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Here at Partners in Craft, we have officially renamed November as “Sweater-vember”! All month long we will be shopping for, wearing, and crafting with old sweaters! Bring on the sweater weather! Our first project starts with sweaters that are too itchy, too badly fitting, or too holey to wear. If those cast-offs are wool or mostly wool, you have some crafting gold on your hands! In the next several posts, we will first shrink those sweaters, and then turn that fabulously felted fabric into cuddly gifts!
First step is to gather an arm-load of wool or mostly wool sweaters. We have found that rummage sales are often the best source for old, cheap wool sweaters! Thrift stores are a good source too, but can have higher prices. Don’t forget to check the men’s section!
Wash and dry your sweater on hot (at least once, maybe more) until the sweater has shrunk and the fabric is thick and resistant to unraveling. Next, turn the sweater inside out and lay it as flat as you can. Determine what part you want to turn into a pillow. For this project, I used the rectangular torso section of the sweater. I measured off the straight sides of the rectangle and marked those with pins. (You could use fabric chalk or disappearing fabric pen, if your sweater allows.) I then cut out the rectangle using the pins as a guide. Save those extra pieces of the sleeve and trim for later!
Keeping the sweater rectangle inside out, pin around the rectangle in preparation for sewing it closed. Mark about a 4-inch gap on one side that will be left unsewn. (I mark this gap with double pins.) This gap allows the rectangle, once it’s stitched, to be turned right side out and stuffed.
Time for stitching! Use a scrap of sweater material to test how your sewing machine handles the wool. On mine, I used a zig zag stitch (good for knit materials) and experimented with the stitch size. The bigger stitch didn’t make the seam ruffle as much as a smaller stitch did. Of course, I also used a needle for knit material. (I mean, if a sweater isn’t “knit,” I don’t know what is!) Sew it up!
Turn your now empty pillowcase right side out. Time for some stuffing! I used regular Poly-fil, the same kind of stuffing that can be used for stuffed toys, pillows, etc. I stuffed the pillow so that it was somewhat firm but not bursting. I definitely used more stuffing that I had expected!
Now it’s time to sew up that gap! I folded under the edges of the hole and pinned those in place. Pinning the hole closed was a bit tricky, since the fabric layers were very thick. I used a couple long corsage pins to help, but you could just pinch the hole closed as you sew.
I stitched the hole closed by hand, and the pillow was finished! I wasn’t done, though, because I started wondering. Could a cardigan have sweater-pillow potential? Since I had a cute rummage sale cardi on hand, I decided to find out! I started out by following the first steps from my previous pillow: wash/dry the sweater, lay it flat, and then mark out the rectangular sides of the new pillow. I used the lower torso of the sweater, from the armpit down. I also trimmed off the ribbed edging at the bottom. I used a disappearing fabric pen to mark out my rectangle, before cutting it out.
After the pieces had been cut out. I pinned and then stitched the button-up front of the cardi closed.
The next steps were like those for the first pillow. I turned the pieces inside out, pinned ’em closed (leaving a gap!), and stitched up the rectangle. After turning the rectangle right-side-out, I was ready for stuffing!
Just like before, I folded under the edges of the hole and pinned them in place. I wasn’t able to pin the hole itself closed, so I pinched it closed with one hand while I stitched it up. Once the cardi-pillow was done, I worked with one last sweater to create a set of three!