Friday, September 11, 2009

Shrunken Sweater Pillow Crafting

According to the internet, fall is just around the corner. Although it is still 100 degrees here in Tucson, I will go ahead and believe it. One of my favorite things about autumn is the clothing because you get to wear sweaters and pants and scarves and all the things you can't wear for the other 9 months of the year here. One downside of this is the inevitable wool sweater in the washer and dryer. It is a sad, sad day to find your favorite sweater warm out of the dryer misshapen and shrunk to half its size. What to do in such a situation? Some would say make lemons into lemonade. I would say make sweaters into pillows!

This is the story of this sweater. I bought it for my husband at Target (because I am cheap). He wore it several times until GASP it ended up in the regular laundry. Luckily for me, it shrank to my size! I wore it several times before it magically appeared out of the dryer again. Since we have no babies nor midget friends we were out of luck. Until this craft came by...

Oh, you have never heard of a dry cleaner?

Step one is to decide what shape to cut your pillow into. Mine had trim along the bottom so this was a good place to start a choppin'. Another natural cut line was right before the armholes began. The shape becomes less square after this point due to tailoring and it would make this project more challenging. Since I am a pretty miserable seamstress I thought it would be better to keep it as simple as possible. Interesting fact: Ever notice how wool feels denser after it has been washed? This is because the washing machine and dryer agitate the wool fibers causing them to mat a.k.a. felt. Much like the wool animals you see on my site, the wool changes characteristics due to agitation, be it a barbed needle or water. The more you know...

Snip Snip

Tada! A sexy/cozy wool tube top

You could of course stop here with your tube top, or you could continue on with the original pillow plan. The beauty of this project is that the sewing is half done! Two sides should be the original seams, so you only have two straight lines to do! Be sure to turn the tube top inside out before you sew! This will conceal your sewing work on the inside of the pillow that no one will ever ever see. I used a machine, but you could do this by hand if you don't have access to a sewing machine. It isn't especially difficult, it would just take more time. Sew along one entire side, closing up that end. Begin sewing up the other side but LEAVE A HOLE large enough for you to stick your hand in. This allows you to turn the pillow right side out and also stuff it with fill.

Stuff it, Stuff it Good

A few tips on stuffing. I used a poly-fiber fill. It is a good choice because it is readily available at the craft store, is cheap, and works pretty well. Please don't just take the fill out of the bag and stick it in your pillow. Lump city! Instead, break it up in your hands a little so that there aren't any huge lumps and bumps. Now start stuffing. As you put it in watch for huge lumps and fill in these spaces accordingly. You will use more filling than you think. Really stuff it in there! A nice firm pillow will a.) Look better b.) Feel better c.) Resist lumping up in the long haul. After it is all stuffed hand sew up the hole. The great thing about wool is that the fabric is so fibrous your stitches virtually disappear!

So Comfy

You have now saved a sweater from dumpster death and accessorized your home to boot! What? You don't have a shrunken wool sweater because you know how to do laundry? Ok fine. You have a few options. Ask around. It is possible that a friend lazy enough to shrink their clothing will also be lazy enough to not make it into a pillow themselves. You can also check the thrift stores and discount chains for wool sweaters. Wash those babies a couple times in your washer and dryer and you are all set!


Anonymous said...

I want to shrink my nice sweaters on purpose now! I want to buy new sweaters just to shrink them and turn them into pillows! I want to fill my basement with pillows and go pillow-swimming in them!


Workshop Cooker said...

I feel somehow partly responsible for these pillows as i managed to shrink the sweater on two different occasions. Well i am glad you were able to turn this sweater into a cool pillow

J Cola said...

that's awesome! It seems so easy! I'll have to keep an eye out for wool sweaters now!

Kelly Rashka said...

you are a fabulous crafter. shame you didn't model the tube top. i love the pics!! and this pillow is even more stunning in real life.