Reverse Appliqué – Engraving with Fabric

I have never bought a stocking.  It is right up there with pillows on my list of things you should not buy if you know how to sew.  Even if you don’t know how to sew, these felt stockings are an easy beginner sewing project.  There is only one seam to sew.

Helvetica Stockings

To make these personalized stockings for my family, I used reverse appliqué with felt.  This allowed me to use whatever font I wanted and customize the names.  I chose to use Helvetica font in all lowercase.  Helvetica is beautiful and simple for this project.  I opted to use full first names on our stockings.  If you use an initial on each stocking this project is even easier.  For us, other than the dog and nicknames all of our names start with J.  Initials were not unique enough for us.

DIY personalized stockings

Did I lose you at reverse appliqué?  It sounds fancy and complicated, but it is actually really simple.  Reverse applique is a technique for creating a design on fabric.  Instead of adding fabric (an appliqué) on top of another piece of fabric, for reverse appliqué you cut away the top piece of fabric in a design that reveals a piece of fabric underneath.  My no-sew reverse appliqué method works best when the top fabric does not fray.  Good choices are jersey and felt.

DIY felt stockings

I promise this is way easier than it looks.  My favorite projects produce a complicated looking end-result, but are actually really easy.  Writing out these steps took longer than it did to make one stocking.

To create your own personalized stockings, here are the supplies and step by step:


  • Felt in two or more colors
  • Sharp scissors
  • Fusible Web
  • Printer
  • Iron
  • Sewing Machine

Step by Step:

  1. Print out each name the size you want it to appear on the stocking.  You may need to use some trial and error with test prints to get the right size.
  2. Trace the name in reverse on to the paper side of the fusible web.  Unless you know how to print letters in reverse on your computer, you will need to trace them in reverse.  The easiest way is to tape your printed name on a window backwards (printed side facing window).  Tape the fusible web, paper side facing you, over the paper.  Trace the letters onto the paper side of the fusible web.   Cut a rectangle around the name.  You only need about an inch of fusible web all around.
  3. Cut out the stocking pieces.  You can freehand a stocking shape or trace an old stocking to get the right shape.  You may want to make a cardboard template, if you plan to make more than one stocking.  Cut one front and one back piece from the same color felt (I used dark gray).  Cut one lining piece from a different color of felt (I used bright blues and greens for my liners).  The top of the lining piece should be about 4 inches taller than the other stocking pieces to accommodate the cuff.
  4. Iron the fusible web onto the backside of the front stocking piece.  Position the name where you want it to appear on the stocking.  I put ours starting at the heal and going up the side.
  5. Before you peel away the paper from the fusible web, use sharp scissors to cut out each letter.  Start by snipping a hole in the middle of a letter and then cut outward to the outline of the letter.
  6. Peel the paper backing off the fusible web.  With the lining piece laying right side up, lay your front piece on top of the lining, right side up.  The fusible web will end up sandwiched in between.  Line up the edges of the two layers.  Iron the top layer to fuse the web to the lining.  You will end up with the stocking front fused to the lining with the cutout letters revealing the lining underneath.
  7. With the back laying down wrong side up, lay your front lined piece on top of the back, right side up.  All three pieces will match up perfectly.  Fold down the lining cuff and cut at an angle if desired (I angled my cuff so it was about 4″ in the front and 2″ in the back).
  8. Cut a 1 x 4″ piece of felt for the hanging loop or use a piece of matching ribbon.  Fold the loop in half and insert between back layer and lining at the top, back edge of the stocking.
  9. Sew around the shape of the stocking.  Start at the top back of the cuff where the loop is.  Sew all the way round and up the other side stopping at the top, front of the cuff.
  10. Trim the excess felt about 1/8″ away from the seam.  This will help even up the three layers and allow the lining layer to peek through perfectly at the seam.

DIY personalized felt stockings

I adore the texture of the felt and the relief where the letters appear.  It is like engraving for fabric.  I chose completely unconventional colors for holiday stockings, but the grey felt helps unify the set.  Just goes to show, you don’t have to use red and green to be festive.

Sharing this project here:
Blue Cricket Design
House of Hepworths
Shabby Nest
Tatertots and Jello
Centsational Girl

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44 Responses to Helvetica Stockings {Tutorial}

  1. Lisa says:

    How cute are those stockings? I want to make them for my family. Right now I’m sick so my head started spinning when I was reading your directions, but I sew so I’m sure it’ll be as easy as you say. Thanks for such a cool idea. BTW, do you have suggestions for making a felt pillow that doesn’t look cheap? I’m trying to make one, but I’m using crafting felt and it’s really shiny. Maybe I should try a different fabric.

    • Jackie says:

      Hey Lisa. For pillows I would use the wool felt. It is way more expensive and the color selection is limited, but the felt is thicker and better quality than the polyester craft felt. You can get the wool felt by the yard at Joanns. Can’t wait to see your finished pillows!

  2. KasiaJ says:

    Wow, these look amazing. I’ve never tried reverse appliqué before, but I think I might finally have to.

    Love the colors, too!

  3. LOVE these stockings! They are perfect and simple :)

  4. Stacie says:

    Hey first of all I wanted to say thanks so much for tweeting the graphic I made about 12 ways to wear a scarf! You might like the scarves e-book we made full of scarf tricks and styling tips. ;)

    Also, those stockings are incredible! Have you seen the documentary on Helvetica? It’s really good!

    • Jackie says:


      Yes we saw the documentary. My husband was so sweet to get it on Netflix. Is that totally geeky that we watched it for an stay-in date night? Oh how life changes after having kids :)

  5. Tanya says:

    Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial. I have been wanting to try reverse applique but been a little nervous. I am pinning this. Hopefully I will be able to duplicate. The colors you used are wonderful.

  6. Monica says:

    These are great. I am just wondering if you used wool felt? I have never used fusible webbing with the wool felt so am wondering how it will hold up to that heat and if it will shrink my stocking size down?
    Thanks for any tips!

    • Jackie says:


      I used the synthetic felt, called EcoFelt from Joanns. There are more color options and it works well with the fusible web because it is thinner. The only caution I have is do not use the highest setting on the iron or keep it on the felt too long, because it will turn shiny. Good luck. Let me know if you try it with the wool felt.

  7. Louisa says:

    I love them! I plan to make some initial stockings this year. I think it would be fun to make an asymmetrical cuff like you made.

  8. Jill says:

    Just wanted to profess my love for you. I have been looking ALL over Pinterest and everywhere else for a stocking I loved–for months. Nothing. And then I saw this today on How About Orange. seriously. L.O.V.E. Finally I can get on this project. You are a styling genius.

  9. Lori says:

    Thanks so much…can’t wait to try this. Stop by and enter to win my Heirloom ornament made from vintage jewelry…only 1 day left to enter. Warm wishes

  10. kim says:

    love your stockings. any chance you would make them for others to purchase? i’d buy 4… maybe even 5!

    • Jackie says:


      I am very flattered, but I work full time in addition to blogging. I don’t have time to make stockings for sale. I really encourage you to try making them. They are much simpler to make than they look.

    • Maya says:

      Hi Kim! I just made some over the holiday for my friends, I’d be able to make some for you if you are still interested! Happy new year!

  11. carolyn says:

    Just saw your stockings on Pinterest and had to tell you how awesome they are. So simple yet they look fantastic. Thanks for the tutorial. Now to carve out a little time between now and Christmas to make some!

  12. Julie says:

    I just saw your stockings on Pinterest, and I’m getting my supplies today so I can start my own! I LOVE the colors you used! I’m a new-sewer, and am really excited for my first big project!How much felt would you say I would need to make 4 stockings? Thank you!

    • Jackie says:


      It depends on the size of the felt. If you use the ecofelt/ polyester it is usually 72″ wide, so 1 yard would be plenty. If you use the wool felt, you may need 2 yards because the width is less. For your pop of color you need half as much just to line the front of the stocking.

  13. Bri says:

    I am having a hard time cutting the letters out of the felt. Any advice? I have an exacto knife and it is just not working. I am afraid I am not doing it correctly, because this project is taking much longer than I anticipated and I still have not been able to get the letters cut out. Any advice?

    • Jackie says:


      I am sorry you are having trouble. You need to use sharp scissors. My favorite is a small spring-loaded pair of snips by Fiskars. The blades are only 2″ long and very sharp (I think they are meant for snipping rag quilts). Normal fabric scissors would work too. Punch a hole in the middle of the letter with the blade and then cut around the letter. I hope this makes it easier for you.

  14. Heidi says:

    Hi! I absolutely love how simple, yet pretty these are. I’m all about using non-traditional colours for Christmas decorating. I’m planning on making these for next year, but I live in a smaller town and have one fabric store with next to no selection of fabrics. I love the colours you used and am ordering online. I’m wondering if you can let me know what colours you used? :) Thanks so much for the tutorial! I can’t wait for our cute stockings next year! :)

  15. Brilliant Jackie. I used a straight edge and pivoting xacto to cut out my letters—the pivoting blade was key. However, if I ever do this it again I think I’ll have the letters die cut.

  16. what a great idea! im a beginner sewer and so excited to try this out!

  17. Blythe says:

    I loved this tutorial and I LOVE Helvetica! I ran into issues with bonding the two ecofelts together, though, even though I followed the directions. I used lightweight fusible web at first, and then had to add some heavyweight fusible tape to keep the insides of the letters (like o’s and a’s) bonded. After sewing and filling these bad boys, I may still add glue or something just to make sure things stick. Perhaps my iron is lower temperature than what would be best.

  18. betsy says:

    Happy Holidays!
    I just wanted you to know that my daughter (12) and I made these wonderful stockings two days ago and it took us just over 4 hours start to finish for five stockings. I used myriad pro font and was able to reverse the characters and print directly on the fusible web. BTW, they turned out A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E.
    Thank you for your great post!

  19. […] when I found this tutorial for the “Helvetica Stocking” via apartmenttherapy (via Teal and Lime), I knew these were the ones. I mulled it over in my […]

  20. jessica w. says:

    Thank you sooo much for the tutorial! I made two of my own. Here is the link so you can see it!

  21. Sarah says:

    Hi Jackie,

    I just wanted to tell you that I made your Helvetica stockings today (I’m a graphic designer so I LOVE this!). I put a pic on fb but wasn’t sure if a link would work here or not but I’ll give it a try.

    Anyway, they turned out great! So thank you so much for posting this idea!


  22. Lisa says:

    Oh my goodness…Jackie…I LOVE these!! Is there anyway that you would do a special order for me? I cant sew a button to save my life, but I seriously love these? I know that its getting to be crunch time for this Christmas, but I would totally use them for next!! Let me know! Thanks!! :)

    • Jackie says:

      Lisa, I am so flattered. Unfortunately I can’t accommodate custom order stockings. Perhaps you could do the cutting and find a friend or family member to stitch up the sides…the sewing part takes less than 5 minutes per stocking. Maybe offer to cut the felt for your friend’s stockings too in exchange for the sewing help.

  23. […] shamelessly copied Jackie from Teal and Lime‘s stocking idea.  I chose to only use initials and did not angle my cuff, but other than […]

  24. Theresa says:

    Your stockings are beautiful!
    I just made 8 using your tutorial. I love how they turned out! I used red and lime green, and did a straight cuff.
    Thank you so much for the tute and inspiration!
    (I posted pictures on

  25. Jess says:

    Thank you so much for the tutorial! I am NOT a crafts person, but I wanted to make my family’s stockings. The stocking I had when I was little was homemade as well. I had been searching online for months when I found your tutorial. Your directions were super simple to follow. The stockings turned out beautifully and they are classy looking. What a great idea! Thank you again!

  26. Karina Lee says:

    can you post the stocking template you used? i really like the size and shape of yours and i can’t find anything that resembles it

    • Jackie says:

      Karina Lee, I apologize, I no longer have my template. I drew it free-hand after basing it on a similar sized stocking I liked.

  27. Lynn says:

    I love the stockings they are beautiful!!! I am wanting to make me some and I love the size you used do you happen to remember what size your font is? I have a great pattern for a stocking but finding the right font size has not been easy
    thank you so much!

    • Jackie says:

      Lynn, I do not recall the font size other than it being big…like 3 digits big. When I made mine, I chose a large font, printed out a sample, and placed it on the stocking to see if it was the right size. If not, I adjusted. Hope that helps. Also, measuring the width of your stocking and using the rulers on your word processing program to choose a font that matches the height you want might help.

  28. Maya says:

    Thanks Jackie, my housemates loved these!!

  29. Ann says:

    Beautiful stockings and easy to follow instructions! I made these for my family this year and blogged about it here (crediting you, of course, for the idea).

  30. Nancy says:

    I have 7 children, and they each have their own color. This would be perfect!

  31. Jené says:

    These are too cute! I’m debating what type of felt to get – does it have to be a wool/rayon blend like the Eco Felt, or would regular crafting felt in acrylic or polyester work just as well?

    • Jackie says:

      I have only used the Eco Felt. I believe the craft felts maybe thinner and the sheets are quite small. The eco felt by the yard is always on sale, so it’s really inexpensive.

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