Upcycled Sweater Pillows

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Upcycle your sweaters into fun patchwork pillows. Because pillows are smaller than blankets, they are a good size project to try before taking on a larger item like sweater blankets.
- 3 or 4 felted wool sweaters (see page 20)
- Sharp fabric scissors
- Rotary cutter, pad, and extra blades or a 7" × 7" pattern made from cardboard (see Using Patterns, page 39)
- Permanent felt-tip marker
- Extra-long straight pins
- A size 18 yarn darner needle
- Persian wool or comparable wool sewing yarn
- A 20" square pillow form
Planning Your Pillow Size and Look
Establish the size of the pillow you would like to make by finding a pillow form. Create a cover for a premade pillow form; standard-sized ones are readily available at craft and fabric stores. Or make your own in any size or shape you would like. Stuffing can range from raw wool or fleece (sheep hair) to finely cut scrap material.
Decide whether you want to have wool on both sides of the pillow. Finally, consider the fabric you will use. Most sweaters are big enough to nearly or completely cover an average-sized decorative pillow.

Step 1

Cut out 18 7" squares using a rotary cutter and pad, or fabric scissors, a cardboard pattern and a marker.

Step 2

Arrange the squares into six strips of three squares each. Working one strip at a time, pin the connecting edges of the three squares with wrong sides together.

Step 3

Thread your needle and, with a simple running stitch, sew the squares in each strip together using a 5/8" seam on the right side of the fabric. Be sure to conceal your beginning and ending knots and match beginning and ending edges accurately.

Step 4

Sew three strips together, long edge to long edge, in the same way. You will have a square comprised of nine smaller squares; repeat with the remaining squares. You will have two nine-piece squares, each measuring approximately 18" × 18".

Step 5

With wrong sides together, pin the 18" squares together on three sides, carefully matching the seams and corners.

Step 6

Using a running stitch, sew them together on the three pinned sides with a 5/8" seam. Carefully match seams front and back. Double stitch at each intersection, and double stitch at the corners as well.

Step 7

Insert the pillow form, being attentive to corners. Push the insert down enough to pin the opening closed.

Step 8

Sew a running stitch across the opening to finish the pillow.

Step 9

Pillow Variations
While pillows are fun and relatively easy, they also offer a canvas to embellish with detailed handwork once you get going. There are all sorts of interesting things you can do to add to the intricacy of pillows. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Try using alternative stuffing materials. Balsam smells great and would make a lovely tiny pillow, while flax seed or buckwheat are sometimes used in horseshoe-shaped neck pillows, which can be heated in the microwave.
- Add a closure. Use snap tape, a zipper, hook and eye tape, buttons, or an overlap to allow your pillow to be opened and changed.
- Get detailed with embroidery, mixed stitches, appliqués, or smaller components sewn together.
Incorporate pockets, beaded sweater bits, and button plackets from the sweaters you cut up.
- Add decorations, such as a flange, edging, buttons, or fringe.

Step 10

Excerpted from "The Sweater Chop Shop" (c) by Crispina ffrench, used with permission from Storey Publishing. Main Image: Illustration by (c) Marguertie Sauvage, incorporating photo by Kevin Kennefick. How-to illustrations by (c) Crispina ffrench.

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