CraftSanity on TV: Making hats out of recyled wool sweaters

by jennifer

I love soft and cozy wool, especially the affordable, recycled sweater variety. My affinity for warm fibers is definitely related to the fact that I spend most of the winter here in West Michigan trying to warm up. I’m typing this post while sitting in front of the fireplace with a quilt on my lap, wearing a hat made from a recycled wool sweater and arm warmers fashioned from the sleeves of another sweater.

I’ve made hats from felted wool sweaters using a variety of techniques. Today I demonstrated one of the simplest ways on WZZM’s “Take Five & Co.”

1) The first step is to find a wool sweater and completely disregard the washing instructions on the tag. (Or, better yet, collect a shrunken wool sweater from a friend who machine washed it by mistake.) I used a lovely mint green 100 percent cashmere sweater that I found at Goodwill.  (If it weren’t for the sizable holes, I would have kept it to wear.) If you can’t find a 100 percent wool sweater, no problem. I’ve had success with sweaters with at least 60 percent wool content. Once you find a suitable sweater. wash it on the hottest setting on your washing machine and then dry it in the dryer to full the fibers so they stick together and will not unravel when y0u cut your hat shape.

2) Measure your head to see what size hat you need. Subtract two inches from this figure to account for fabric stretch.

3) Turn the sweater inside out. Measure 8 to 9 inches up from the bottom ribbing and cut all the way across. Set the top of the sweater aside. Now take your head measurement, minus two inches for stretch and divide by two. (Ex. If your head measures 21 inches around, subtract 2, which equals 19 inches. Then 19 divided by 2 equals 8.5inches. These means you will make a vertical cut up from the bottom ribbing 8.5 inches from the side seam. Depending on the size of the sweater, you may have enough fabric to make two hats from this bottom piece.

4) If you want to add an applique to the right side, now is a good time to stitch one on with embroidery thread or wool yarn. Once the applique is stitched in place, fold the fabric again so the right sides are facing and sew  up the side opposite the existing sweater side seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

5)  Thread a yarn needle with about 18 inches of yarn and make half-inch basting stitches around the top of the hat about 1/4 inch from edge of the tube. (I used wool yarn. It doesn’t matter what color you use because it won’t show.) Pull tightly to gather the fabric. Tie a couple knots to secure. I like to continue stitching randomly across the gathered fabric and then knot the yarn again

6) Turn the hat right side out and you’re ready to brave the cold with a little more handmade comfort. Stay warm everyone!

P.S. Below is the video clip of today’s TV demo.

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