I cannot understand how these amazing hand warmers ever fell out of fashion. They are superior to gloves or mitts in all ways: they keep your hands warmer, they allow you to quickly pull an unencumbered hand out to unlock a door or answer a call, they keep change, chapstick, keys and your cell safely within reach, AND they are incredibly easy and quick to make.
I am a very sloppy and impatient seamstress. I cut important corners like ironing and basting, yet the end result here still looks great. This muff took me less than 2 hours to make and cost me nothing, because I used an old coat too ugly and stained to donate, and a scrap of fabric I had lying around.
Step 1: Materials
You will need a small piece of fabric (about 16" by 22") and something warm to stuff your muff with. I used an old stained down coat, but a small pillow might do just as well. The fabric I used is a heavy upholstery scrap reminiscent of the black nappy fur old ladies used to wear when I was growing up.
Any heavy fabric will work. You can use velvet, fake fur, or even real fur if that's your thing.
Step 2: Cut
This muff is essentially a long doughnut, a pillow with a hole poked all the way through, a straight cylinder, like a roll of paper towels. The size of the fabric and stuffing should therefore be a rectangle twice the size of the desired end product, with a little extra allowance for tucking the fabric in on the edges and for seams.
Although I gave dimension in the last step I did not actually make any measurement while I was sewing this muff -- I really meant it when I said I was a sloppy seamstress. I just threw my coat on the floor, and eyeballed the approximate size. Since my old coat had become quite thin and limp I decided to double it up, so I drew a rectangle with a chalk around 30" by 16"
Do yourself a favor and do not repeat my mistake: I sewed along my chalk line to avoid loosing all the feathers in my rectangle, but I forgot about the other side. The coat was so thin I didn't think there would be too many feathers -- boy was I wrong! I attempted to staunch the flow of feathers with masking tape, and ended up wasting much more time than if I had simply sewn another line, one inch from the first one, and cut between the two.
To measure the right size for the outer fabric I folded my lining in two, placed it over the fabric and cut another rectangle, leaving about an inch extra on all the sides to allow for the material to be tucked in and for seams.
Step 3: Sew the First Side of Your Cylinder
Start by sewing one side of the muff along one of the long edges of your rectangle. To orient yourself you can think of it as sewing the top of the cylinder.
Place the right side of the fabric against the inside of the lining (meaning the side of the lining your hands will be touching when you use the muff). Sew the lining and fabric together about 1/4" to 1/2" from the edge of the long side of the rectangle.
Flip the fabric around so it is right side out and it hides the seam you just made, as shown in the last picture of this step.
Step 4: Form the Cylinder
Your sewing machine will need to sew through 4 thick layers for this step... Fold your piece in half with the lining side out and sew the two short sides of the rectangle together to form your cylinder. You will need to go through two layers of lining, and two layers of fabric. If you don't think your sewing machine can handle this, you have two options:
1. sew the lining to the fabric on each side separately (i.e. you will still have a rectangle, not a cylinder), then fold it in half, right side out, and form a cylinder by sewing the short sides of your rectangle together by hand.
2. sew the lining to the fabric on each side separately (i.e. you will still have a rectangle, not a cylinder), being careful to leave extra fabric on the edge. Then fold the rectangle in half with the lining side out and with your machine sew just the two layers of fabric of the short edges together. The disadvantage here is that the seams you made to attach the lining will be visible.
Step 5: Sew the Second Edge of the Cylinder
Flip your cylinder around, right side out.You're almost done!
Curl the fabric around so that it folds inside the muff. Fold the edge to hide it inside, and sew the outer fabric to the inner lining by hand.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
If you'd like to, you can sew on a small hand strap or a longer strap which you can use to carry the muff around like a purse when it's not warming you up -- I decided not to bother, but I might change my mind later.
It would be fairly easy to make a strap either with a strip of fabric sewn on by hand, or even with a small chain purchased from a hardware store. I leave it to your imagination.