14th century fitted stockings,  14th century projects,  Craft with Racaire,  Hand-Sewing,  Projects

My very first fitted medieval stockings sewing pattern – my first women’s hose – from the basic pattern to the hand sewn tight fitted stocking

My-very-first-own-medieval-stockings-sewing-pattern-my-first-womens-hose-revisitedIt is slowly getting cold and nasty outside, therefore let’s talk about my tight fitted woolen medieval stockings again, which keep me warm and cosy during cold winter days. 🙂

If you want to make your own tight fitted medieval stockings, you can find a very detail tutorial of how I constructed the basic pattern for my medieval stockings here:

If you followed my detailed instructions in the postings above, you should have a good basic pattern now, on which we can base the actual tight fitted woolen medieval stockings. Constructing your basic pattern for your medieval stockings was the most difficult and time consuming part of this project. I can assure you, it’s getting much easier from now on. 🙂

Today I will share the next step as well as some tips and tricks with you about how to make your own pair of perfect fitting medieval stockings. Therefore I revisited all of my old postings about how I made my very first pair of fitted medieval stockings, collected the information for you here and also added some details based on my experience concerning more recent medieval stocking projects. Not only that, I also looked through my pictures of other medieval stockings projects on my tablet and added some of them for a better illustration of the following steps.

Ok, let’s start with the picture of the basic medieval stocking pattern again:

making stocking pattern

You maybe remember the picture on the right from my last posting – “My very first fitted medieval stockings sewing pattern – my first women’s hose – revisited, updated & expanded posting – short addendum“.
Please make sure that you properly marked your both pattern parts with left foot (or right foot) and maybe even with “left” and “right” on the sides – as I described in the “…short addendum” posting. Now you can finally get your wool fabric and proceed with the next step.

For the next step lay out your fabric on a flat surface – I normally use the floor for this step and fold the fabric once. If your fabric is wide enough you can fold it lengthwise in about the middle, otherwise just take the end of your fabric and fold it over the next part of your fabric. To determine if your fabric is wide enough take the paper pattern for your upper foot and lay it out as you can see it at the picture above – now turn the pattern by about 45°. You can turn it to the left or right – it doesn’t really matter to which side you turn it. This step is necessary because we need to cut the upper leg part on the bias to the fabric. By cutting the upper leg part on the bias to the fabric we use the natural stretching abilities of the wool fabric for our medieval stocking project.

If you haven’t heard about this before, there is a very easy way to find out what I mean – take your woolen fabric and try how much it stretches when you pull it widthwise and then lengthwise. A good wool fabric should stretch a little but not much. Now take your second hand and place it about 45° to your other hand on the fabric – on the bias of the fabric – and stretch it. You should see now that the fabric stretches much more now. This is the effect we want to use for the upper part of our stocking. It’s very important to have this “natural” stretching because we will fit our stockings very tightly.

Ok, now fold your fabric however it suits the size of your pattern best and lay the paper pattern for your upper leg upon it – pin the paper pattern to the two layers of fabric. This way we can cut out the fabric for two legs in just one step.

Short note: If you have a precious wool fabric and would like to cut one part after another to work as fabric saving as possible, please don’t hesitate to do so.

The part for the foot can be cut out on the bias but doesn’t need to. I always cut out this part on a place where it fits best and where I don’t lose too much fabric due to cutoff. I tried this part cut out on the bias and not cut out on the bias and it really doesn’t make much difference – therefore I recommend that you cut it out where it is best for you and where you can save some of your precious wool fabric. When you cut out your fabric – don’t forget to add seam allowance!

Here the cut out fabric pieces for two pairs of stockings to replace my very first pair of stockings after some years of use and repair:


Please notice the stickers which I pinned to the single stocking parts. As soon as I remove the paper pattern from the wool fabric and “unfold” the fabric to get a left and a right part, I immediately label them with “left foot” and “right foot” as well as “left” and “right”. A good labeling at this stage of the project saves you a lot of head ache later. 🙂

Now you can continue with pinning. Take the leg fabric part for your upper leg (left or right) and pin to the top part of the instep the according (left or right) foot part. Don’t forget that you have some seam allowance and that the actual sewing line is further on the inside of the fabric. The pinning of the sides is a little bit tricky now. To make it a little bit easier you can make a small cut into the edges left and right from your top instep line going 45° to the outside – that’s about 135° from both fabric borders into the fabric to the imaginary line of sewing you will do next. But don’t cut too far – this would just weaken the fabric at this place and could result into a rip in the fabric when you start wearing them and put tension on this point. As soon as you hand-sew them, you still want a little bit of uncut fabric next to your seam to strengthen your fabric and seam against any future rip at this point.

As soon as you finished the pinning you can hand-sew both parts together and finish the seams – repeat this on the stocking for the other foot as well. Please don’t forget to double check the second pattern that you really mirrored both parts and won’t sew together two left or right sides.

Short note for those of you who haven’t done a lot of hand-sewing till now: I took several pictures of how I hand-sewed my latest medieval stockings project and I will put together a small tutorial for you soon. 🙂

As soon as you sewed the stockings together at the instep part, you can pin together the rest of your stocking. A good point to start your pinning is the seam of your instep at the bottom – put the end of your seams of your instep on top of each other and place your first pins left and right here, next to the border of your fabric. Continue pinning from here until you reach your toe part as well as to your knee part. When you completed pinning, you can try on your stocking again.

Because your wool will stretch a little and the amount of fabric you added as seam allowance at your instep might alter the pattern of your stocking a little bit, we need again to do a little bit of fitting. For this you need to put again a needle behind your ankle to put some tension on your fabric and to keep it in place. By doing this, you can readjust the placement of your top instep line as well as the placement of the bottom seam of your instep seam at the bottom.

Now we need to do something to which I normally refer as an additional fitting. You need to put your needles as close as possible to your foot. When you are finished you will have something very similar to the picture underneath:


For the next step you have to readjust the play behind your knee and behind your ankle again, like I described it in my very first posting about the basic pattern construction. This two steps will allow you to get in and out of the stocking in the future and are very important for the construction of the medieval stocking.

At the following picture you can see how I readjusted the pins behind my heel in my ankle section for my own tight fitted medieval stockings while I was pulling out my heel very slowly and carefully:

2014-11_Racaire_medieval-stockings_fitting-sewing_3As soon as you readjusted all your pins and are comfortable with the fit of your stocking, repeat this procedure at your second stocking at your other foot.

When you completed re-pinning and re-fitting both stockings, we can proceed with the next step and check the fitting. I highly recommend to do this next step – the check of the fitting – if you want to have perfectly fitted stockings. It really doesn’t take long and allows you to check the fitting of your stockings without all the needles.

For this check you just need a simple sewing thread and needle. Thread your needle and sew both sides of your stockings together with a simple running stitch. This stitches don’t need to be small or pretty. Their only purpose is to keep both fabric sides together so that you can put on your stockings without all the needles and check the fit. It also allows you to re-adjust the final fit of your stockings, where needed.

Here a picture of my running stitches for my last fitting check before the final hand-sewing – and yes, this are quite long stitches for me. 🙂

2014-11_Racaire_medieval-stockings_fitting-sewing_2At the picture above you can see that I do my best to stay as close as possible to the pins to assure a very close fit of my medieval stockings.

Sewing medieval stockings 1Now replace the pins on both stockings with simple running stitches and try on your stockings again.

If you think that you want your stockings to fit a little bit tighter at a certain place, then now is the time where you can re-adjust your fitting with an additional line of running stitches at this part. Make sure that the additional fitting is comfortable by trying on your stockings after each alteration. Add as many additional lines of running stitches as you like – until you are completely satisfied with the fit of your stockings. 🙂

Btw. at the picture on the left and underneath you can see how I checked the fitting of my very first medieval stockings for the very first time. 🙂
(No, it’s not necessary to turn your stocking inside out as I did for my very first fitting check.)

Sewing medieval stockings 2When you are happy with the fit of your stocking, take a good and firm sewing thread and thread it into your needle. Now you can go over your line of rather long running stitches with smaller and more durable stitches. While you are doing that, you can take out the thread of the long running stitches when you work over it.

Here a picture of how I did this for my very first medieval stocking:

Sewing medieval stockings 3

Now you just need to replace the whole line of long running stitches on your stockings with a line of small running stitches. I highly recommend to also use the back stitch from time to time – especially at the parts which have to deal with a lot of tension like behind your ankle and at the bottom of your foot. 🙂

And a short addition to the picture above – after the first fitting I felt like the fit of my very first medieval stocking could be a little bit more tight. Therefore I decided not to go over the running stitches but to place my sewing stitches a little bit more to the inside. I just shifted the line of stitches by about 1-2mm to the inside but this was enough to achieve an closer fit. This is a good way to adjust the fit of your stockings if you are ok with the overall fit but want them a little bit more tight.

For the next step just determine the amount of seam allowance you want to work with and cut off the excess fabric on both stockings. Finish your seams as usual and – voila – you have a pair of perfectly fitted stockings. To complete this project you now just need to decide which shape you want for the top of your stockings. Mark this line on both stockings, cut off surplus fabric and finish this top seam. 🙂

And here a picture of my very first hand-sewn medieval stockings for your inspiration – finished and ready to be worn at events:

Sewing medieval stockings 4

…and I really wore this stockings until they literally fell off my feet. Well, there is always a point in the life of a stocking when mending doesn’t make any more sense. I already replaced them with other stockings – some of them even embroidered, but this is another posting… 😉

Short extra hint: You will discover that there is quite a difference between the first basic pattern made with a non-stretching material and when you actually work with stretching wool. There is absolutely no reason to throw away your very first basic pattern on which you worked so hard – this basic pattern is still great if you want to make medieval stockings from a fabric that doesn’t stretch much (linen, cotton, silk,…).
But now you reached a point where you might like to adjust your basic pattern and make it more suitable for wool. This can be easily achieved by just using the cutoffs of the excess material you just cut off your stockings. Lay out your basic stocking pattern before you and put your cut offs of excess fabric on top of it – align them according to the parts where you cut them off and mark it along the borders of your cutoffs on your basic pattern.
But don’t get your scissors right away and cut it out! You might like to save your basic pattern for later and copy it to some paper before you alter it. Don’t forget also to copy all descriptions and notes!
And now back to the basic pattern. before you make any alterations based on the cut-offs of your excess fabric, please keep in mind that not every wool stretches the same way. That means that other wools might stretch more or less on the bias. Therefore I recommend to add a little bit of play to the pattern and to cut it a little bit bigger than the lines of your cut-offs suggest. You know, it’s easier to cut off excess fabric than to work with too little fabric… 🙂 

I hope you enjoyed my new and very detailed posting of my medieval stockings tutorial: “from the basic pattern to the hand sewn tight fitted stocking”. I will try to add more information soon to make it even easier for you to make your own tightly fitted medieval stockings. 🙂

Best regards Racaire

PS.: You can find the first two parts of my detailed medieval stockings tutorial here: