Introduction: How to Upcycle (AKA Felt/full) a Wool Sweater
I'm sure if you've owned at least one wool sweater, you (or someone else) have mistakenly thrown it into the washer, and when it was done your once adult sized sweater was shrunken down to kid size. THAT, my friend is the art of felting, or more correctly "fulling" (all though I see the word felting used more often, or the two words used interchangeably). The fibers of wool have puffed up (or fulled) and the individual fibers ends stick out and become entwined with the fiber next to it, so once the fabric (a sweater in this case) is dried and shrunken it's hard to even see the individual stitches of the knitting or crocheting, and IMPOSSIBLE to unravel, making it just like a piece of fabric ready to cut and sew. I've given several of these sweaters to Goodwill over the years, and now I'm shopping at thrift stores to find wool sweaters to purposely shrink/felt/full, to use for MANY upcycled projects. I use the whole sweater. I use the sleeves for wine or bottle bags, the cuffs for beer koozies, or for mug/cup sleeves, and the body of the sweater for pillows, or purses/bags
Here's how to do it yourself
Step 1: Step 1
Look through your closet, or shop your local thrift store for a sweater that is at least 50% wool. I have never paid more than $3.89 for a sweater....even less in the summer!
Step 2: Step 2
gather your supplies:
1 (or more) wool sweater(s) I like finding men's XL sweaters since they give more "fabric" once completed
old towels (IF you are only doing 1 sweater)
old tennis shoes or flip flops (that you can wash and dry)
Washer and dryer
PLEASE note: IF your sweater is "hairy" like mohair you might want to put it into a pillow case or laundry bag. I have heard stories of the heavy lint from sweaters clogging washing machines is not in a bag, but I have not had any trouble, and I've washed 30-40 sweaters
Step 3: Step 3
put your sweaters (and old towels IF you're only doing 1 sweater) into your washer, along with a pair of old tennis shoes, or flip flops to aid with agitation. Add 1/2 the amount of laundry detergent you would usually use. Set the machine to HOT, and for the longest cycle possible. DO NOT use any fabric softener.
I find the agitation is better with a top loading washer, than a front loader, so with my front loader, I run the wash cycle twice or three times.
Step 4: Step 4
Check to see if the sweater has shrunk......Move it to the dryer along with the towels, and tennis shoes. Dry on HOT
Now you're ready to craft!
Check out the size difference of my "finished" sweater. It is marked a 52 (I'm assuming that means the chest size) it now measures 39 inches at the chest.