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Yellow Suitcase Studio: Felted Wool Sweater Blanket Tutorial

Monday, October 31, 2011

Felted Wool Sweater Blanket Tutorial

* Do you have a question about this blanket? Check out the FAQs post! (added 11/13/12)*

I'm so excited to share this project with you! It is definitely one of my favorite handmade items. I'm so looking forward to snuggling up in it this winter and winters to come or.....right now.

First gather wool sweaters and think about what type of color scheme you'd like for the blanket.  For my blanket I used about 10 sweaters in cream, gray, and blue. Also, try and get  big ones. Since you're going to be shrinking them, you want to be able to get as much fabric from them as you can. I got most of my sweaters from a thrift store that one day had all clothing for $1! I know some stores that have a half off day. Keep an eye out at rummages too. I found a cashmere sweater at one recently for $1 as well. Ask family members too!

To felt the sweaters:
  • Cut seams of the sweaters open and remove any tags, buttons or zippers
  • Sort by like colors (you'll wash one color family at a time so the colors don't bleed)
  • Put the sweaters into an old pillow case (this keeps the fuzzies from getting everywhere in your washer and dryer). Wash with detergent on a hot-cold setting and on a speed that will give a lot of agitation. You can also throw in some jeans and heavy towels to increase the agitation. Ha all this agitation makes it sound like it's not a happy thing!
  • Check the sweaters before you dry them to see if they are shrunk up to your liking. Note - you can over-felt wool and some sweaters will shrink better than others.
  • Finally dry the sweaters in the dryer on a high heat setting.
 (There's a lot of other tips and tutorials out there for felting! This is what worked for me.)

I had a good laugh when I pulled this sweater out of the washer and saw how tiny it had become!

Now time to cut the sweaters! I decided on two square sizes 10.5" and 5.5" (4 of these size make up the larger size). The total quilt size is about 60" x 70" with a total of 42 - 10.5" squares. I made a template out of some cardboard and used a rotary cutter to do the cutting.

Next figure out a layout of the squares that you like.

I had a layout I liked and forgot to take a picture. Then I went upstairs to sew a couple squares. I came downstairs to this -

Kitties cause havoc sometimes. Seriously. Couldn't they have left at least some of it untouched?!?! Lesson learned. Take a picture to refer to.

Ok new layout and sleepy kitties. Take a picture. Time to get sewing.

I used the biggest straight stitch on my sewing machine. Use about a 1/4 in. seam allowance. I didn't use pins until I was sewing large pieces together. Sew parts of it in chunks starting with two then onto four. Then, sew the larger chunks together. Hopefully this makes sense! Some parts will be thick to sew through. Go steady and slow, gently pushing or pulling the pieces through the machine when needed. Give your sewing machine a good cleaning after this - lots of fuzzies!

 Here's the big chunks I ended up with before doing the final seams:

This is what the back looks like:

Once the front is sewed cut out your fabric for the backing to the same size as the front. I used a wool from Scotland that was gifted to me (long story). Since you might not have yards upon yards of wool in your stash, I think a flannel would work great! You don't necessarily need a backing since the felted wool will not fray.

I also rounded the corners by using a plate as a template.

Next onto finishing the edge. I hand stitched around it using a closed blanket stitch. If you're not into hand stitching there would be other ways to finish it with a sewing machine. I love love love the look the stitching gives it. It's just what I imagine a cozy textured blanket to look like. It went a lot faster than I thought it would and it's very rewarding! I hope these photos help you to see how the stitch is done.

This is the yarn I used for the edging -

I embroidered a little patch for the back with my initials and the year. I sewed it on a little bit before I was done sewing around the whole thing. It's a nice finishing touch!

All finished! Time to get cozy!

Let me know if you have any questions or if you make something similar. I love your comments!

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At November 10, 2011 at 5:47 PM , Blogger Kristina @ withaKquilting said...

Very Pretty. I have been saving sweaters for a blanket like this for a while now...except I hope to quilt it on my longarm. Yours looks great.

At November 10, 2011 at 9:57 PM , Blogger Wendy said...

I started to collect sweaters today! I've been seeing your post on Pinterest a lot lately and I really want to make this!! :)

At November 13, 2011 at 8:45 AM , Anonymous Katie Scott said...

This is amazing thank you fir the detailed tutorial!

At November 28, 2011 at 11:00 PM , Anonymous Jen said...

I CANNOT wair to try this!! Goodwill, here I come :

At January 29, 2012 at 5:21 AM , Blogger Jemmmma said...

Holy moly! That's beautiful. I can't use a sewing machine yet but I want to try this first when I do. Lol maybe I'll start with something smaller. Found you over at Tara's blog through the Leibster award. I'm going to follow along. You are talented.


At February 24, 2012 at 5:17 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

I am going to try this only using my dog shirts since she has outgrown them. She has so many clothes! This way I can remember her as a puppy! Thanks

At November 29, 2012 at 11:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandmother's home health aide just shrunk two of her nice (and expensive) sweaters. She gave them to me at Thanksgiving, so I could do something crafty with them. I really didn't know what I would do with them, until I saw this. Thanks for the inspiration and the excellent instructions! -- Elizabeth

At January 24, 2013 at 5:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am guessing it must be wool sweaters only.

At January 31, 2013 at 9:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just love it! Did you use any batting? After you had the backing on, did you sew it to the front at all, or just basted and edged? Curious how the layers stay together if the backing is just applied and edged. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm working on mine now. Cutting squares as I write this. LOL.

At March 25, 2013 at 10:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could only imagine how warm and cozy it is under your blanket. Now I know what I can do with old sweaters we no longer wear. Please tell me it works on sweaters that are not wool. Also how did you attach the back to your front. Thanks.

At March 28, 2013 at 9:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I Find One Like This At?? Or Where Can I Buy One. I Would Like To Get It For A GifT For A Friend Of Mines Birthday

At February 14, 2014 at 8:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this project...can't wait to make one too...looks so warm...did you put a thin batting in the inside?

At March 19, 2014 at 5:05 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful! Can't wait to try making this!

At January 31, 2020 at 5:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your work is simple but a masterpiece!
Definitely using your idea.
Thanks a million!

At July 7, 2022 at 8:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom, who died this June, wore and stored lots of cozy wool sweaters… I’ve saved them all to make 2-3 memory quilts for her grown kids! Thanks for the help!

At April 14, 2023 at 10:24 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful blanket, I also sewed one years ago, but the one with the knitted sweaters is a wonderful idea. they look so soft and snuggly...bravo


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