Friday, November 25, 2005

The art of recycling an old sweater

Today's victim is an old sweater, that I've felted in my washing machine and recycled into a zippered pouch, and Christmas stockings.

You can find a vast array of feltable sweaters in your local thrift store, here is a quick guideline for finding the right materials: Mohair, Alpaca, Cashmere, and Wool generally felt well as long as they have not been treated in any way to make them machine washable. (*hint if the tag also says "dry clean only", that's a good sign!)

thevictim


To felt, place sweater inside out inside of a zippered pillowcase. Fill your washing machine with hot water at the lowest water level possible. You can add a teaspoon of dishwashing soap or Eucalan Wool Wash, and place your bag in the machine. Agitate, checking the progress every few minutes. It will probably take several agitation cycles before the felting is complete. So continue to reset your washing machine to the agitation cycle until the felting is complete. (Don't let your bag run through the spin cycle, which can cause permanent creases.) Lay your sweater on a towel flat to dry.

sweaterpouch


This is where it gets fun!

Cut your sweater up into the desired shape for your project. I cut the neck of this sweater to make the zippered pouch above.

stockings


Inspired by the Sweater stockings I've recently seen in ME's Home Companion, and Alicia Paulson's amazing collection from her boutique Rosy Posy Little Things, I thought I'd try to make some as decorations for our upcoming Christmas Eve party. I started by making a exaggerated paper template from the shape of a sock, to cut the pieces for these Christmas stockings.

Remarkably, I was able to sew these thick pieces together with my humble little sewing machine! But if you think it's too much wear and tear for your own machine, these can still be quickly sewn together by hand using the whip-stitch.

stockingdetails


Adding the final touches is always my favorite part. Here I used old mother of pearl buttons that I found at a flea market, embroidery floss, batting that my cocker spaniel had conveniently torn out of one of his stuffed toys, and some left-over felt from another project to make the flowers.

Some other ideas to use as embellishments: rick-rac, sequins, ribbon, old fabric yo-yo's, or whatever your creative mind can dream up!

14 comments:

lucky olive said...

Ah, thank you! These are fabulous!

I wanted to felt some thrifted sweaters for gift projects this year, and this was really helpful...

jenny vorwaller said...

WOW! what a wonderful project kathleen! we have been thinking about christmas at our house since the last bite of turkey was consumed so naturally i am so excited to see this wonderful pair of stockings! so beautiful!! :)

Cassi said...

Great idea Kathleen, and so beautifully executed!!

molly said...

thank you so much for sharing this. I've had "look for wool sweaters at Goodwill" on my to do list for two weeks now...and now I have some direction! can't wait to try it.

momo said...

wonderful ideas!! thanks!! ^^

my vintage days said...

Thanks for the post. I've been wondering how to felt. I have a sweater that I don't wear anymore and it would be perfect for the project! Another great idea from you gals.

val said...

oh my god, i am totally making these stockings! this is a great party idea too!

jill said...

Divine... Simply divine! I'm fascinated with felt, felting, but have never looked into it much. I love LOVE the porceline blue...

Toni said...

So lovely! I really appreciate your tips on felting. I have made a couple of totes alredy from old, wool sweaters but only sent them through the wash once. Now I know how to go about it better. Thanks!

Liquid Sky Arts said...

This was a really fun project for me. Thanks so much for your wonderful comments, I'm so glad this post was helpful!:)

vania said...

thanks so much for the post. i want to make a felted scarf made from recycled sweaters. i've been too lazy to take them to the laundrymat so i wash hoping to just handwash in hot hot water. your post explains things so well, that i know that won't work now!

Barb said...

I love it! On my 'to do' list for this year now.

gracia + louise said...

Hi, we love your recycling themed site & thought you might wanna see our handmade journals created from vintage fabric remnants and other delights... sometimes we use embroidered tablecloths or old kimonos and fashion them into journal covers and pouches. You can see our hammer & daisy goods here: http://www.gracialouise.com/hammer&daisy.html Or via our 2 new blogs: http://gracialouise.typepad.com/high_up_in_the_trees/ AND http://gracialouise.typepad.com/elsewhere/

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