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When I was a child, our family almost always had a paper advent calendar with little doors that opened up to reveal the story of Christ's nativity. It's a tradition that was started by German Christians in the 19th century as the whole family anticipated one of the most important days of the year - Christmas day.
Last holiday season, I had this crazy idea of making an advent garland with twenty-five mini stockings. I was inspired by a red and white felt one from Crate n Barrel. I didn't use felt, however, because that would have required spending money, which I did not. Everything I used for this project was 100% already in my craft room.
Here's what you need:
Bleached or unbleached cotton lining or muslin (I actually had some leftover white dupioni silk, so the back of my stockings are silk. Fancy, right?)
Full size mailing labels
Ribbon or yarn (or both)
Sewing needle and white thread
The first thing I did was find a stocking pattern online from the Graphics Fairy and adjust the size. I can fit two stockings on one piece of 8.5 x 11 paper. I found the wreath image on the same website. I used the No. 2 font for the numbers and chose a light gray to give it an aged feel.
Using Photoshop, I placed two stockings on the page, one with a wreath and one without so that my garland would alternate back and forth. Try to place the cuffs about 1/2 inch from the edge of the paper (you'll see why down below).
I did not make 13 different files; I simply re-typed the numbers on one page before printing, saving ONLY the stockings/wreath image for a template. I made the outline of the stocking very pale in color because I don't need it to show; it's just a guide. If you have Photoshop, you can totally hide the outline while printing the numbers. If you don't have Photoshop, you can easily do this in a word processing program.
To print on fabric, simply stick a mailing label onto the fabric, smooth it down, and cut around. The paper label gives the fabric stability so the printer will take it. Most printers print on the side facing downward so I fed my fabric-lined paper with the fabric down and hit print.
Note: You can reuse the mailing label multiple times before it's not sticky anymore. I probably only used 3-4 pieces for the whole project.
After printing out all the numbered sides of the stocking, I then printed the stocking outlines (they're really light colored, remember). Now, I know this is kind of wasteful, but it's so much easier to sew first and cut the stockings out after, in order to get uniformity and keep the material from bunching. That's why I printed the stocking outlines as a sewing guide. You can skip the second printing if you want to pin 25 paper stockings onto the fabric and cut them all out.
Take the material off the adhesive paper. Lay the numbered side face up, and place the stocking outline face up on top of that. Whatever is on the inside will be on the outside of the finished stocking. Pin the two pieces of material together. These are so tiny, I didn't line them. Fold down the top of the cuff about 1/2" until you get to the outline of the stocking, then fold it again another 1/2", and make a hem with Stitch Witchery. Turn the whole thing over and do it again. An ironed hem means no sewing marks across the top of the stocking and it saves time. The hot iron will also seal the ink onto the fabric. Just make sure not to get the ink wet!
Next, using the stocking outline as a guide, sew the two pieces together. If you printed out both sides, the stockings should line right up. Trim off the access fabric to about 1/4 inch and turn inside out. Voila! Cutest little stocking ever. Only 24 more to go!
You'll need enough ribbon/yarn for the width of all 25 cuffs to fit plus however much you want for a bow. I made a bow on one side first, before cutting the ribbon to make sure I left enough.
Hand sew each corner onto ribbon with an x stitch or use miniature clothespins to clip them on. Fill with candy, small presents, evergreens, or the Christmas story. Voila!