Ooh la la! It’s almost spring, and that means time to show a little leg. Or ankle!
And: make it BEDAZZLED!
So I got far too excited about these mesh and lace socks I’ve been seeing around. They are CUTE AS HECK! Many of them, however, are more “novelty” socks than real ones – the mesh versions especially are baggy with a seam right around the foot. I wear boots every damn day, so I figured I could make a pair of very cozy versions to fit, to last, and to feel great.
Please note the following:
- You’ll be using your favorite sock pattern (I link to mine below) and you should follow the pattern’s stretch requirements. But in general, the bottom of the sock need a four-way stretch of at least 30% (I’m using bamboo stretch terry). The ankle/cuff, require a two-way of at least 20%. Many laces are only a two-way stretch, so besides feeling scratchy, they aren’t suited well for anything very form-fitting. You can easily alter your pattern if you have less stretch, but I’ve found a higher stretch makes for a better-looking and better-fitting sock.
- These socks are seamed and may not be appropriate for someone with a high degree of sensitivity. The stitch and techniques I’m going to show you make for a seam that is – for me – impossible to feel, very flat and stretchy.
- These are made with a mesh fabric for a cuff; stretch lace works well too. The top edge of the cuff is left raw. Test a raw edge of your cuff fabric to make sure it does not fray or run – most knits will not. You can also buy galloon lace (make sure to find a stretch version) as this results in a very pretty scalloped edge.
You will also need the following:
I have my two fabrics – bamboo stretch french terry and four-way powermesh from Blue Moon. I also have two types of thread – a regular poly for my upper thread, and a wooly nylon for my bobbin. Additionally, I have washaway stabilizer (to help sew our mesh), my rhinestones (2 mm, which is almost as small as you can order), a rhinestone pick stick (alternatively, use a stick of spaghetti – you can Google this), and E6000 glue.
You can substitute all-purpose thread for the wooly nylon, and paper for the washaway stabilizer. However, I get far better results using the these notions.
Finally: you may also want paper or cardstock and a long dull needle, for E6000 application.
Shown below: the wooly nylon wound on a bobbin (left), and the all-purpose poly thread for the upper thread (right). Notice the wooly nylon’s fuzzy look. This thread makes for a very stretch seam.
Now, we are effectively splitting our sock pattern right above the sole, so that our soft, thick stretch fabric covers the foot, but the mesh/lace/decorative fabric forms a cuff. I draw a line about 1 1/4″ above the sock join point (shown in red):
Now, you should also think about your cuff length. My Jalie pattern goes up to near the knee, so I am going to shorten it. I chose to cut the top edge of the cuff at about where the “I” size line is indicated:
The first time you make a sock it can be confusing. But ultimately, the sole of the sock will have four marks/notches: the center front, the center back, and the two side marks that indicate the sock front and back join. The heel will have the center back mark and the side join marks; the front will have the center front and the side join marks. You can watch my 2019 tutorial if you want to watch me make a basic sock.
I cut my notches out of the paper pattern, and mark the back side of each piece with chalk:
After I’ve cut the sole, top, and heel: I then cut the cuffs (which need no markings). This means cutting in between the folded-down top (at left) and on the red line (lower right):
My two cuff pieces should be the same length. They will be identical or close to the same size and shape (depending on the pattern you use):
When you are finished cutting, you will have (from left to right): a sole, a heel, a top, and two cuff pieces (for a total of five pieces per sock):
Now we start to have fun! We need to test our seam. Yes, trust me. Practice first!
I usually set my stitch for a basic zig zag. I dial my top tension way down, and set the stitch width to 6.0 mm (as far as it will go) and length to 2.0 MM. With your scraps, stitch right-sides together, making sure the right swing of the needle just kisses the raw edges. The more precise you are in your stitch, and in lining up the raw edges the better the final seam will look.
Here is the top side of the seam, right before I pull it right-side out:
Now, give the stitch a real good yank, working and flattening it as much as possible. This should be your right side:
You don’t need to worry that it’s perfect. It won’t look perfect on the underside, but it should look consistently great on the right side. If you find you are skipping stitches, make sure you are using the appropriate needle and have your machine threaded properly. It’s worth getting it right!
Once you are satisfied you can get a consistent, gorgeous flatlock – it’s time to start stitching!
First, we will pin the heel to the sole – remember, we don’t stitch all the way to the edge of the heel. We’ll be stopping right at those join marks (shown below, along with the center back mark, as pinned):
Now, stitch this first seam. I like to carefully commit to a firm backstitch here at the start, and end of the seam. This join point is a high stress point:
When you are sure that your seam is quite secure, pull and work that seam, pushing the heel right side out. It should look fantastic!
Now, we’re going to place this joined heel/sole, right side down, on the front, right side up. Yep – right sides together. Pin at both center front and center back, then a few more pins on the side. You will notice there’s this little spot where the heel/sole doesn’t line right up to the edge. Don’t worry about this for now.
With the heel/sole facing up, stitch around the long U-shape (not the short top seam). When you get to the join point, just make sure to push that point in and catch it with the left swing of the needle. You can even backstitch here if you like. You want this to be very secure, without catching a large fold in the stitch either. This is probably the trickiest part of the sock – but you can do it!
This is what your seam will look like, before you turn it: a wide zig zag.
Go ahead and turn the sock right-side out, pushing and working the seam.
Below: an extreme closeup of the seam join. You can see the seam we just sewed at left; the heel seam we backstitched, bisecting that seam.
Now it’s time for our cuff!
If you are rhinestoning or embellishing, you can do the next few steps in any order. In this case I marked my rhinestone locations, then stitched the cuff, then applied rhinestones, and then (after drying) joined the cuff to the foot of the sock. The order you proceed in will depend on your timeline as well as your preference and materials.
So as I said, I marked my rhinestone location. Obviously you can freehand rhinestone application, as well! If you are nervous about your aim in applying the stones, you can use a water-soluble sewing marker.
Now, it’s time to join the front and back cuff! We will be using the same seam settings we’ve employed with one difference: adding water-soluble stabilizer under the seam, as we sew it. This makes even the most delicate lace/mesh easy to work with.
If you don’t have water-soluble stabilizer, you can use tissue paper. Using anything heavier might be a bit harder to tear-away after you’ve finished. And in general, for this project at least, something tear-away isn’t as ideal as wash-away. But it will work in a pinch!
So – go ahead and stitch your construction seams, with your stabilizer right under the seam path!
Check it out:
Go ahead and tug the seams out just like you did for the sole. Looking good! Remember, we’ll be washing out this stabilizer entirely.
Now, I liked to rinse out my stabilizer here, let my socks dry, and proceed. Alternatively you can apply rhinestones, let them dry, and rinse your stablizer later. Your call!
When you are ready to apply rhinestones, go ahead and put them in a dish. You’ll be picking up the ones that are flat-side down.
Below we see a picker, a pick-up tool – it has many names. Essentially it looks a bit like a pen, but the end is a wax that adheres to the faceted surface of the rhinestone. I am using really tiny rhinestones which makes this process a bit trickier. I gotta be Extra like that!
And since I’m using such small rhinestones, I have a tool to get the teensiest amount of glue out of the E6000. I’m using a darning needle – a thick and blunt needle! I apply just the tiniest amount of glue to the back of the rhinestone, then press it to the mesh!
You’re going to have to figure out what works best for you. It’s a bit fiddly at first, but once you get your system down it goes fairly quickly!
Practicing on a scrap:
Now – the rhinestones dry pretty quickly. All that’s left is to apply the cuff, to the sole! Again – we are sewing with that wide zig zag, right-sides together, with a firm backstitch:
A final tug for that last seam – and, voila!
We are all finished! TRUST ME, these are one-of-a-kind socks and you are going to get compliments on them.