Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The creation of a new baby bunny rattle from an Upcycled Wool Sweater

I just posted a new pale blue baby bunny rattle in my Etsy Shop and here is the story of his creation.

A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go, to Good Will that is, for 100% wool sweaters to felt. Second hand stores (and your friends closets) are great locations to find wool sweaters to felt. On my last trip I found a beautiful blue and tan woven wool skirt, and two super soft sweaters. One is a pale blue cable knit sweater, 100% lambswool, and the other is a gray cardigan with a pretty knit pattern along the edges.

Once I got the items home, I got them ready to felt. For the cardigan sweater, I removed the buttons and set them aside for another project. I could have left them on, but it was easier to remove them before the wool was shrunk. Other than that, I just removed the store price tags. See my earlier blog post for instructions and tips on how to machine felt sweaters.

I took some pictures first and you can see how large they are by the how much space they take up on the top of my washing machine and dryer. Also note the fabric contents. Sometimes items with mixed content (not 100% wool), will shrink a little less than 100% wool. And sometimes, even 100% wool won't felt, which is what happened to the skirt I attempted to felt.

These two sweaters were both womens size medium but once they were machine felted and then dried on hot in the dryer, they are roughly sized for a small child, but with longer arms. They feel different too - thicker and more dense with the fibers locked together and matted.

Here are some closeups. You can see that the cable knit is not as definitive and that the fibers looks softer and fuzzier. You can even see some little fuzzies on the sweater that fluff off in the wash.

For whatever reason, the woven wool skirt I bought and washed along with the sweaters, did not felt. I'm guessing it's because of the way it's woven and not knitted. Also, some knit wool is pretreated to make it easy care, and no amount of heat or agitation will result in felting, even if it's 100 percent wool. No worries, though as you can use those pieces in other creative ways, as I did here. Since, the colors of the skirt went together nicely, I decided to use some of it to create the ears and belly patch on the bunny rattle.

You can see on the little belly patch that the fibers are roughed up along the edges were I sewed them to the the wool. If the fabric had felted, it would not fray. That's part of the beauty of working with felted wool. The fabric can be cut and sewn and won't come unraveled.

A word of caution however though - the felting process makes the wool thick and dense and it can be really difficult to machine sew. That is why there are a lot of handsewn felted projects out there. If you do use your machine, you probably won't be able to go through more than 2 layers of fabric. So attaching limbs to stuffed animals can be really tricky. You can always hand crank the wheel of your sewing machine, but that works best for small areas.

First I cut and sewed up the little ears. Then I cut out the shape for the body of the bunny and sewed it up and attached the ears. Next, I turn it right side out, insert the rattle, and stuffed it with bamboo fill. Next I create the neck and cut and attach the bottom, which is sewn by hand with a classic blanket stitch.

With the hand embroidery on the face complete, he's done! Here is a picture of the little bunny all finished (except for the little content tag I have to sew onto the backside). How cute!

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