When my daughter was a wee baby, I discovered the awesomeness of baby leg warmers. All of the cuteness of leggings, but with SUPER-easy diaper changes.
But when fall and winter brought chillier weather, and she needed socks on all the time, I wondered why I couldn't find baby thigh-high socks anywhere. (There are only a couple of commercial companies that make them, and they are EXPENSIVE.)
With thigh-high socks, I thought, I could have all of the convenience for diaper changes, and a much simpler solution than pairing leg warmers with socks all the time. 50% fewer clothing items!
They're also great for keeping little legs warm during elimination communication (diaper-free time, potty time, etc.) and while babywearing (little pants/dresses/shorts/skirts tend to ride up when you wear your baby, but leg warmers underneath will keep those legs toasty).
So I set out to make my own baby thigh-high socks out of adult knee-high socks (available at Target for really reasonable prices… I've heard H&M has great ones too). I ruined a lot of pairs of socks in the process of discovering this easy technique.
See, at first I thought I could just alter the foot of the sock for length. But if you do this, you end up with a way-too-wide foot and ankle for a little baby (although this works fine for older kids). You'll never be able to get a pair of shoes on over that mess.
So I played around with ways to make the foot and ankle more fitted. And again, ruined a lot of socks in the process. Then I had an epiphany one evening as I was nursing my daughter to sleep. I could mimic the foot style of her footed pajamas! And I could do it with only two simple seams.
The result is a fitted baby sock that EVERYone will comment on, which you can use with shoes if you'd like, or leave “plain.”
I'm happy to share my step-by-step instructions with you, to save you the hassle of re-inventing the wheel.
Please don't take them and pretend that you came up with this though… however, links back to this page are always appreciated and welcome! And feel free to sell socks you make using this technique.
Note: This technique can also be used to turn adult thigh-high socks into toddler thigh-high socks. Adult knee-high socks will end up more like toddler just-above-the-knee socks, which is cute too.
One more note: These pictures show only one sock, but it's better to do both socks at the same time, so that you can make them match more exactly.
1. Start with your adult knee-high sock. In case you skipped my rambling above, I mentioned that you can get them at Target for reasonable prices (about $2.50 a pair, or more for holiday socks). People have told me you can get good ones at H&M too, but we don't have one so I don't know.
2. Using sharp fabric scissors, cut the foot off of the sock. You want a straight line at the end of your “tube.” The top part is what you'll be working with, and you can turn the bottom into a puppet. Or trash. Or whatever.
3. Turn the leg of the sock inside out, but leave about 2 inches, or 4 fingers' width folded up on the inside at the bottom. I hope that makes sense to you, because I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's not folded BACK… it's folded INSIDE, like tucked in.
4. Using chalk or a water-soluble fabric pen (I used Sharpie so you can see it really well in this tutorial. Don't do that), draw a curved shape like this on one side. The top of the curve should be about an inch from the bottom edge, or 2 fingers' width.
5. Sew along this line (ONLY on one side of the tube, not all the way through), and then cut out the semi-circle shape. I just use my machine's default length straight stitch. I played around with a LOT with different stitch lengths, zig-zags, and so forth, and this ended up being what worked best for me. If you think I'm full of crap, go ahead and use a different stitch setting. I liberate you to make that choice.
6. Now, un-tuck the folded-inside part of the sock. Arrange things so that the foot-to-be part lays flat like this:
7. And using your pen, chalk, or whatever, draw a foot shape like this. It should extend OVER and PAST the first seam you sewed. I could keep trying to describe it, but a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
8. Now stitch along that line, and trim away the extra fabric. I didn't mention it before, but I trim about 1/8″ away from the seam.
9. Now turn the whole thing right-side out, and you've got a super cute baby sock! I know it still looks a bit bulky in the ankle area, but once it's on your baby you'll see that it works really well.
Some people get weirded out by making things for babies out of adult socks, because they think the elastic at the top of the sock is too tight. Just remember that the elastic at the top of the sock was supposed to be somewhere on an adult calf/leg. And your baby is probably much smaller than that.
Since babies are squishier than adults, it might leave a red mark when you take it off, but it's just like wearing a hair elastic on your wrist (or a bra. or pants with a real waistband.) will leave a mark… it's not hurting anything (they'll let you know if it's uncomfy) and it'll fade pretty quickly.
Now, go forth and make socks! You probably don't even have to go to the store… just raid your sock drawer.
Check out the other Crafterday Saturday posts for more projects and tutorials:
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Thank you! My hubby has old wool socks with holes! This makes good use for those old socks and way cheaper and nicer than trying to find kids wool socks! You rock! Sending good vibes your way! Thanks a ton!
I had a similar *aha!* moment. I was wearing an old favorite pair of calf high socks. They had a hole in the toe, but oh well. (Really though, how often do people see your toes when you’re wearing socks?) Well she loved them too and wanted to go west them. So she’s running around in these too big socks and I remember thinking “if the foot was just a little shorter I’d let her have them.” So upped off the toes, sewed them back shut and she wears them all over. And when she out grows them I’ll turn them into something else. Maybe the little leg warmers that stick out from the tops of boots, or a pair of fingerless gloves? Anyways, I wanted to leave a comment since I was looking for a more “technical” how to (with actual instructions, versus “hold still so mommy can use this clip to mark where your toes are”) and this is the *only* article I could find in all of Google. It’s not exactly what I was looking for, but just reading it gave me some ideas. Because I made a straight.cut across the toes they turned out boxy. Thanks to your tutorial, I can do better next time. ^_^
Oh how fun! I’d love to see them. 🙂
Thank you so much for the very detailed tutorial. Diaper changes are so easy now !!!!
You’re welcome! Glad to hear it.
Awesome! Found this, this morning and did it super quick…. I was skeptical at first…the technique was new for me but….voila …. THe cutest baby high socks EVER!!! Thank you for taking the time…..to do this tutorial. God bless.
Aw, i’m so glad it worked well for you! 🙂 You’re very welcome. Please feel free to share/pin/whatever if you think your friends might like the tutorial too!
Hi Emily! Kudos for being so crafty and resourceful!!! 🙂 Had I known several years ago how to sew like you, I totally would have made the baby thigh highs myself and not sought out a sock mill to do it for me. Lol (I actually *tried* to make a pair with a hot glue gun — yeeeah that didn’t work out so great.) Assuming that Rock-a-Thigh Baby may be one of the “commercial companies” you’re referring to, I feel badly that the price of my socks may be preventing some mommas from reaping the benefits of what baby thigh highs offer. Although Rock-a-Thighs are comparable to popular leg warmer brands (but we’re Made in USA and eco-friendly!), as a mom of 4 young daughters on a tight budget myself, I totally get it. So I think it’s great you’re offering an alternative for the DIYers. I know I *could* get my socks made for far less if I outsourced to China, but after meeting the single mom who does our toes seams, I can’t do that in good conscience. It’s far more important to me to create American jobs than to make a lot of money selling my socks. (Like my hubby says, I’m an entrepreneur, not a capitalist! Lol) Keep up the good work, Emily! Your blog looks AMAZING — a friend follows you and told me about it. 🙂 Blessings to you and your family. Also, please tell your husband that I thank him for his service. ~Jen, designer of Rock-a-Thigh Baby (a mom-owned and operated small business)
This ECing mom is so happy to have found this tutorial! Thanks for doing the work to figure it out. Just finished sewing my first pair, can’t wait to try it on my baby girlie!
This is wonderful. Thank you for showing me how to make these for my girl for 10% of the cost!
Not only a good tutorial, but very fun to read as well! Thanks.
Thanks so much for this! I never would have thought to make my own and I am disgusted by the price of the ones you can buy! I literally stopped everything and ran to my craft room where I had knee highs waiting to be made into baby legs, instead they are now socks! And all in less then 10 minutes!
Really innovative. The step-By-Step process is very clear in this tutorial.It would be a nice experience to make socks in this process.
do you have a video tutorial on you tube I could watch? I love this
Halloween is around the corner… Here in Alaska we’ll be trick or treating in 10 degrees weather. You’d think stores up here would sell THICK socks for children, but unfortunately they don’t. Needless to say, thank you for this wonderful post! I will be turning my husband’s thick winter socks into nice warm socks for the kids. 🙂
Very neat idea! I may need to make them someday for my youngest. He is always cold, but hates wearing pants.
Holy crap, you just solved my problem of not being able to find affordable boots for my son’s halloween costume. Now I can make spats!
PS: Your spatial relationship skills are beyond me. Amazingly easy!
I remember you writing about trying to make these when Anneliese was littler. Since you never put it up, I thought it hadn’t worked out. Glad you figured it out for everyone and posted a tutorial. Thanks!
Very cool! Thanks for the tutorial
Joann fabrics has holiday knee high socks for 99 cents – $1 after that holiday has passed, then if you have a discount card (Like Teacher or guild card) you can get them for even cheaper. Coupons don’t work since they don’t work on sale items.