Thursday, January 29, 2009

d.i.y.o.d.s (do it your own darn self) wrist warmer tutorial!

these have been the hot seller in the shop this season. there's no debating the whys of that, they're practical, eco-friendly, and super-cute. the other bonus? they're easy-peasy to make! here's what you need:

-a thrifted sweater (at least 80% wool)

-pillowcase or drawstring bag

-sewing machine or needle and thread

-a quarter
-measuring tape

-buttons or other embellishments

let's go!

start by laying out your wool sweater. i find that for your first pair (one sweater yields quite a few) it's easiest to use the sleeves. i started at the top because i liked the stripes, but you can start at the cuff and cut upwards.

measure from outer fold on sleeve about 5" in. measure down about 13". after you cut, you'll end up with a 10" x 13" rectangle. you can go longer for longer wristwarmers or shorter for a cute "wristlet" look. go wider for bigger hands or less than 5" for smaller hands. either way, account for the fact that after felting, these babies will shrink (about 1/2" at least).now it's time to felt your rectangles. the easiest way to do this is to put them in a pillowcase or drawstring bag and wash them with other clothing on your hottest wash then dry them in the dryer. in steps the issue of energy-efficient appliances. i happen to have a machine that only hot washes on the "sanitize" setting. it takes 2 1/2 hours. uh, yeah. enter the large pot. fill the pot with enough water to cover your bag or pillowcase and a squirt of dish soap (i like dr.bronner's or another natural dish soap with lavender, it deters moths) and set it to boil.
agitation is they key to felting, so be prepared to use some elbow grease! this is why the machine is soooo much easier. it may be worth it to beg a small space in your neighbor or mother's next wash load just to save you the toil. me, i'm an old-fashioned gal, so away i go. as your pillowcase bubbles away AGITATE! poke and stir and prod for around 20 minutes. it is the agitation that felts the fibers together.
remove the pillowcase, run it under cool water and open it up. you should see that the rectangles now look very "feltish", where you can't really see the weave of the fibers anymore. this is good. now, pop 'em in the dryer for an extra felting, or if you think they can't take anymore tightening without becoming too small, hang them to dry.
now that the rectangles are dry, it's time to sew. make sure to use a good strong thread and set your machine to go through heavy fabric. you can also easily sew these by hand. take your first rectangle, fold it in half the long way and RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. use a marking pen and measure 1 1/2" down on the selvage edge. take your quarter and line up the center top of it with your marked line. mark around the curve and cut it out (a half-moon shape). do the same for the other rectangle. THESE ARE YOUR THUMB HOLES. FOR THOSE OF YOU NOT WANTING THUMB HOLES, SKIP THAT STEP!start at the top and sew about 1/2" seam down to the top of your thumb hole. back stitch. clip thread ends. skip over your thumb hole and start at the base of the quarter curve and sew 1/2" seam all the way to the bottom of your wristwarmer. do the other one, too.

tah dah! the best thing about felted wool is that you can cut your thumb holes and trim around rough edges without worrying about fraying and unravelling. it's all tightly bound together now. go ahead and add embellishment. i like to add little "leaf" accents cut from felt or felted wool scraps and held on with a button. it's a great way to use up your little crafty bits and repurpose some buttons. you can also hand-applique or needle felt designs on them. both of which look really cool. i'm leaving these plain because they're for a rather "manly" 7-year-old boy.

so there you have it! you're done, you're hip, you're ready to step out in eco-chic style. send us pics of you finished products and we'll feature 'em on the blog.

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