Felted Recycled Beverage Coozie




About: Knitter/Crafter/Kode Warrior

Old sweaters and summer may seem like polar opposites, but this Coozie Instructable brings the two together to combat global warming and hot summer night thirst at the same time. The felted medium is perfect for embroidered customization and embellishment.

Step 1: List of Items

This coozie is created with a felted sweater. This means if you have one of those wool sweaters that "somebody" threw in the hot wash, and it shrunk, you are ready to go. If not, you will have to felt/full your own sweater.

Fabric Cutter, Straight edge, Cutting Mat (or Scissors)
Old Wool Sweater with arms (at least 80% wool, 100% wool works best)
Beverage container (for measurement) Either a can or a bottle.
Permanent marker
Embroidery thread
Embroidery needle
Tailor's chalk (optional)
Thimble (optional)

If your sweater is not already felted, you will also need the following:
Washing Machine
Liquid dish soap
Old color-fast towels (towels that will not bleed color, but at the same time will not pick up other colors)

Step 2: Felting the Sweaters

To shrink your sweater, you must "felt" it. This process is sometimes also called "fulling". Three things enable felting: hot water, agitation, and bubbles (more agitation).

Set your washing machine to hot wash, and the lowest water level. Put your sweater in, along with older bath (2) or dish towels (4-6) that will not take on or lose color. The sweater should get a good knocking around from the towels. Finally, add 1/4 cup of dish washing soap. The more bubbles, the better.

Monitor the wash cycle, and wait until the agitation cycle is done and the water is about to drain. Stop the washing machine and check your sweater. Pull the sweater out, and squeeze out the water. Warning: the water is still pretty hot. If the sweater hasn't shrunk significantly, you have more felting to do. Set the cycle back to the beginning of the agitation cycle. (Not sure how this would work for front-loading washers.)

If the sweater has shrunk significantly, check the arms to see if they're about the circumference of a pop can or beer bottle. If not, throw it back in for another agitation cycle.

When the sweater is ready, squeeze out the excess water/soap and rinse under a faucet until there are no more bubbles. Allow the sweaters to hang dry. Before allowing the hot water to drain, skim off as many woolen "fuzzballs" as you can from the soapy foam and water for drain health. Allow the towels to continue to the rinse cycle.

For multiple sweaters, leave out the towels, but increase the amount of water.

Step 3: Measuring Your Coozie: Height

When the sweaters are dry, it is time to cut out the pattern. Use your favorite beverage container to customize the height. Turn the sweater inside-out so measurement markings may be made on the wrong side.

In the picture, we see that 4 inches works for aluminum cans, but coozies for bottles can be 4 or 5 inches.

Stick your favorite beverage in the sleeve of the sweater. If it fits snugly, follow the 4 or 5 inch guidelines for your can or bottle.

If it is too small, wet the arm of the sweater and attempt to stretch the arm over your favorite beverage. It will have to dry in this position. Remove the bottle before cutting.

If the arm is too lose for your beverage, decrease the length, by .5 inches. After continued use, your coozie will mold to the size of the can.

Mark your chosen length, and get ready to cut.

Step 4: Cut the Cuff

Use a straightedge, fabric cutter, and cutting mat to get a straight cut on the line.

You can also use a scissors to make this cut, however most shears will only be able to cut through one layer of the sweater at a time. First make small hole, and then cut around on the line.

Step 5: Measure the Bottom

Again, use your favorite beverage to measure the next portion. Lay the body portion (not the arm) of the sweater out flat, and trace around the bottom with a permanent marker. Use the fabric cutter or scissors to cut around the line.

Step 6: Measuring the Bottom (can Version)

For tracing cans, trace around the smaller ring on the bottom of the can. This will enable a better fit. Use the fabric cutter or scissors to cut around the line.

Step 7: Multiple Options

OPTION ONE: While you're cutting one coozie, it is just as easy to cut multiple pieces at this point. Consider using up both arms of the sweater. Also consider consuming that beverage. It is probably getting warm by this point.

Choose which top and bottom aesthetically fit together, and check for fit. The cuff can be larger or smaller than the circular bottom portion, but will gather more at the bottom if there is variance between the two portions.

OPTION TWO: At this point also assess how much extra felt you'll have from the body of the sweater. For every 7 x 5 inch piece of felt you can cut from the leftovers, you can make another coozie. Simply sew together the 5 inch ends by using the sewing techniques as described in Step 8. Cut a circular bottom for this piece and proceed to the next step. The green coozie at the beginning of this project was executed in this way.

Step 8: Assemble (sew) the Parts

Turn both portions right-side out, so no permanent markings show. Line up the cuff with the circular bottom (on top in this picture). Use embroidery thread and a needle to sew the the pieces together. The minimum stitches per inch is two (one per half-inch), but you could put a stitch every eighth of an inch if you wanted to embellish.

To sew this coozie together, get a 2 ft piece of embroidery floss. Thread your needle, leaving the thread one side of the needle 6 inches, and the other 1.5 feet. Put a knot in the end of the 1.5 feet tail. Bring the needle to the inside of the cuff, and put the needle out through the side of the cuff about 1/8 inch from the bottom of the cuff. Hold the bottom portion so that a few of the edges line up with the circumference of the cuff. Then put the needle into the bottom portion about 1/8 inch from the edge. The needle is now inside the cuff. Repeat this stitch all the way around of the bottom of the coozie.

In this picture, I used variegated embroidery floss, and decided to go for a second round.

Step 9: Embroidery Embellishment (PG-13 Example)

Time for the customization! Use a non-permanent but visible marker or taylor's chalk to sketch out what you would like your coozie to say. In this example, the coozie says "More Tits, Less Cancer".

Embroidery is a vast craft. I use Sharon B's reference for fun how-to's and her extensive stitch library:

For many types of embroidery, the floss is split from 6 strands to 2 or 3 strands. For this project, keep the six strands together. The felt is really sturdy, and your stitches shouldn't buckle under the extra weight of the threads, unlike tea towels. Six strands also helps to create a nice raised effect.

The "More Tits" portion is done in a back stitch.

The "LESS" portion is done in a chain stitch.

The "Cancer" portion is done in a blanket stitch.

Mouseover the intro Coozie Instructable picture for more stitch ideas.



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    15 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    this is a great stubby holder idea! i made my own, and it works great! thanks!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I love it, the wool will soak up any excess liquid.
    Great project thanks for sharing.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Doesn't the felt become soggy through condensation? Assuming that the air is relatively humid that is. L

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    One of the beauties of sheep's and other wool is its amazing absorbsion capacity.  It kept millions alive before efficient heating methods became commonplace. It's still keeping people alive during winters in isolated and/or wartorn areas like Afghanistan.

    In addition, condensation occurs when moisture in (warm) air comes in contact with a cold surface. The moisture "condenses" into liquid.  The cozy insulates and coats the container surface, so the moisture doesn't touch it. Thus, no condensation.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    If the humid air isn't touching the side of the can or bottle, no condensation will form there. The felt will act as an insulator between the cold beverage and the humid air.

    Some condensation may form at the top of the bottle/can. Luckily, wool felt also has a good natural absorbent quality. If it is good enough for diaper covers (http://www.danishwool.com/content/intro/woolen_diaper_covers.html), it should be good enough for your beer. From that site, "wool can absorb up to 40% of its own weight in wetness without feeling wet"


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hm, this could easy be used as a very simple Evaporative Cooler by dipping it in water and letting the water evaporate on a dry day, thus cooling the can.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    "Taylor's Chalk (optional)" lololol who's taylor?


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice! That's way more fun than your typical drink holder.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice instructable, great pix. Well done, thanks for sharing.