Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sewing Projects: Felted Wool Mittens

I've gotten a bit of a reputation in my family for making handmade gifts.  This is great, because I think my family is starting to understand and appreciate all that goes in to a handmade gift - the thoughtfulness and the time especially.

It's been harder to make gifts for the men in my family, given that they don't particularly like to accessorize or decorate.  So when my brother-in-law says, 5 days before his birthday, that he'd love a homemade gift, I was a little stumped.  Normally I would knit or crochet something, but I didn't have the time.  Luckily this idea came to mind:  felted wool mittens.  Read on to learn how I made these.
(Again, I apologize for the poor quality photos.  I really do find the most time to craft at night, when the lighting is so terrible.)

First, a funny story.  I went to the local thrift store to buy a 100% wool sweater.  I picked out an olive green one which happened to be my husband's size.  I thought about keeping it for him and picking out a different sweater, but when I saw two small holes in the sleeve, I decided to just cut it up for the mittens.  When I got the sweater home, though, it caught my husband's eye.
"What size is that?" he said.  He tried it on and, apologetically at least, said he'd like to keep it.
So I turned right around and went back to the store :-).  I picked out a WOMEN'S gray wool sweater instead!


100% wool sweater
washer and dryer
thread to match
sewing machine, pins, etc
paper for pattern pieces

1. Felt the sweater.  Run it in your washer with hot water.  Dry it in the dryer.  It will shrink a bit and be thicker, denser fabric, easier to cut out.

2. Make pattern pieces.  There are two types of mittens you can make:  ones with the thumb sticking out the side (easier), or ones with the thumb slightly set toward the palm side (harder).  To make the easier kind, just trace your hand (or your husband's, child's, etc) and estimate what a mitten should be shaped like.  Remember to add a 1/2 inch seam around all but the cuff.  Cut two of the same piece and sew them together around all but the cuff.  To make the harder version, make some pieces that look like mine.  Here's a link to adult-sized pattern pieces and a tutorial.  Ignore the part about cuffs.
In my photo, the top right pattern piece will actually go to the other mitten.  The pieces just fit together bettern on the sleeve that way.

3. Cut out fabric pieces.  I used the sweater's sleeves for my mittens.  First, cut the sleeve off at the shoulder, then cut up the sleeve's under-arm seam.  Lay the mitten back and front-bottom pieces across the cuff, so the skinniest wrist part is where the cuff's ribbing starts.  The other piece can go anywhere above, keeping with the same grain.  The other sleeve can make the other mitten.  Remember to cut the second mitten in the reverse, so you have a right AND a left mitten in the end.  Note:  In my photo, the top right pattern piece will actually go to the other mitten.  The pieces just fit together on the sleeve that way.

4. Pin and sew.  First make the palm of your mitten.  Pin, with right sides together, the two thumb-y pieces, along the seam that goes through the middle of the palm (photos may help).  Sew along this seam.  Next, making sure the thumb is tucked toward the middle of the mitten, away from the sides, pin the front and back pieces together, right sides together.  Sew all the way around the mitten, besides the cuff.
After sewing the palm seams.  No need to turn thumb right-side out.

Pinned around the whole mitten and ready to sew.

5. Trim and repeat!  Trim all the seams so they're less bulky, make sure it fits, and make another!
My brother-in-law modeling his new mittens

1 comment:

Tilly Mint said...

Thank you for this tutorial I have been looking for a pattern to make mittens, this is very straight forward:)