Thursday, February 11, 2010


I do not always work in this order but I thought it would be fun to share a bit on how to reclaim a wool sweater for quite a few wonderful new purposes! Whether you "accidentally" washed a lovely wool sweater or did it on purpose, now you have a fabulously felted piece of cloth. And once you get a tiny taste of this little miracle and the creativity waiting around the corner for this scumptious fabric, no wool sweater will ever be safe again and neither will your washing machine or dryer! If you have felted wool, you know what i am speaking of.

Usually, I work in bunches, I gather, gather, and gather and then I explode into a big ol mess of possibilities of one item. If I am doing a hat, I do 15, if I am doing a coffee cozy, I do 20, etc etc. But today, I am taking 3 sweaters and showing all the things that can be done with them.

First, they had to be felted(this I do as soon as they come in the front door. ) Hot water wash, good amount of soap and a hot dryer and that will shrink, soften and make that wool much denser, and in my opinion, much warmer! I wash like colors together, otherwise, if you mix colors, they will come out a mess of mixed colors and be much more difficult to work with. So, do it in small loads, many times I have to wash each sweater individually. When you dry it, throw in a clean towel which will help it to felt and dry quicker.

This time I am working with 3 sweaters in grays and blacks. My sweet sis wanted a pair of the mittens I started making a few weeks ago. She loves simplicity, so black is the winner.

The pieces of the mittens can be cut from the bodies of the sweaters. The cuffs on the sweater are perfect for the cuffs on the mittens. I have shown those peices in the picture.

I do line my mittens with fleece-but they can be lined with wool also. So Nic! They are finished and should be in the mail by next year:)-just kidding-you should have them soon! Just need to get Mike's done!

Now, there is still ALOT of wool left in these sweaters, so here are some more ideas for what to make.

The next thing I made from these sweaters is a toddler hat. Use the bottom hem of the sweater that already has a finished and most of the time a decorative finish making it a wonderful asset to your hat. Most of the time I do not do a finishing stitch on my hats because -1. It is itchy and uncomfortable and 2. wool that has been felted almost always will not fray.

I used the grey to applique a giraffe to the front of the hat. And again, it does not need to be satin stitched or finished because it does not fray. You can find applique shapes in almost anything. Stencils, coloring books, fabric designs, doodles from your kiddos,art books, clip art, etc provide great designs for applique.

Next comes the smaller scraps you end up with from these projects. I do sell quite a bit of my scraps through the shop to wool artists, but the scraps that I keep, I store in a vintage suitcase. It is fantastic to tote to wherever I need to work.

From the scraps, there are a few things that I have done. First, I made a fun headband. I cut out circles from the wool and used a stippling foot on my machine to sew them together. The same foot I use in my free motion quilting.
Here are the modern forms of a wool penny. It is fun to create with things little joys.
I cut a strip from the black sweater for the body of the headband and handstitched the pennies to it.

I am so happy with this. With not alot of time to spend on my hair, at least this little wonder will help dress my doo up.

Using the same concept, I worked on a brooch for the first time. I am hooked!
I did cheat a bit on this and the hairband, I dug into my scraps for the reds. So in all honesty I used more than three sweaters in these projects.

Here are the steps for the brooch...

Oops, that is not wool! But they sure do help! My Coleman made up a batch of chocolate chip cookies for us...YUM! Nothing better to spur on the imagination.
Play around with the pennies and figure out how you want them arranged. I hand stitch them together.
Here is a picture of the back. Now even though you will not see the back of the brooch, it is still a good idea to back it with one solid piece of fabric. Not only does it give it a cohesive look to it, it also stabalizes the entire piece.
I pinned the brooch to a scrap piece of the back wool and top stitched it. I also added some leaves to the brooch in this step.
Next cut off the excess black wool.
Here is the finished back. Last you just need to sew on a brooch pin. Yeah!

Of course there are a few other goodies that can be made from felted wool, pillows, coffee cozies, coasters, etc. Happy felting!!!!

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