Introduction: Baseball Rookie Sock Monkeys

Everyone loves a sock monkey! That's why they are my go-to handmade gift for babies. This fall, my baby beneficiaries are both boys, one in Metro DC and the other in Baltimore. What better gift for these human rookies than the local baseball rookies taking the region by storm?

What you'll need:
  • red heel socks
  • needle and white thread
  • embroidery floss (black, plus team colors)
  • small amount of white jersey knit fabric
  • small crescent of flexible plastic (for hat brim)
  • small amount of fabric in the appropriate team color (for hat brim)
  • fabric paint (team colors)
  • black permanent waterproof marker
  • optional: serger or sewing machine

Step 1: Make the Monkeys

I'm not going to go into detail about the construction of monkeys; every single package of red heeled socks in the history of ever has enclosed the exact same set of instructions on how to make them. I made my first monkey at age 8 following these instructions...that being the case I think it unnecessary to try to improve on them.

HERE'S SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT THOUGH: they don't make socks like they used to. Seriously. At some point in the late 80s or early 90s, the manufacturing process for the socks changed, and the toes and the heels aren't as big. The shape of the red heel is not the same either, it's less "smile-like." Because of this, I go on eBay every once and a while and buy vintage red heel sock packages. They are almost always available, and the monkeys turn out a lot cuter, in my opinion.

Since I like to give the monkeys out as baby gifts, when I get a new/old sock three-pack I usually knock out all the monkeys to keep on hand to customize when the occasion comes up.

Step 2: Team Jerseys

Seems like I've made a lot of monkeys for little boys because I actually have a little tracing paper pattern I made for a little baseball jersey. Use the shapes I've figured out here and adjust them to fit around the arms and torso the monkey you have made (they all seem to end up a little different depending on how much stuffing you use!)

Cut one back two each of the sleeves and front. I used a serger to piece this together, but I've used a regular machine or hand sewing in the past. After the pieces are together, cut a long strip about an inch wide that can run up the side and around the back of the collar and back, and bind the edge with it. Sew the front sides together (unless you feel like making tiny little buttonholes and sewing on tiny little buttons.) Hem the sleeves and shirt bottom.

For the Nationals jersey I added the red trim around the binding. The O's don't have that detailing.

Sketch out the jersey lettering lightly in pencil. Fill in with fabric paint. Afterwards, go in with a black permanent waterproof black marker to do outlining.

Step 3: Embroider the Cap Logo

While I almost always use fabric paint on the jerseys (it's much quicker and easier to do them that way), I usually go all out on embroidery for the hat logo. I figure there's a strong possibility the jersey will one day be ruined or lost, but the hat is sewed to the head and is part and parcel of the monkey forever!

Lightly sketch the logo onto your hat piece - to the extent possible. I didn't have a pencil up to the task to I largely freestyled it with the logo(s) in front of me on the laptop screen.

Step 4: Assemble the Cap and Sew to Head

OK, I'm not gonna lie - I found these plastic sheets in the embroidery section of Michael's and I have no idea what they are called or what they are intended to be used for. I bought them specifically to make brims for monkey baseball hats, and they work great for that.

Cut a crescent of the plastic and sew a cover over it with the fabric of your choice. Sew the brim to your embroidered hat piece.

Pin the cap to your monkey's head and sew the cap on.

Step 5: Dress Your Monkey

Put your jerseys on! Now we have Bryce Harper monkey and Manny Machado monkey, just waiting to make their way to their respective new homes. I hope the human rookies like them!