Giveaway: Upcycled Felted Wool Sweater

It’s Been a Year

It’s been a little over a year since I started this blog.  Thus far you could observe that I’ve been dabbling in a number of types of sewing.  It may seem that I’ve not immersed myself in one particular type of sewing – that’s because I do enjoy just about any type of sewing (excluding mending).  Over the years the type of projects seem to depend on what’s going on in my life.

Changes Ahead

Speaking of what’s going on in my life, I’d say we’re in a year of significant change.  I’m retiring in a month, we’re taking a 2 month trip to Central America, selling our home in Philly and moving back to the midwest.  How’s that for change?  It’s a little weird that I won’t use a sewing machine for 2 months and what about not getting up and going to work every day.  Sound good.  Oh, and I may need to send one or two machines to storage while we show our home.  Hmm, which can I part with?

Where is this going, you ask? It’s a long way of saying that I want you to stay with me while I am not posting about my sewing life.  In the months of March and April, I’ll replace sewing content with traveling content.  Maybe even a word or two of Spanish if my brain can soak up a few phrases.

Giveaways

I don’t want to lose you, my loyal followers.  To get you in the habit of visiting my blog while I’m away, I’m going to do a series of giveaways which are representative of my last year’s sewing.

The first one is your choice of three felted upcycled toddler sweaters.  All you need to do is to leave a comment indicating which one you’d prefer.  If you’re interested in making one of these in the future, ask a question about how to make the sweaters.  The deadline is midnight Monday, Jan 31; then the random number generator will work it’s magic.

 

Description:

1. Hooded Grey merino with snowflake design.

2. Wool and cashmere.   Sleeve, 1/2 of the front and the back are felted cashmere.  Oh, so soft.

3. Red wool Snowmen with wool/angora cabled sleeves.

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Take 2: Adult Leggings Pattern (free)

I’ve received so many kind messages about my last post; a children’s leggings pattern and tutorial on how to make leggings or footless tights.  I also included directions on how to make a pattern for adult-sized leggings but stopped short of a pattern.

This week I made a pair for myself, as I’ll need them for our upcoming trip to Central America.  Why not create a pattern and share it with you?  The fabric is black/silver spandex – nylon and spandex or lycra, I think.  Since there was more stretch with the grain, I cut across the grain.  That is, the selvage ran across the top of the tights.

Leggings Pattern sz med pdf

First of all, here is the pattern, which is for an adult size medium.  This is “low tech” pattern making with hand written instructions.  All you need to do is to print the 10 pages in the Adult Leggings Pattern sz med pdf and tape them together following the grid on page 1 of the pattern.

Sizing Tips:

  1. In order to fit well and stay up, the hip size of the finished leggings is about 2/3 of my actual size.  The finished hip circumference is 28″ and my actual measurement is 40″.
  2. The legs are closer to my actual size.  At the top of the inseam, the finished leggings are 18″ circumference against my actual size of about 22″.
  3. At the ankle, the leggings circumference is 7 3/4″ against an actual ankle measurement of 8″.
  4. Length – my leggings inseam is 27″ which is 1″ shorter than my pants inseam.  You may need to lengthen the pattern as most of the world is taller than I am.  That’s just how it is!

If you need to alter the pattern, make a split down the middle of the pattern, which would be at the side seam (if there was a side seam).  As you can see from my’m hoping this will give you an idea of how much to split the pattern.  The nice thing about using lycra or spandex is that it’s forgiving and your measurements don’t need to be exact.

What about the Elastic?

As with children’s leggings, apply the elastic with a zig-zag stitch.  Pull the elastic so it is slightly smaller than the top of the tights.

Here are several more photos of the completed project – these are incredibly comfortable to wear and will be just what I need for our upcoming trip – they will double as tights, long underwear and maybe PJ’s too.

Time for Leggings: Free Pattern and Tutorial

In the N. Hemisphere it’s winter and that means it’s time for females to cover their legs.  Well, maybe not all females; even in the depths of winter we all see young women and teens with bare legs but not me.

So I say it’s time for leggings; a fast sewing, get results in minutes item for the winter, mostly for my granddaughters but also for my daughters.  I’m talking about the footless “tights alternative” as opposed to the ever popular leggings which are more of  a “pants alternative”.  The web is full of  photos and comments about whether it is appropriate to wear leggings in lieu of pants.  Rest easy in that we’re not touching that fashion controversy in this post.

My 2 GD’s absolutely love the leggings I make for them.  They wear them as tights under skirts or dresses and as an additional layer under pants, especially during very cold weather.  Since they’re inexpensive and very easy to sew, I often make 8 or 10 pair at a time and they are delighted when I arrive with package in hand.

Leggings Tutorial and Leggings Pattern (pdf)

Materials:

  • Length of 2-way or 4-way stretch knit fabric.  I often use spandex or lycra which would be used for leotards or dance-wear but also use other cotton or cotton-poly stretch knits, often to match a t-shirt or top.
  • Leggings pattern (pdf)
  • Narrow lingerie elastic for the waist

Notes:

The pattern is a size 2-4.  In order to make a larger size (girth), split the pattern down the middle and add 1/2-3/4″, depending on the amount of adjustment needed.  This works well great for girls who need a little more sizing but no more length.

To make a size larger such as a size 4-5, make the same split down the center of the pattern piece and add as much length as you need.  No worries if you make it too long, you can just cut the bottom off later.

Cutting:

  1. Cut 2 identical pieces from the pattern.
  2. Generally when cutting fabric I try to avoid the need to cut against the grain, for leggings you want to have the greatest stretch across the garment, not lengthwise so the leggings are comfortable with movement.
  3. If possible, cut with a rotary cutter.  It goes much faster and makes a nice clean-cut at the bottom.

Here is my mass production – 3 pair for my Mira and 2 for Cate.  Yes, there will be comparing when I arrive with clothes in hand but I’ll make sure they each have the same number of pieces of clothing!

Sewing

  1. Serge (or use a lingerie or knit stitch on a standard sewing machine) center front and center back seams.  A straight stitch will not work for this as the seam will rip out during wear.
  2. Serge inseam in 2 steps.  Start at the mid-point of the inseam and stitch toward the leg bottom.  Then sew the second leg.  (The reason for this 2-step process is that when starting the seam, the serger has a difficult time keeping the bottom fabric even).  Or maybe it’s me?

This has probably taken 5 minutes of sewing time: You now have nearly completed the leggings and just need to add the elastic.

Attaching the Elastic

Sew the elastic using a zig-zag stitch.  (You could use a coverstitch but I find that zig-zag works just as well and it’s much faster).  As you can see in the following photo, the elastic needs to be slightly smaller or tighter than the waist, otherwise they won’t stay up.  Mira and Cate are both pretty slim, so keeping them up is a problem if the rise is to short or if the elastic isn’t tight enough.

Finishing the Bottom

If using lycra or spandex, I usually leave the bottom unfinished.  If using cotton-poly-stretch, a narrow rolled hem works well.

The other step I take is to secure the bottom of the seam with a few stitches.  Or you can tuck in the serger threads.  The purpose is to keep the bottom of the seam from opening during wear.

Here you see a photo of about a dozen pair I made a while ago.

Leggings for Adults:

There are probably lots of ways to construct a leggings pattern for adults, however here’s what I did:

1. Take a pants pattern front and back and tape or pin together at the side.

2. Tuck or fold the pattern from top to bottom to reduce the width of the pattern.  In this case, I aimed for the pattern to be 3/4 the size of my daughter’s actual measurements.

3. Shorten the rise so it is slightly shorter than the measurement of the person who will wear these.

4.  Narrow the width of the leg so it is slightly smaller than the actual measurement

5. Cut and sew in the same manner as the children’s leggings.  If you have access to 1″ lingerie or fleece-backed elastic, it words well.  I would stay away from the harsh elastic for general use.

Felted Recycled Wool: Everyone’s Doing It

Felted wool has always been somewhat of a fascination for me, whether it comes by way of recycled/upcycled sweaters or if purchased already felted.  Several weeks ago I listened to Anne K’s Greenstitch podcast where she talked about how she learned to recycle wool sweaters, felt and transformed them into holiday gifts – great advice and inspiration.

Then I found this creative recycled wool pincushion at a knitting store.  Clever – and it works well.


Oh yes, before the holidays I made a felted grey wool knit dress that I love.  One of these days I’ll catch a photo and post it.

Then today, wouldn’t you know, Kenneth King’s felted sweater tutorial was pushed from Threads Magazine.  You get the picture – felted and felting wool has been occupying some small part of my brain.  Post-retirement, I keep wondering what will take up space in my brain currently being occupied by all things work.  Guess this is part of the answer.

All of the above and the fact that I need to de-stash before we move later this year, caused me to think about the bins of felted wool in my basement.  Several years ago I purchased dozens of wool sweaters of various types and styles to learn how to felt.

My intent was to re-cut the pieces and hand-sew infant or children’s sweaters – all warm a cozy.  It was fun to learn how the different wools were transformed into felt.  I learned what doesn’t felt well (cables, fisherman knits, heavy knits and worsted weight).  Also learned what felts well – my favorite is cashmere or lightweight merino.  I did make about 8 or 10 toddler sweaters; sold a few on Etsy, a few to friends and family and a few extra have taken up residence in my sewing area.


Then I moved the wool to the basement and there it stayed, awaiting the talents and creativity of someone I’d not yet met.  After pulling the bins from the stash, I sorted, folded and posted on Etsy.  Within a day, nearly all of it sold and I mailed it off this past weekend.  I can’t wait to see what the buyer creates.

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What are your experiences felting wool?

When I am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple – Unless I can Wear Cashmere

Having completed one coat this winter which didn’t wasn’t the ideal project, my need for mastery has kicked in, resulting in a decision to accelerate the plan to sew a wool coat for moi.  I love the cut of Simplicity’s Project Runway 2812 pattern and I  need a new wool coat but had planned to wait until next fall to take on this project.  Purple or royal blue were my colors of choice; black wool is easy to come by and black coats look great but this time I wanted color.  Maybe my desire to reject symbols of aging is related to my impending retirement or who knows?  No need to analyze but at least you know where my head is at these days.

Last week I searched the internet and sent for a few samples but on Friday I decided to make a run to London Textiles in New Jersey to take a look at their selection of coating.  London Textiles is a designer fabric wholesaler whose doors are thankfully open to the public.  If you’re even in the Philadelphia area on a weekday, I’d highly recommend a visit.  Their prices are amazing and they have bins of roll ends capable of enchanting a fabriholic serious sewer.

Purple or Royal vs Black Cashmere Coating

Not surprisingly, there were gorgeous coat-weight wools but no purple or royal blue.  Oh, but there was that roll of black Italian 100% cashmere that kept following me around the warehouse.  What’s more, the price was unbelievable – for cashmere that is.  I wandered around the store looking at gorgeous fabrics in search of the perfect silk lining and there it was – deep red silk.  The deal was sealed!  What an exciting find and how fun much fun will it be to work on cashmere.

Soon I will start indulging in this rich, luscious fabric.


Other Finds:

Stretch denim for a pair of Jalie jeans, navy wool knit for a cardigan, black wool gauze to use as an interlining for the coat.

My question for you:

What type of buttons should I use on this coat?  Leave me a comment with your suggestion – either a general suggestion or a specific button.  Also, if you’ve worked on cashmere, I’d love to hear your tips on interfacing, underlining, etc.