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A while back I made and sold dozens of sock monsters in order to donate money to my favorite cause, Collateral Repair Project. This non-profit aids Iraqis and Syrians fleeing violence in the Middle East through community building, education, and emergency aid. I sat in my comfortable house night each evening listening to podcasts on science or culture as I stitched these soft toys. My dogs slept on the rug nearby. When my kids came in the room I solicited their ideas for the next sock monster’s face. I hadn’t taken on larger monsters in the world, but I could channel my concerns into soft monsters.
These little creatures required very little in the way of new materials other than stuffing and socks. Their features were created out of vintage buttons, embroidery floss, rick rack, and thread so old it was wrapped around wooden spools. This made them extra special because these notions were left to me by my mother and grandmother.
(If you’re making sock monsters as a toy for any child under five, do not use buttons or other sewn-on feature that could be pulled or bitten off.)
How To Make Sock Monsters
1. Select a baby or toddler-sized sock. The larger the sock, the larger the monster. You can use solid color, patterned, striped, or solid color on bottom—just be sure that the socks aren’t emblazoned with the company logo unless you want the monster to feature those words.
2. Cut an inch or so strip from the open end of the sock.
3. Position the sock heel up. Snip open a small space at the toe, about an inch or less. If you choose, you can also make a small slit at the heel where you can sew in a tongue or tasty morsel that the monster might want to chew on.
4. Turn the sock inside-out. Sew the ends and sides of the ears closed in a continuous seam. Try making one shorter than the other or angled or otherwise unique.
5. If you made a slit in the sock’s heel back in step two, you can add mouth features now. This little guy’s tongue is a sewn-in pouch made from leftover bits of sock, although a strip of felt would work too. (It’s shown already stuffed and finished.)
6. Stuff the sock tightly with polyfill or old pillow contents or dryer lint or whatever you’ve got. Start with the ears and work your way down. Leave the bottom end open for now, as you may want to stitch through this opening as you add features.
7. Now it’s time to add unique features. Remember, if you’re making a sock monster for a baby or young child, the safest features are those drawn or securely embroidered on.
Try some scary felt teeth.
A silly sideways felted mouth and giant button eyes.
Perhaps a bright patch of embroidery floss hair.
Or ring glasses.
8. Sew the open end, your monster’s rear, closed. You may choose to seam the sides together for a simple bottom, which looks like toes on this head-standing sock monster.
Or insert a circle of sock fabric and sew the opening shut, making a somewhat more stable monster.
9. Try experimenting with feet, hands, and wings. Peaceful diversity in the sock monster world. It’s a start.