In Craft Tutorials, DIY and Make-Do tutorials, Felt Tutorial

Ideas are interesting little creatures. Sometimes they shine down on you like a ray of bright light. Other times they are just a flicker, barely noticeable…and so easy to ignore. A long time ago I asked a friend of mine to help cut apart sweaters I had felted. I had a lot of cupcake pincushion orders to fill and a HUGE pile of sweaters to process. She did a great job and upon completion, handed me a bag full of sweater seams. I looked at the bag and thought, what am I going to do with these? Mind you I have filled my studio (and attic, and basement) with sweaters and felt scraps of every kind…sometimes you just have to draw the line about what gets saved and what has to go! So, unfortunately, that bag of seams got tossed.

Now that flickering idea has finally come back to me…..

Pom poms!

Not only do they make great use of sweater “waste”, they will perfectly coordinate with any felted wool project. For example, the Tween Hooded Scarf in Warm Fuzzies is accented with 7 pompoms. In the book I made traditional poms out of yarn. If you want a funkier look, you might like to try these. Plus they are fast and easy!

First, lay out your felted sweater and cut open the side seams next to the lumpy “seam allowances” where the front and back sweater was joined. Then trim off the seams, keeping them as long as possible. You can trim them off sleeves and armholes, etc.

Then line up a handful of seam scraps and trim to about the same length. (these are about 7″ long)

Sew together up the middle, shoving them under the presser foot as you go.

Here they are, all connected in a row.

Then take your sewn row and roll it up. With needle and thread, stitch the center together and wrap tightly with the thread, pull center tight.

Pom! Look how nicely it coordinates with the rest of the felted sweater…that could be made into a hat, scarf, etc. Of course, you could make a pom pom out of plain cut strips of sweater felt as well. (I received an email from Emily saying that she made some pompoms this very same way but cut strips across felted sweaters sleeves to create loops. She sewed the loops together as shown here then snipped them open.) Next time I think I’ll mix colors together to make a multi-pom. I will also use more seams to make it fuller.

No hat to accent? Got a kitty? I bet this would make a fantastic cat toy!

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Showing 28 comments
  • babelfish

    This is clever recycling at work, how wonderful!

  • Leslie G.

    It reminds me of the “korker bows” that you can make for little girls. Attach it to a hair clip of your choice. Nice coordinating accessory if you are making a felted item for a girl! Great tutorial and idea Betz. Recycle and reuse!

  • lucykate crafts...

    hey, what a fab idea!, i’m glad i saw this post, i did some thrift shop felting yesterday, a lovely mottled shade of pale blue, jumper, but wasn’t sure if i’d felted it enough. now i can compare it to the jumper in your photos here, i’m relieved its fine, : )

  • ellena

    what a great idea, I will definitly use, thanks for the “how to”

  • RID

    How wonderful!!! I always love your work, creative and so cute!

  • Dawn Elizableth

    Love the colors and a great recycling idea!

  • Yummers!

    Thanks so much for the nifty idea and the tutorial! I love your book. I need to read it again… this time with a highlighter.

    The sweaters I’ve felted are too dense… they’re almost hard and thick. Great for purses! So, how do I avoid this?? And do you have any quick valentine’s day ideas?
    Joni

  • Betz White

    Hi Yummers!
    Sorry about your over-felted sweaters. You’re right, use them for bags or hot pads! Maybe needle felt a little embellishment on them?

    Next time, check your felting in the washer every 10 minutes to see the progress. If you’ve a top loader, it’ll felt faster than a front loader. You could also try using warm water the first time (not hot) if you find things felt too fast.

    Valentine stuff coming soon, stay tuned!
    Betz

  • Suzanne

    I’m not having much luck finding sweaters that will felt. Most in the resale shops are fiber blends. And some of the sweaters that say 100% wool still do not felt. What’s the secreat?

    Love the pom idea.

  • trendinsights

    How lovely! looks really good! I LOVE THE COLORS

  • MdG

    Betz-
    You are quite honestly the best!! Such great ideas, thank you so much for sharing.

    PS. I am still on the lookout for your book “in the wild”. Bookstores on the southern side of the Beltway seem to be lacking.

  • ellena

    Suzanne, Sometimes even 100% wool has been treated for machine washing, if the item states washable it probably will not felt, Dry clean items should felt in hot water and a little detergent hope this helps

  • Heather L.

    Thanks for that idea! What a great use for those unuseable seams!

    My husband and I got to Barnes and Nobles the other night and I got to look through your book! It was fun to finally see it in person after hearing so much on your blog!

  • Betz White

    Hi Suzanne,
    Ellena is right, she beat me to it. :) Be sure to check content labels. If you use a front loader put it through 2 cycles. Add a tennis ball for wxtra agitation!
    Good luck,
    Betz

  • Mendy at Modern Charm

    Cool! I’m printing this post and putting it inside my Warm Fuzzies book!

  • Kim

    I love it! Finally a use for all those slivers that I couldn’t bear to throw out. Thanks for the tip.

  • oolawoola

    I felted that same sweater and made diaper covers with it. It is so strange to see the exact same sweater a million miles away.

  • Mytutorlist.com

    What a great idea! Out of curiosity, what does it really mean when a sweater is felted?

  • Betz White

    Hi Mytutorlist.com,
    A felted sweater is when a wool sweater is washed in hot water, causing the wool fibers to shrink and bond together into a dense fabric that will not fray when cut. (Technically its called “fulled” but most people called it felted.) It’s like magic! :)

  • Jenn Maruska

    I love that you found a way to use every part of the sweater – wonderful!

    : D

  • 47cats

    You are brilliant! I just found your blog today and I’m thrilled!

    My daughter and I have been collecting old wool sweaters and hope to try felting this winter.

    The Pom idea is so cool. Lynn

  • PamperingBeki

    What a smart one you are Betz! That is too cute.

  • Morgan

    Very clever!!

  • lindaharre

    Thank you! What a clever trick and so ECO Friendly! You gotta love it:D The look is fantastic!

  • spitfire32708

    I take my seams and cut into small snippets and blenderize them with warm water. I strain them. Next I combine 2 or 3 colors of the mush, squeeze out the excess water. I wrap the ball in a muslin square and pull tight with a rubberband to make a nice ball. I throw it in the dryer with a load of clothes until you cannot squeeze any more moisture. When its dry you can peel off the muslin and embellish the most uneven top part with ribbons, pins, etc. to make a funky pincushion.

  • Poppy

    I sew my scraps together and make cat toys out of them. They love the wool and I like the way they look.

  • Cassi

    So cute and such a great idea! I’ve saved most of my seams but of course haven’t known what to do with them so this is the perfect solution :)

  • Marnie

    Hi Betz,

    love, love this. I once saw a rug made entirely of pom-poms – can you imagine? :-)

    here’s my idea of what to do with the seams:

    http://girlnumbertwenty.blogspot.
    com/2008/02/anatomy-of-sweater.html

    plus a link back to your post here, ’cause this is such a clever idea!

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