Bbbbrrrr… Winter is here for sure!
And what better way to keep your hands, your head and your heart warm, than by re-purposing and up-cycling old wool sweaters into new (to you), warm mittens and hats!
Do you have an old favorite wool sweater that you don’t wear anymore? Perhaps it is too small, has some holes or is just not in style anymore… Perhaps it’s a sweater that your child outgrew that has fond memories.
Turn that sweater to “felt” and with a little hand sewing, that old, beloved garment can become a very useful pair of mittens or a fabulously warm hat!
First, make sure your sweater is 100% wool or a mixture of wool and animal fiber (alpaca, cashmere, or angora). Acrylic or cotton blended with the wool will not work for this project. You can usually double check by the laundry instructions – if the label states “dry clean only” or “hand wash only”, you’re good to go.
Once you have chosen sweaters, place each in a lingerie laundry bag and toss them in your washing machine. Set your machine to HOT wash and COLD rinse and let it agitate away… exactly the opposite of the garment care directions! How much fun is that! If you are felting a number of sweaters at once, you might separate them to felt dark colors together and light colors together to avoid lint from a dark sweater glomming onto a light color sweater. Add a little detergent and step away to allow your washing machine’s agitation do it’s thing. Once it’s done, remove your sweaters from the washer and take a look. You will find that the fibers have all “felted” together, creating a wonderful, thick fabric. Now just lay them on a dry towel and allow them to air dry.
Now you’re ready to turn that wonderful treasured sweater into a nice warm hat or mittens. Let’s start with the hat. It is simpler and will take less time as you only have one head… or at least you should only have one head.
The pattern we have developed is available in two sized for an adult head and two sizes for a child’s head. Click here for printable instructions and the hat patterns (page 2-3 of the instruction pdf).
Step 1: Determine your head size by measuring the circumference of your head around your ears. Compare this number to the measurement of the hat pattern. The pattern should measure 1″ less than half of the measurement of your head.
Step 2: Turn your sweater inside out so that the right sides are facing each other. Lay your sweater on a flat surface and pin your hat pattern to the sweater. Use any ribbed or finished lower edge of your sweater as the lower edge of your hat if you’d like. We used the ribbed edge for our hat edge. Pin the pattern in place through both thicknesses and cut around the outside of the pattern.
Step 3: Hand sew the two pieces together starting at the crown of your head (A) and sewing to the bottom edge (B). Secure your sewing yarn at B and trim. Repeat on opposite side from C to D. You will now have both sides sewn and you can try on your hat to see if it fits. If you feel it’s too large, now is a good time to sew another seam on each side a little bit inside your first seam…
Step 4: Once both sides are sewn, open up your hat and fold again in the opposite direction, matching up the V shaped opening. Sew across this opening to close the crown of your hat.
Optional Step 5: Add embellishments to your hat such as a pom pom, buttons, patches or anything else you can think of… Make it your own!
Voila! Your hat is complete and ready to wear! Show it off with pride… and warmth!
Thank you to Heather Hamilton for developing the pattern and instructions, and Abby Freeman for modeling our finished hat!