DIY Wreath from Upcycled Sweaters

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There are lovely aspects of the holiday season to focus on, one of them being the idea of handmade. Handmade gifts, decorations, and food enhance any experience, and time shared preparing is memorable, empowering, and appreciated. This "Home-for-the-Holidays Wreath" speaks to that ideal. See it as an inspiration to reduce consumption around these festive holiday occasions and to use what you have to make something to share or to give.
While sewing skills are not in high demand here, you will need a fair amount of upper-body strength for the tying process.
-About 5 pounds felted wool sweater scraps leftover from other projects
-Sharp fabric scissors or a rotary cutter and pad
-2 yards extra strong no-stretch twine (baling twine works great)
-A weaving needle that you can thread the baling twine through
-Small spring-loaded pliers
-Work gloves
-A size 14 yarn darner needle
-2 yards embroidery floss or similar cotton sewing yarn
-A small metal ring designed to hold keys
-Small piece of ribbon or colored tape
-Felted Holly or Poinsettia or decorative bow for finished wreath

Step 1

Preparing Your Materials
Cut the felted wool material you have gathered into 4" squares. This cut material can be loosely described as squares; it is nice to spice up the look and texture of the finished wreath with occasional oddly shaped bits and pieces. Think about each cut piece having about the same area as a 4" square. To avoid pools or blocks of color and make a randomly colored wreath, it is important to cut all the material you will need before you move on to the next step. Put your cut pieces into a laundry basket or bin as you cut. Once you are finished with the cutting process, toss the pieces to ensure a random mix of color throughout. Variation: Use lighter weight fabrics in pastels or summery tones or a mix of fabric textures. Play around with the idea and see what you develop.

Step 2

Constructing the Wreath
Place the cut squares in stacks 3" to 4" high; I fold any long skinny ones in half.

Step 3

Thread your large weaving needle with a 2-yard length of baling twine. Make a large double overhand knot about 8" from the end.

Step 4

With your threaded needle, poke through the center of one stack of felted squares, checking to be sure you have pierced each layer as you pick it up. Continue to thread all the stacks of cut goods onto the twine, one after the other, pulling them to the knot as you go. This process is easier with the aid of the pliers. Hold the needle firmly with the pliers. With your other hand, tug the cut goods over the needle and down to meet the knot. Be sure the pieces are laying flat next to each other without being bunched up, adding bulk that will loosen later.

Step 5

Continue to pack the bits tightly together until you have threaded a 42" long “caterpillar” on your baling twine. (I measure this when I am not pushing the pieces down and they are not under pressure.)

Step 6

Wear your work gloves to tie the two ends of the twine in a very strong, nonslip knot. Do this sitting on the floor with the twine -between the toes like a flip-flop. Push the fabric away with your feet while pulling the twine tight and trying like hell to knot it well. A loose knot makes a droopy wreath. Use a square knot with an extra go ’round. There are a few things to know about knots and wreaths: 1) It is hard to undo a loose knot and tie it over again. 2) If you get fabric entangled in the knot, it will loosen more easily. 3) If you practice tying the knot with the same twine before you make the wreath, it will help you know what you are doing when time is of the essence. 4) Plan on redoing this step a time or two before you get your desired finish — it is really easy
to do it wrong.

Step 7

Finishing the Wreath
Decide which side is the front. Thread the needle with the embroidery floss, knot both ends together, and attach the key ring to the wreath back with very deep, strong stitches. The ring will be used to hang the wreath, and it looks nicest if it cannot be seen from the front. Mark the ring with a piece of brightly colored tape or ribbon so it is easy to find later.

Step 8

Once you have the base complete, embellish it with a felted Holly sprig (or two) and/or Poinsettias. Pay attention to the wreath’s orientation, being sure you know where the top is.

Step 9

A wide bow is a nice, traditional holiday addition. Use ribbon or cut a wide strip of pretty cloth from something used and try that. You might have to piece it together to make it long enough. Starch will help it stand crisply.

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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