Embroidery Library

The Story of Stockings


One of the best things about Christmas is waking up on Christmas morning to find a stocking filled with gifts from Santa Claus. Each year, the stockings are hung by the chimney, on a banister, or placed in the most common gathering room of the house, in hopes that we've made the "nice" list and will receive some special gifts. "Naughty" children (and some adults) are said to receive lumps of coal instead. Here at the Embroidery Library, we wondered how this jolly tradition was started, so we did some research and we're going to tell you all about it. Not only that, we have featured some special tutorials and projects to get you inspired and busy stitching just in time for Santa's big visit on Christmas Eve!

History of Stockings:

While there is no specific documentation as to when the hanging of Christmas stockings began, most of the information we found dates back hundreds of years ago. One legend states that Saint Nicholas heard about a father and his three daughters who had fallen on hard times. The daughters were to be wed but the father had no money for their dowries. One evening, before the wedding, Saint Nicholas secretly dropped three bags of gold down their chimney. It just so happened that each of the girls had their stockings hung out to dry on the fireplace, and the bags of gold conveniently slipped into the stockings.

This story led to the tradition of children hanging their stockings or leaving out their shoes in hopes that St. Nick would visit and leave a special gift. Children used to use one of their everyday socks as stockings, but eventually this transitioned into special decorative Christmas stockings that are widely used today.

Another legend states that the Dutch introduced the stocking. Back in the 16th century, children would leave their clogs by the hearth of the fireplace filled with straw for Sinterklaas' reindeer, and a special treat would be left near the fireplace for Sinterklaas to enjoy. He would then leave small gifts or treats in the shoes for the children to find in the morning. This later transitioned from wooden shoes to stockings being hung.

Getting a lump of coal in a stocking originally meant that a family was financially stable. Rather than gifts, if everyone put their coals together, they could make a nice symbolic fire. The wrong kind of coal would create a big mess and possibly dirty the stocking. Children did not like this tradition, and so wealthy parents began adding gifts to the stockings from "Santa." When a child was naughty, they threatened that "Santa" would give them them coal instead.

Regardless of how stockings came to be, through the years, hanging stockings has become a Christmas rite of passage. To celebrate, start a new tradition of creating a brand new stocking for someone special each year. Your recipient will cherish the gift and you will have a blast coming up with exciting new themes!

Let's Get Stitching:

When making a stocking, the creative possibilities are endless. There are lots of great fabrics that can be used including felt, velour, sweater knits, denim, fleece, satin, and the list goes on and on. You can make stockings in traditional shapes or experiment with other shapes including high heels, boots, flip-flops, paws, dog bones, mittens, bloomers, hats and much more. Adding embroidery adds a colorful and creative touch to stockings. Adorn stockings with designs that match the personality of the recipient. You can even add the recipient's name to the stocking for more customization. Be sure to include festive holiday colors and fabrics too. To finish the stocking with even more festive flair, add beads, crystals, feathers, and other accessories.
Now that you've been inspired and are ready to get stitching, we have some great project tutorials listed below that will show you how to create a basic stocking, and some tutorials that will help you take your stocking to the next level. Have a good time and let your imagination take flight!


Sparkling Christmas Stocking

This stocking uses glitter felt for added sparkle and shine, but feel free to modify the instructions to work with any fabric. Choose denim, velvet, velour - possibilities are endless!

These free project instructions give information on how to create a traditional stocking with a banded top, and where to place embroidery designs for extra festive and personal appeal. Click here to get started!


Stocking Story Sets

New stocking story sets are a great way to tell a Christmas tale. Three coordinating designs stitched together make a wonderful medley on a stocking.

Stitch the nativity story, share the greatest gifts, stitch a merry Christmas, and dream of a white Christmas. Use these themed designs or create your own story -- choose a set of designs that display your favorite Christmas memory, gift or family tradition.

There are thousands of
Christmas designs at Embroidery Library that will make your stocking dazzle and your story shine. And, you can choose any stocking project to boot! To get started, click here for project instructions.


Mardi Gras Stocking

Christmas and Mardi Gras may be a few months apart, but adding the classic green, gold, and purple to holiday stockings is truly a way to let the good times roll.

If you're a Mardi Gras fanatic, party up your stocking with festive Mardi Gras embroidery designs. One of our favorite Mardi Gras designs is the Mardi Gras - Temps Rouler design, which will look great on this stocking. If not, choose any designs that are suitable for a king or queen. Adorn your creation with beads, feathers, ribbons, and more for a truly stunning stocking.


Golf Stocking

Hit a hole-in-one with this adorable stocking perfect for your favorite golfer. We stitched ours for "Dad" using applique letters. The black-and-white golf shoe is such a clever touch, and the free instructions show you exactly how to make it!

Click here to get started on this clever stocking. Here are some great designs that would look great on this golf stocking: a golf bag, Mr. Claus on the Green or Mrs. Claus on the Green, or this adorable Gotta Golf Duckie.


Snowy Sweater Stocking

You don't have to go to the fabric store to find supplies for this stocking -- use an old sweater you have lying around your closet! Sweaters make sweet stockings that can be cherished year after year. Click here for project instructions!


Rowdy-Howdy Stocking

Take a trip to a wild west with this Christmas stocking perfect for little cowboys and cowgirls.

The bandana hanger is the ultimate touch. Add a bit of faux leather and some snazzy snaps, and even Santa will do a double take! Click here for instructions on how to stitch this wild stocking.

There are lots of fantastic western style embroidery designs that would look smashing on this stocking. To continue the bandana paisley look, click here for more designs. We also recommend the Cowboy Couture designs, Simple Cowgirl designs, and the Wild West designs for your stocking project. Y'all have fun now!


Victorian Charm Stocking

Stitch a glorious Victorian style stocking for yourself and all those stylish ladies near and dear to you. Adorned with beautiful embroidery and delicate charms, this non-traditional high-heeled stocking will look stunning hanging on a fireplace mantle or banister. Click here for project instructions.


Festive Felt Stocking

One of the classic fabrics to use to make a stocking is felt. It's durable, easy to clean, and comes in a variety of colors. You can use the traditional colors of red, green, and white, or choose contemporary colors of blue, purple, and pink.

This stocking features radiant blue and silver reindeer, but there are thousands of Christmas designs available at Embroidery Library that would work wonderfully. Click here for free project instructions.


Sweater Stocking

Sweater knits are great for Christmas stockings, and you don't have to make a trip to the fabric store! Use an old sweater to make a charming, cozy stocking perfect for adorning your home at Christmastime. This project is similar to the Snowy Sweater Stocking project because it repurposes an old sweater, but it has a slightly different stocking shape. Click here to get started.

Products used in this Project: