Thursday, 20 March 2014

How to Upcycle old Wool Sweaters. A tutorial; Part Two - Assembly - Cutting and Sewing

 By now, you should have experienced the wonder of transformation.   If not,  see Part One here.   Your wool sweater has gone through heat and agitation, soap and water and transformed into a soft, thick and very strong fabric.  Now, the fun begins.  This is the time of thinking.  What do you want to make?   Last night I made a list a mile long of things that I could make with the felted sweaters.
Felted Wool Tarot Card Case

Cozies (for coffee mugs, beer mugs and the list continues)  Pouches and bags,  Journal covers, Coasters and hot mats, were the ones at the top of the list.

Step 1.  Planning:   Lay out your felted sweater and let your imagination kick in.  This is a where the real creativity happens.  I wanted to make a case for my Tarot cards, some coffee mug cozies, and take out paper coffee cup cozie, a case for my wand, and some coasters,  to start with.
Place your objects on the sweater so you can visualize the sizes and shapes. Move things around, try different orientations and places. I found the sleeve was just the right size for the Tarot cards, and started with that.
Planning arrangements ona felted sweater
Try different layouts and arrangements

Step 2.  Cutting:  Once I decided  what part of the sweater would work for the Tarot card pouch, I focused on that part. The deck of cards fit easily inside the top part of the sleeve, but the bottom portion was too tight. It was an easy move to cut off the sleeve along the shoulder seam and cut the bottom off for later.
Cutting the sleeve off

That bottom part,  the cuff fits perfectly around my Tim Horton's coffee cup.  All it will need is some  trimming and maybe some decoration...
The cuff will be a coffee cup cozy
For the Tarot Card Pouch, I needed to trim up the top flap.  To make it somewhat symmetrical, I folded it in half, pinned it together and free hand cut it in a smooth curve.   By the way,   save all the bits and trimmings.
Trim the top into a smooth curve
Step 3.  Sewing:  The bottom of the pouch needed to be sewn closed.  I put the cards inside, and folded the end shut, in the same way you fold the ends of wrapping paper when you are wrapping up a box.  I hand sewed it with embroidery floss ( all six strands)  This was the trickiest step and I admit to poking my fingers many times!

Fold and stitch up the bottom of the pouch
Be sure to go slow, take your time, and check the inside as you work.  You do not want to accidentally sew the sides together on the inside.
Stitched and secure, and maybe a bit crooked!
Once the bottom was finished, I got a bit carried away and decided to try a blanket stitch or  button hole stitch around the top edge.  My hand sewing and embroidery will improve with practice (have to find a positive way to describe it!)

Blanket stitch around the top
And then,  add a button and button hole!
Complete with button and button hole

Now, back to the sweater.  You see the  pouch and coffee cup cozy on the left. The bottom cuff of the sweater will be coffee mug cozies and the next bit up from the bottom is the wand case.  You see it here cut, and pinned, ready to be machine sewn. I went faster this way and turned out well.   I cut straight across the  bottom of the sweater.

Wand case  cut out and pinned and ready for sewing

The little rectangle bit you see pinned near the top is a little strap that will hold the case closed.

My sewing machine did a great job on the felt, although it didn't seem to want to sew very straight.  No matter, this is a very forgiving material.

Slowly sewing with the machine

Machine sewn felted case - inside out
Next I trimmed the seams a little bit, and turned the case  right side out.  It took a bit of pulling and pinching but was not hard to do.  Once it was right side out, I finger pressed it a bit, (ironing might be a good idea...) and decided the flap needed a slight trim.

Felted wand case - before trimming the flap

All tucked in!

I haven't decided just how much decoration these projects need,  but of course that comes in Part Three.
In another post, I will make a journal cover, and a sewing needle booklet.   Oh, and put some buttons on the coffee mug cozies.     For mug rugs and hot mats, the felt just needs to be cut out square, or round, or if you are so inclined in a daisy shape.  Just always remember,  MEASURE TWICE and CUT ONCE.  
That is worth saying again:    MEASURE TWICE and CUT ONCE.  

Have fun with your projects,  what ever they may be.  You are only limited by your imagination.

Blessings with a needle and thread,


  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

  2. What a thrilling post, you have pointed out some excellent points, I as well believe this is a superb website. I have planned to visit it again and again. wool jersey fabric

  3. Everything has its value. Thanks for sharing this informative information with us. GOOD works! Beanie Hats for Women

  4. I can vision twisted head band made out of the out of the bottom border of
    the sweater. This has my mind racing with ideas. Thanks so much for your
    post. Never considered felting and now you have given me Christmas ideas.
    Joanna Garrett
    Como, Texas