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Upcycling Wool Sweaters - into felted children's cardigans?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've been looking for tutorials and did find one.  I've got a bunch of old, 100% wool sweaters that are big and baggy and I'd like to felt them and make them into nice boiled wool cardigans for the girls - they'd be cute, and warm, and nice for outside in the spring and fall.  I'm envisioning zipped cardigans not unlike some of the zipped Woolrich boiled wool jackets for women (basically a sweater with a zipper).

 

Has anyone done any zipper insertion on felted wool?  D'you know, would I need to sew on facing or ribbon or something as the true support for the zipper? 

 

Also, I've read in a couple places that the sweaters should be cut up before felting (cut off each arm, the side seams, etc., and even the ribbing separately)?  Since I accidentally felted a sweater some years ago and it survived it just fine with its ribbing and seams intact, I suspect that I don't really need to do this?   I might try with one of the sweaters I am least in love with first, and see how it comes out (intact) and then decide whether to cut the others up.  I like the idea of reusing the ribbing along sleeves, collar, waistband "as is" as part of the cardigans. 

 

Here are the tutorials I've found thus far:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-a-Childs-Cardigan-from-recycled-felted-wool-s/ (I would want a zipper instead of the open cardigan that she designed, which only fastens at the top).  And, I would prefer the look of no ribbon at the juncture, just a zipper.  I simply don't know how well it would hold up? 

 

http://resweater.blogspot.com/2010/01/resweater-wool-sweater-faqs.html

 

http://www.ehow.com/how_7729541_boil-wool-sweaters.html

 

http://www.craftstylish.com/item/2259/how-to-felt-sweaters

 

I've found plenty of tutorials for cute wool felt mittens from recycled sweaters, and so on - just nothing of the sweater/cardigan style I have in mind. 

 

And my final question, for those who've recycled wool sweaters - is there a particular seam finish which you prefer?  I'm a 4-H sewer .... I'm inclined towards encasing the seams with grosgrain ribbon, which would be a very neat clean finish, but could probably talk myself into doing a serged or zig-zag seam.  wink1.gif

 

I'm pretty excited about this - I've a couple sisters (and aunts) who like to garage sale  (I don't).  But if these turn out well, I may tell them to be on the look-out for wool sweaters while they're bargain-shopping, and might be able to make all the nieces and nephews (the little ones anyway) felted wool zip-up cardigans for next year's Christmas!

post #2 of 11

Wow, that stripey sweater-coat is so cute!  Makes me want to try it again.  I tried it once after seeing it in a craft book in Borders.  I felted a light weight merino in my size that didn't fit quite right down to baby size (18 mos ish?), and was really too stiff to be comfortable.  I just thought I'd warn you.  The dimensions came out about right (I didn't cut anything until after it was felted, then just opened up the front and trimmed it), but felted wool is really stiff.  I'd start with a thin sweater, and watch it carefully during felting so your fo is still flexible enough to be comfortable.  Seams will of course add to the bulk, and  encasing the seams even more so.  

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've been reading a bit more and apparently, felted wool is like fleece in that it doesn't ravel.  So, any seam finish would be more for reinforcement and structural stability than for prevention of raveling .... I'm thinking I could sew ribbon on the edges as the facing, so that what shows is just the felted sweater and zipper line, but the grosgrain ribbon would be lightweight and lay better for appearance sake.  It would probably also prevent the edges of the wool from being as easily caught in the sweater while little hands are zipping/unzipping. 

 

I've read that different styles of wool sweater felt differently - so some become thick and stiff, others remain more flexible (the lighter, cashmere etc. types).  It will be interesting to see what happens .... The sweater that I accidentally felted years ago (it was a men's XXL long, bought back when we wore leggings with oversize sweaters bag.gif ) is thick, but soft and flexible (LLBean shetland wool sweater I think) --  but the sleeves are a bit short on me, and the waist is a bit high.  I think it lost about half its size over time as a result of the felting (it just kept shrinking, every time I washed in cold water, it shrank, I guess as a result of the one time in hot water).  If I end up with some stiffer felted wools, it will probably be OK, since it would be for a jacket moreso than 'indoor' clothing..... 

 

I've got one dark green sweater with a hole in it.  I'll see how it felts down, and I'm thinking it might end up with some felt appliques on it.  Hmm......

 

ETA:  So I've been looking for good metal separating zippers for this project, and found a site that looks good for zippers, and includes the option to get unique slides (something I was hoping to be able to find).  Some pretty neat slides for zippers!  If we were into Disney, the mouse ear ones would be popular!

http://www.stanssewingsupplies.com/catalogs/catalog.asp?prodid=4954485


Edited by elanorh - 1/7/11 at 6:04pm
post #4 of 11

I made my daughter a cardigan out of a felted wool sweater.In my felting experience,it's a bit of a "let's see what happens"for sizing.Yes,it's true that the edges don't unravel.For my daughter's cardigan I finished the cut edges with quilt binding just to make it cute(and more her style).Then we made a closure with snaps and a piece of felt for the top(she doesn't really like the whole thing buttoned so we just did one closure).But because it doesn't unravel felted wool is a really easy material to work with and a zipper would be no problem.

post #5 of 11

Here's a pic because my description wasn't very good(but I see it's very similar to the first sweater you linked too).

 

ETA...that the method I use for felting is to throw the sweater in a mesh bag(to catch the fur balls)and throw it in the machine on hot with a load of towels.I do it a few times to make sure it's all the way felted down and then throw it in the drier.

post #6 of 11

Rere, that is just adorable.

post #7 of 11

Thanks!

post #8 of 11

Merino is nice and soft, and felts nicely, though it can get stiff if it's felted too much. I tend to use merino when I make clothing for my son. I like to recommend the blend of 70% lambswool/20% angora/10% nylon when it comes to clothes... it felts nicely, but remains soft & flexible, and it's a common blend to find. I made this little jacket for my son, and it sounds similar to what you want to make for your daughters, though I just sewed the zipper on with the sweater attached because I was going for a more "rough" look:

 

http://resweater.blogspot.com/2010/11/what-ive-been-working-on-wednesday_10.html

 

I did make a robe for him out of another merino sweater too (sorry no pics yet), but just added a new zipper. You don't need to put a binding on it or make a seam, unless you want it for a more finished look. Felted wool will not unravel.
It is also unnecessary to cut it apart before felting. I always throw my sweaters in whole, and they come out just fine.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by rere View Post

Here's a pic because my description wasn't very good(but I see it's very similar to the first sweater you linked too).

 

ETA...that the method I use for felting is to throw the sweater in a mesh bag(to catch the fur balls)and throw it in the machine on hot with a load of towels.I do it a few times to make sure it's all the way felted down and then throw it in the drier.



That is adorable! :)

post #10 of 11
You guys are inspiring me to go back to my sweater project. I felted a couple of sweaters to make cardigans for my son, but I did not line the cut or anything. I just cut it and slapped on a button redface.gif.

I did find that sweaters with funnel necks make for interesting collars:

500
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

CG, that is an awesome collar on your little one's jacket!  Love the whole thing!

 

And - Kris, the sweater you made your son is almost entirely what I was picturing (minus the hoodie).  I love your site and think it's so cool that you are a member here!!

 

I'm still finishing a few other projects (a long-overdue embroidered set of dishtowels, ack) - but am really anxious to get going on this project!  Thanks for all the pictures, posts, and suggestions, all!

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