Intro: Baby, It's Cold Outside! - a Sweater Turned Legwarmer Story
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
- Edith Sitwell
It's also the time for a warm woolen sweater!
I once had such a sweater. A lovely cashmere and angora blend that I'd picked up at a thrift store for next to nothing. It felt luxurious and soft... Sigh!
Perhaps, "had" is not the right word. I still have it. Although, now, it isn't quite what one thinks of when hearing the word sweater.
You see, my husband was trying to help me with the laundry one day and... well, you can probably guess the rest.
Wool sweater + hot dryer = one really shrunken sweater.
Now, I've been told that if you purposely toss a wet woolen sweater into a hot dryer, and wait for it to become child sized, it's call "felting".
(However, if you accidentally do the same thing, it's called a lot of other things... most of which I couldn't possibly put into print here!)
"Felting" shrinks the wool in a way that makes it so tightly woven together that it will no longer unravel when cut.
After learning about felting , and being the "one-part-thrifty-packrat" and "one-part-recycler" that I am, I just couldn't bear to throw the sweater away.
There had to be something I could make from it.
And, last week, after listening to my husband complain about his cold ankles, and being pretty chilly myself, I figured out what that "something" was.
Here's how I did it.
Step 1: Remove Sleeves
First, I carefully cut the stitching between the sleeves and the body of the sweater in order to remove the sleeves.
Then, I stay stitched 1/2" away from the top of the sleeve all the way around. (Stay stitching keeps the fabric from stretching as you work on it)
I ended up with two pieces that looked like this.
Step 2: Embroidery
At this point you can trace a design onto your sleeve head with a pencil or just freestyle a design as you go.
Next, I fixed my embroidery hoop into the top of the sleeve and began to stitch. I already had an idea for a design in my head and this is how it looked part way through the first sleeve/legwarmer.
Step 3: Continuing Embroidery
After I'd gotten the first sleeve embroidered, I needed to transfer some markings to the second sleeve so that the two designs would match in size. I laid the finished embroidered sleeve directly on top of the second unfinished sleeve and took a threaded needle and made tailors tacks through both layers, marking the ends and top of the embroidered design. Then I just pulled the top layer off from the threads and left the thread markings on the second sleeve.
Step 4: Finished Embroidery
After embroidering the second sleeve, I had two that looked like this.
Not exact, but close enough.
Step 5: Lining Your Leg Warmers
Since wool of any kind can make skin irritated, I chose to line my legwarmers with a stretch cotton T-shirt fabric for comfort.
To make the lining, just cut two rectangles from an old t-shirt body. Sew each rectangle into a long tube by folding the rectangle lengthwise and stitching up the length of the raw edge. Turn the tube inside out so that the seam allowance is inside of the tube.
Turn your embroidered leg warmer inside out so that the seam allowance is now on the outside toward you. Slide your lining tube over the legwarmer and turn under 1/2" on both piece of fabric so that the seam allowances are sandwiched between the two layers of fabric. Whip stitch in place.
Turning under the excess lining fabric, pinning and then slip stitching in place around the lower cuff gives a nice finished edge.
Step 6: Drawstring
After lining my legwarmers, I stitched 1/2" down from the top, all the way around, to make a casing. I used a very large blunt needle to thread pink ribbon through the casing. The ribbon will allow me to tighten the legwarmers so that they don't slip down below my knee when wearing them.
Note: (Narrow elastic could also be used. Just remember to stich the ends together well before letting them slip inside the needle hole in the casing!)
Step 7: Finished Leg Warmers
Here's the photo of me wearing my finished legwarmers!
Second Prize in the
Sew Warm Contest