' What Katie Did's Guide To. . . Fully Fashioned Stockings (Part I)

5 comments / Posted on by Wiggy Bamforth

Fully Fashioned stockings are the ultimate in luxury legwear. Made from non-stretch 100% luxury nylon yarn, these stockings are the very essence of the elegance of the past, and remain the favourite nylons of stocking aficionados.

Fully Fashioned Stockings | Cuban Heel Foot Close Up Vintage Mules

One of the reasons that Fully Fashioned stockings are so hard to come by is the way they are made. All Fully Fashioned Stockings are still woven on vintage Reading Machines. We're very lucky in the UK to have two of the four remaining Fully Fashioned companies worldwide!

The machines are huge and cumbersome, with a top speed of 30 pairs per hour and 15,000 fine needles that can break at any time! It's certainly far less cost effective than modern day circular knit machines.

Fully Fashioned Stockings | Vintage Reading Machines Knitting Flat

The delicate nature of the nylon means that FF stockings manufactures end up with a lot of "seconds" or imperfect pairs that have caught or snagged during the process. All of our Fully Fashioned Nylons are packed in house to ensure they are perfect.

Should anything break on the machine our factory is lucky enough to have two further machines to rely on for parts, but this can cause a delay in production. Changing heel types also takes time, which is why our 1950s inspired Empire Outline Heels are sometimes out of stock: they're knitted just twice a year and demand often exceeds supply.

Fully Fashioned Stockings | Stockings Knitted Flat Without Seam White Undyed

Here you can see the flat stocking being ironed before the seam is added. All Fully Fashioned Stockings are made from 'greige' yarn, and dyed to the desired colour. When the design involves a contrasting foot, seam and welt black yarn is used with the leg dyed later.

Fully Fashioned Stockings | Vintage Seaming Machine

The stockings are still seamed by hand using a industrial overlocker, if you look closely you can see the individual stitches. The seamstress works incredibly quickly, keeping an even tension on the stocking. After they've been seamed, the stockings go into the dye bath to be dyed. 

Fully Fashioned Stockings | Finished Copper Cuban Stockings Awaiting Inspection

After dyeing the stockings are placed on a leg form to be steamed. The steam producing machine, an ancient bespoke unit with a huge copper boiler, loopks like a contraption from a Jules Verne novel: very steampunk!

Following steaming the stockings have a final inspection on an illuminated bench. Due to the manufacturing process there can be a difference of up to two inches in length for the same size, so the nylons are paired by hand.

Fully Fashioned Stockings | Cuban Heel Black

Finally the stockings come to us to be packed and shipped out to you!  

Shop our Fully fashioned Stockings below:

Don't miss Part 2 of our Fully Fashioned Stocking series.


  • Posted on by Paul Nicol

    Worth every penny in my book 👍

  • Posted on by Mark Franklin

    A very interesting topic,I’d love to join you for a visit around the factory, fully fashioned stockings are my passion.

  • Posted on by Petra Torner

    Wow .. this production process is “vintage” to say-the-least. Although, it is kinda cool to know each individual stocking purchased, is bespoke / unique to a certain extent, within a pair. Being there is only such a few Reading machines left in the world, for production and parts, we should treasure each item these wonderful machines produce!

  • Posted on by Audrey

    WOW! I had no idea of the process involved, and how labour intensive the process is.
    Thank you for this fascinating article.
    I shall never complain about the price again1

    PS: I hope there are younger people doing apprenticeships to keep this skill going!

  • Posted on by Elizabeth Lovell

    How interesting! The long, intricate process fully justifies the price doesn’t it? I love it that such old vintage machines are still used, and that so much is done to each individual stocking by hand. It’s great that What Katie Did are able to stock them.

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