Intro: Christmas Stocking With LED Lights
This project began as a way to use up some oddments of fabric I had stored away. Many of the Christmas stockings you see for sale are modern in appearance and often rather tasteless, so I decided to make one with a richer, more antique feel to it, and a curled-up toe as a nod to the tradition that Saint Nicholas originally came from an area of Greece which is now part of Turkey. In one version of the tale, there were three girls who were too poor to have a dowry to get married, and Saint Nicholas threw bags of gold through the window of their home, where they landed in the shoes and stockings which were drying by the fireplace. In another version, it was not gold coins but golden balls which were thrown in, and this is why the emblem for Saint Nicholas is golden balls or oranges, and the reason why traditionally there is an orange in your Christmas stocking!
I chose wine red and moss green with ivory and gold - a slightly muted take on the traditional red, white and green Christmas colours. To add a twist to the design I decided to use a few LED lights as well (they may not be traditional but by sticking to white and red I avoided making them too garish).
Step 1: You Will Need...
You will need...
For the Stocking:
Base fabric (I used green velvet)
Scrap fabrics for decoration (deep red, ivory, bottle green, gold)
Brown felt (for the reindeer)
Strong ribbon or cord (for hanging)
Decorative button or similar
Beads, braid, small brass bell, gold yarn, white merino fleece or white polyester stuffing (for the mistletoe berries)
Needle and thread
Sewing Machine if available
For the Lights:
White sewable LEDs
Red sewable LED
Step 2: Decorating the Stocking...
Begin by cutting out the basic shape in green velvet (remember to make it wide - once it is sewn together and full of presents it looks a lot narrower), then on the front of the stocking add a broad red band and an ivory coloured cuff. Over these you can applique some decorative bands and a sprig of mistletoe.
Cut out your reindeer and sew it onto the foot of the stocking - if you aren't a confident artist, print or trace a suitable reindeer shape, not too complicated, and use a paper template pinned to the felt to get it just how you want it. I left the antlers off and embroidered them separately in gold yarn. One nice effect of using felt over velvet is that, if you use a straight machine stitch around the edges, the pile of the velvet gives the shape a slightly raised, quilted appearance. If you liked you could even pad it further with stuffing to make the reindeer slightly three dimensional.
Work over the decorative bands with gold thread and fancy machine stitching, and add braid to cover the joins between colours.
Now it's time to give Rudolph a glowing red nose, and to put white lights on the mistletoe berries. I chose a sewable LED kit with miniature PCB LEDs so that they would lie flush with the fabric and not show too much when the stocking wasn't lit. I didn't use a switch, opting to make the battery holder accessible instead, so the battery could simply be removed and stored when the stocking was not on display. LEDs draw very little power, and a large lithium battery will last for a very long time.
The LED consists of a small flat board with a ring-shaped terminal on either side, one positive, one negative, and a tiny raised square in the middle - this is the bulb, and although it looks nothing like a normal bulb, it's astonishing how bright a light it can produce! The rest of the kit comprises a battery and battery holder, and some conductive thread, which resembles silky grey sewing thread but will carry an electric current. I should point out that the power involved is so low that you can't feel it when you touch the thread, and it doesn't produce any heat when the bulbs are lit, so it's perfectly safe.
The LED boards are small enough that you could mount them on the front of an item and if the pattern behind them was busy enough they wouldn't show up very much, however, for Rudolph's nose I chose to make a small hole for the bulb to peep through and sew the LED onto the back of the fabric where it would be completely hidden.
So, make a small hole where the reindeer's nose will be, and, on the reverse side, making sure the board is facing the hole, stitch it in place using one strand of the conductive thread around the positive terminal and one around the negative, being sure to wrap the thread firmly through the ring several times to make a good connection. Leave enough length on each thread to reach the battery holder when it is in place, up near the top of the stocking.
I found the simplest way was to connect both threads of the red light to the battery holder, and then make a separate circuit for the two white lights on the mistletoe, making sure the positive and negative threads didn't cross or touch anywhere. Another way would be to connect the positive thread to the battery holder, and the negative to the first mistletoe berry, that berry to the next, and then back to the negative terminal on the battery holder, thus creating one circuit with three lights in a row (ie. connected in series).
For the mistletoe lights I used a slightly different technique - I sewed the LED boards on the front of the stocking, and then covered them with a soft disc of white merino fleece to make a mistletoe berry. Take a shred of fleece or stuffing, roll it between your fingers into a loosely packed ball so the light can shine through clearly, but enough to hide the board, and stitch it in place.
Position the battery holder near the top of the stocking where it will be easy to reach, but far enough down that it will not show when the stocking is hanging up empty. I left it uncovered but it would be possible to either cover it with a small pocket or flap, or to line the stocking and leave an opening with a velcro or press-stud fastening. I would recommend this if it was intended for use by children, so they couldn't pull at the threads or components and break the connection.
Where there was only a single thickness of fabric I used stitches that would not be visible from the front, but where it was layered I was able to mostly run the thread between the layers both to hide it and protect it, taking care not to let the positive and negative threads touch or overlap anywhere. Before doing the final stitching, insert the battery and touch the threads to the terminals to check that you've got everything laid out correctly and that the circuit will work properly.
Once the lights are all done it's time to assemble the finished stocking. With the right sides together, sewed the two halves together, then turn the stocking the right way out and add a bell on the toe and a ribbon for hanging.
Use a strong satin ribbon and sew it firmly in place - remember that it will have to take the weight of a filled stocking! I used a red button to hide the place where the ribbon was sewn on. Normally the ribbon would be stitched into the seam to hide the ends, but I preferred to leave the ends long, with a v cut in the end to prevent fraying, like parcel ribbons.