Introduction: Tactical Stocking From a Tshirt

instead of buying a generic stocking, I cut up a soft, well-loved long-sleeve tshirt, and made my own custom stocking. with something handmade, it doesn't take much to show you care a lot. this is just an old shirt that otherwise would've been donated to a thrift store. this only took a couple hours and it made a big impression. bust out your sewing machine (or needle n thread), scissors, fabric scraps, a bootlace, some accent hardware, your overactive imagination, and let's get started.

Step 1: Cut It Out

cut a boot shape from your tshirt. I'm using the hem of the bottom of the shirt, so that the top of the stocking has an already finished edge when it's sewn. you will need to cut out four boots. two need the hem, and the other two will not. when cutting out your boot shape, make it about an inch wider than you imagine the finished project, as the sewn edges will absorb the extra inch.

Step 2: Molle Straps

set aside the two shorter boots that have no hem. you'll sew the molle straps through only the outer layer. the inner layer protects and covers the back of your sewn work from snags as someone excitedly reaches inside the stocking. it also retains the shape. because tshirt material has a lot of give, if you fill it out with candies and gifts, it would sag without the extra layer. so for the molle straps on the back, I cut off a cuff, snipped it open along the seam, and opened it up into a rectangle. I gave it a good tug so that it relaxes. I sewed along the length of the rectangle, turned the fabric, and sewed the length again, with about half an inch of space between each row. then I cut between the rows so that each strap had two sewn edges. pin these down as you like. then sew vertically across them, all in one hit, about an inch or more between the loops.

Step 3: The Front

I had a boot lace that matched the fabric well, so this was sewn vertically down the length of the front boot. a d-ring was secured at the top by looping it back over itself, and sewing an "x" inside a square for more support. pinch the lace a little as you sew each loop down so that it doesn't sit flush with the fabric.

Step 4: Patches

for the heart patch, I used another accent of the shirt that sat at the bottom seam to keep the sides from ripping out. I hand-stitched a small messy heart in red and white threads of different thicknesses. you could also use cuff material, the tshirt tag, or a different fabric scrap entirely to make a patch.

Step 5: What's in a Name?

I used a brown tshirt scrap for the name. cut out each letter and pin it to the face of the stocking. you can put the name along the top at the hem. I chose to sew the name down the length of the stocking. a simple stitch will hold each letter on. you could use a different color for each letter, contrast stitching as I did, overlap the letters a bit, or use different sizes for a ransom note look.

Step 6: Inner Boots

once you have all the accessories sewn down, pin the inner boot against the back of each outer piece. sew the inner boot across the top, as close to the hem as you like. I used a maroon stitch so that you can see which stitch I'm pointing out. sew the other side in the same way. then put the two outer pieces face-to-face, accessories inside, and pin down the four layers. make sure you can see each layer, so you know it will get sewn in place. the loop and washer that is shown in the second picture had to be pinned down facing in, so that it would extend from the seam when turned out. you can leave this long and trim it after you've sewn it in place, to ensure you haven't cut it too close. now, starting at the hem, sew in one long stitch down the backside of the boot, around the toe, and back up until you reach the top again. as you reach molle straps, etc, it's good to reverse-stitch to ensure they won't shift or pull loose.

Step 7: Tug Loop

turn your work inside out and inspect it. you're almost finished! loop some more bootlace and throw on a hook or some more metal. sew it down with another square and "x" to keep it secure. especially after you've hung it and filled it up, you don't want the catastrophe of it crashing because you didn't take the time for an extra stitch.

Step 8: Check It Out!

inspect it inside and out. the inner layer will be a nice touch when you reach inside and it's smooth. have peace of mind that nothing you stuff it with will snag stitches - candy, chocolate, stickers, gangster trading cards, tattoo gift certificates, kidrobot blind packs, vintage army action figures (you name it). it's important for the integrity of the stocking that you've taken this extra little step. stuff it full, loop a fullsize candy cane through the molle straps on the back, and you're golden. thanks for looking this over, and have a fantastic Christmas!

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