if push comes to shove, Kayla can carry on the tradition.
There are a lot of us now, over 60 in fact, and each and every one of us has a hand knit “Johnson Stocking.”
I doubt my mom knew when she knit that first stocking how treasured and special they would become, and what a legacy she was leaving. My parents worked very hard to keep their family close. There is just something so sweet about the idea of so many generations sharing this Christmas tradition and hanging up the ‘same’ stocking no matter how far apart they might be.
As it turns out, my mother-in-law also made Christmas stockings. But these were ‘little’ versions that were meant to be ornaments. She made one for each of her kids, their spouse, and each grandchild. She hung them on her tree every year, until this one, when she sent each of us our stocking.
As you may have guessed, stockings are pretty special to me. It was always a tradition in the McKay house that the stockings didn’t go up on the fireplace until Christmas Eve night. I know a lot of people like to have their stockings up the whole time their house is decorated. My daughter, Kayla, actually made a set of stockings that she puts out when she decorates and has up until Christmas Eve. She and her husband then switch them out for the traditional stocking. I’ve decided I really like this idea. And, I like to think that my sewing and design skills have come a long way since those first felt stockings. So my challenge to myself was to make some new ‘decorative’ stockings. If you know me at all, you know how much I love soft snuggly fabric and that I will try to used it anywhere I can. You’ll know I’ve really lost it when I try to make a cuddle swimming suit, but stockings are the perfect opportunity to use cuddle. Bring on all the fun textured cuddles for luxurious linings and cuffs! It has practically been Santa’s workshop around here with all the stockings I, and my friends, have been churning out. My friend Leona used some of the fabric sitting around in our inventory (i.e. my garage) to whip up a few stockings. She tried all kinds of different techniques. This one has stiff interfacing:
This one has warm and natural lining:
This one has the starfish from the mermaid marina template pack on it, but she added a little Santa hat. How cute is that?
You may have noticed, but Leona appears to love appliques nearly as much as I do. It’s so easy to applique with Shannon Cuddle fabrics! (#not sponsored) Because it’s a high quality fabric, it will never fray. That means you can leave all of your appliques raw-edge and you don’t need to use any special stitches. A simple straight stitch right around the outside edge of your design is all you need. You can find a ton of cute appliques in our template library.
Remember how I mentioned that we put a stuffed animal in the top of each of our stockings? Do you have a traditional stocking topper? If you want to start adding a stuffed animal you are in luck! We have 11 adorable stuffed animal patterns to choose from. We have anything from owls, to a fox, a bunny and a pika, a whale, a turtle, a squirrel, and yes – even a red Christmas lobster to love.
Happy sewing and happy holidays,
When you appliqué the animals especially minke do you first sew on a piece of embroidery backing?
We like to use Steam-A-Seam Lite 2 or Wonder Under 805 (or any light weight double sided fusible web) when doing our appliuqes. When using a fusible web with minky/cuddle it is very important that you use a pressing cloth (or a thin tea towel) between your fabric and your iron. Minky/cuddle fabrics are polyester and will melt if you touch them directly with your iron. We also like to set the iron a little cooler than the directions recommend and we try not to hold the iron in one place for quite as long as it suggests. Each iron is different and it will take a little trial and error to figure out what settings and times work best for your iron. The fusible will stabilize your applique and hold it in place long enough to stitch it in place permanently without having to use pins.