Sunday, November 15, 2009

Giving Old Sweaters a Beautiful Repurposed Life

A new (to me) crafting activity I’ve recently tried is working with fulled (felted) wool. It’s a lot of fun and frustration, and a great opportunity for hoarders!

About a year ago, I found a gorgeous wool sweater at a local thrift store. I now have a chest full of fulled wool sweaters patiently awaiting a new, repurposed life. I’ve done a lot of experimentation (hence the frustration), but I’ve learned a lot in the process!

For example, I know that there are oodles of wool sweaters available at the thrift stores, but that most of them are not suitable for repurposing. I won’t buy anything again that isn’t 100% wool, as they rarely react well to the fulling process. They also need to be as large as possible, because it is difficult to make anything of any size otherwise. Loose-knit wool doesn’t achieve good results. Drying in the dryer was only attempted once! (My dryer still coughs up lint balls occasionally). I tried hand-fulling in a bucket of hot soapy water, and learned that the results weren’t worth the labour-intensive effort.

Yes, the sweaters have been worn. But, by the time the fulling process is complete, they have been washed in hot, hot water several times, so I guarantee you they are clean! I’ve made some great finds – such as a men’s extra-large, virtually new wool sweater that had a tiny hole in he front. I can work around that! It cost me less than $2.00. Even better, my favourite crafting supply scout (aka my daughter, herself a bit of a craft supply hoarder) went out of her way, little ones in tow, to get me a huge box of gorgeous already-felted, patterned wool pieces that I’m slowly working my way through.

So far, I’ve fulled about three dozen adult sweaters, and created a few little girls’ sweaters from them. Sometimes it takes cutting into three adult sweaters to make one little size 2 jacket. They are super soft, warm, and quite water resistant. I already have a pile of felted wool scraps that I can make smaller items from, when I have the time. There are so many things that can be made from a little scrap of beautiful felt, it’s a hoarder’s delight!

And that’s not even mentioning needle felting. I would love to try my hand at that some day soon!

There are many Etsy sellers who produce beautiful work with felted wool. Two of my favourite items are the felted wool mittens from and the felted wool slipper socks from The sweater is from my shop,


  1. Wonderful post! I LOVE wool, and I repurpose also. If I find handknitted sweaters, I deconstruct and ball the yarn for reuse. Otherwise, I do what you have done, and cut away for new projects. I also needle felt, and got my husband needle felting as well. (He is SOOO much better at it than I am.) Thanks for sharing the shop links also!

  2. What beautiful items! I think I got a little warmer just looking at them. :)

  3. I just created a treasury for our team!

  4. I'm ignorant in the ways of felting or fulling the wool sweaters. I got one free and washed it in hot water but it didn't do much. Sounds like I need to wash it a number of times? Also, once the wool is felted and you've made it into another piece of clothing, is it still scratchy to wear? Thanks for the informative post! Very interesting.