Today’s tutorial is a guest post from my wonderful friend Colleen of Frugal + Urban
Everyone needs snuggly real wool mittens this winter. Everyone! But real wool mitts can be hard to find at stores. So why not make them yourself? With this super easy pattern and tutorial you’ll have cozy wool mittens in no time, ready for raking leaves and throwing snowballs–oh, and did I mention that felted wool is waterproof? And it stays warm when it is wet? Can your Thinsulate mitts do that? I don’t think so!
Sourcing your fabric
Okay, the first thing you will need is a lovely soft wool sweater, ideally one that is not wearable any more as a sweater due to stains, shrinkage or holes. I got mine at a thrift store in my home town, and have also had luck at St. Vincent de Paul where huge men’s wool sweaters were only $5.99.
Next, felt the sweater, which basically means throwing it in the washing machine on hot, with a little soap, and maybe a tennis ball or an old pair of jeans for extra agitation, and then checking it periodically to see when it’s been felted “enough”. That would mean when you can’t see the stitch definition any more, and the sweater has shrunk significantly. You can find more detailed instructions elsewhere, because I’m moving on to . . .
Making your mitten pattern
Simply lay your hand on a piece of paper, with the bottom edge of the paper being where the cuff will lie, and trace around your hand and wrist, leaving at least a half-inch around which will include space for your seam allowance and for a bit of room in your mitt.
Then round out any edges that might need tweaking, and cut out your pattern. Easy? So easy.
Cutting your pieces
First, check to make sure that you can get four pieces of your pattern to fit on your sweater. If your sweater has ribbing at the bottom edge, this makes a lovely cuff for your mittens. Don’t forget, you will need to have two pieces of fabric with your thumb facing right, and two with the thumb facing left.
Now that you’ve made sure you have enough fabric, start cutting! The beauty of felted wool is that it will not fray, so you can just cut away and never have to worry about finishing the edges.
Like I said above, cut two pieces with the thumb facing left and two with the thumb facing right. You achieve this by flipping your pattern over, keeping the cuff aligned with the bottom of the sweater’s ribbing.
Once you have your four pieces, pin them together, right sides facing, to make your two mitts.
When I was making mine, I noticed that the sweater I was using had these lovely mother-of-pearl buttons, and decided to sew them onto the backs of my mittens as an embellishment. I had already sewn my first mitt, and adding buttons to a mitt that’s already sewn up is not easy my friends. On the second mitt I added the buttons BEFORE sewing up the seams. Much easier.
In short, add your embellishments now, before sewing. You could use buttons, or needle felt a cute little forest creature, or embroider a flower . . . endless possibilities.
Once your embellishments are added, or you’re happy with your simple beautiful wool, you can stitch up your mitts. I tried two different stitches on my mitts and I preferred the overcast stitch, where you are inserting the needle on the same side of the fabric each time, and bringing the thread around the edge of your seam allowance. I used a doubled length of heavy-duty thread for durability.
The nice thing about this stitch is that it allows the seam edges to turn a bit and melt into each other. This makes a smoother inside for your mitts, and it also means your stitches will become visible as you wear your mitts. So use a colour of thread that matches your fabric, or one that contrasts with it if you want to be daring.
Make sure your pieces are pinned with right sides facing (i.e. you are looking at what will be the insides of the mitt when you are sewing). Then stitch around using an overcast stitch, making sure to hide your knots an inch or so from your cuff edge so they won’t show.
Enjoy your mitts!
Once you are done sewing, turn the mitts right-side-in, using a wooden spoon or a chopstick if you need help getting the thumb turned.
And now, put them on, feel their snuggliness, and enjoy! I bet you want to wear them all the time now. Go ahead, put them on. Just be careful, or the kids will want some too!
This tutorial was written by Colleen from Frugal + Urban (http://frugalurban.wordpress.com) where she blogs about baking sourdough bread, homemaking, homeschooling, crafting, and finding sustainable ways to save money, without sacrificing quality.