Making a Leather Stocking

I can think of no better way to prepare for Christmas than with handmade leather stockings! I had so much fun with these! We went with a 2-3 oz. upholstery leather with a shearling top for our kits, but you can use the leather of your choice and create your own using the free downloadable pattern. Just make sure to stay within 2-4 oz. leather for the body of the stocking. Otherwise, it will get pretty tough to turn the stocking right side out. These stockings make great gifts that will last a lifetime!

Stocking Kits

Free Downloadable Stocking Pattern
Cuff Pattern
Stocking Tab Pattern

Step 1: Mark and cut out the leather stocking and tab*

Print out the free downloadable pattern or use an old stocking as a pattern.

I used a scratch awl to mark the pattern onto my leather. If a scratch awl does not work on your leather, you can use a pen or marker. I was able to use leather scissors to cut out all the patterns, but use whatever you are comfortable with.

*Important note– You’ll have to mark one side of the stocking and then flip the pattern over to mark the other side. Otherwise, you’ll have one side grain out and one side flesh out when you go to sew.

Step 2: Mark and cut out the stocking cuff

I used scissors to cut the shearling also but if you’re cutting hair-on-hide or a heavier leather you may need to use a knife.

Step 3: Stitch together your stocking main body

If you are using a sewing machine, go ahead and sew the stocking together.

If you’re hand stitching, use a stitching chisel (I used 5 mm on the whole stocking), punch your stitch holes, and then sew the stocking together using a saddle stitch, leaving about a 1/8” margin. You can do the stitching in sections or, if you’re impatient like me, use a very long piece of thread J You’ll need three times the length of the area you are stitching. If you have questions on how a saddle stitch looks, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPHJJcOrRCc starting at 9:26.

   

Step 4: Sew the cuff

Take the cuff of your stocking and fold it in half so the shearling is facing in. Sew the two short sides together leaving a ½” seam. If hand sewing, mark a ½” stitching line, punch with the stitching chisel, and sew with a saddle stitch.

Sewing Machine:

Hand Sewing:

  

After stitching, I used a scissor and trimmed the shearling around the top of the seam so it’s easier to see the stitch holes when we get to the next step.

Step 5: This step is for hand stitching only. Punch your stitching holes along the top of the stocking, the shearling, and the tab

  

Step 6: Sew the cuff and tab to your stocking

This is going to be the trickiest part of sewing the stocking together. Leave the stocking inside out and wrap the cuff around the top of the stocking (shearling facing in). Make sure the seam of the shearling is at the back seam of the stocking. Fold the stocking tab in half and sandwich between the cuff and the stocking, grain side out. I put my tab right at the seam but if you want the tab a little more towards the back, go for it. If you feel more comfortable gluing the pieces together before stitching, you certainly can. Start sewing at the seam where your tab is layered in and sew all the way around the stocking. If there is extra shearling, just sew a small tuck in as you finish the last stitches. You won’t be able to see this once the stocking is turned right side out.

If you’re hand stitching, getting the needle through all three layers can be a little bit frustrating but there’s only about three stitches for the tab and once you get past that it’s a breeze. I used a saddle stich on all parts so the thread wouldn’t peek through when I turned it right side out.

I had a little bit of extra shearling when I came back around to my starting point, so I just sewed a tuck in and when I turned the stocking out it was not noticeable.

Step 7: Turn your stocking right side out

Start by folding down the top of the stocking once and then push up the toe and heel part of the stocking. Once the stocking is right side out, fold down the cuff and you’re all done. The stocking is complete!

  

Below are some other stockings I made with a ¾ oz. chap leather main body and a hair-on-hide cuff. I also made a few mini stockings with the same leather. The possibilities are endless. I think a 2-3 oz. natural leather with hair-on-hide cuff would be beautiful too. The leather would patina and you would get a darker color as the years go by.

Items Used For This Project:

Stocking Kit (includes pre-cut stocking main body, cuff and tab, Ritza Tiger Thread and 2 Needles)

Maul

Stitching Chisels

If you are making the stocking with your own leather you will also need:

Thread

Needles

Scissors

Scratch awl

 

 

DIY Leather Gift Tags

Add a meaningful touch to gifts with these handmade leather gift tags. Since Christmas is right around the corner and I personally love all things Christmas, I chose a Christmas theme, but you could add these to any gift, from birthday to anniversary and so much more! In addition, they can be made with whatever scraps of leather you have in your craft box. Keep in mind that you’ll want to use veg tanned leather so the stamp impressions stay nice and crisp. I used English bridle leather and natural veg tan scraps for this project.

Step 1: Cutting Tags

Mark and cut your leather pieces into roughly 2” wide x 3” long rectangles. The size is really up to preference, you can do smaller or larger.

Step 2: Trimming Corners

I wanted my tags to have clipped corners, so I measured ½” in on the top and down the sides and cut according to my marks. I varied the measurements a little bit so some tags have a more narrow top.

Step 3: Stamping

Time to stamp! If you are using natural veg tan leather, use a sponge and wet the leather so the stamps will sink in nicely. The English bridle leather does not need to be wetted.

I used ¼” and 1/8” letter stamps. Again, this is up to preference. I was also looking for a more rustic look so I did not use a straight edge, I just went for it and I really liked the outcome.

Step 4: Dyeing

Apply dye if desired. I skipped this step, but if you are using natural leather and you want it darker, now would be the time to dye the tags. We recommend Fiebing’s Pro Dye and you can either dip dye or brush it on.

Step 5: Tape Off Painting Area

Use Frog tape or painter’s tape to tape off the area you will be painting. You can do straight lines or diagonal. I also did a fun triangle; the sky is the limit.

Step 6: Painting

The paint I used was Angelus® Paint in Light Gray and Glitterlites Silver Spark. Putting a coat of paint first and then the Glitterlites on top ensures the glitter covers the leather more evenly. I like a lot of glitter so I did 2-3 coats for maximum shine. I did a few tags with Glitterlites only (top right) and they turned out ok but I do like the ones with the paint underneath better.

Step 7: Let the paint dry completely and then remove the tape.

Step 8: Add Strings

Take an art knife or utility knife and make a small slit at the top of the tag. This is where the string will loop through. I used a scratch awl to widen the opening once the slit was cut. Take a piece of string or thread (approx. 8” long), double it and slide it through the opening, bring the ends of the string through the other looped end and pull tight.

That’s it! Your tag is ready to be added to a gift. These little guys are so fun and they add a pop of sparkle! Gold glitter would look great also, or a pretty green and red if you’re sticking to the Christmas theme. Have fun with it and add your own personal style.

Product list:

Steel Square

Scratch Awl

Art Knife

Mallet

¼” Letter Stamps

1/8” Letter Stamps

Angelus® Paint

Angelus® Glitterlites

Paint Brushes

String or Thread

Painters Tape

How to Walk Bevelers, Pear Shaders, and Other Leather Stamping Tools

by Jim Linnell

When I was starting out, something I wish that somebody had told me is how to hold stamping tools when you’re doing pear shading and beveling and such.

In fact, when I was first learning to do leatherwork, I watched somebody give a quick demo on how to use the pear shading tool.  It looked like it just scooted along the leather and it left this really nice, shaded in, burnished kind of an area. When I tried it, it didn’t come out anything like that. It looked like somebody had taken a hammer to it and just beat it up. The trick actually is in how you hold the tool.

When I’m using stamping tools, it may look like I’m sliding the tool along as I use it, but that’s not what’s going on at all. When I hold these tools, I’m actually holding it with a pretty tight grip. I’m holding it so that the thumb’s on one side, all the other fingers hold it, and I actually have my ring finger resting on the leather. The tool, when I hold it, is hovering just on the surface of the leather a little bit.

When using a tight grip, the tool will bounce back up off of the leather after striking it. That’s what’s actually happening when you see me walk it along. I’m holding it so that it’s just barely touching the leather, but I’m holding it with that same tight grip so that when you tap this tool, it bounces back up. It’s sitting on top of the leather, rather than sitting in a hole in the leather created by the previous impression.  When I walk the tool along, it’s ready to just kind of bounce along to the next impression.

When I use these leather stamping tools, it doesn’t move much at all between each tap of the mallet. I’m overlapping these impressions at least a good 2/3 of the width of the tool. That’s how you get it to come out nice and smooth without looking like somebody took a hammer to it. Then, if you’ve got the right moisture content in your leather, you get this really rich burnish. You get this nice color that comes out of your leather.

All of that comes from learning how to walk these tools. Learning how to grip the tools is so critical to making them work right. That’s one of the things I wish somebody had taken the time to show me how to do correctly. Learning how to actually make these tools work the way they’re intended will sure make your leatherwork comes out a lot smoother and a lot cleaner. This technique is the same for the pear shader, the beveler, and a number of other stamping tools.

You just gotta work at it. Again, the other thing is practice, practice, practice. I’ll say that a lot, but that’s really an important thing to do. Get after it. Give these tools a try and practice ’til you get them working smoothly for yourself.

Learn more about this and other beginner techniques in the video “Leathercraft Tips for Beginners with Jim Linnell”

Born and raised on a ranch in eastern Montana, Jim Linnell has had leatherworking in his blood ever since his first visit to the Miles City Saddlery. The sounds and smells of those visits are some of the most vivid memories he has of that early introduction to the leatherworking world. Now, after spending the last 47 years working with leather, those sounds and smells are still a part of his life. Jim has conducted classes or workshops on leatherworking in 42 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. He has also taught in Canada, England, Norway, France, Spain, and Puerto Rico. Jim’s leather art has been featured on magazine covers, catalog covers, in galleries and at countless shows. In the leatherworking world, he has received some of the most prestigious of their awards. The Al Stohlman Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Master Leather Artisan award from the Academy of Western Artists are some of the better known. Find out more by visiting elktracksstudio.com.