This project uses upcycled old sweater and basic sewing skills to create warmth this winter
By ALDONA BIRD
During winter weather, an extra pair of mittens never goes amiss. Even better to make them while you stay safely at home, from a wool sweater you don’t wear anymore.
Making your own mittens is a simple process, and you can try different methods, combos of fabrics and start making them as presents for next holiday season or birthdays in the coming months.
If you use a wool sweater and felt it, these will be wonderfully warm, cozy and water repellent. If you want a softer lining, you can use flannel (from worn-out pajamas) or any other cozy fabric you have on hand.
To make your own upcycled mittens, you will need:
- Wool sweater
- Lining fabric (optional)
- Scissors (for fabric and paper)
- Paper and pencil/pen
- Needle and thread or sewing machine
You can print off a pattern from blogs online if you want to make more complex mittens with the thumb attached to the front, or you can simply trace your hand to make a basic pattern.
When tracing your hand, leave a little extra room, so your mittens won’t be uncomfortably tight after you sew them up. If you make them too big, you can always cut them down to a smaller size.
To prepare your wool sweater, felt it. Felting the sweater will make for warm and water repellent mittens, as felting closes spaces between the threads of the fabric — making it thick and solid.
Felt by putting the sweater through a hot wash and cold rinse cycle in your washing machine (having multiple items in the load can help the felting process). Or felt by hand with hot water, soap and lots of agitation, and alternating dipping the sweater into hot and cold water.
Pick which part of your sweater you want to make the mittens out of. If the sweater has no pattern, any part should work. If there is a pattern or texture, pick a part you like. Choosing to use the hem, collar or cuffs as the hem of the mittens will save you some finishing work.
Trace your hand on a piece of paper, with your fingers together and your thumb at the angle you prefer for your mittens. Trace around your hand, leaving the aforementioned extra room and going up your arm as far as you’d like your mittens to extend. You may want to add a small panel in along the inner seam of the thumb, for more wiggle room.
Cut the pattern out, and arrange it on your sweater. Remember that each mitten needs two pieces of fabric — front and back; consider how to lay out the fabric and pattern accordingly.
Pin the pattern to the fabric (cutting two layers — enough for one mitten — at a time is a good time-saver, but don’t try to cut all four at once), and cut fabric to match. Cut out the second mitten.
Sew edges by hand or machine with right sides together. If making a lining, cut that out as well and sew also with right sides together.
If adding the lining, turn the outer layer of the mittens right side out, but leave the lining right side in. Insert the lining, and secure at the mitten hem. You can add a binding to neaten the edge out of the same fabric or complimentary fabric, or sew the lining in carefully below the edge so it doesn’t show.
If you do not want to line your mittens, turn them right side out and you can be finished, or you can add any embellishments you’d like.
Knowing you made zero waste, upcycled mittens will make them extra cozy. Don’t throw away the rest of the sweater. It’s great for other warm DIYs.