Tutorial: Say It With Sock Monsters


handmade sock monsters,
Sock monsters are soft fun. (all images: L. Weldon)

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 colorpatterned, 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.

This is the space between the ears.
This is the space between the ears.

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.

Go ahead, cut. Socks are forgiving. (image: L. Weldon)
Go ahead, cut. Socks are forgiving.

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.

Add personality as you go. Mistakes add it too.


Trim the seam.

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.)

What a heel.
What a heel.

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.

Get in my belly!
Get in my belly!

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.

Ask any dental professional. Green teeth are terrifying.

A silly sideways felted mouth and giant button eyes.

Socks with colored ribbing at the top make cheerful monster ears.

Perhaps a bright patch of embroidery floss hair.

This guy also has a braided green tail.

Or ring glasses.

Tight stuffing and asymmetrical ears improve this monster’s look.

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.

Hand sewing lends, um, charm?

Or insert a circle of sock fabric and sew the opening shut, making a somewhat more stable monster.

Round butts help them sit securely. That’s my excuse too.

9. Try experimenting with feet, hands, and wings. Peaceful diversity in the sock monster world. It’s a start.

handmade sock monster,
Handmade sock monster takes on the world.

Laura is the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and Free Range Learning, a handbook of natural learning. She lives on a small farm notable only for its lovestruck goose.