Scandinavian Christmas Stockings
When I was a baby, my mother made my Christmas stocking. It is red with a green Christmas tree on it. My name is embroidered across the cuff, and the tree is decorated with seed beads and sequins. I spent hours as a child studying my mother’s handwork — especially those sequins which sparkled and glinted in the light. That stocking still hangs at my mom’s house, and as a new mother myself, I hoped to created the same kind of heirloom magic for Bambino.
Rather than recreate my own childhood, I turned to my Scandinavian roots — and my love of all things hygge — for inspiration. I found it in two places: Clare Youngs’ book, Scandinavian Needlecraft and an article from Country Living UK with instructions to make Swedish Embroidered Christmas Stockings. Using Clare Youngs’ stocking ideas as a starting point, I created three stockings for our family — a snowflake, an ornament, and a leaping reindeer (for Bambino, of course). In hopes that other children might join our family, I had also embroidered the Christmas tree which at some point will become another decorative element in our home, I’m sure.
Fabric is really important, and I wanted to make sure these heirlooms would last and look lovely for years to come. We lived in San Francisco at the time, so I headed to Britex which is a sewing wonderland. Both the red and the white fabrics are 100% wool. The white is a wool felt that is so soft and yummy — I silently thanked the sheep with every stitch. It is gorgeous! And the red… reds are tricky. I wanted just the right red — not too purple, not too orange. I found it in this cranberry wool coating made in Italy. I would LOVE to have something made from this gorgeous fabric. For the lining I chose a cotton quilted batting. This gives the stockings a little heft and form even when they aren’t full of treats. I think that body makes them look nicer when they are hanging by the fireplace.
To be clear: these were expensive fabrics. You absolutely could do this same project with less expensive materials. Do what suits your budget!
First, I made a stocking template for all three stockings. I simply drew a stocking on tracing paper and cut it out. I cut stocking pieces out of both the red wool and the white cotton quilted batting.
Snowflake & Ornament
The snowflake and ornament came from an article from Country Living UK’s December 2011 issue entitled Swedish Embroidered Christmas Stockings. Sadly, it is no longer available online, my pin to the article is a dead link, and I can’t find the author information either. But I still have the patterns I used which I could scan and share with you (for no fee, of course). If you are interested, contact me.
I printed out the patterns provided in the magazine article — blowing them up until they were the appropriate size for the stockings. Then using a fabric marker, I traced the patterns onto the wool felt. I could actually see the pattern through the felt under bright light, so I placed the pattern under the fabric and traced it that way. Once the embroidery was done, I cut the pieces out, and then embroidered them onto the stockings using a straight stitch.
I also added the white curls to tie the three designs together a bit more.
To make the reindeer stocking, I followed Clare Young’s instructions. It was a simple matter of cutting out the reindeer, placing it on the stocking, and then embroidering it to stay. Her instructions are clear, concise, and easy.
I chose a font that I liked, and I printed out each name at a scale that would work across the cuff. I then traced the names onto the cuffs with a water-soluble pen, and embroidered each one.
Putting it all together
This is where it gets tricky. There are several good tutorials out there on putting together a lined stocking, but I used this one from Cluck Cluck Sew. And I will confess — I did it wrong. Twice. So have your seam ripper handy!
I am so pleased with our stockings and the end result! And there are several other projects in Scandinavian Needlecraft that I intend to do someday soon.