This year, I found a great tutorial on this blog for upcycled sweater cowls. I made one for each of Clint's sisters (the ones we saw at Christmas) and our niece, who is in college. What a lovely way to stay warm in winter. I began by finding a whole pile of sweaters at our local thrift store (checking each one to make sure it can be machine washed) and washing them all. For each cowl, you will need two sweaters, so I also had to make sure I had two complementary colors for each cowl. Once they were clean, I had to remember which colors I had intended for mates. Once that onerous task was complete, it was time to hack away.
On the tutorial I read, Steph suggests cutting off each sweater beneath the arm holes which I did, but she also suggests cutting off the hem. I sat and stared at her directions for awhile, thinking. Some of my sweaters had really interesting bottoms, and I didn't want to waste the length either. So, I left the bottoms uncut. I figured I'd sew up one cowl with the bottom hem intact and see how things went. I could always fix my error, and there was no sense cutting all the bottoms until I knew I had to.
NOTE FOR THRIFTY PEOPLE: after I cut all the tops of the sweaters off, I looked at that pile and thought one thing: all those sweater sleeves, those could become leg warmers! Yes, that's right. Leg Warmers. No longer should they be solely for children or aerobic dancers of the 80s. Now, they're mine too, and I love them.
After making my cuts AROUND the sweaters, I cut each sweater along one side seam so I had one long rectangle from each sweater. I pinned two sweater rectangles RIGHT SIDES together along the two long edges and sewed along the two long edges.
Then, I turned the tube right side in. Next, I matched up my top and bottom for the two open ends, started just before the top seam, and sewed the two ends together, RST. I got almost all the way around my seam, with a bit of sweating and manipulating of the fabric, and then I had to hand stitch about 3" of what I couldn't sew by machine. And then...
Voila! One sweater cowl was done. And as you may be able to see, I was able to use the pretty edge at the bottom of the sweater without having to cut it off. I tried the first sweater cowl on, and it was So Warm, So Soft, and So Cozy. I hated to take it off, but I knew I must because it wasn't mine. It was a present. And some people get a little testy when you wear their presents for awhile before you give said presents to them (which is a little selfish, in my opinion). (No offense, dear reader, if you are a recipient of one of these sweater cowls. Of course, I am not saying YOU are selfish. It's all the other people; not you.)
After that, it was pretty quick work to sew up the rest. I think each one is lovely, and I hope they get plenty of use. I learned a few things in my sewing experience:
1) Sweater sleeves make lovely leg warmers--and they don't even need to be hemmed at the cut edge! I just folded it down to make an upper cuff. Perfecto!
2) My sewing machine got angry with me when I tried to sew together two thick and bulky sweaters to make one of the cowls. I think it would have made a very cozy cowl, but I don't want to kill my machine. I ended up setting that one aside...I'm thinking I might pick it apart and try using a t-shirt I don't wear anymore as the lining.
3) A tight-fitting narrow waisted sweater makes a perfectly fitting cowl, I think. It fits very well around the neck without being droopy or bulky. If you use a larger sweater, you might want to cut off some of the extra width to make your sweater cowl more snug around the neck.
And here's the whole batch of them, reading for wrapping. Merry Christmas to some lovely ladies!