A Good Day at the Thrift Store – Wool Sweaters

I have been driving around with a bin full of donation items to take to the thrift store for about a month now. Today while I was out and about I decided to drop them off. It felt great to let that stuff go, however I just couldn’t pass up a quick stroll through the store. I had to go in and see if they had any “good” used wool sweaters for all my upcycling projects. I am afraid it is an addiction. An upcycled wool sweater is the best!

It’s not very often that I find a lot of “good” wool sweaters, but today was my lucky day. Not only do I rarely find a lot of nice sweaters to felt, but GREEN ones. I love green, and a green wool is even better! Shades of green just come in handy for so many of my upcycled projects and designs. Today I hit the jackpot.

The best time to pick up sweaters is in the summer at garage or tag sales. Stores will start putting them on sale in the spring.

So what defines a “good” sweater?

Well on my terms, a good sweater is:

  • One that has at least 70% wool content. (This allows them to shrink up real nice and tight).
  • Has unique, rich colors
  • The bigger the better (Men XL size sweaters give you more yardage).
  • Has fun stripes or simple designs on the sweaters.

Things to avoid when purchasing a wool sweater:

  • Look out for holes.  Especially when purchasing wool sweaters.
  • Really bulky sweaters. When you felt the sweater it will get even bulkier. Depending on your project, too bulky sweaters can be hard to work with.  However, sometimes there may be a need for a real thick nap).
  • Too thin of a sweater. (Again, depending on your project)  Cashmere sweaters are usually thin and very soft. This type of sweater is great for hand warmers and ponchos, but not so great for a pair of slippers.
  • Think about your inventory. Don’t overspend on colors you already have a ton of or on sweaters that are just so, so. Resist the need to buy every wool sweater you find or you will end up with bins and bins of sweaters. (Believe me, sweaters take up a lot of room).

If you are not familiar with how to “felt” (shrink and tighten the fibers of your sweater), here is a link to a FREE online course that I teach. You’ll love it!

This is such a great time of the year to get out your felted sweaters and make something fun. If you live where it is cold right now, like I do, there are tons of things to make with felted wool.

Mittens, HATS, Scarfs, HAND WARMERS, slippers, Valentine Heart Hand Warmers and HEARTS, Bunnies & Bears, Baby Toys, flowers, BAGS, and even birds.

Don’t forget to save your scraps when cutting out your upcycled wool sweater felted wool projects. There are a lot of fun things to make with this crafting gold!

 

So get out your wool sweater stash. (If you don’t have one yet, after one felted sweater project you soon will have one). An upcycled sweater is fun stuff to work with!

Get out your scissors, sewing machines and turn on some soothing music, or a good podcast, and enjoy a day of creation!

The patterns to make most of these projects can be located in my Etsy shop or here on my website.

here are some more sweater upcycled wool sweater posts you may be interested in.

Let me know if you have any questions or any great tips to share.

DIY Sweater Upcycling – All You Need To Know

Making something out of a felted wool sweater is the BEST!  Most of you know that sweater upcycling is something I get excited about and love to do.

Since my last post about it, I have made one of my upcyling sweater classes available through YouTube.  Although this class is a free class on Skillshare, you still have to go through the hassle of joining and all that jazz.

It is now available through my TEACHABLE platform as well. Here you DO NOT  have to sign up for anything. I am excited about that! I wanted to make it accessible to more people and make it easier to access.

In this sweater upcycling class tutorial, I will show you how to:

  • ONE: How to choose the right sweaters for your project
  • TWO: How to felt/shrink wool sweaters
  • THREE: How to disassemble and store your sweaters
  • FOUR: Project ideas and how use different parts of the sweater

So, here it is.

Play Video

This is a great time of the year to find an old sweater and make some fun Christmas gifts. There are so many fun things you can make. In this post you can get the written version of all the details.

Play Video

Sewing patterns can be accessed in my Etsy shop, Craftsy shop and some are available here in my shop. (If you don’t want to go through Etsy or Craftsy and you don’t see the pattern you want in my store, send me a note and I will list it for you).

Let me know if you have any questions.

Have fun sewing!

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How To Felt Wool Sweaters – FREE Online Class

Would you like to transform your old wool sweaters into something fabulous?

Play Video

I am so excited to let you know what I have been doing the past month, and to let you know that I just published my first online class. It has been a month full of studying, researching, filming and editing. A challenge was given to me to publish my first online class within a month, and I did it, with one day to spare. Whew! This class is an online class with Skillshare, called DIY: How To Felt Wool Sweaters.

SKILLSHARE

****I now have the class available on TEACHABLE. If you don’t want to JOIN a membership on Skillshare, this is a GREAT OPTION.

Sign up for the TEACHABLE COURSE HERE.

My mind is spinning with all the fun classes I want to teach using upcycled wool sweaters, but I felt (no pun intended), that I should start with the basics.

Felted wool sweater fabric is like crafting gold! For those of you who like to sew, you are going to love all the fun things you can make with this cozy, tightly woven material. Here are just a few patterns and ideas of things you can create using upcycled sweaters.

In this upcycled sweaters class, I am going to:

  • show you how to choose the perfect sweater
  • teach you how to felt the sweater (shrink it down)
  • give you some awesome tips on how to store and care for your felted wool sweaters
  • help you know how to use your sweater fabric most effectively

After you take this class, you will be ready to dive into your first upcycled sweater project.

What is Skillshare?

Skillshare is a learning community for creators and makers. Anyone can join Skillshare to enroll in online classes, watch video lessons, create projects, and even become a teacher. This is such an awesome platform where you can learn how to do almost anything! You can join with a free membership or get a premium membership and have access to unlimited classes.

This particular class is FREE to you right now, but I would recommend you take advantage of Skillshare’s offer they have going right now.

3 months for only .99 cents!

After you sign up for the class, you will be given which enrollment option you want. If you do join the Premium Membership, you can cancel at anytime if you choose. Why not take advantage of it for 3 months and give it a whirl.

Are you ready to find a wool sweater and get rolling? The holidays are just around the corner, and now is an awesome time to get out your sewing machine out and get making some fun upcycled Christmas gifts!

Stay tuned for more online classes.

SHORT AND SIMPLE

Share the link with anyone who might be interested.

Cheers!

jan3

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How to organize and store felted wool sweaters

store felted wool sweaters

I am on a quest to organize, DE-junk, and clear the clutter from my home and my life.  The first thing I did was clean out my closet and have worked from area to area in my home letting things go and organizing.  I will post about this later as it is quite amazing some things I have learned.

As you all know, I love felted wool sweaters and I have acquired just a FEW over the years. (Ha, Ha)  I must say my SWEATER STASH was getting out of control. Every time I started a wool project, I hauled out my bins of sweaters (six and one mega size bin), lined them up in the hallway and would dig through them all, trying to find jut the right piece and color.  WHAT A MESS!

Not having my supplies in order caused PROCRASTINATION.  The thoughts of the mess, and the bother of hauling all those bins out, kept me from moving forward and getting things done.  Do any of you find yourself feeling like this?  It was time to MOVE ON.

I bit the bullet and turned on an audio book, got a chair, a pair of scissors and got to work.

store felted wool sweaters
This is what some of my bins looked liked.  Most of them were worse off.  So crammed I could hardly get the lids on them.  Who knew what was in there???
 

Here are a few tips on how to organize and store felted wool sweaters.

I am going to show you a technique that I have found that works really well in storing the sweaters so they don’t take up so much room.

1. WASH AND FELT THE SWEATER.  (Instructions here on how to felt and shrink sweaters).

2. DISASSEMBLE SWEATER.

Right after you acquire a sweater and have washed it, disassemble the sweater.  Cutting the sweater up like this will make it easier to cut out items for your project, and will save so much room when storing.  Here is a step by step guide in how I disassemble my sweaters.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut up the side seam to the arm pit.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut the sleeve off.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut through the shoulder seam.

store felted wool sweaters

This sweater has a turtle neck.  So cut off the neck piece if it has one.  This could come in handy for a lot of good things.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut the other shoulder seam and the other sleeve off.  DO NOT CUT THE
OTHER SIDE SEAM.  This will allow you to have more intact yardage if
necessary for larger pieces.

store felted wool sweaters

If the sweater has a good cuff.  Cut the lower 4-5 inches of the sleeve
off.  These cuffs work well for the cuffs of mittens and slippers!

store felted wool sweaters

Cut down the sleeve seam.

store felted wool sweaters

Open the sleeve piece up and fold.

store felted wool sweaters

If the sweater has a good cuff along the bottom of the sweater.  Cut the
lower 4-5 inches off in a long strip.  Once again, this cuff fabric is
wonderful.

If the sweaters have any cool accessories on them, BUTTONS, ZIPPERS,  POCKETS, etc. save them. 

Here are a few zippers that I have saved from sweaters.  The reason I saved these zippers is because of the cool zipper pulls they have.  This can really add charm to a project.  Yes, I know it will take some time unpicking the sweater from the zipper, but something you could do while watching t.v or riding in the car.  (As a passenger, of course).
store felted wool sweaters

3.  FOLD AND STORE

store felted wool sweaters

Doesn’t this look so much nicer than a wad of wool?

store felted wool sweaters
This is a flatter bin about 6 inches tall, that I store all my cut out
cuffs in.  Easy to find and easy to see what colors I have available.

If you are just starting to explore the world of FELTED WOOL SWEATERS  and you don’t have a big surplus YET, just find a nice bin with a lid to keep your sweaters in.

BUT, if you have been into this for a bit, you most likely have several sweaters of many colors kicking around.

PLASTIC BINS

To make your life easier when it comes to felted wool sweater projects, get yourself several bins, preferably the same size for easy stacking.  I get mine at Costco.  I used to have a big old mongo bin that I would throw some of the sweaters in, but it was way too big and hard to organize.  So, that bin is now being used for sleeping bags.

I cut my bins down from 6 regular plus the mongo bin, to only 6 regular size bins.  Yea!  It feels so nice.

SORT IN COLORS

Depending on how many sweaters you have, sit and figure out what colors need to go where.  I use a whole bin for greens, and one bin for blacks and grays.

Label the bins so you can easily see at a glance where things are.

I just got a Silhouette Cameo machine a while back and was able to make some fun vinyl labels.  You can make a paper label and tape it to the box or even just stick some masking tape on and write what colors are inside.

Establish a box for SCRAPS.  After you have cut things out you are going to have pieces that are too small to fold.  DON’T THROW THEM AWAY.  There are so many projects that require only a small piece of wool. Balls, hearts, and so many other things.

I also keep smaller box, or you can even use a bag, for the tiny scraps of felted wool scraps.  These I save for laundry dryer balls.  For more information about making these gems, check out this blog post.  

So, there you have it.  I hope this LONG post was helpful to you in some way.

If you have a great idea or have questions, please feel free to chime in and leave a comment.
Some times I feel like I am just talking to the wind.

Have fun sorting, sewing and of course, SMILING!

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Caring for your upcycled wool sweater projects

Caring for your upcycled wool sweater projects

So you have made some fun things with felted wool sweaters.  SLIPPERS, MITTENS, HATS, and STUFFED ANIMALS.

What are you supposed to do when they get dirty?
NO PROBLEM!
I wanted to do a quick post about caring for your upcycled wool sweater projects to put your mind at ease and let you know how well these items wash up, and how easy they are to care for.

The multicolored mittens in the photo are about 5 years old, the slippers are probably 3 years old and the slipper boots about the same.  They have been washed many times and are holding up just fine.
In fact, I think it makes them have more character the more you wash them.

I love putting my feet in a pair of newly washed slippers.  It tightens up the fibers so it is like getting a little hug on your feet.  The already felted (washed in hot water) sweater material will not shrink when washed again.  If the sweater was not properly shrunk, the item you made, may shrink.  For tips on felting sweaters, go to the post here.

I have not experienced any major shrinking with the items I have washed.  If they do shrink a bit, they will stretch out just fine.

How to wash wool slippers.

I just throw my wool items in the washing machine with a load of permanent press items, so the water is not hot, but it can handle warm water.  If you are worried, just put the water at a cooler temperature.  I even throw them in the dryer.  Then again, if you are worried, just let them air dry. Most likely the sweater fabric was pre-shrunk (hopefully).

If you have never made anything with a felted wool sweater,  give it a whirl.  Who knew all the fun things you can make with an old sweater.  Here are a few ideas of things you can make.  I have a few more felted wool sweater projects and patterns in the making and are soon to be listed.  So get you sweater stash out, or maybe you need to make a trip to the thrift store, and have fun sewing!!!!

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Upcycled Sweater Crossover Slippers

Slip your tootsies into these bad boys! These upcycled sweater crossover slippers will give you Foot Hugging Comfort!
My Crossover Slipper Pattern is finally ready to go!

I have had these crossover slippers sketched and in my head for months.  I found myself with a little spare time the last few weeks, so to the drawing table and sewing machine I went.  These slippers turned out to be as comfortable as I had hoped for and they are one of my easiest slippers yet to make.

crossover slipper sued soles

I used a lightweight leather piece for the sole of one set. They turned out quite nice.  Sewing on leather is quite easy and enjoyable.  HMMMMMM what can I make with leather now?

Get out your sweater stash and get busy.  By the way, any good finds (WOOL SWEATERS that is),  at any garage or tag sales?  Remember this is the season and a great way to get your wool sweaters dirt cheap.

These slippers would make great Christmas gifts you know?  Just think of all the fun color combinations you could come up with.

You can also make these slippers with a thick polar fleece fabric.

Other upcycled sweater references:

crossover slipper tips and tricks

You can find this pattern at my Craftsy or Etsy shops.

For some tips on how to felt wool sweaters, check out this post.

Click HERE to see more upcycled sweater projects and information.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR UPCYCLED WOOL SWEATER ACCESSORIES.

 

TIP:  WHEN CUTTING OUT YOUR WOOL SWEATER PROJECTS…….KEEP ALL THE SCRAPS. (Even the littlest pieces). 

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