Guest blog series: refashion a sweater

by kath_red on 18/02/2011

in Green Crafting, Guest Series 2011

Today I want to welcome Britt as guest at Whipup. Britt blogs at Sneezerville and is a bit of a refashioning, slow crafting specialist.

I am a scavenger of fabric, an unraveler of sweaters, and a pervayer of lost causes. I love knitting, sewing and hand stitching. I especially love doing all of those things while using unwanted materials. I enjoy turning these unwanted things into something beautiful and useful again. I started blogging a couple of years ago but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I really got involved with repurposing and reusing goods.

Today I want to open your eyes to the possibilities of using old clothing to make your handmade goods. Almost anything can be used to make the projects you see online and in the craft books. They don’t need to be made using store bought fabrics that can cost a fortune. Look around at what you have. Visit thrift stores and rummage sales and start collecting items that look good to you. Then use your imagination to turn them into beautiful creations.

Items to collect and suggestions of what to make:
- Old jeans/ denim shirts: great for small projects, pillows, heavy quilting projects. One day, when I have collected enough, I am going to make a denim quilt from my sons’ old jeans.
- Pants with cool pockets or lots of pockets: useful for bags and storage ideas, little baggies and cool small backpacks.
- Shirts with cool patterns or great fabric: I look for eye catching patterns, cool color combinations, or shirts made from high quality fabrics like silk. Size isn’t important. Even the smallest shirt can be used in a patchwork project. But the bigger it is the more you have to use!
- Wool sweaters: Sweaters with crocheted seams are easy to unravel and therefore great for knitting. Pay attention to yarn content., you want quality. Look for wools, cottons, cashmere, or blends of these. Also look for 100% wool sweaters for felting.
- T-shirts: 100% cotton can be recycled – jersey can be used for an unlimited number of projects. Try to find the colors you like with fabric that isn’t worn out. If you can find several of the same color you can use them for bigger projects. Otherwise, stitch them together to get the size that you need. Look for inspiration for what to do with them at Natalie Chanin, who does some amazing work with jersey.
- Jersey sheets: I really scope out the clearance and sale areas at stores for these. They give you great yardage for large projects like dresses, jackets, and tunics. Used ones tend to be too thin so beware.

Inspiration can came from any where at any time:
I have a huge library of craft books and scan them constantly for ideas and to learn new techniques or strategies. I have a huge list of craft blogs that I love to read as well, the things that other crafters make and share online is just amazing. Pinterest.com is a new place to post images of things that you love and allows you to keep track of them.

If you see something you like, try to make it. Why not? The beauty of using old clothes for fabric is that if you mess up… well it didn’t break your bank. When you go to the store and you buy the latest and greatest new fabric and you try your hand at something new or something of your own design and it doesn’t work out…ahh! It can be frustrating. I say look around. See what you like. Decide how to accomplish it, research the net for techniques that you might need and then go for it!

Now I am going to show you how to use one of these old items of clothing that you have collected to make lots of cool goodies. I bought this sweater at Goodwill sometime ago because I liked the cables. The sweater is 100% cotton. Not super easy to cut up and work with it (cotton tends to unravel easily), but it had such possibilities. I am going to demonstrate how to get the most out of your used clothing by showing you how to use every part of this sweater. With this one sweater I made: a set of legwarmers, a large cowl, a neck warmer, a bracelet and 3 coffee mug cozies. All this from one sweater and hardly any leftovers! Use it all if you can! Click here see how.

Resources:
- Denim quilt inspiration from Martha Stewart
- Alabama Chanin for t-shirt and jersey inspiration
- How to make T-shirt yarn
- Stephanie Japel t-shirt yarn inspiration and patterns
- How to unravel a sweater

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