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Stop!!! Don’t throw away those nifty wool socks! So, maybe they have a few holes…BUT, that doesn’t mean that your comfy, cozy life with them has to be over.
Anyway, that’s what I told myself when my favorite Costco socks (a Christmas present from my aunt), started to wear through. Of course, I am capable of justifying the saving of anything that has crafting potential. Holey socks are no exception!
Pretty wool mitts with lots of trims and texture seemed like the perfect accessories for my little marzipan elves. These socks also presented the perfect material and the perfect project for teaching my little elves to sew!
Supplies *Includes Affiliate Links*
- Old socks
- Fabric scraps
- Needle and thread
- Pin backs
- Craft glue
- Glue gun (optional)
- Sewing machine (optional)
“And sew“, as my maternal grandmother would say… (Get it? “Sew” = “So”…Sorry, I’ll stop.) We began by cutting the legs of the socks apart from the insteps/soles of the socks; just above their heels. Emma (9) and I tried on the newly-made mitts. So far, so good!
Now, for the fun part! I have a large stash of thrifted lace, and I also got these bags of trims and feathers through the local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook. I set aside the package of feathers for pin-making. (More on that, soon!)
Emma selected a pleated, gold ribbon to trim the edge of the mitts nearest her fingers, and a pretty, cream-colored lace for trimming the cuffs. She sat on my lap at the sewing machine. I let her operate the foot pedal, while I helped her to guide the material.
This is where things got really exciting! Emma and I cut rounded “patches” from the leftover heels and insteps of the various socks. Then, she got to rummage through my vintage button collection and hand-sew them into place. It was so fun to see her independent creativity and design sense emerge.
While Emma stitched, I got Elliott (8) in on the action. He selected the socks with the feather motif. We made a few stitches about a three-quarter inch away from the inside edge of the top of each mitt. This created a hole for the thumb. (The addition of a thumb-hole ensures that the mitts will stay in place, over the hands, when worn.)
Elliott approached button sewing with skepticism. I told him that learning a new skill is like experiencing a new food: You don’t know what it’s like until you try it! And, what do you know…Before long, he was hooked!
Is it a good idea to have mounds of flammable crafting materials right next to a candle? Probably not. Ignore that. Instead, observe the artful cutting of rounded shapes from unused sock bits, and the charming button collage patches. Emma made an extra butterfly patch for fun, and then she began to make the patches for her younger siblings’ mitts.
Even Eliza (5) learned to sew on buttons! She has a lot of patience and attention for detail, so she was a natural! As the kids completed their button patches, I sewed them onto the mitts. I used contrasting thread and a combination of straight and star-shaped clusters of stiches to add to the earthy, whimsy of the finished products.
And, that’s it! Look at how far these mitts came: From humble, holey socks, to beautiful, wearable pieces of art! The only “oops” I think I made was in not stretching Emma’s mitts enough as we machine-sewed the gold trim to the top edges. This made the edges of the socks lose their stretch, as the machine stitches locked the knit material in place. The trimmed edges became too rigid and tight to stretch over Emma’s hands far enough to be worn with thumb-holes. So, hers are the only ones without. However, her mitts are still completely wearable as-is!
Next, we turned our attention to making coordinating pins. My plan (and I think we succeeded) was to tie these costume looks together with head-to-toe texture! I had some scraps of tapestry material that seemed like the perfect base material for the pins. The fabric was sturdy, and I liked how its edges raveled a bit. (I don’t like hard edges when I’m going for a natural look.) First, we traced oval shapes with my favorite Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen.
I wanted each pin to have a flourish to it, so we cut little triangle bits from the sock scraps. We pinned them to overlap, a bit, then ran a gathering stitch along the bottom edge. Next, we pinned this “cockscomb” to the tapestry oval and tightened the gathering thread, a bit. This puckered the points, giving them extra dimension. Then, we stitched them into place.
On the girls’ pins, we gathered scraps of lace and stitched them down before adding the fabric “cockscombs”, buttons, and feathers. I began stitching pin backs onto finished pins.
It was sweet to see the kids find favorite buttons. They were really excited to include them on their personal accessories. Elliott had his heart set on this faux, wooden button. Of course, Annika also got into the sensory fun of playing with buttons!
Once the buttons were stitched, we played with tucking feathers between the layers of fabric and buttons until we liked the final arrangement. Then, we added craft glue to anchor them in place.
Some of the pins needed a little extra support, so we cut felt backs for them and glued them, after adding the feathers.
These pins are simple to make, but sewing all of the buttons proved to be time-consuming. I cheated and made a few, last-minute pins with hot glue. We could have made all of them, this way, but the kids wouldn’t have been able to be as hands-on. (Hot glue burns, yo!) Besides, I really wanted this to be an opportunity for them to learn to sew.
Here you can see some of the backs of the finished pins. The larger ones got two pin backs so they wouldn’t flop around, when worn. Some of the last-minute ones were hot glued. I paid extra attention so I wouldn’t accidentally gum up the hinges and clasps with globs of glue. The hand-stitched pin backs were also treating with a bit of craft glue, for durability.
And, here is the gorgeous array of our finished pins! They are studded with woodland button “jewels”, and enhanced with fabric and lace cockades and feathers.
The larger pins were worn on hats, shoulders, and chests. The smaller ones clasped the ends of scarves on less conspicuous areas of the costumes. See how they coordinate with the mitts?
This a sneak-peek of the accessories in action! They were such a fun way to add a distinctive look to the kids’ layers of their own clothes. It just goes to show that you can transform ordinary garments into extraordinary costumes with thoughtful styling and a few, special pieces.
Speaking of styling, my next blog post will show you how I assembled these individual garments into cohesive, costumed looks!
More Nutcracker Content
- Marzipan Cookies – Homemade Nutcracker: How we made the delicious cookies that accompany this project.
- Marzipan Reed Flutes – Homemade Nutcracker: The photo shoot of the finished project!
- Marzipan Behind The Scenes Bloopers – Homemade Nutcracker: The scoop on the hilarious challenges of photographing kids.