homepage: Dr. Carol JVF Burns

See the Sewing/Crafts section of my main Table of Contents for other sewing projects

Christmas Animal Stockings

Make a unique Christmas stocking for someone you love!
Choose a special animal;
add a theme (like ‘superhero’) if desired.

This stocking is fully lined.
The heads are lightly stuffed to add dimension.

some ‘superhero’ cats

the rat stocking
made in these instructions

the back of the rat

Beavers mate for life, and are hard-working.

These ‘couple’ stockings are for me and Ray.
The patchwork scarves tie the beavers together,
and form a heart.

On the back,
the beaver tails are ‘splashing’ little hearts!


I use Simplicity pattern 6566 (which no longer seems to be available) for my stocking pattern.

Make any size/shape you want. Just be sure:
  • it's big enough to hold your stocking contents
  • the top opening is an appropriate width for your animal head/neck/body
  • you allow for 5/8" seams all around
Cut 2 stocking bases.
If your fabric is one-sided, make sure you get a correct front and back!
Quilted fabric is good for this outer stocking.

Cut 2 identical-size lining pieces (muslin/cotton works well).

Simplicity pattern 6566
(no longer available)

2 stocking bases (front/back)
2 stocking linings (front/back)
(the color was changed
for the remaining photos)


Cut stocking base features (heel, toe, paws, tails, etc.) from (say) felt.
(Use your animal image/sketches from step 3 to guide you!)
Keep in mind: there is a 5/8" seam allowance all around (including the top).

Zig-zag pieces in place.
I sometimes tack on pieces with a straight stitch very close to the edge first;
this stitching is then covered by the zig-zag.

If you have a ‘wrap-around’ tail, be sure it matches up properly front-to-back.

Zig-zag settings that work well:
heels/toes/larger features: width 4.0, density 0.55
smaller features: width 3.0, density 0.55

sew features (heel, toe, paws, tail, etc.)
on outer stocking front/back


Google (say) ‘rat face photo’; click the ‘images’ tab on Google.
Also google (say) ‘how to draw a rat face’.
Simpler is better!
As you're looking at images, think about:
  • pieces you will cut: face, ears, eyes, paws, ...
  • details you will add with stitching: whiskers, shading, ...
PRINT the image you want.

ENLARGE (as needed).
The BASE of the head/neck on the image should be the same width as the finished width of stocking opening (see photo at right).
(On our HL-2280DW printer: options-enlarge/reduce)

Use (say) Saral transfer paper to trace the finished head pattern.
When cutting out the pattern, add the 5/8" seam allowances all around.

For simplicity, you can trace just half of the head,
in which case it will be cut on folded material.

You need two head pieces (front and back—light stuffing goes inside).
Furry material works well for many animals.

Tips for working with fur material:
  • some fur material sheds like crazy when cut
  • to minimize shedding: after cutting, use an overedge stitch around all cut edges, sewing on the wrong (not furry) side of the material (Janome 9400 QCP: garment-overedge-heavy)

base of head/neck on image
should be same width as the
finished width of stocking opening

Trace the finished head pattern.
When cutting out the pattern,
add the 5/8" seam allowance all around.

check that the pattern matches
the width (or, half the width)
of the top of the stocking

head front and back;
note the overedge stitch to help prevent shedding


Use (say) Saral transfer paper to trace facial features from your image:
eyes, nose, mouth, etc.
Felt is often a good choice for facial features.
Zig-zag facial features onto front head in desired positions.

You can trace facial details onto regular paper, pin the paper to your material,
and sew right over the paper.
Sew with a straight stitch first, remove the paper, and check that it looks good.
Then, zig-zag over the straight stitching.
It's much easier to remove straight stitching than a tight zig-zag, if something isn't quite right!

Construct the ears.
Position the ears as desired, then fold them right-side down onto the face.
Machine-baste in place.
They will be sewn into the seam and pop out when the face is turned right-side out.

I use black fishing line.
Here's the technique I use to attach them to the face:
  • cut lengths of fishing line
    Cut fishing line to the desired whisker length, plus about 5".
    Better long than too short—you'll trim to exact desired length after attached.
  • tie large knots
    Tie a very large knot in one end of each whisker.
  • attach to face
    Use a wide-eye needle to attach to face:
    poke needle from wrong side and pull through.
    The knot keeps the whisker from pulling all the way through.
  • hot-glue the backs
    After all whiskers are attached, use a hot-glue gun to additionally secure all the whiskers on the wrong side.
  • trim
    Trim each whisker to desired length.

make/attach facial features;
sew facial details;
make ears;
attach whiskers

fold ears right-side down in desired positions
to be sewn into seam;
machine-baste in place


With right-sides together, pin head together.
Tape the whiskers down so they don't get caught in the seam.
Make sure the ears are still folded inside!

Baste along the sides only (NOT the bottom): use a 1/4" seam, long stitch length.
Be careful on thick sections (like the ears).
Turn and check that everything looks okay.

Put right-sides together again.
Stitch again with a regular stitch and a 5/8" seam.
Stitch again, over previous stitching, for extra strength.
This stocking is going to be used and loved for a lifetime, so you want it to last!

Turn right-side out.
Stuff lightly.
Try to keep the stuffing away from the bottom,
to make it easier to attach the head to the stocking (step 6).
Sew the bottom closed, close to the edge.

sew head right-sides together;
stuff lightly;
sew bottom closed, close to edge


With right sides together, sew lining to stocking front,
across upper edge only.
Press seam towards lining.

With right sides together, baste head to back lining.
The head should stop about 5/8" in on each side.

With right sides together and head folded down,
sew stocking back to back lining along the upper edge only.
Use the suggestions that follow to make this easier!

This is probably the most difficult seam of the entire stocking construction, because of the thick head inside!
To help, use a narrower presser foot: I use the Janome HP professional grade foot with the needle all the way to the left.

Baste with a long stitch first.
Then, go over with a normal stitch.
Stitch again, for extra strength.
Slow and steady wins the race for this seam!

With right sides together,
sew stocking/lining front to stocking/lining back.
Leave a large opening in the lining to turn.
Be careful to match any ‘wrap-around’ features (like a tail).
Be careful not to catch the head in the seam.

Finally, turn right-side out.
Sew up the opening: since it's inside and not readily visible,
I use machine-stitching.
Tuck the lining inside.
You're done!!

with right sides together,
sew lining to stocking front
(across upper edge only);
press seam towards lining

with right sides together,
baste head to back lining;
(shown here after basting is done)

with right sides together
and head folded down,
sew stocking back to back lining
along upper edge only;
(shown here after sewing is done)

with right sides together,
sew stocking/lining front to stocking/lining back;
leave a large opening in the lining to turn;
be careful not to catch the head in the seam