Sock Monkeys

Alta Joy
Alta Joy

monkeys monkeys monkeys

Sock Monkeys are kind of special to me.  The one above was made by my friend Nancy, who I met at an All District Band tryout when we were both in the 7th grade.  Nancy is special because she’s my oldest friend, the one I’ve known the longest, and we have always appreciated and loved each other no matter what.  Nancy sent Alta Joy to me on my birthday a few years ago, and I just remember the thrill I got when I saw those long legs sticking out of the tissue paper in the box.

Sock monkeys have been a part of my life as long as I can remember.  My Aunt Ela made all the kids a sock monkey when we were born.  Mine is long gone.  But I kept the one she made for my son.  The one with the red hat is Rene.  Those little shoes used to fit on my son’s little baby feet.

Alta Joy and Rene sock monkeys
Alta Joy and Rene, best of friends

So after Nancy started making sock monkeys, I got interested in making sock monkeys, ’cause I’m kind of a copycat. Nancy showed me how to do it.  This involved her making some sock monkeys and leaving them at different unfinished states so she could use them as visual aides.  And we had to meet in Louisiana, at her sister’s house.  Nancy lived in California at the time and I lived in Texas.

Char and Nancy in pig noses
This is me and my friend Nancy when we were younger. We also love pigs.

After I learned how easy it is to make sock monkeys, I wrote out all the directions, which I will include at the bottom.

Then I got started making sock monkeys. Most of them, I gave away.

Linda and Luke
Linda and Luke
2011 10 bejo and babii gurl
BeJo and Babii gurl
Gigi with Little Char
Gigi with Little Char

My sisters and I made this monkey with a wardrobe and sent her to my cousin Beverly in San Diego.  Beverly is a dance teacher.  She named her monkey Cha-Cha.  

bev monkey splits
Cha-Cha in tights, tutu, pompom headband and ballet slippers.

We also made Cha-Cha a Flashdance outfit:

Bev monkey leg warmers

And she has an evening gown, for when she wants to sing in a lounge.

Beverly monkey on piano

Sock monkey fever just spreads like smallpox.  Here’s my niece, Anne, with some sock monkeys she made at my house.

Anne and her Monkeys

When my friend Nancy gives a sock monkey to someone, she makes them take a Sock Monkey Vow.  They must raise their right hand, and then promise not to leave the sock monkey on the floor for dogs to chew, or let it get all dusty underneath a bed, and they must supervise the monkey because they are terribly naughty by nature.

This monkey belongs to my sister, who has to watch her like a hawk to make sure she isn’t having boys over unsupervised.

Hot lips Houlihan sock monkey
Hot Lips Houlihan
sock monkey luau
This saucy little monkey stole a banana at a luau party.

Alta Joy and Rene adopted a sock lion from Africa.  Brangelina was supposed to get him but it fell through, so Alta Joy and Rene got a good deal.

Alta Joy, Rene, and Little Richard, with a big pan of Monkey Bread
Alta Joy, Rene, and Little Richard, about to dig into a big pan of Monkey Bread

Some monkeys like to dress up, like LooLoo.

Miss Princess sock monkey
LooLoo in her Hello Kitty outfit with pink tutu
Alta Joy celebrating Mardi Gras
Alta Joy celebrating Mardi Gras

Other monkeys prefer to go naked.  These monkeys, made of hand-knitted socks, made me promise they would never have to wear clothes.

Kumbayah Sunshine and Kitt Leland
Kumbayah Sunshine and Kitt Leland, enjoying the Southern Life.

Making Sock Monkeys with friends is the most fun of all.  People can get creative and make things like sock goats.  Another friend made some sock slugs.

sock goat
Sock Goat

I have spent many happy hours with friends and by myself, making sock monkeys.

Houdini relaxing with the monkeys
Houdini relaxing with the monkeys
How To Make a Sock Monkey
Depending on the sock you use and the embellishments you add, you will get a one of a kind, handcrafted treasure every time you make one. The personality of the monkey will emerge as you make it. They aren’t meant to be perfect! The best thing about sock monkeys is that every one is unique.
A Note about Safety:
Sock monkeys made for infants should be carefully sewn to be very sturdy. The eyes and any other embellishments could be a choking hazard, so consider embroidering eyes or using appliquéd felt for eyes, and don’t add any decorations small enough for a toddler to take off and swallow. Sock monkeys should be supervised with young children, because no matter how innocent they may look, all sock monkeys tend to be naughty.Tools/materials:
What you need: Preferably, a sewing machine with thread to match the socks. Monkeys can be made entirely by hand, but this is time consuming and the seams won’t be as sturdy as one you’d machine-sew. Sharp scissors. Tailor’s chalk for marking pattern onto socks. Needle and embroidery thread for face. Buttons or felt for eyes, or artificial doll eyes (Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Joann’s). A small piece (1″ X 2″) fusible interfacing, to back and strengthen the area where the eyes will be attached. Polyester stuffing (a bag should stuff 4-6 monkeys). Two socks.About socks:
You need socks with heels, not tube socks. Preferably the heels would be a contrasting color, but this isn’t required.
Socks should be thick enough to hide stuffing when stretched, not translucent like a knee-high. Traditional sock monkeys are made with red-heel work socks. These socks are slightly fatter than most, and the proportion of foot and calf length is almost equal.
When using patterned socks, the pattern on the finished monkey will be ‘upside down’ to what it would be on the feet. Keep this in mind when choosing your patterns. Random patterns, stripes, dots, geometrics might work better than patterns with an ‘up and down’.
The longer the sock, the longer the monkey. Knee socks will make a monkey with very long arms and legs. You are not required to use the entire length of knee socks if you don’t want the long arms and legs. Larger size socks make longer bodied monkeys. Tiny socks have very short bodies, arms and legs, but they are still fat.

Directions:

NOTE: First sew, then cut. Socks tend to roll and fray.

Pattern is attached. (You may see variations on this pattern, but I like this one best.)

sock monkey pattern

The first sock will be the head, body, and legs of the monkey. The second sock will be the mouth, tail, ears, and arms.

Sock #1
1. Turn sock inside out. Fold the sock with the heel flat and centered in the middle.
2. With chalk, mark a center line about 1 inch from the heel down to the sock opening. I like to make a zigzag stitch down that center line on the machine.
3. Sew down each side of the marked line about ¼ inch away from line. Following the lines of the pattern, sew curved lines to the outer edges of the sock to form the feet. Make sure to back stitch to reinforce your stitching. Repeat this process by sewing down the other side of your marked line. This will form the legs and feet of the monkey. Use the center stitch to guide your scissors and cut the legs apart. There should be an opening in the ‘crotch’ large enough to comfortably turn the monkey and stuff it, but no larger.
4. At the location of the eyes, iron the fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the sock.
5. Turn sock right side out.
6. If you are fastening artificial eyes, this is the time to do it. Mark the location of the eyes, make a TINY hole with an ice pick or small scissors (I try to cut only one thread, if possible) and insert the eye stem through the hole (you may have to work it though a bit). Carefully snap on the back.
7. Stuff the entire sock through the ‘crotch’. A note about stuffing: Take some of the stuffing and pull it apart to fluff it, then lightly stuff starting with the head. Shape the sock gently as you stuff, to form a smooth, rounded, springy monkey. Roll the legs up to stuff them, just as if you were going to put them on your feet. Use the handle of a wooden spoon, or a chopstick, to assist with stuffing if you need it. Try to avoid knots of stuffing which form ‘tumors’. Too much stuffing will create a rock-hard monkey who will hurt somebody if you throw him.
8. Sew the crotch opening closed, using a small, invisible stitch. I use ladder stitch. (picture attached).

ladder stitch
Machine thread is stronger than embroidery thread. I use a double thickness. At this point, your monkey can sit and see, but he looks a little bit like a frog. Or an alien.
sock monkeys in progress
sock monkeys in progress

Sock #2
1. Turn the sock inside out, and lay the sock out flat with the heel along one edge.
2. Mark all the lines from the pattern. Keep the pieces far enough apart so you can cut them apart with a seam allowance of at least 1/4 inch. (You can cut off the calf end of the sock before you sew the arms.) Sew along lines, backstitching at ends to lock the threads.
3. Cut the pieces apart.
4. FACE: Stuff the heel for the mouth and pin it underneath the eyes, onto the face of the monkey, turning the raw edges under. Work with this to make it as symmetrical as you can. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect. Some monkeys have asymmetrical faces! Sew the face onto the body, using a small invisible stitch.
5. EARS: Ears are on a fold. Cut the fold apart and turn them. You may include a little stuffing to plump them up. Hand- or machine-sew about 1/4 inch from sewed edges to make the rim of the ear. Turn under the raw edges, and baste the open seam closed. Sew the ears onto the side of the head. Note: I sew both front and back of the ears to the head. Ears can be added before or after the facial features. It’s a matter of preference, but sometimes I hide knots in the ear seams.
6. Sew mouth, eyes (if you didn’t use the doll eyes), eyelashes, eyebrows, lips, dimples, freckles, braces, etc. with embroidery thread. Tips: I use 3 strands of thread, which can be any color. Usually I pick colors that contrast with the background. Try to hide the knots inside the seams (or behind the ears).
7. ARMS: turn them right side out and stuff them gently, molding smooth as you go.
8. TAIL: turn right side out and stuff gently, molding smooth as you go.

sock monkey being sewn
sock monkey being sewn

9. Sew the arms and tail onto the monkey’s body, using the invisible stitch. Try to keep the joints rounded.
10. Some monkeys need a neck. Use embroidery thread to make a tight ‘necklace’, pulling the body inward to form a neck. Knot it securely around a button, bead, or other ornament.
11. If your monkey likes, give it a ribbon or dress it up in clothing, jewelry, or pompoms. Many monkeys are happy naked. Some like earrings, nose rings, bellybutton rings, or tattoos.  Others require full Princess outfits including tutus, tiara, high heels and sunglasses.

alta joy has a pink hat and red scarf
Alta Joy has a pink hat and red scarf.

Try to remember to take a picture of your monkey.

Me with Babii Gurl, a sock monkey I made for BeJo. Babii Gurl has skull tattoos on her ankles and upper arms.
Me with Babii Gurl, a sock monkey I made for BeJo. Babii Gurl has skull tattoos on her ankles and upper arms.

Have you ever made a sock monkey?  Share your sock monkey pictures!

🙂 Char

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2 thoughts on “Sock Monkeys”

  1. Are all your monkeys made of actual socks? I like the traditional looking ones and the more exotic flowered and striped ones too.

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