UP-CYCLED FELTED SWEATER PILLOWS

Having written in my last post what I look for when I am searching for sweaters to up-cycle, today, I wanted to share a sweater project that I recently finished using a felted wool sweater. Wool sweaters are generally very easy to felt. Most wool (those not mixed with other fibers or preshrunk) will shrink with heat and agitation. Running the sweater through the washer with hot water and drying it on high heat will normally do the trick. Once it has been felted, the sweater can be treated as a solid fabric and cut without fear of it unraveling.

Several years ago, I purchased a couple of inexpensive pillows to go on the couch that is currently in our office/study. They were not high quality–time and use has caused them to pill and become somewhat limp–but they were a wonderful color match for that couch. I had been wanting to rework them for some time, and the winter lull seemed to be the best opportunity. The biggest problem was finding the right color fabric to replace the front sections with. I finally looked into my stash of sweaters and found this brownish-colored one that had only one arm, but was otherwise in good condition. (It took me awhile to figure out what had happened to the other arm, but then I remembered that I had used it to make dryer balls!) It turned out to be a wonderful match for the backing on the pillows and having been a man’s extra-large sweater at one time, it had plenty of fabric in the main body of the sweater to make new fronts for the pillows. And there was a bonus! The sweater had been knitted with cables, so the fabric had huge visual interest, even as a solid color.

The original pillows that I had purchased were designed with zippers that allowed for the outside cover to be separated from an enclosed stuffed square of fabric for ease in washing. The first choice I had to make was whether I wanted to re-make the sweater as a cover for a pillow insert, or simply sew the new front piece to the back square of fabric, add the stuffing directly to the center and sew it closed. As much as it added to the work of the project, I decided to remake the removable cover again. With seam ripper in hand, I separated all the pieces of the old covers. Using the backs from the original pillows as a guide, I cut new fronts from the front and back of the sweater, being careful to match up the centers of the back sections with the center of the main cable of the knitted sweater fabric.

As expected, the hardest part of the project was re-inserting the zippers. Zippers can be difficult to work with anyway, but with one side of the zipper being stitched to a flat fabric and the other side being stitched to a section of bulky sweater, it was even more problematic than normal. My seam ripper got a workout at least two or three more times before I was satisfied with the look of the stitching! With the zipper in place, I had only to stitch the other three sides, clip the corners, and turn it right-side-out.

The original pillow insert was made of a strange synthetic material that reminded me of a dryer sheet. The original stuffing had packed down over time so I opened it up and added stuffing from an old bed pillow I had washed and saved. (For those of you who are reading my blog for the first time, I generally save old pillows because, with normal use, only a section of the fibers have matted down and the rest can be pulled apart and reused.) In this case, it returned these pillow forms to desired fullness without any additional expense. The finished pillows were so nice and plump that both of them would not fit in the rocking chair for the final photo! (The study has such poor natural lighting that I could not photograph them on the couch.) Since this sweater was given to me, this project only cost me time, some electricity, and some thread. 🙂

Since I very often am reminded of a verse of Scripture or a spiritual truth while I am working on a project, it occurred to me to wonder about pillows in the Bible. I looked it up and there are three references to pillows in my translation, one of which spoke of Christ; “And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow…” Mark 4:38. In spite of this verse, we know from His own account that creature comforts were not the goal of His life. He stated in Luke 9:58, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” I was reminded that sometimes followers of Christ are given a pillow; sometimes they are not. Part of the Christian life is learning to trust our heavenly Father’s wisdom, love, and power so much that we are content in Him regardless of our outward circumstances. In the book of Philippians the apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Philippians 4:11-13. In pursuit of telling others about his Savior, Paul experienced both ends of the spectrum in the realm of physical comfort. The thing that is amazing and challenging about his statement is that he is saying that even when he experienced hardship and deprivation, Christ was more than enough for him in that moment. I pray this learned contentment will characterize my life as well–pillows or not.

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