This year I found my bank account depleted for the Holiday season due to several large Home Improvement projects and decided to look into creating as many of my gifts for Family and Friends as possible. After searching around on the internet I saw a trend of creating Leather Christmas stockings, though all of the ones I saw seemed to be more 2-D than 3-D. So I set about trying to create something that I felt would function better and look better hanging from a mantelpiece, and this is my humble result.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Needles (thicker needles are far easier to grip)
- Leather Shears or Heavy Scissors
- Round Knife
- Round Tip Leather Awls (round tip will let you reopen holes without breaking your thread)
- Thread (I used both my normal 4-ply linen thread and a store-bought pre-waxed thread for this project)
- Dyes and Finishing Agents
And last but not least:
- Leather! - (I used 2-3 oz for this ible)
If you want a really nice finished look I'd also recommend a Burnisher or two, they can really take a project to the next level if you know what you are doing.
Also as a general rule of thumb you'll need enough thread to cover anywhere from 3-5 times the length of your stitches to complete the project.
Step 2: Cutting the Pattern and Dyeing the Pieces
My design for this stocking was based on a pair of hiking socks which had a different material in the heel and toe areas in a contrasting color. I chose to do something similar with the stocking, dyeing the main body in an antique brown and the toe, heel and hanging loop in black.
As you can see from the images above the main body is a rectangle, roughly 18.5" by 20", which will eventually be sewn into a tube. Once I cut out the main piece of leather I cut two 4.5" slits on either side of it 5" from the bottom edge. These slits will accommodate the heel piece which will force our tube into a 90 degree bend and provide that stocking look to it.
The heel piece is 9" on each of the long edges and 4.5" on each edge of the two triangle cutouts, which will be sewn together making a cup or boat-like shape eventually.
The toe piece is made out of two half-moon shaped pieces which each have a radius of 4.75". They'll be sewn together along the rounded edge inside out, and then sewn onto our tube body.
Last but not least we'll need a small strip of leather for a loop to hang our stocking from the mantel.
After this I went ahead and dyed all the pieces with the appropriate colors and sealed them with a super sheen top coat. Follow the instructions for any dyeing or finishing products that you use and you'll be fine!
Step 3: Planning, Counting, and Punching Holes
Now we need to plan out and punch the holes which will be used to sew up our creation. You definitely don't want to try and wing this process, because the edges you're going to be joining together need to match up in order for the finished product to look as good as you originally planned.
For this process I prefer to use a wing divider, which is available for a fairly low price from most leather companies. To mark where the stitches will fall I set my divider to about 3/16 of an inch.
As far as the spacing goes, you'll want to use the same setting for all the pieces, or else the holes aren't going to line up as well, if at all. I used the same spacing of 3/16 an inch as the distance between the holes and "walked" my wing divider down the channel I created earlier while applying pressure to leave some strong indentations.
Don't panic if there aren't enough marks on one piece to fit with another, as now is the time to correct things like that. In fact if you don't correct that during this step, you'll be hard pressed to fix it at all. If you find that you are short one or two, its a pretty simple fix, what you'll do is essentially duplicate a hole, which will throw your spacing of slightly but will allow you to join the pieces with minimal impact. If you're short more than two you may not have cut the right length on your pieces, which is a little harder to fix as it usually requires cutting out a new section.
After I was satisfied with the number and spacing of my planned holes I went ahead and burnished all the edges that were going to be exposed using a wood burnisher and gum of tragacanth.
At this point you can use your awl to punch out all the holes, and be sure to count them once again to ensure that they are all there.
Step 4: Prepping the "Toe" With the Saddle Stitch
The first thing we'll need to do is sew our toe edges together, and the method we'll use is called the Saddle Stitch. This is a fairly basic stitch, yet it's extremely strong as you will put pressure on both sides of the material at the same time, similar to but not quite like what a sewing machine does.
Before we begin, if you are using unwaxed linen thread, as I am in this process, you'll need to run it through some wax to provide strength and lubrication to the tread to make it more durable for stitching.
I chose to hide my stitch inside my finished piece, so I stitched this piece together inside out and then flipped it around after completion.
Put both needles on either end of your thread and run one of you needles through your first hole in your stitching, and pull it through until you have roughly half of your thread on either side. Take one of the needles and run it through the second hole, as normal. Pull it tight once it's through to the other side. Now grab the other needle and run it through the SAME hole as the first. Pull both threads hard to ensure your stitch is tight. Continue repeating this process until you reach the end.
Once you've come to the last hole, work your way back up you project for two or three holes before tying off. The reason you'll want to do this is just in case your knot doesn't hold it wont unravel. Push one needle through so that everything is on the same side and pull it off the thread. Tie both of your threads together (double knot for luck) and push your remaining needle through the hole to the other side, pulling your knot into the leather.
Step 5: Prepping the "Heel" With the Baseball Stitch
This process is very similar to our saddle stitch covered earlier, with one major difference being that we will join the pieces edge to edge, as opposed to sandwiching them together. Again you'll need to have two needles on the same thread to start out with. In this case I'm using pre-waxed store bought linen thread, so that it will have a uniform color.
Push both needles from the bottom through opposing holes and pull until the sides meet up flush and the thread is roughly equal on both sides. Next pick a needle, right or left your preference, and pass it between the leather to the next hole on the opposite side. Repeat this on the other side with your second needle. The result should be what resembles a chevron or a small "v" pulling the leather together. You'll want to repeat this process down the length of your leather, and always make sure to start a new "chevron" with the same needle.
The more stitches you have the tighter and stronger the hold will be. When you come to the last holes, cross the needles over one another as shown and push them through to the back of the leather to tie off the ends of the thread tightly. Repeat this process on both sides and you should be ready to begin putting it all together!
Step 6: Attaching Our Toe and Heel With Cross Stitching
For this stitch we will again be binding the leather edge to edge and again you'll need to have two needles on the same thread to start out with. Again, I'm using pre-waxed store bought linen thread, so that it will have a uniform color.
Push both needles from the bottom of the leather through opposing holes and pull until the sides meet up flush and the thread is roughly equal on both sides. Next pick a needle, right or left your preference, and pass it through the opposite hole and pull it tight. Repeat this on the other side with your second needle. The result should be a single straight stitch in the leather. Next grab either of the needles and pass it diagonally to the next hole in the leather on it's opposite side and repeat this with the second needle. With both needles now on the front side of the leather, repeat the first step of passing the needles on either side through the opposite holes again leaving only a straight stitch on the front.
I chose to repeat this process halfway across the top and bottom of the heel before moving on to add the toe to the base of the stocking, with the same stitching pattern. My reasoning being that by having one portion of the main body sewn into it's final position it may be easier to finish sewing it all together, though I'm unsure that this was actually the case.
In the pictures above you can see both the "Railroad Tie" patter on the front and the cross-stitch pattern on the inside. It's your choice as to which portion you'd rather see displayed.
Once you've got the toe fully attached you'll be in the home stretch of the project!
Step 7: Stitching Up the "Leg" and Adding Finishing Touches
With the "toe" fully attached we can go ahead and stitch the bottom of the "foot", using the Baseball stitch as described before. Once that is complete you can finish, or begin, attaching the heel piece using the the cross stitch. and of course finishing the "leg portion is accomplished utilizing the Baseball stitch.
The last piece that you'll need to add is a loop to hang your stocking from. For this portion you'll need only one needle and to keep your awl close at hand. Once you've threaded the needle you'll want to pass it through the first hole and leave a small tail which you'll use to tie off at the end. Simply work your way through the holes you laid out and move back to the beginning to tie off and finish the piece.
Step 8: Enjoy!
And with that I declare this project finished. If you want to dress up the top of your stocking with fur around the top, you can either choose to stitch it on or glue it on, whichever you are more comfortable with.
I hope you all enjoyed this instructable, and if you did please think about voting for me!
Thank you all!