Sock It to Me: Recycle Socks Into New Garments

Don't throw them away. If you're good with a sewing needle you can recycle socks into hats, mittens, and scarves. Here's how.

| January/February 1983

Suppose a friend called to inform you of a surprise baby shower; or your mate suggested an impromptu visit to your sister's family; or the youngsters came in from playing in the snow, rummaged through their bureaus, and informed you that there wasn't a dry mitten in the house. Would you worry because you're too short on funds to buy a gift for the shower, or to purchase a small token of affection for your nieces and nephews? Do you perhaps lack the knitting skill necessary to keep your family supplied with low-cost mittens?

Well, I used to feel a pang of panic in such situations, but now I just confidently head for my darning basket. Then, an hour or two later, I'll have a passel of newly stitched clothing to offer as gifts or to supplement my own children's wardrobes. I’ve learned, you see, how to recycle socks.

Bootee Basics

To stitch up a pair of infant foot-warmers (which would be a welcome gift at just about any baby shower), you'll need a pair of adult-sized crew-neck socks, a scrap of material, and a bit of ribbon or yarn. Begin by cutting a sock just below the ribbing, forming a curved toe (Keep in mind you'll need to perform each step twice to make a matched pair of bootees).

Next, cut a strip of fabric that's 1" wide and long enough to form a border around the top of the ribbing (be sure to allow for some overlap when you measure it). Then fold under the raw edges of the material and stitch the strip to the inside of the sock, overlapping the fabric where its ends meet. The resulting band folds down to form a cuff (as shown in Fig. 2).

With that done, trace the outline of the bootee's toe, add a seam allowance to this curve, and cut a half-circle of fabric to match. With the right side of the scrap facing out, stitch the half-round (folding its raw edges under as you go) to the upper layer of sock material.

Now, cut another 1"-wide strip of fabric that's long enough to encase the toe of the bootee, and secure it in place, being sure to stitch through all the thicknesses of the cloth and the sock. (This forms a "bumper" at the tip of the shoe.)

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