Many of us have collected an array of Christmas sweaters, many of which hold memories to Christmas' past, or were given to us by a dear friends or family members. This can pose a problem for your wardrobe when your seasonal attire starts to outnumber your everyday wear. The sweater may have succumbed to moths or you may have outgrown it, yet you still cannot bear to discard the beloved puffy-paint Rudolph sweater that you made in third grade or the one great-aunt Alice knitted for you.
Well, no need to fret, you can keep those sweaters around and put them to good use as stockings and elf costumes! This would be a good beginner project as well, for parents who want to teach their children how to sew. My family usually gets together around Christmas to do some kind of craft project and this is a terrifically easy and inexpensive project that can teach kids to be resourceful (just make sure they know not to go around cutting up anything in their closet!).
Once you are finished you can either use the rest of your sweater to make two more stalkings, two more elf hats, a stalking and an elf hat OR you can check out my new instructable on how to make a Christmas wreath with the remnants!
Step 1: Select Sweater
strip of scrap material
little white tuft (optional)
For stockings any sweater will do. Knit ones are nice, but if you want to decorate yours by gluing or doing any iron-on, you may want to consider some kind of Jersey sweater. If you want to add the little white tufts on the ends of your stockings you can find them at fabric stores or make your own with yarn.
For the elf hat you may want to find a sweater with a neck, making it fold nicely as a hat, but this is not necessary. You can always adjust your sewing to the material, which sweaters provide plenty of. You could also start at the bottom of the sweater for a wider finished edge if you don't have a sweater with a neck. I made the bigger fluff ball that is attached to the tip out of white yarn.
Step 2: Disect Sweater
If your sweater has seams (is sewn together) you can use a seam-ripper to neatly separate the sleeves from the body. Otherwise you can just cut them apart with a pair of scissors, keeping in mind that knitted sweaters will unravel rapidly if you are not careful.
Step 3: Construct Stocking
Pin the sleeve on the open edges making sure any stripes are lined up. Pin the optional white tuft on the inside of the sleeve at the very tip. Sew the edge up starting at the tip.
Next, pin a strap onto the seem, below where you want to fold the stocking.
You now have a functioning stalking that you can either wear or further adorn and hang upon the mantel!
Step 4: Construct Elf Hat
First, turn the sweater inside out and pin a triangular section extending from the neck hole. You may want to try to line up any stripes in this step as well - I forgot and mine don't match up well. I made mine about a foot and a half tall. If you make it too long you can always make it shorter, but it gets trickier to make it longer again, especially after you cut the material.
Next, sew along your pin line BEFORE cutting any fabric. I would sew two parallel lines about 1/4 inch apart in order to prevent too much unraveling. Once you are done sewing you can cut the hat out of the fabric. Turn the hat right-side out and you are basically done; you could wear the hat as is, but a true elf hat requires a couple more steps.
To make the puff ball on top of the hat grab some yarn and wrap it around something (your hand works, but something firmer might be better). After about 100 revolutions you can cut the string, take the yarn off of your hand and squeeze it in the middle. While squeezing the middle, tightly tie a loop around the middle of the yarn and cut the string leaving about 1/2 foot to work with. Once the loop is secured, you can cut all of the end loops that are sticking out. You're puff ball make need a little trimming to round it out, but other than that it should be ready to fasten to the top of your hat with a large needle.
Now you are ready to throw some stuffing in the hat. Anything will work, even remnants of the sweater you just dismembered, but I happened to have some batting around so I used that. Once it is stuffed adequately all you have to do is put it on and work with it with your hands to get it the desired shape.
Congratulations, you may now join the ranks of the other elf laborers in Santa's workshop!