I’m no seamstress, but when I saw this post by Yellow Suitcase Studio, I knew I’d finally found a use for the crate of sweaters in my closet. This may be hard to believe, but I do sometimes get stuff for projects before I realize I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Anyways I had the stuff and I’d done some patchwork before, so I figured it couldn’t be too hard, right?
Step 1, collect sweaters. I’d already done this for another long abandoned project, but I suggest thrift stores who have a half-off discount day. Sweaters can easily still be 6-7 dollars a piece at a thrift store, and you need at least half a dozen for a good blanket. (Note, in the Yellow Suitcase tutorial, they use wool sweaters and at this point they dried and shrunk and felted them. Probably works out a lot better, but I wasn’t using pure wool sweaters.)
Step 2, measure and cut out your stencil. I had eyeballed it for the most part, just measuring each piece and cutting and assuming it’d work itself out. Then again, that’s why I’m a bad seamstress. No, the smart thing to do is to decide on a measurement, cut it out of cardboard, then use the same piece of cardboard for cutting each sweater so that they’re uniform. (And then do this again with fusible interface for each square so that they keep their shape, if you’re a good seamstress. If you’re bad, like me, you can just wing it and skip the interfacing because it scares you). Remember to allow yourself a seam allowance (or don’t, I’m not a cop).
Step 3, arrange your squares. Patchwork may seem random but that’s just how you know you’ve planned it right. I played with mine for quite a while before I settled on where everything was. Besides, this is probably the funnest part.
Step 4, Pin pin pin pin pin pin pin…. you get it. You’re going to pin the squares into long strips. So, pin the sides of each square in a row together, but don’t bother with the columns yet.
Step 5, sew your squares into rows. I broke two needles before I realized I needed special ones, but again, don’t be like me. Buy a needle of the proper thickness, or at least wear eye protection because you’re going to break your needle. In fact wear eye protection anyways when you’re sewing thick material; it’s dangerous.
Step 6, Pin pin pin pin pin pin pin…. but this time the long strips of fabric you’ve made from the rows. (Optional: take a moment to wonder why you thought it would be fun to get back into sewing and remember that sitting at the machine is only like 5% of the time you’ll spend on this craft). Be sure to line up the corners!
Step 7 is great because sweater material has a bit of stretch. So if you’re like me and you did a crappy job of lining everything up (probably due to your poor measurements and lazy pinning) you can just yank the fabric as it runs through the machine, and force those corners into neat positions! It wants to mock your half-assed sewing? You don’t have to take that from a sweater or a blanker!
Step 8, put the blanket wrong-side together with your backing fabric to cover up those awful seams. I used discount fleece, which is soft and warm despite being cheaper than regular fleece. Pin and sew around three sides and 3/4 the way across the fourth.
Step 9, turn the blanket right side out, fold over your hems, and close that bad boy up.
At this point you can be lazy like me and call it quits. However if you want to do the right thing, you should use yarn and a needle to tack each corner to connect the front to the back of the blanket. Mine sags because it’s only connected at the sides, so it’s like a big deflated pillow. I don’t mind it, personally, but tacking is a cute effect anyways.
All done! My blanket turned out super soft and incredibly warm, mainly due to how heavy it is. Because sweaters turned out to be a really heavy material to use. But it’s perfect for me, and I hope yours will be perfect for you too!
If you made it all the way through my tutorial, I apologize sincerely. But really, do check out that Yellow Suitcase one, because they seem to actually know what they’re doing. ❤