A classic sock monkey... or any beastie you like!
It's time for an all-new updated sock-beast making instruction post! Hooray!
Don't worry if you've never done any sewing at all ever. Just get a darning needle, some plain knitting yarn, all the single socks you can find (wash them first), some toy stuffing, buttons and ribbons and bells if you like, and put aside a couple of hours.
Okay. Here are your basic instructions:
And here is the main thing that I've worked out:
You can make a very neat-looking monkey by using a sewing machine, or hand-sewing it with needle and thread, turning all the parts inside out to sew them. This is quite fiddly, and not really suitable for young children to do. Instead, sew your monkey with a darning needle and knitting yarn. Smooth cotton yarn works best (any other kind will do as long as it isn't lumpy and doesn't tear easily - tug to test). Sew on the outside, as neatly as you can - but no neater. That way the stitches can become part of the design. And there won't be any bad tangling and knotting!
Don't worry too much about loose ends. Just draw them all inside the monkey with the needle at the end to neaten it up. Don't worry too much anyway.
(This one isn't my monkey, someone made it at a workshop I was leading in Ghent and kindly gave me permission to use the photo.)
As you can see here, you can keep using more socks to make clothes for the monkey. Or for whatever beastie it is that you are making.
(The cat is knitted, but to the same basic pattern.)
And you needn't stick to the pattern neither, and you needn't use only socks.
Using this method, many children can make a sock beastie within two hours.
I recommend doing it in any order you like after finishing the body. It's a bit boring to have to do the arms right after the legs, so much sewing... more fun to do the face first!
VERY IMPORTANT: if you make a sock monkey for a baby or a toddler, DON'T SEW ON ANY SMALL PARTS THAT COULD COME OFF AND BE SWALLOWED OR BREATHED IN, buttons and such. Just embroider the features instead!
SOME MORE ADVICE FOR TEACHERS (and anyone wanting to craft sock beasts with children):
If you're just making one monkey, you can just wash and empty an old pillow for stuffing. If you make more, it's worth buying a big bag of toy stuffing, and don't take the very cheapest grade if you can because that's really lumpy.
A kilo bag of good stuffing should fill twenty monkeys, but cheap stuff might just go half that far. Be generous in your estimate, else you'll end up with some sad flat monkeys. If you are going to to make monkeys with a whole class of children, make one yourself first, it will help you to see how much stuffing is needed (and you should try it out first anyway).
Make sure to take the time to show children (and sewing novices) how to fix the end of the thread to the fabric with a simple knot when they start sewing, and how to sew around and around (overcasting).
They can work the rest out, but this bit is essential, else they will often be unable to start at all.
If they revert to the second kind of stitch (which isn't sturdy enough) it might be because they are left-handed and you demonstrated the stitching right-handed (or vice versa). Or they cleverly realised it's faster this way. Just explain it again.
Also make sure they all manage to cut the legs correctly, that's the only part that's hard to fix if it goes wrong. Once they are busy sewing legs, all is well.
Tell them not to keep sewing until all the thread is used, but to leave enough to tie a knot with it at the end (if this happens, just unpick the last few stitches, no big deal).
Collect buttons and other things to sew onto your sock creatures. It's nice to have jars of them to choose from. Collect (and wash!) single socks, the more you have the better. There can NEVER be too many socks supplied for a workshop. Also keep cut-up socks, they can be used for parts.
Now Go Forth and Make Beasties.
Then photograph them and send them to me, so I can laugh and post them here (if allowed).
You'll love them. They will probably end up looking a bit like yourself. And you'll be proud.
And yes, I also still run sock beastie workshops for children and adults if I have time. (Two hours, paid, you supply most of the socks.)