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These directions for stockings are from the Fortress Louisbourg, National Historic Parks, Canada:
using fine, white wool jersey: (1) with right sides facing attach seams with a light even chain stitch (do not draw too tightly). (2) roll edges to sides and slip stitch down lightly. Use a fine wool thread. Roll top and slip stitch lightly. Attach sole and gussets with a chain stitch. Turn and if desired, embroider clock along gusset and up side of legs. Fold and cut slash at instep , for sole and ankle. Attach sides at back, sole and ankles.
A knitted or woven covering for the leg and foot. Such covering, made in different lengths, had been worn from the early centuries AD but was known by various other names; for the history before the later sixteenth century see Chausses and Hose. In the early sixteenth century the lower part of the hose were termed stocks or netherstocks, then stocken or stocking of hose; by about 1580 the word stocking had come into general use for the separate covering for the leg from the knee downwards and knitted stockings replaced the woven material tailored in sections to fit the leg (see Knitting). Seventeenth century stockings were made in various colours to suit the rest of the costume; the best quality ones were of silk and many of these were decorated with elaborate designs of clocks. Less expensive stockings were made of cotton or wool. Later, lisle stockings were produced which were made of cotton which had been given a silky texture by a mercerizing process.

During the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries when men wore stockings, these were fastened by a garter round the leg just below the knee. In the 1820s and 1830s as trousers and pantaloons took over from breeches, stockings were replaced by socks. Over the centuries ladies had also kept their stockings up by means of garters. Alternatively the stocking could be fastened to the underwear until, in the nineteenth century, suspenders were attached to the corset for the purpose of supporting the stocking (see Suspenders).

The colour of ladies' stockings varied greatly from age to age. While gown skirts were long, reaching to ground level, ladies could please themselves about the colour of their stockings. When, in the 1770s and 1780s, the skirt rose a few inches above the ground, the stocking was either coloured to match the gown or could be red, white or a pastel shade. In the years 1820-50 stockings were most commonly white or flesh-coloured. A black net stocking worn over a flesh-tinted one was considered very fashionable. Coloured stockings were re-introduced in the 1860s, while by 1880, they were usually made to match the gown or petticoat; black net returned to favour in the 1890s.

It was during the First World War that ladies' skirts rose above the ankle and it became more important to choose a suitable stocking colour. For day wear these were generally beige, grey or black, while for evening it was preferable for them to match the gown. With the shorter skirts of the 1920s flesh-tinted stockings came into their own, in sa for preference, in lisle or wool otherwise. During the Second World War many women went bare-legged as much as possible because of a shortage of silk stockings, but when the war was over the nylon stocking began to replace the silk one. The first nylon stockings had been shown by Du Pont at the New York Fair of 1938 and were put on sale in the USA in 1939. The war interrupted the smooth process of development and marketing the nylon stocking but after 1945 it was only a question of building up sufficient supplies before the silk stocking was totally supplanted by nylon.

It was the mini-skirt of the 1960s which rendered the stocking an out-moded fashion and nylon tights (panty hose in America), essential for wearing with a mini-skirt, were also adopted by the vast majority of women for general wear because they were warmer and did away with the need for belts and suspenders to support them (see also Leotard for body stocking). Apart from the sheer nylon tights and stockings available in many shades, there has also been produced a wide range of heavier-weight, brightly coloured, lacy-patterned versions for winter wear.

See more at
Bag Stockings
Socks Page

You can make your own stokings cut on the bias, quite easily. If making them out of woven fabric the stockings must be cut on the bias, it is the only way to get the strechiness needed to fit your leg


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2006 March 28