Handmade Burlap Stockings

You may or may not have noticed (depending on how loyally you follow my Instagram newsfeed…) that I am utterly obsessed with all things Burlap this Christmas season. A month or so ago, I was scouring Etsy with the hope of purchasing some burlap stockings to hang this year. I was about to purchase some, when I was struck with the brilliant idea of convincing my mother – who has legitimate sewing skills, unlike myself – to “help” me make my own handmade stockings.

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In the interest of full transparency, I should tell you that by ‘help’, I pretty much mean that she did ALL of the work. I supervised, which worked well for me as I quite like being in charge of things.

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According to my mother, who did the sewing, this is a fairly simple sewing project – and the rustic & homey feel of burlap really takes the pressure off trying to create something “perfect”. The imperfections are the beauty of it, don’t you think?

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It was also very special to me to do this little mother-daughter project. My Mommom, who passed away this past winter, made beautiful hand-knitted stockings for her children, her children’s husbands, and her grandchildren over the years as her family grew. Even though these simple little burlap stockings will probably not become permanent fixtures in my family Christmases, I know that my mother and I both felt slightly closer to her as we worked together on this project. I am so grateful that the tradition of creating handmade items for our homes and family members is one that will continue in our family – in whatever form it takes.

Our process was not super technical, but if you’d like to create your own burlap stockings, here’s how:

First, collect your supplies:

Burlap (a few yards depending on how many you’ll be making)

Cotton or Muslin for the lining

Paper for creating a pattern

Fabric Scissors, straight pins & a sewing machine (or hand sew them w/ a needle and thread!)

To create our pattern, we just traced a random red stocking we had on hand onto a paper bag.

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We added a seam allowance of about 1/2 inch. The pattern for the lining material had an extra 4 inches at the top, for the cuff fold over.

Using straight pins to secure the pattern, I cut two pieces at a time (you need two lining & two burlap shapes per stocking). I was really good at the cutting part, and that was pretty much all that I contributed to this project.

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Next, my mother sewed together the inner & outer pieces, including a small hem at the top of the liner that would fold over to create the cuff. Stanley, my parents’ Siamese cat, posed for a little photo shoot while my mother did the work.

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I chose not to attach the liner to the burlap stocking, since the cuff held both pieces together pretty well. This way I can always change the inner or outer material (in case I make myself completely sick of burlap sometime down the road… which is not likely!)

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I attached a jute twine loop with a safety pin (so it is also interchangeable), and pinned through both layers to add some extra security.

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I added some unpainted wooden letters with our initials (including Emma, of course – her stocking will be stuffed with bacon flavored treats and squeaky creatures).

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Then, I used my only-daughter-charm to convince my father to cut a branch off of one of the trees in my parent’s back yard. Since we do not have a mantle to hang our stockings from, I turned the donated branch into my stocking hanger!

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I’m totally smitten. And the best part is that I only spent around $10 on the white muslin and wooden letters, and had everything else that we needed on hand! (That cute felt garland, by the way, was an awesome Target grab a few weeks ago).

What kind of stockings did you hang this year? If you, like me, don’t have a mantle to hang them from, what creative ways do you find to display them in your house? Filling my husband’s stocking with goofy little things is one of my favorite Christmas activities, and I can’t wait to do it again this year!

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Things I Wish I Could Do

Crafty people amaze me. I’m talking about crafty people like this lady who creates things like this:

Valentine's Themed Centerpiece

Not only did this require crafting ability (handmade pillows & re-purposed items), but clearly you need an eye for design (colors, textures, mixing items) to create something that looks like it came straight out of dear old Martha’s workshop.

Sometimes I feel that DIY should really stand for “Do it Yourself, Because I Can’t”.

I am a wanna-be crafter. I love going to Michael’s and walking around the aisles imagining all of the incredible things that I could make. Sometimes, when I have free time on my hands and get that antsy feeling (Tim tells me I do not know how to enjoy relaxing), I get an irresistible urge to craft things.

Due to lack of any real natural artistic talent, usually when I want to “craft things”, the results are rather laughable.

For example, during one memorable ‘spell’ of nervous energy when I was student teaching and still living in Pittsburgh, I made this:

Please excuse the bottles of cheap liqour.... it was a college house.

I was in the middle of a dragon obsession. I really have no other explanation.

Then, this past summer, I discovered little kits in the $1 section at Michael’s which resulted in an entire collection of these:

Little foam pieces with adhesive backing. $1 and about 20 minutes of craft therapy. Ages 7 and up.

I believe I have successfully made my point: I want to craft, I try to craft, but I can only successfully complete projects with very specific, pictorial instructions and pre-made pieces. I imagine there is some connection between this and my masterful ability to build anything from Ikea.

There are a few exceptions, I think, to my pathetic crafting attempts.

This Christmas, I was inspired by real crafty people’s holiday decor for sale on Etsy, and made a trip to Michael’s, with these results (colors did not come out so well in this iPhone pic):

Made by me: JOY letters, Candle votives. Made by Target: Advent Calendar (and table).

I bought some plain wood letters, and painted them a few shades of gold with sponges. I also stenciled the designs onto the glass pillars. Stencils & paint were all made by…. you guessed it… The Martha.

While it looks a bit amateur, I was proud of it & besides I love Christmas so much, it successfully expressed my emotional state throughout the month of December.

And my latest DIY project, of which I am most proud, were these cards I created to ask my bridesmaids & Man of Honor (an extensive post will come one day soon to examine the many ways in which I love my Man of Honor and best friend):

I used scrap-booking paper, flower stickers & rubber stamps.

The day after I got engaged, I went to Michael’s to browse the wedding aisles. I got the idea for these cards from various other online postings, and knew I could make them myself. I was so happy with how they turned out~ and it made for a special way to ask my friends to be a part of our wedding.

I realize that many of my blog posts take quite a while to get to the actual point. My point, as I set out to write today, was to list the actual crafty skills I would like learn in order to successfully create lovely things, as opposed to completely useless things (see dragon model & shark/turtle images above…)

So to begin:

I really should have paid attention when my Mommom tried to teach me how to knit. My Mommom could knit incredibly well. Unfortunately, her eyesight and coordination make it difficult for her to knit anymore. She tried to teach me one summer down the shore when I was probably 13 or 14,  and I just did not have the patience for it. My mother never learned, because she is left handed (that is her excuse for many things. She doesn’t french braid either, and therefore never taught me, and yes- I do hold this against her).

So I’d like to learn to knit. Or crochet. Imagine if I could make something like this (found on Pinterest but came from here):

So cute!

But I can not accuse my mother of failing to attempt to teach me any crafty things at all. My mother is crafty- she sews, scrapbooks, paints things, and has an eye for design that I do not.

She did teach me to sew, but I mostly forget how.  I can replace a missing button & use a sewing machine, although I usually forget how to thread the needle. Neither of these basic skills would allow me to make these:

With some knitting, crocheting or sewing ability, I am sure my crafting endeavors would improve greatly.

In the meantime, however, I leave you with this final example of my mediocre abilities:

(Emma’s 2nd Christmas Paw Print)

($5 DIY Ornament kit from Michael's. Ages 5 and up.)