DIY: How To Felt Wool Sweaters | Jan Howell | Skillshare

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DIY: How To Felt Wool Sweaters

teacher avatar Jan Howell, Designer, Seamstrist, Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      INTRODUCTION: Wool Sweater Upcycling


    • 2.

      Choosing The Right Sweater


    • 3.

      The Felting Process


    • 4.

      Disassembly and Storage


    • 5.

      How To Use Felted Wool Sweaters


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About This Class

Transform your old wool sweaters into something fabulous!

Felted wool sweater fabric is crafting gold! For those of you who like to sew, you are going to love all the fun things you can make with this cozy, tightly woven material.

In this wool sweater upcycling class, I am going to

  • show you how to choose the perfect sweater
  • teach you how to felt the sweater (shrink it down)
  • give you some awesome tips on how to store and care for your felted wool sweaters
  • show you how to use your sweater fabric most effectively

After this class, you will be ready to dive into your first upcycled sweater project.

The only thing needed for this class is an excitement for creating.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jan Howell

Designer, Seamstrist, Artist


Jan is an artist, designer and seamstress who loves creating things with upcycled materials.

Her work is unique, authentic and a little on the whimsy side, as she combines different colors and textures that feel good to the eye and to the touch.

Jan's hope is to design patterns and projects that give others the opportunity to create items that are useful, brings them joy and to do it in a simple way.

Her patterns are available in her Fibers & Twigs Etsy shop and Craftsy.

Finished items can be purchased from her AUTHENTIC U Etsy shop.

Keep tabs on what she is doing, by following her on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, PINTEREST, and YOUMAKEITSIMPLE

See full profile

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1. INTRODUCTION: Wool Sweater Upcycling: Hi, my name is Jan. You make it simple dot com and I'm a designer, a graphic artist, a seamstress and do it yourselfer. I enjoy creating things that have unique textures, colors and have a purpose. I love recycling things up, cycling things that are no longer wanted or needed and creating a second life for them. Thanks for joining my wool sweater up cycling class. I'm going to show you how to take a wool sweater and shrink it down into crafting gold. Working with working with felted wool sweaters is so fun and rewarding. There's so many fun things that you can do with it. And I'm excited to show you how first pattern that I designed using felted wool sweater was for a mitten. And I designed that and sewed it up and put it on my hand. And I loved how it felt the tightness, the coziness, the texture of the sweater and the mitten. And I got thinking, If this feels so good on my hands, I bet it would feel good on your feet. So I designed a slipper pattern from from felted wool sweaters, and the rest is history. Many patterns later, I am still coming up with fun ways to use this felted wool sweater material. I've designed patterns for other slippers, bags, hats, mittens, balls, toys, bunnies and bears and even birds. In this class, I'm going to show you how to locate a sweater, whether you purchase it or use a sweater that you already have. I'm going to show you how to tips on buying and acquiring the right kind of sweater for the right project. Show you how to disassemble the sweater for easy storage and easy cutting out and show you which parts of the sweater are best for which kinds of projects are you ready to get started? 2. Choosing The Right Sweater: the first thing you'll need to do is to find some old sweaters. So where do you get a wool sweater? First place would be to check your own closet. You may have a sweater in there that you don't realize that you have or that you're not wearing that you could use. Thrift stores are a great place to pick up a sweater at a good price. Garage sales and yard sales are one of my favorite places to pick up a good, well sweater. You can usually pick one up for 50 cents up to $5 sometimes they'll even give them away. Clearance racks in clothing stores are another good place to find a good sweater and at a good price. Some things to look for when you're getting a sweater for craft projects is to make sure that it's 80% or higher in wool content. That way, it will felt down and shrink down like you want it to inspect the sweater. For models and stains, collect a variety of colors. I like to have a variety of colors to choose from when I'm making wool sweater projects. Sometimes you'll come across the sweater that is a great color or has great design. Make sure that you pick it up because you may not come across it again. And some colors of sweaters are really hard to come up come by. So if you find a good one, grab it. Get sweaters with varieties of textures and waits. All sweaters have different textures and they're gonna felt differently. So you want to make sure that you are have a variety for different projects that you're doing like cashmere sweaters. They're really thin, They're thinner and they work great for linings of mittens and slippers where a more dense sweater to start with is gonna even felt down really thick. So you want to make sure that you're getting you have some variety of sweaters. Maximize your fabric store fabric. So what I mean by that is go to the men's section and see if you can find a large sweater. Sometimes you're lucky you can even find an extra large sweater that white. That way you're getting a lot of sweater for the same price. Don't be afraid, however, to check out the Children's section and the baby section, even even though they're going to sweat. There, they're going toe felt down to smaller sizes. Sometimes you can find some really cute stripes or fun colors in the baby and Children section. 3. The Felting Process: Now we're getting to the fun part. What exactly is felt ing Felton is taking your sweater, taking your wool sweater and applying hot water and shrinking it down. When you apply hot water and agitated, it will shrink and tighten the fibers of the sweater to a more dense, tight wait. We've which is great for worth and great for fabric projects. Here's a before and after shot of a sweater that I felt it. You can see how much it's shrunk. How much did shrink down after felt ing to felt your sweaters by washed by the washing machine? There's a few tips I would like to give you. First of all, washer sweaters with like colors you don't want Teoh. Wash a light colored sweater with a dark color sweater, or else you're going to get a different color sweater. When you end up, the lint seems to adhere to each other, and you'll end up with the wrong color sweater. Set your washing machine to the highest hot setting at only a small amount of laundry soap , especially if you're just shrinking down one sweater. You want to check it at least every five minutes to make sure that it's not over over shrinking. I've had a really nice sweater and just put it in the washing machine, and it shrunk down way too much, and I was almost not. Wasn't able Teoh really use it? Cause it was so dense and thick, So just check it every every few minutes or every five minutes to make sure that it's not over drinking. If your sweater is felted to your liking, if you like, how it after you've washed it. If you like the thickness, just lay it flat to dry. If you want more shrinking, then then go ahead and throw it in the dryer and check. And then you'll want to check it frequently as well to make sure that it's not over shrinking. To felt your sweater by hand, which take a little bit more work in a little more effort. You do have a little bit more control of the shrinking process, but I usually don't use this method. I use the eye. Just use a washing machine. But if you want to do this, here are a few tips. Use a clean tub or sink or basin with the hottest water you can. And just again, a little bit of liquid soap works a little bit better because it will suds up better than a powder. So if you have a scrubbing board, that's great. If you don't no worries, you can just use, um, your hands. Go ahead and start rubbing and scrubbing and agitating the sweater toe. Work the fibers until you get it to the consistency that you like. Go ahead and rinse it really well and make sure they're all the soap is out, and then you can throw it in the dryer if you want a little more shrinking or go ahead and once again, just lay it flat to dry. 4. Disassembly and Storage: now that you have washed and dried your sweater, it's time to cut it up and either store it or use it for some of your craft projects. So if there are any buttons or hardware on your sweaters, you'll want to remove those and save your buttons. They'll come in handy for something else to start by turning your sweater inside out, exposing the scenes. Take a pair of good fabric scissors and start cutting down one of the side scenes you want to cut close to the center of that side of the Siemens as you can. It has cut around the sleeve seam, so you're cutting your disassembling and taking off the sleeve. Just go ahead and set that aside. Then cut one of the shoulder scenes and depending what the collars like. Sometime you'll have to cut around the collar or just cut both shoulder scenes over to the other sleeve scene and then cut out the other arm hole to remove the other sleeve, setting the sleeves aside for just a moment. You won't want to cut the other side scene, so just because you might need a project that has a bigger needs, a bigger piece. Go ahead and fold up your fabric, take your sleeves and just cut down the sleeve seam so that opens it up. So you have access to another big piece of felted wool when you are cutting out your sweaters. If you notice any models or any stains, you can just simply take some masking tape or some painter's tape. Rip a piece off and place it over the hole. That way, when you are cutting out a project, you're not going to cut out of a pattern piece that has a hole in it. So if you're like me, you may start acquiring a few sweaters, and you'll want to store them in a safe place away from pest and moisture. Get some containers to put your sweaters in plastic. Ben's work really well with a nice, tight fitting lids and as a natural moth repellent. Essential oils or herbs are really great, so some essential oils at work well for repelling moths are peppermint oil time, cedarwood, lavender and rosemary, so you can take some of those oils and dab it on a cotton some cotton balls and put place those throughout your storage bins or get a lavender, get some dried lavender and put it in a sachet of cotton sachet and store that in your bins get have been also for the little pieces, the smaller pieces, the scraps of the most sweaters. Now there's really not a sweater piece that is not is too small. So there I'll be showing you some projects of things to use little small pieces and even the little scraps that you don't think you can cut anything out. Say those because you can make dryer balls out of those. 5. How To Use Felted Wool Sweaters: Now you know where to get a good sweater, how to felt it and store it. Now let's talk about some ways you can use it. A felted wool sweater is a great fabric to work with because it does not fray. It's not necessary to him, so it reduces a lot of bulk and time when you're making a school sweater project. Now, there are times when you can use a mixed fiber sweater like a sweater that has a lot of cotton or synthetic fibers that won't shrink down when you felt when you wash it. But they still can come in handy and make some fun things. He'll just need Teoh, either over lock the edges or uses exact stitch along the edges so it won't so the seams will not fray. So there's different weights of sweaters and textures, especially after you felt them and shrink them down. This is a really dense sweater that would work really nice on the soul of a slipper or slipper boot, like shown here, or a bag or something that needs a little more structure to it. Medium weight sweaters work really nice for projects like a scarf, a skirt a hat. I'm slippers or mittens. You'll want to use the same type of sweater or texture in a project. So you went on you something really bulky and then the other part really thin, unless it was something that called for that. This is a poncho made from a cashmere sweater that is really light and flowing and cozy and soft. Cashmere sweaters air, great to pick up and find and use for clothing items. They will shrink down, but they don't really shrink down to a tight we've. When you're cutting pattern pieces out with your felted wool, you want to put their pattern pieces as close together as possible to maximize your fabric . All the love of wool fabric pieces. Look at what you can make with just a little piece of fabric. Just gonna show a little video clip of my cuff. Been Look at all the sweater cuffs that I've saved different colors. These cuffs will come in handy for a lot of fun projects. I love this green one with the gray on the bottom. This will. This will make a cute cuff on a sweater boot or a slip, a sweater slipper see how I've used a cuff on a sweater, asleep cuff on this little sweater boots and, of course, the mittens. The sweater cuffs come in really handy because they have a finished edge and they're stretchy, and they usually have a lot of character to them. So save your cuffs. I've saved this green sweater. Although it's not wolf, it's still I thought I could. Still, this would come in handy for a cuff or a binding of some kind and has a lot of nice stretch to it, and it has just feels good. So I've say and it has, and it's also a good color. So I've saved that into my bin. I'm going to show you how to use the bottom finished edge of a sweater. This will come in handy for a lot of projects where you need a little bit more fabric than just the sleeves. You can make a stocking hat toe look like something that you crow shade or knitted yourself . That bottom cuff edge works really nice. Have seal that has it stretched to it. It's a fun way to use your bottom cuff edge. You can also use the sleeve cuff edge for slipper boots or again, cuffs were mittens, so you can see how that cuff edge well just is just about the right yardage and with for a cuff or a slipper boots. So for your felted wool sweater project, acquire a wool sweater using the tips in the video and in the downloadable PDF file. Felt the sweater. Disassemble the sweater and then post a picture of your felted and cutups water, and then let us know what you would like to make with your sweater and what ideas you have about making with your wool sweater and, of course, questions. If you have them using the links that are provided in the downloadable pdf, check out some patterns and tutorials that are available. Stay tuned for some more upcoming sweater up cycling projects in tutorials little that I'll be teaching.