I am excited to share a series of guest posts with you by other Artful Parents and teachers while I step back from the blog a bit this month! I hope you enjoy the new perspectives, different ideas, and fresh energy that each brings to this space. And I encourage you to leave a comment to continue the discussion, add your own viewpoint, or simply say thanks!
Guest Post by Katie Gill-Harvey
To quote the Sound of Music, "warm woolen mittens" are definitely one of my favorite things. Unfortunately, my toddler, and most toddlers I know, don't share my sentiment. By this time of the winter, I'm usually finding mittens less charming. The battle of getting them onto those tiny hands and the constant search for missing or dropped mittens is enough to make me wish for Spring. So, when I saw this adorable mitten sweater, it shot mittens back up to the top of my "favorite things" list.
Make the Mittens First:
To make the Mitten Sweater, I begin by making mitten templates. I started by tracing my daughter's hands onto a piece of paper, then traced a mitten shape about an inch and a half around her hand. Doing this allowed for the mitten pocket to be roomy enough for her to put their hand into while still leaving enough room for a seam. After I cut out the mitten templates I set them aside.
Next, I used a piece of felted sweater to trace the mitten templates onto. To make a felted sweater, I took a wool or mostly wool sweater and washed it in a washing machine on hot followed by a tumble in a hot dryer. If you don't want to felt your own sweaters, you can always buy prefelted sweaters or scraps on Etsy.
Once I traced the mitten pattern onto the felted sweater and cut them out, I then laid them on the sweater I wanted to attach them to. You can make a mitten sweater using either a wool or non-wool children's sweater. Both work well, but if you use a wool sweater it is easier to needle felt the mittens on and if you use a non-wool sweater it is easier to sew the mittens on.
To Attach the Mittens to a Wool Sweater:
You will need two needle-felting tools, a felting needle tool and a needle mat or piece of Styrofoam. All the tools can be purchased online or at most craft stores. The idea behind needle felting is that a barbed needle is pressed through two pieces of wool tangling the fibers together attaching the two pieces of fabric.
To attach the felted mitten cutouts start by positioning the cut mittens onto the sweater in the desired locations. Then using a needle felting tool, you want to needle felt around the edges of the mitten again and again until you start to see the fibers of the sweater coming through the mitten. Once you have gone around both of the mittens on the top of the sweater, turn it inside out and needle felt along the back side of the mitten. Then, turn back over to the front and needle felt along the perimeter of the mittens one more time.
When you are finished needle felting, you can iron the sweater on a wool setting just to help everything stay in place. I also added just a few stitches along the top edges of my mittens for reinforcement.
To Attach the Mittens to a Non-Wool Sweater:
If you live in a warmer climate or have a child allergic to wool you can still do this with a non-wool sweater—you would just sew the mittens into place instead of needle felting. Follow all the same steps as with the wool sweater except sew around the edges of the mitten using a blanket stitch. This type of stitch will prevent the mittens from unraveling over time.
I have now made a few of these sweaters and I love that 1) They are made entirely of upcycled materials and 2) They are relatively easy to make even if you aren't a sewing expert.
Katie is a sometimes art teacher, all the time mom living with her family in Baltimore, Maryland. Inspired by life with her daughters, The Bee (3) and The Bean (1), Katie writes the blog A Childhood List which chronicles the events of childhood through an ever changing list of things to make, places to go, moments big and small, stuff to read and things to do.