Felted Sweater Surprises

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Felted Sweater Surprises
Total Time 1 to 2 hours Ages school-age

Felting a sweater is a great way to get more life out of a favorite top that's outgrown or damaged. Use your felted sweater to make a sleeve for a hot to-go drink, or create one of our cozy bags. For the tightest and strongest felt, use a sweater that's at least 90 percent wool. Wash it in hot water (along with a few pairs of jeans or towels for extra friction) and dry it on high heat. Repeat, if necessary, until the fabric's weave is tight enough to be cut without fraying.

Cup Cuff

No tricks up this sleeve -- just slip it onto a paper cup to keep your drink hot while protecting your hands. It's reusable, so it's earth-friendly. To make one, simply cut a 2 1/2-inch length from the end of a felted sweater's sleeve, then add a decorative felt shape with fabric glue or a needle and embroidery floss.

Swing Bag

Our blue bag is a cinch to make, requiring only a little sewing. Save the sleeves to make cup cuffs, described above.

First, turn the felted sweater inside out. Cut off the sleeves and cut open the top shoulder seams. At the center of the back of the neck, mark a 1 1/2-inch width with chalk; this will be the strap. Use a paper plate or pot lid to draw curves from the mark to the edges of the sweater, as shown. Cut along the lines. Turn the sweater right side out, then overlap the strap ends about 1 1/2 inches and sew them together. Sew the bottom of the sweater closed and add a button to the strap for decoration.

Sleevie Wonder Bag

Depending on how long you choose to make the strap (formed from a sweater's sleeves), you can create a messenger bag or a short, under-the-arm purse.

Start by cutting off a felted sweater's sleeves and upper chest as shown; leave the back intact. Fold the back panel flap over the front of the sweater. Trim and round the corners of the flap. Add a flower made from a sweater scrap, if desired. Use embroidery floss to whipstitch the bottom of the sweater closed.

Cut one sleeve open lengthwise along the seam, iron it flat, then cut a 4-inch-wide strip from the sleeve. Repeat for the second sleeve. Overlap the ends of the strips about 1/2 inch and sew them together. Trim the strip to your desired strap length. Fold the strip in half lengthwise (creating a 2-inch-wide strap) and whipstitch the sides together. Sew the strap ends to the back of the bag.

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