I fiiiiiiinally sat down and sewed up my recycled sweater blanket this weekend!!!
You do not even know how happy this makes me – I’ve been trying to finish up several abandoned projects lately, and each time I finish one it just feels better and better.
This was one of those projects that I’d had brewing in my head for a while (after first seeing this blanket and then this one and then THESE) and after seeing the one in Leigh Radford’s AlterKnits I thought, “I have to try that!” and so I bought all the sweaters and felted them and cut them all up, but then once I sat down to sew, I freaked out. And I put the entire project in the closet for almost a year. THEN, last week I emailed a very helpful Flickr user who gave me the encouragement to finally sew mine up. And ya know what? It’s not that hard.
And it’s SO FUN!
AND if you screw up the seams (which I did several times), you can just sew over them! Now, here’s a quick tutorial so you can go and make your own!!!
(Here’s the first half of this tutorial, published, oh, like a year ago. I’ll catch you up on what you missed though.)
Choosing the sweaters:
Be sure the sweaters are 100% wool (but NOT machine washable – you want them to shrink). Be sure to incorporate some interesting visual elements – cables, ribbing, stripes, pockets, etc.
Play with color and texture.
You can use almost every part of the sweater (except the seams and collar).
Felting the sweaters:
This is a GREAT introduction into felting. You’ll just need a zippered pillow case and a top-loading washing machine. Throw 2-3 sweaters in a bag and put them in the wash on HOT water with some regular dish soap. Let them agitate for a while and then check on them every 5 minutes or so. Once they’re shrunken to the right size, rinse them thoroughly (I threw them in my bathtub and gave them a good soak). Then throw them in the dryer for a bit, or lay them out flat to dry.
Cutting & assembling:
Use a rotary cutter to cut the pieces. I didn’t have a fabric cutting board so I used a ruler and nearly cut my finger off (click here to see the blood that splattered onto my ruler – I promise it’s not gorey). SO BE CAREFUL! 🙂
Then, once you have all your pieces cut out, lay them out on the floor until you get the right look. (I ended up using VERY large pieces and next time would probably mix up the sizes a bit and use more smaller pieces (I don’t know how to type that out without it being grammatically incorrect (please excuse the double negative)))
I originally tried overlapping the pieces a bit, but in the end I decided this was a little too “advanced” for me. But I like the look of it, so I’ll definitely try this on my next quilt.
I found it very helpful to practice on some scrap pieces first.
This allows you to get the feel of your sewing machine and play with the stitch length. I butted the pieces together (so it’s reversible) and used a zigzag stitch on the widest length setting and a medium stitch setting. Also, I used a contrasting color so the seams would pull the whole thing together. I’ve seen other people sew rickrack over the seams, and while it’s definitely cute, I think that would be too scratchy.
I also started overlapping one of the pieces so they would feed through the foot more easily.
I also found it helpful to sew the blanket up in sections and then sew it all together (like quilters do).
Smaller sized blankets will probably work best. The blanket gets heavy, and too much weight will stress the seams.
I ended up making a full size blanket, and it’s the perfect size for 2 people to cuddle up with on the couch. Or, for just wearing around the house. 🙂
If you do end up making your own blanket, PLEASE EMAIL ME! I’d love to see it.
Ness, there’s a raccoon in one of the pictures.
wow…yours is really fantastic!
i really had no idea the “how to”. i just kind of winged it…….i do have a serger, so that part was easy, and since it looked unfinished had to back it with something. i really love yours….and thanks for linking the sites!
Wow, I love it!!!!!!
Great blanket! I just scored a bunch of 100% wool sweaters today at Goodwill’s 1/2 price sale. They’re felting now. I’m not sure if I have enough for a blanket. I was thinking small bags and totes, not a blanket, but yours is such an inspiration that I NEED TO MAKE ONE TOO! Question, I don’t have a cat, will that be a problem when laying out the pieces? Ha!
great tutorial, great blanket. Defintely adding those fun elements like pockets is the way to go.
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I will definately have to make one of these. They look so warm and cuddly. Thanks!
How do you stop the sweaters from unraveling when they’re cut into squares? Does the felting stop that?
I just loved your pics of your sweater blanket, knew some 4-leggeds would have to contribute! Been kicking around that idea for a while now, and just picked up some sweaters from the thrift store today to start this fab project. So- some of them were not all wool, some were cotton-y and soft mixed wool blends.
Wondering how this’ll turn out, i’ll send you a pic when i’m done! Thanks for sharing. Monica
I’d like to know how you stopped the wool from unraveling after cutting and before they were sewn together. I plan on cutting up an irregularly shaped wool blanket and then piecing it together again to make a rectangular blanket for a bed. i believe it was made using a loom-will this be problematic when cutting? Thanks, Shawna
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I LOVE this. I took a sewing class about a year ago and have wanted to do something with wool. I am definitely a beginner, but this is so lovely that it has inspired me. I also love the look and just bought my first home. I can picture this on my bed or on the back of my sofa. Thanks so much for posting!
Hello, i want to make one of these blankets, i have TONS of old cashmere sweaters, i am wondering why does one felt the cashmere first?
Adorable!!! I came across your blog, right now I am working on making a recycled sweater blanket for my puppy (seems like it would be good at protecting our couch from puppy messes). Thanks so much for the tips and pictures. I am really excited now.
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Hi! I stumbled on your site after looking for a way to use up some old sweaters and used your directions to make a blanket. I got a little annoyed with the fact that it wasn’t laying flat the the seems were lettuce-y so I decided on a whim to iron the blanket with an iron on the wool setting and high steam . . . it work wonderfully! Thanks for your tutorial and pictures!
HI , I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED A CASHMERE CATSUIT. HOW CAN I TAKE TWO CASHMERE SWEATERS AND BOND THEM TOGETHER FOR FULL HEAD TO TOE BODYSTOCKING? COZY YA ! THANKS, KANEALA
Hi, I love your blanket but I’m having an issue with the sewing the pieces together part. Can you really just use regular thread I was afraid I would have to knit the pieces together so they would not pull apart. Thanks for sharing.