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.)
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 expression.
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 the ears.
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