Introduction: Lovers' Mitten With Reusable Pocket Warmer
Woohoo, this is my first instructable! I've learned so much from this site, that I felt it was time for me to give back to the community. Please let me know if there's anything that needs clarification. Thanks!
Anywho, you might be looking at this and wondering what in the world it is! I now live in FL, but boy would I have loved one of these when I lived in NYC and walked everywhere! This is a mitten that allows two people to each put a hand into it so that they can hold hands in the middle. My brother and his wife still live up north, so I thought I'd make one for them for Xmas this year! And since I've been using with my microwavable rice bag warmer on my bad shoulder lately, it gave me the idea to include a little pocket inside to hold a mini warmer (which you could also use in your coat pocket when not using this mitten!)
This works up pretty quickly, but let's get started so you can use yours while it's still chilly out!
By the way, this also makes a great gift for V-day and can be used by single folks as well -- it's especially wonderful to have when you're at a football game!
*Note: Another handy use for the inner pocket -- it's the perfect size for a gift card too! I included Starbucks gift cards in mine =)
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Supplies for the Project
Supplies needed for mitten:
Flannel for outside layer - approx. 15" x 35"
Polar fleece for inside layer and pocket - approx. 15" x 30"
Polar fleece for hidden pocket - 4" x 5.5" (optional)
(Optional) Supplies for pocket warmer:
Cotton fabric - 5" x 8"
Uncooked white rice - about half a cup
Dried lavender or essential oil (super optional)
Other stuff you need but probably already have lying around:
Thread that matches your fabric, scissors, water erasable pen (or just a marker), sewing machine (or you could hand sew it if you really wanted to!), pins, newspaper (or a large sheet of paper or several taped together), funnel or paper rolled into a cone
*Bonus: if you have a serger, it will come in handy too (but alas, I don't have one!)
Step 2: Make the Pattern
The hardest part for me was to figure out how big to make this because while my sister in law's hands are about my size, my brother's hands are significantly larger and he's not around for me to measure it (plus I wanted to surprise him so I didn't want to ask).
I used a large piece of paper (newspaper works well here) to draw a shape that sorta looks like an inverted Darth Vadar's hat to me. Mine measures about 9" from Point B to D. The two hand openings (A) are about 5" wide, and each leg between A and B are about 3.5" long. The width at the bottom of the pocket (C) I drew on the pattern is about 9", and it is about 11" wide at the top of the pocket. (I hope all the little notes on the picture are helpful!)
You can use my picture as your pattern or freehand your own in a similar shape... it's a very forgiving project ;-)
Also, you may want to label your pattern with A, B, C, and D because I will be referring to those sections in the following steps.
*Note: You'll see that I love notes -- especially the ones on the pictures, so don't forget to use them to help you!
Step 3: Cut Mitten Pieces
You will need 2 mitten pieces from each the fleece and flannel. You will be cutting the fleece inside pieces first, so trace the pattern onto the fleece with the marker twice and cut them out. I suggest cutting each piece separately since fleece is thicker and can shift.
With the flannel, I folded it in half so that I could cut both at once. I did that because I used one of the fleece pieces as a template for the flannel pieces since the outside flannel pieces need to be slightly larger. I traced the pattern about half an inch larger all around the fleece onto the flannel.
Important Note: (See note on picture too) When I got to the section with the hand opening, I extended the pattern on the flannel an inch longer. This means that the leg between A and B is about 4.5" on the flannel instead of 3.5" on the fleece because this will give you a nice finish later. (Sorry, I got overly excited about sewing and forgot to take a picture to show you the difference in sizes... where is that time machine instructable when you need it?!)
Tip: If you are among the lucky who own a serger, then you can ignore my "important note" above. You do not have to make the flannel hand opening part longer because you can just serge the flannel and fleece together later. (You will still need to cut the flannel piece a little larger overall than the fleece piece.)
If you are not going to include a pocket, the skip to Step 4 now. However, if you are going to include a pocket, then cut that out now. I chose to use a different color fleece just for fun. Your pocket doesn't have to be the same exact size as mine but you will want to make sure it fits well in the mitten. Mine is about 4" x 6.5" and if you have a rotary cutter, I'd use that to get nice straight lines, but scissors are fine too!
Tip: I hate to iron, but if your fabric has any creases in it (yes, even the little ones!), then do yourself a favor and iron it out now since it will be a lot harder to do once you start to assemble it. Plus you will be able to cut more accurately if they are ironed out.
Step 4: Let the Sewing Begin!
If your fleece is like mine, there actually is a right side and a wrong side (if you still have the selvedge on your fabric, the words are printed on the right side). The right side is ever so slightly furrier, so flip both pieces with the right side facing up. Position the pocket piece on one of the fleece mitten pieces. You'll want to somewhat center it so that when the warmer is in the pocket it will hit around where the two hands will meet. Pin the pocket in place and sew the bottom, left, and right sides, leaving the top open.
*Note: I'll just say it once here so I don't sound like I'm nagging you, but make sure you always sew reverse and lock your sewing in. Also, trim thread tails each time you finish a line of stitching to keep everything neat.
(Don't you love my trusty sewing machine, "Monty"? It was love at first sight when I spied him at a yard sale for $5!! He's seriously older than I am, but he can sew through anything! Don't tell him I said this, but sometimes I wish he knew how to do some fancy stitches...)
Step 5: Sew the Inside Fleece Mitten Pieces
Again, keeping in mind the right sides of the fleece, put the right sides facing each other like I did in the picture (the pocket is now sandwiched in the middle). Pin all the way around the pieces.
Using the presser foot as your seam allowance, sew up the middle section B first. Then, sew the outside "U" shape part, making sure to leave the two hand openings (A) open.
(Again, if you've got a serger, then feel free to use that to connect the two pieces of fleece instead.)
Step 6: Sew the Outside Flannel Mitten Pieces
Ok, if you plan to embellish your mitten with an applique, monogram, or anything else, then now is the time to do it. Go to town on your flannel outside pieces, and then come back (I decided to leave mine plain).
Now repeat what you did to the fleece with the outside flannel pieces starting by pinning the pieces with right sides facing.
Sew up the Section B and all around the outside of mitten with the presser foot as a guide except for the hand openings (A).
Step 7: Time to Turn and Stuff
Take the flannel piece and make a few small clips in the curved sections B and D. Take care not to clip all the way to the sewing line. This will make turning the piece easier and smoother at the curve.
Okay, flip the flannel piece right side out and finger press the curved parts (you can hit the seams with an iron if you want, but I didn't see the need to do it).
Yay, now you have two mitten pieces all ready to be put together! Stuff the fleece piece into the flannel mitten. It takes a little maneuvering, but you'll get them nicely lined up.
*Note: if the fleece part is still too big to fit nicely inside the flannel part, then take the fleece part out and trim away some of the excess fleece outside the sewing line (we love fleece since it doesn't fray!). If you really need to remove more of the fleece, then you can re-sew around the outside line and trim more of the fleece away, but hopefully this won't be necessary.
Step 8: Finishing Touches on the Mitten
For the sewing machine users, we are going to hem the hand opening shut, so this is where you'll be glad now that the flannel hand opening part is longer than the fleece part.
To make a hem, fold the excess flannel in half toward the fleece, and then fold it in again so that it is over the fleece now. Pin the hem down all the way around and slowly sew it in place. Make sure you catch the two folds of the flannel and the fleece by sewing as close to the edge of the flannel fold as possible.
Tip: It helps to move the needle position to the left if your machine offers that option, then you can use the foot as the sewing guide again.
*Note to the lucky serger owners: Since you cut the flannel and fleece hand opening part about the same size, you can just serge around the hand opening to connect the two pieces together here. Then fold the edge under about half an inch and stitch it down.
Once you do both hand openings, you're done with the Lovers' Mitten! If you don't plan to make the reusable pocket warmer, then you're all done! If you want to make one, you're almost done... so let's go to the next step!
Step 9: Sew the Pocket Warmer
Cut a rectangle of cotton fabric that is about 5" x 8". You can alter the size, but just make sure it will fit in the pocket that you made.
Fold the fabric in half with right sides facing so that it is now 5" x 4", and pin it in place.
Decide where you will put the opening for turning. As you see in the picture, I decided to keep an opening of about an inch and a half on the left side.
As always, I used the presser foot as my guide to sew up the three open sides.
Tip: sew an "L" seam where the opening is. This is optional, but doing this will make it a lot easier to turn the piece and sew it shut later! (See third picture with notes)
Step 10: Trim and Turn the Pocket Warmer
Trim each of the edges, taking care to get close to the sewing line but not actually cutting it. (Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but hopefully you get the point.) This will give you nice crisp corners when you turn the piece inside out. And speaking of which, it is time to turn the piece inside out!
Tip #1: reach into the opening and start by pulling the farthest corner through. This is a very small piece, so it won't make as big a difference, but if you're working on something larger in the future, keep this tip in mind =)
Tip #2: Use a pencil or chopstick to push the corners out, but be careful because I've poked through the fabric and/or seam before!
Step 11: Fill and Finish Pocket Warmer
You're almost done now! If you don't have a funnel, then roll up a piece of paper into a cone (those subscription cards in magazines are good for this purpose!) and add about a half cup of uncooked white rice into your pocket warmer. If you want to get really fancy, you can also add some dried lavender or a few drops of essential oil to the rice.
Tip: I advise against using brown rice in this project because it has the outer shell that contains fats and oils that go rancid more quickly than white rice. (It's also what makes it more healthy for you to eat, but we're not cooking the rice to eat here!) White rice has been stripped of the outer shell, so it keeps significantly longer.
Only fill the warmer half to two-thirds full (I used about half a cup), so that you're able to push the rice to the bottom of the warmer and be able to fit the opening under the sewing machine foot to sew shut. Just run a line of top stitching all the way down the side with the opening to close it up. Alternately, you can give the warmer a more finished look by hand sewing it shut using a slip stitch. I personally prefer the machine method, so that's what I'm showing you here.
And there you have it! A completed Lovers' Mitten with a Reusable Pocket Warmer! All you need to do is microwave the pocket warmer for 45-60 seconds (depends on how hot you want it and how much rice you've added) and your hands will be warm and toasty!
***Guess what?! I made a second one in blue for a friend in NYC, and since I didn't have to take time to create a pattern or take pictures, I finished the whole project in an hour! (And I'm a pretty slow sewer!)