Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sweater Wreath Redux for Christmas

I am resurrecting an older post from earlier this year because we now have these wreaths out for Christmas. I thought I would throw out this tutorial from earlier in the year and add photos from the Christmas wreaths we made and are making. We started, as before, with thrift store sweaters of a very high wool count. By washing them in very hot water (I know-it made me cringe at first, too!) and drying them on high heat, the sweaters felted down until they could be cut without unravelling.

Chunkier, thick wool
Softer, cashmere-type wool

Squares of felted sweater

To make this project, you need:

1. Several wool or high-wool content sweaters in colors you want for your wreath. Wash and dry them (as above) before starting.
2. Embroidery floss.
3. Tapestry needle.
4. Cutting mat and rotary cutter.

* Here begins the previous post:

The youngest child and I started to tackle more of the big sweater pile in the craft room. She decided that she felt sorry for her big sister since we found out her new cast has to be on for four more weeks.

“I want to make her a wreath to cheer her up since she can’t play softball for even longer,” she said. “And she can use it as a ‘keep out of my room’ wreath and hang it on her door when she doesn’t want anyone in her room.”

Can you argue with that logic? I certainly couldn’t.

Although the girls had used the rotary cutter on fabric before, the thick, felted wool was a bit trickier to get through. I decided to do the cutting of the squares myself. I asked her to back up because she is a huge allergy sufferer and a by-product of cutting wool is a million tiny wool fibers floating through the air.

“What are fibers?”

“Well, they are the long strands of hair or cotton material that get woven together to make threads or yarn and then fabric.”

“What are strands?”

“Well, they are the tiny, thread-like, itty-bitty strings that make up a plant or an animal’s fur.”

“Oh, so those would get in my nose and make me sneeze?”

“Yes, basically.”


Raw sweaters
Cutting strips into squares
 And on we went from there. I became a sweater butcher: cuffs in this pile, arms get whacked off at the shoulder and go over here. The thinner sweaters got parceled into large squares to be made into roses, while the thicker sweaters were cut in strips and then tiny squares for wreaths. I cut until I had a sizable mountain of squares to choose from.

Time for the youngest to step back in.

“Wow, you have a lot cut already!” she said.

“I already have a pattern I want to use,” she said. “Purple then pink and repeat all along the wreath. I am going to use purple because of her softball team, and pink because you have to put something with the purple,” she said.

I threaded a larger, dull tapestry needle with embroidery floss and tied one end to a pencil to keep the squares from sliding off the thread. She dug through the pile for the pinks and purples she needed then held up a purple square and squinted at it closely.

“Is there a darker purple and a lighter purple in here?”

“No, just the one.”

“Okay, because I was like, if there are two purples in here then my pattern is messed up!”

I grabbed a needle and thread of my own and started digging through the pile for slightly less-purpley-toned squares. I settled on some boring, tweedy greens, tans and maroons for my wreath. She observed my choices with a look but no comment. Tactful, even at six.

“Have you ever poken yourself with a needle?”

“I have poked myself with lots of needles, but not this kind,” I told her.

“This must have taken you a while to snip up all of these sweaters.”

“Yes, it did.”

“I am going to make this a surprise so don’t tell her until I finish,” she said quietly.


“I was going to make it for her birthday, but now I feel bad about her arm,” she said. “Her birthday is kind of far away so I will wait until the middle of April to start making her birthday gift.”

We sat there for a little while, threading and chatting. I can see the value of older times and the circles of women who quilted, knitted and sewed with neighbors, friends and daughters. The quiet moments of steady work, the accomplishment and pride at showing others your progress, the good conversation.

Once the wreath was finished and we tied off a knot and loop to hang it, she decided there needed to be a bow.

“Can you cut a strip of purple?”

“Yes, and I’ll sew it with a sharper needle and thread.”

“I need to see how you do it because one day I want to do lots of projects with my kids and I need to be able to show them how.”

Maybe I don’t need to live in the older times. Seems like now is just fine.

Here is a link to the CSI Project for other crafters! Have fun!


1 comment:

Valerie@Occasionally Crafty said...

What a great way to use some old sweaters! Thanks for linking up to the CSI Project challenge this week!

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