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Hand-stitched Christmas tradition

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 at 8:26 am

Sue Cates with some of her hand-stitched stockings (Photo by Zoe Watkins) 


A hand-stitched stocking is hard to find today. But Sue Cates’ seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren have ones sure to last a life-time.

Cates, who’s 82, recalled how she saw the pattern and kits to make the stockings in a book and just decided to make them for her first grandsons.

She fills them with the standard treats or candy — and her grandkids’ favorite — Chick-fil-a gift cards. “That’s the first thing they run to,” she said with a laugh.

It’s a different time from when she was growing up; she remembers receiving oranges and apples in real, worn stockings that would’ve hung by the fire.

And with the times have changed, the art of hand-stitching is slowly fading with time.

“I have sewn just about all my life. I made my daughters’ clothes when they were little,” the Shelbyville native recalled.

She learned to sew in her home economics class at Shelbyville Central High School. Occasionally, she still does some clothing alterations and even sewed a prom dress for her granddaughter.

Today, making the stocking can take as long as summer for Cates. Each bead and sequences has to be strategically and patiently placed.

But it’s worth it for the final product and for the memories they create.