Santa Sacks

Last year I did the first Christmas crafts for our new family: matching stockings. It was fun and I love how it’s unique to us. 

This year, “Santa sacks” were brought to my attention by a friend. I had no idea they existed and I started to do some digging (aka pinning). Turns out that there are a LOT of ways to do them, and most of them include using a Silhouette or Cricut of which I own neither. But that’s okay I’m capable of winging it!

Attempt 1 – Painted

My first thought was to paint directly onto the canvas. I had found a couple of inspiring images online, and set out with my paints and brushes.

**cue sad trombone** I really wasn’t super happy with the results. The tree was unexpectedly difficult to make smooth lines. And the antlers on Rudolph bled badly and looked awful. I really did like him though, but I just had to go about it a different way…

Attempt 2 – Felt Embroidery

Some of the tutorials I had found used felt for embroidering the details. I hadn’t done that before but figured it was worth a try since I wasn’t happy with the painting.

The paint on both had bled through the canvas a bit, so I knew I couldn’t just turn it around and try on the other side willy nilly. With Rudolph, I turned over the fabric and determined that I just needed the antlers and nose to be a bit bigger so that they’d cover any paint. I traced what I already had, and gave myself a bit of a “seam allowance” when cutting out the felt. 

It turned out better than I expected it to! (He looks a little ‘sad’ there when it’s cropped, but he’s fine from farther away.)

Since I wanted the bags to be personalized like our stockings, I took the general idea from this blog about attaching the letters as an applique from the lining fabric. I decided Rudolph was going to be mine and proceeded to freehand the letters. 

They turned out to be around 5 inches high and three and a half inches wide (besides the I, obviously). They’re not attached yet in that picture, because I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to proceed. After some reassurances from Amanda, I went ahead and attached them with a very wide zigzag stitch.

(Sorry the pictures aren’t great, these were all taken during the creation process. I’ve found that the thing that prevents me from blogging more is the lack of “good” pictures and I’m trying to get over that.)

Overall I quite like it. I filled it with fabric (what I had on hand, of course) to see what it looked like with “presents” in it.

The dimensions are roughly 23″ wide by 30″ tall. I basically took my two yards of duck cloth I bought and cut it into three and winged it from there. Once I had figured out the applique-ing, construction was a breeze.

I sewed up both sides of the canvas (the fold is the bottom) with a 1.5″ gap near the top on one side for the drawstring. Then I cut out a similarly sized piece of the checked flannel, using the fold as one of the side seams. I wish I’d gotten a picture of this but you’ll just have to use your imagination. I then sewed up the bottom and the other side, with a  6-8″ gap for turning. Right sides together, attached along the top. Flip right sides out and then topstitched and a channel made for the ribbon drawstring. 

It was very all spur of the moment and improvised. I’d read a bunch of different ways of doing it, and just did whatever came to mind. This also meant that Mike’s and Henry’s are both just slightly different than mine (also better, because that’s what happens when you make more than one of something – you improve!). And with that…. 


Mike had liked the tree even when it was painted on. Such a good hubby. But now that I had a pretty felted Rudolph, I wanted his to more match mine. I stuck with a tree so that I could make sure I covered the paint that made it through. It was much harder to cover than Rudolph, because it was very much freehanded and totally uneven (another reason I didn’t like the painted tree). 

After much google-image-searching for “christmas tree clipart” 🙄 I decided once again to freehand that shit. Very much a “Eff it we’ll do it live!” moment. I held the existing squiggle tree up to a window and traced the edges of it onto tracing paper. Then I made roughly 5 different attempts of trees before I decided on one I might like.

I went for a layered tree to give it some depth. Red and white ornaments were traced from a large washer that happened to be near me at the time. Use what you got, right? And that would also be a reason why it doesn’t have anything on the top like a star – I was very limited on the colors of felt I had (aka I didn’t have any yellow 😂).

I used a lot of stitch witchery to keep everything in place while I did the embroidery. This was also my first time using the freehand quilting foot for my sewing machine. I’m sure I’ll get better with that in time, but for right now hooooooooo boy I’m glad it was just a couple circles. Not my best work!

Mike’s letters went much faster than mine – I chalk that up to the fact he doesn’t have any rounded bits. Those were a pain! The M ended up being around 5″x5″. And I used the fun angled lines on my quilting rulers to get everything to look nice. Straight lines were much easier to do that with.

The big difference between mike’s and mine is the very very top. I was worried about having space for his drawstring channel that I took a smaller seam allowance on the top opening. I serged around the top (lazy, I know!) and when I flipped it right sides out, the lining popped through a bit. And I dug the look, so I topstitched it in place like that and went on with making the channel. 


So for the third one for Henry, I had a blank slate. I hadn’t tried to paint anything on it because after the first two I had decided really quickly that the paint wasn’t going to work. Unfortunately that meant I had far, far too many options for his decoration! 

I really liked the penguins from this blog, but didn’t like the way it looked when I freehanded it onto tracing paper. I thought about holly but thought Henry’s should be more cheerful. I eventually landed on a snowman, once again using things I had nearby to get nice circles.

This snowman actually mostly came from the same blog as the penguins, but I chose to not do arms (or the creepy mouth, sorrynotsorry). 

When it came time to putting him together, I decided I liked him better without the hat, since I didn’t want to have too much going on. I knew I was going to use the lining flannel (same as our stockings, I was out of the red/black checked) as the scarf and didn’t think it would work well as the hat.

You’ll notice that the nose isn’t felt. Well, I didn’t have any orange, but I did have orange yarn on hand. And I thought it’d make it look more carrot-like to have some texture to it. Aka I really didn’t want to go buy yet more felt for this project, and I knew I could make the yarn work. After a little embroidery education, I used a basket stitch on the nose and a stem stitch on the mouth. I went over the nose twice as it wasn’t big enough the first time, which also gives it a really cool texture. The mouth was just freehanded (which I apparently did a lot during this project).

I used three separate pieces of flannel for the scarf, to get it to actually look like it was tied around his neck. I think it turned out really well that way!

Henry’s name has mostly straight lines to it as well, so it also went quickly.

The top of his turned out a little like Mike’s, in that the lining is showing. It’s showing more than Mike’s because I did yet a different seam allowance, and also still needed to fit in the channel above the applique.

stuffed with pillows

All in all, I think they all turned out good. They’re all definitely unique, that’s for sure!

If I did them again for any reason, I’d measure and make them more uniform in applique/name placement. I didn’t realize how low my name was until the other two were finished and I pictured them all together. Mike’s applique is bigger because it had to cover the painted tree. The tops are all different, and I like Mike’s the best.