Monday, January 30, 2012

New Mittens, Old Sweater! a challenge!

A new etsy team--Blogging Business Artisans--was launched last October. This team was formed to support and help its members grow artistically and professionally.  It's been a great joy to be a member of this team.

The idea was conceived of holding monthly challenges to help us grow and stretch our imaginations.  Team members must complete 6 of the 12 challenges within a year.
The first challenge is presented by Deb of storybeader and is called New Techniques.

"This first Challenge was set in motion because I'm always wanting to try new projects but stress about where to find the time?  So, BBA members are hereby given permission to set aside time to work on a new project you haven't tried before. It can be within your field of expertise, but doesn't have to be. This Challenge also asks members to blog about your New Technique at least once during the month of January and talk about your progress." 
Last year, I became interested in creating new items by cutting up and re-working old sweaters.  I began to collect mostly wool sweaters from thrift stores. I looked online and brought books home from the library.
Soon, I had a first project in mind-mittens.  I found the perfect sweater.
(sorry, I don't have a photo of the sweater before I cut it up.)  
The first thing I did was to felt it in my washing machine.  I added hot water and detergent.  I put the sweater in a zipping pillow case cover to control the errant pieces of felt fuzz.  After washing, I put the sweater (inside the pillow case) into the dryer on hot till dry.  There was no scientific method to this procedure.  I would take whatever I got.  What I got was a nice soft wool fabric. 
yes, that's me.
About this time, my friend Nancy Gamon, invited me to come to a "sweater chop shop" at her studio.  Four of us attended.  There was soon a mound of sweaters on her large work table.  We chopped and chopped and some of us sewed.
I made a paper pattern by drawing around my hand and added about ¼ inch for a seam allowance.  The pattern was pinned on the front of the sweater and through the back as well, wrong sides together, in order to incorporate the snowflakes.  The mittens were then cut out.
Now for the part I'd been temporarily avoiding.  I got out my new sewing machine (which I've barely used) and the manual. 
Directions were studied, the bobbin was threaded, mittens pinned, and I began to sew.
It was a little tricky sewing around the thumb.  For one thing the fabric is fluffy and dark.  I was able to mark a stopping point (at the base of the thumb) with a white marking pencil and that helped.  I'm not used to this new machine yet and the foot pedal is still a bit difficult for me.  Also, I've sewn extremely little in many years. 
Next I wanted to add the red binding from the front of the sweater to the cuffs of the mittens.  I decided to hand sew this on because I didn't want any stitching showing.  Before adding this, the mittens had a nice finished cuff edge because this was the bottom of the (now former) sweater.  I wanted to preserve that.  I also machine sewed the raw edge a couple times to keep it from raveling.  (Was this red yarn wool?  hmmmm... The sweater tag said it was made of wool, so why is it so loose?  This is the unknown you get with a thrifted sweater.)
the finished mittens!  soft and warm!  (sorry for the bad photo)  

This was a challenge to complete.  There were definitely times when I was out of my comfort zone.  However, now I have some cute new mittens.  I would like to make a matching scarf.  I just have to think how to cut up the remaining sweater and how I'd like to put it together.  I'm dreaming of some other sweater projects as well!  (a pillow, knitting needle holder, more scarves, wine bottle bag.  I may make some flowers and add them to a sweater I have already.)

Intrigued by our team challenge?  Come on over to our BBA BLOG, and see what others have made!   

QUESTION:  Have you made anything lately which challenged you artistically?     

photos by me © 2012  all rights reserved       


  1. Those look awesome! Great job.

  2. Those are really cute! Good on you and for you for challenging yourself (and coming out alive on the other side! ;)).

  3. love the little snowflakes on the mittens! The perfect sweater to cute up! Neat project! {:-D

  4. Love how they turned out!

  5. What a fun project! These turned out so cute and I love the red cuff along the bottom :)

    PS...It's nice to finally "meet" you. I think this is the first photo I've seen of you :)

  6. The mittens are beautiful! Great job with the challenge. I look forward to seeing more projects from you with sweaters.

  7. The mittens turned out great! It just amazes me what felting can do to a sweater! You've got some good ideas for future projects. I've got some wool sweaters that I bought from a thrift store with the intention of doing "something" with them .... someday!

  8. Terrific job & blog!

    Thanks for stopping by - hopefully *s*ee you again soon!

  9. Golly, that's impressive! We can't sew on buttons without messing it up!

  10. Oh! They turned out so cute! I've been wanting to try that too (I accidentally felted a sweater in the wash ;-)
    I usually cut a notch between the thumb and the rounded part. This provides some ease on the seam :)

    have a lovely day!

    p.s. wow - thanks for voting for me twice!!!

  11. Love this post! I've been wanting to try this too, but just haven't. Thanks for the tutorial.

  12. You found a terrific sweater for your mittens. The snowflakes are cute, and boy, do the mittens look warm!

  13. What a very cool challenge, and your mittens are great. I especially like that they are recycled.

  14. I think these look great! They will definitely keep you nice and warm.


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