August 25, 2009

how-to: Recycled Sweater Wool Jewelry!

do stuff! is in need of a new tutorial, don’t you think?  It’s been awhile!  This is a project I’ve been teaching at the Multnomah County Libraries all summer – my last class is coming up on Thursday and I think it’s about time I share it with the rest of you!

yellowhoop

It’s a simple concept: cut a shape or two or more from a felted wool sweater, attach the pieces to jewelry parts – that’s it!  Well, that’s not really it though, you can make it so much more!

A little background – the yellow hoops were the first thing I made with this idea; when I made my embellished cardigan, I had some yellow ovals left over from the pockets, and I thought, hmm, I could make those into something… I cut the centers out, stuck on some earring wires, and that was that!  Rad!  I played around with the idea a bit further then, making those blue teardrops below, adding some embroidery this time:

yellowhoopearrings blueearrings

Well then I thought, this seems like such a perfect class project – not too many materials or tools needed, super simple concept, but with infinite creative possibility!  I bet students could do all kinds of creative things with the concept, I thought… Well, hoo-boy was I right!  Check it out, these are what four crafters did in my most recent class:

studentsearringsandjack studentsletters

studentsnecklace studentsearrings

I hope they don’t mind me sharing their awesome creations.  I didn’t take photos in any of the previous classes, which I now regret – every single class has had amazing pieces!  Don’t you love that pendant on the bottom?!  I do!  It was made by the library helper at the Sellwood branch, who clearly has fabulous color sense and design talent!

yellow bracelet yellow earrings

I made these pieces as more class examples – a matching set of earrings, fastened together with jumprings, and a bracelet, the pieces stitched together with embroidery floss, to show different ways of joining parts.

yellowset

So for this project, you’ll need:

  • Recycled wool sweater pieces, felted (great for using leftover scraps after making bigger projects from felted sweaters)
  • Scissors
  • Jewelry findings of your choice (depending on what kind of jewelry you’re making)
  • Jewelry pliers
  • Embroidery floss and/or thread (optional, depending on your design) and needle
  • Optional cheap felt and pins for using templates

And the “tutorial” from my class handout…

This project is very free form, not requiring a step-by-step how-to, but the basic steps are:

Cut shapes from felted wool.
Use felt shapes to make jewelry, by either
-stitching pieces together with thread/embroidery floss/yarn
-or joining pieces together with jump rings.
Attach clasps, earring wires, or other finishing parts.
Add embroidery decoration or other optional embellishments.

When stitching parts together, if you want the piece to be able to stretch, use zig zags or diagonal stitches.
Use jewelry pliers to work with jumprings, clasps, and other parts to close them tightly.
Cut any shapes you want, either freehand or using a template (paper or felt).  If you want 2 identical parts, cut 1 first, then pin that one to the second piece to cut it the same.

Of course, I’m there for individual help in the classes, with using pliers, sewing, etc, so I’ve linked to a few how-to sites to help you along with any parts you’re not familiar with.  You can also use my earring making tutorial on Craftstylish for help with jewelry-making steps.  If you want a book to help, I definitely recommend Susan Beal’s Bead Simple – she’s the one who taught me how to make earrings!

templates

These are craft felt templates I cut for students to use if they want.  If you’re not sure what shape(s) you want, or you want multiple identical shapes, it’s a good idea to play around with some cheap craft felt before cutting into your sweater.  You can try different shapes until you get it just right, then pin the shape onto your sweater and cut around it.

As for felting, this is also on my class handout (see Diane’s felting post on Craftstylish for my detail):

To make recycled wool felt at home, choose a sweater made of 100% wool, or with other animal fibers (like alpaca, angora, cashmere).  Machine wash and dry the sweater on hot or warm settings; this will shrink and “full” the sweater, turning it into felt.  If you want it thicker/denser, wash and dry it again to felt it more.

redearrings4

These are earrings I made during a couple of classes, and probably my favorite ones I’ve made.  Still not nearly as creative or elaborate as some of the students’ creations, but I like the simplicity of them, since they’re pretty big and bright.  (I tried to photograph myself wearing them straight on, so you could see both earrings in the same shot, and this is the best I could get, hah!)

redearrings2 redearrings1

And here are all of my earrings… Obviously, I like making earrings more than other kinds of jewelry, probably because I rarely wear jewelry besides earrings and cuffs.  I had plans to embroider on those dark grey rings, but I think I’m going to leave them alone; again, I like the simplicity…

allearrings1

So, I hope this was enough of a how-to for you.  Comment if you have questions and I can add more if I need to.  Grab some felted wool, jewelry findings, and embroidery floss, and have fun with it!  Take it even further by adding beads, buttons, sequins, or other bits of crafty fun!  Yay!

Filed under: general crafts,tutorials — leethal @ 6:39 pm
  • http://www.quiltwhileyoureahead.typepad.com/ monica

    they’re so clever!!

  • http://www.quiltwhileyoureahead.typepad.com monica

    they’re so clever!!

  • http://www.thecluelesscrafter.com/ Lydia, CluelessCrafter

    This is a great idea. I think a stiff felt would be ideal for these earrings because they would give a more weighted, substantial look. They’d dangle just that much better. . .

  • http://www.thecluelesscrafter.com/ Lydia, CluelessCrafter

    This is a great idea. I think a stiff felt would be ideal for these earrings because they would give a more weighted, substantial look. They’d dangle just that much better. . .

  • http://dollarstorecrafts.com/ Heather – Dollar Store Crafts

    Those are fun! I like the hoops. I embroidered some felted sweater scraps to make into jewelry but never actually got to the attaching them to hardware point! Nice, thanks for sharing!

  • http://dollarstorecrafts.com Heather – Dollar Store Crafts

    Those are fun! I like the hoops. I embroidered some felted sweater scraps to make into jewelry but never actually got to the attaching them to hardware point! Nice, thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: Free Form Jewelry

  • http://girls-go-green.blogspot.com/ Anna

    Those are so cool.

  • http://girls-go-green.blogspot.com Anna

    Those are so cool.

  • Pingback: Sometimes, I’d like to wear my sweaters on my ears. « Living Small

  • Pingback: Recycled Sweater Fun – Ways to reuse your old sweaters! « Art By Chrysti

  • Pingback: do stuff! » Month of leethal Giveaways!

  • http://www.heatshrinkwire.net Heat Shrink Wire

    This is cool! And so interested! Are u have more posts like this? Plese tell me, thanks

  • http://www.silvernice.com/category/tiffany-earring wool Earring

    Nice idea with beautiful design. really very attractive and something different. i never imagine this look.0 design wool earring looking so cute.thanks for sharing nice idea of wool earring.

  • ConneeHodson

    thanks for sharing with us. Connee

  • Pingback: Tutorial Spotlight: Recycled Sweater Jewelry, by Leethal |

  • Pingback: Tutorial Realized – Recycled Sweater Earrings, by Leethal |

  • Anonymous

    Very cute! Do they hang well? They look so light!

  • heat shrink

    this is very good and look charming and really attractive.Nice….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X7KRGJ5XC3FG3FJKMH2PS3M2HM Sylvia Wilkins

    Some of this stuff is really cute and wearable. Others.. kind of looks like stuff I made at church camp in fifth grade. I’m happy to say my style has upgraded to Antique Jewelry and hopefully it will stay there because I have so much of it!
    -Sylvia

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X7KRGJ5XC3FG3FJKMH2PS3M2HM Sylvia Wilkins

    Some of this stuff is really cute and wearable. Others.. kind of looks like stuff I made at church camp in fifth grade. I’m happy to say my style has upgraded to Antique Jewelry and hopefully it will stay there because I have so much of it!
    -Sylvia

  • http://www.howtomakejewelry.com Rebecca

    What a great idea! I may have to give it a try.

  • http://www.ettika.com/Bracelets/Gold-Dusted/ gold bracelets for women

    It can be a great DIY project.They are looking very cute. 

  • http://twitter.com/cjBlueCompany cjBlueCompany

    cool!

Proudly powered by wordpress 3.6 - Theme by neuro, customized by leethal