Going bananas about vintage and retro sock monkeys

by tealmermaid

While it's easy to just buy a sock monkey in whatever size you desire, it is fun for collectors like you to make your very own vintage style sock monkey from a kit or pattern.

What is a sock monkey? A sock monkey is a stuffed toy in the shape of a monkey that is made from socks. The first sock monkeys were made during the Arts & Crafts movement in America in the early 1900s by enterprising women with spare socks, and soon they became a much-loved staple of children's nurseries everywhere.

Most vintage sock monkeys found today were made from the 1950s onward, with the majority being from the 1970s. While it is a shame to think about the disintegration of poor defenseless sock monkeys from age and wear, many older sock monkeys simply did not hold up well to years of being loved. Socks are not meant to be used for such a long time, causing the poor things to wear out.

A brief history of sock monkey stuffed toys

traditional sock monkeys are always made with the original Nelson Red Heel Socks

The distinctive red-mouthed sock monkey was created in the 1930s from Nelson Knitting Company's red-heeled socks by inventive homemakers. By the 1950s, the company began to provide a sock monkey pattern with every pair of these socks.

Since that time and with the inclusion of those freebie patterns with socks, the sock monkey has been elevated to an art form with wildly patterned socks being used in addition to the traditional red-heeled socks. The humble sock monkey has become a pop culture icon featured on T-shirts, keychains, and fabric. In addition, Rockford, Illinois has held a Sock Monkey Festival celebrating the birthplace of the red-heeled "sock monkey" socks every year since 2005. (If you love sock monkeys, the Sock Monkey Festival is a can't-miss event.)

Annual Sock Monkey Festival:
04 March 2017 in Rockford, IL

Sock monkeys are the best classic toys

Sock monkeys have provided over one hundred years of fun for young and old collectors alike, and they are still going strong with children today. That's impressive by any standards. More importantly, there is something for everyone with sock monkeys. Older collectors can enjoy the original vintage and antique sock monkeys lovingly recovered from storage to be displayed proudly. Children can spend hours playing with the wide variety of retro sock monkeys being produced today. There are even toys with a sock monkey theme. How cool is that!

Sock monkeys en masse
Sock monkeys en masse

Classic sock monkey toys

your choice of sizes
Sock Monkey Baby - Brown

A baby size sock monkey would be great for small children (especially toddlers) with a lot of love to give.

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PL 20" Classic Style Sock Monkey

For those collectors who just need need more in a sock monkey -- now in large economy size!

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Want to sew your own sock monkey?

Lovable retro sock monkey patterns and kits

Who doesn't like sock monkeys? They are goofy, they are squeezable, they are huggable, and you just have to love them! The very best kind of sock monkey is a handmade sock monkey -- especially one made just for you. It's easy to sew your own sock monkey from a pattern. There are also sock monkey kits available both commercially and from fabric artists. With a little shopping around, you should have no trouble finding the sock monkey kit or pattern that is just right for the particular sock monkey design you would like to make.

How to Make the Original Rockford Red Heel Sock Monkey, Friends, Puppets and More!

A pattern book from Fox River to recreate their original sock monkey, very much like the patterns which have been included with pairs of Red Heel socks since the 1950s. You will need a pair of the Nelson Red Heel socks for this particular pattern.

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Sock Monkey and Friends Kit

It's easy to create sock monkeys (and their friends) from whatever stray socks you have around the house with this easy kit. No need to buy the special Red Heel socks if the dryer has yet to eat all the spare socks.

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Fox River Original Rockford Red Heel Cotton Monkey Sock Blue Large

This is the blue-grey (sometimes labeled as "heather") version of the original Red Heel socks. Start your sock monkeys with a pair of these.

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Fox River Original Rockford Red Heel Lightweight Monkey Socks (2 Pack), PINK, Medium

For a little variety, try out these red version Red Heel socks when making your next sock monkey. It's almost a cute pink color. It might be cute to match your sock monkey to a pink sock monkey printed fabric.

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Adorable knitted sock monkey hats and mittens

As if sock monkeys weren't cute enough by themselves, kids and kids at heart can wear a sock monkey hat and mittens when it's cold out. These sweet hats will surely keep your head warm even in the worst weather. Many hats have added ear flaps for extra warmth, and the extra-soft mittens will keep little hands toasty.

The Original Sock Monkey Knit Hat - Infant Size

An infant size sock monkey hat is just the thing to add extra cuteness to any baby.

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Fox River Red Heel Merino Wool Monkey Mittens, Brown Heather, One Size

For those serious collectors who have to have everything sock monkey, how about these adorable sock monkey mittens? The merino wool used to knit up these mittens is extra-soft.

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Looking for sock monkey fabric?

Fabric that is patterned with sock monkeys is fun to sew! It's colourful and versatile. It's especially nice to use for children's crafts such as bedding and quilts since it has such a delightful classic toy theme. When used for children's clothing, it can be eye-catching and adorable. Your kids will love anything made with these fabrics!

Sock monkey fabric by the yard

Moda 5 Funky Sock Monkeys Bananas Cream, 44-inch (112cm) Wide Cotton Fabric Yardage

This is the Banana Cream design of this fabric.

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Cotton Monkey Tales Sock Monkeys Grey Cotton Fabric Print by the Yard (15071-40)

Monkeys on a grey background for a more sober look (as if sock monkeys would ever be so severe and sober-looking).

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Cotton Monkey Tales Sock Monkeys Pink Cotton Fabric Print by the Yard (15071-42)

Monkeys on pink background for a fun and festive look. This would be a great fabric for a monkey loving little girl.

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Sock monkey coloring and story books

For those who can't get enough sock monkeys, coloring books would be a fun addition to your sock monkey collection. Scan the pages into your computer, and you can always print more to color again and again! When you get tired of coloring, you can switch to reading books about sock monkeys at play.

Sock Monkeys Coloring Book: Fun for All Ages

This is a super-cute illustrated book of sock monkeys to color.

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Monkeys Made of Sockies Coloring Book: A Sock Monkey Coloring Book For The Fun At Heart

Coloring sock monkeys is a great way for adults to destress. Kids like them too!

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Sock Monkeys: Summer Fun Coloring Book

Enjoy coloring these images of sock monkeys having summer fun.

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10 Little Sock Monkeys

This book is an absolutely adorable take on the classic book about monkeys jumping on the bed.

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Further reading about sock monkeys

  • Fox Socks: The current producer of the original Red Heel socks used to make sock monkeys. If you have trouble finding the Red Heel socks, you can always order some directly from the company.
  • Midway Village: Sock monkey festival in Rockford, IL.
  • Sock Monkey: Sock monkey Flickr group. Enjoy the photos of sock monkeys at play.

Do you collect sock monkeys?

Updated: 02/18/2017, tealmermaid
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