One side would be a beautiful Christmas stocking—either in red or in a nontraditional fabric—but turn it inside out and you'd find a delightful horse puppet.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Make a Christmas stocking puppet by using these step-by-step instructions and pattern. (See the stocking puppet pattern and photo in the image gallery.)
Make a Christmas Stocking Puppet
It sometimes seems a shame that the whole wonderful panoply
of Christmas is fated to charm us for a few all-too-short
days, and then the sparkling ornaments, colored lights,
well-stuffed stockings, and other decorations sit in boxes,
unused, for the next eleven months. I was following this
line of thought one day and came up with the idea of a
stocking/ puppet. One side would be a beautiful Christmas
stocking—either in red or in a nontraditional
fabric—but turn it inside out and you'd find a
delightful horse puppet. The stocking itself would brighten
any child's (or adult's) holiday, but long after, when the
candies, fruits, and presents that once filled it were
memories, a perky pony playfellow would remain to accompany
the youngster on many imaginary journeys.
Plain and Fancy Fixings
I fashioned my stocking/puppets from new fabric, but you
could make yours from any colorful scraps you have on hand.
I'll give you directions for sewing the complete gift with
the stocking side in inch designer inch fabric, then tell you how
to make the more traditional version.
To duplicate my patchwork example, you'll need the
following materials: 1/2 yard each of maroon, maroon
calico, and beige cotton fabric; 1/2 yard of polyester
batting (I've found that worn-out cotton mattress pads are
a great substitute); a small scrap of solid brown fabric
for the ear linings; a 2 inch by 19 inch strip of dark brown felt,
plus enough of the same felt for two eyes approximately
1-1/2 inch in diameter (the strip can be pieced, if necessary);
maroon, beige, and dark brown or black thread; and a
pattern taken from the diagram shown. To enlarge the
diagram to a full-size pattern, rule a 1 inch grid on a sheet
of brown wrapping paper that's at least 17 inch by 21 inch , or use
1 inch graph paper. Then, following the diagram, copy the
design one square at a time onto the paper (a 3/8 inch seam
allowance is already included). Cut out the pieces and
identify them for future reference: You may want to sew
lots of stocking/puppets as gifts!
Using your paper pattern pieces pinned to the material, cut out two ears
from the solid brown fabric, two stockings and two ears
from the solid beige fabric, one stocking and four strips
from the solid maroon, five strips from the maroon calico,
two stockings from the polyester batting, and the mane and
eyes from the dark brown felt. If the beige fabric has a
wrong and a right side, be sure to reverse the stocking
pattern so you'll end up with two matching sides when
they're sewn together.
Making (It) Up
Begin by sewing the strips together: Take one strip of
calico and one of maroon, pin them with their right sides
together, and stitch down the length of one side. Continue
in this manner, alternating solid and calico strips, until
all the strips have been sewn. After pressing the seams
open, pin the stocking pattern to the patchwork rectangle
and cut out one stocking. Again, remember to flip the
pattern on the material so that the completed stocking will
have the right sides of the fabrics facing out.
Next, lay one piece of batting on the wrong side of the
patchwork stocking and pin or baste it in place. Do the
same with the maroon stocking, then pin it to the patchwork
one, right sides together. Leaving the stocking top open,
baste and then stitch the two halves together. Remove any
basting stitches, clip all curves, and trim the batting to
about 1/8 inch from the seam.
Now let's make the puppet. Pin the felt mane, with the
fringed edge pointing inward, onto the right side of one
beige stocking piece. Pin the second beige stocking piece
to the first, right sides together, and then stitch around
the horse, leaving the bottom open (this opening, of
course, corresponds to the top of the stocking). Clip all
the curves, and turn the horse right side out.
Match one piece of brown to a piece of beige to form each
ear. Stitch the sides, clip the curves, and turn the ears
right side out. Turn the raw edges in at the bottom, and
sew the folded edges together with a running or slip
stitch. Now, fold each ear lengthwise, slightly off center,
with the brown lining inside. Hand-stitch the folded ear in
place below the mane so that it points forward. (If you
have it, slip a piece of fairly stiff plastic inside the
horse's head to act as a darning egg to prevent your needle
from poking all the way through the puppet as you sew.)
Take several small stitches about one-third of the way up
the back of each ear to hold it close to the head. Position
the felt circles for the eyes, and sew them in place using
a blanket stitch. A line of white thread from the center of
each eye to the rim will help to give your horse a lifelike
Finally, fit the stocking—wrong side out—inside
the puppet, making sure that the seams of both pieces line
up. Fold the unseamed edge of the stocking over that of the
puppet, turn under the raw edges, and hand-stitch them to
make a narrow hem.
A Traditional Red Stocking
To make a more conventional Christmas stocking, you'll need
1/2 yard of red flannel and a 17 inch by 3-1/2 inch strip of white
fake fur to replace the maroon and calico fabrics, and red
thread instead of maroon. Cut two stocking pieces from the
flannel, and cut the polyester batting and the parts for
the horse as described above. Pin each batting stocking to
a flannel one, making sure there are two corresponding
halves. With the flannel pieces together and the batting on
the outside, pin, baste (don't skip this step), and stitch
the halves together, leaving the top open. Trim the batting
1/8 inch from the seam and clip all the curves.
Make the horse from the instructions already given. Then
insert the flannel stocking, inside out, into the puppet.
Match the seams and the open edges, and pin the two
sections together around the opening. Next, pin the fur
strip—right side against the puppet—around the
edge of the opening. Baste a seam over the pins and then
sew it. Stitch the fur strip's ends together, and trim the
seam. Trim the batting, too, about 1/8 inch from the cuff seam.
Now turn the puppet/ stocking inside out so the red flannel
is on the outside. Fold the fur down over the top to make a
generous cuff. Turn the raw edge of the fur under 1/4 inch and
slip-stitch the cuff to the flannel, being sure the
stitches don't show on the puppet side.
Mix and Match
So, with one simple pattern you can please every child on
your Christmas gift list and, at the same time, produce
lovely decorations that either complement a special holiday
decor or add to the traditional color scheme of the season.
Who says that Christmas comes but once a year? With this
stocking/horse puppet, it can be enjoyed all year long!
Two Sewing Tips
1. A milliner's needle—longer than common hand-sewing
needles and available in most sewing departments—may
prove very useful in basting and stitching the polyester
batting and the fur.
2. A 5 inch by 7 inch strip of staff but bendable clear plastic,
such as that used to cover windows in wintertime, will
greatly simplify the business of attaching the eyes and