Monday, December 31, 2012

December Sewing Challenge

Happy New Year (a day early).  I don't know where you are, but it's snowing again where I am.  I'm not too happy about that, either.

We had originally planned to create a spoonflower fabric and make something from it for our December challenge.  Since creating a fabric design is a big enough challenge all by itself, we decided to postpone that for a couple of months.  But stay tuned for it.  We are scheduled to do that challenge in February.

So, we needed a new challenge for December.  This is when we decided to reinvent an article of clothing.  We each knew immediately what we wanted to create.

The rules were simple.  Find an article of clothing you didn't mind never wearing again (if you ever wore it in the first place).  Then make something out of it.  It didn't have to be something to wear, but reinvent the piece of clothing.  We both chose a clothing item that wasn't ours and that neither of us had ever worn.

Funny thing.  We both made pillows, but out of totally different garments.  One of us made a pillow out of an old sweater.  The second one made several pillows out of our mom's old faux fur coat.

Before photos:

Vintage Wool Sweater

Our Mom's Faux Fur Coat
The first entry is a pillow made from a felted sweater.  This person went to a vintage clothing store and bought 4 old sweaters.  She wanted to felt the wool sweaters, so she washed them in hot water several times.  During this process, her dryer went on the fritz and she couldn't finish the job.  A couple weeks later, with a working dryer, she was able to wash and dry the sweaters again.  This felted the wool.

If you've never felted wool, it isn't really difficult.  Just know that the article must be 100% wool.  None of that polyester fake stuff will do.  And it will shrink.  The more you wash and dry the garment, the smaller and smaller it will get.

The first sweater she planned to used was so thick after felting it that she couldn't sew it.  It was too thick to fit in her sewing machine.

Sweater After It's Makeover:

The second entry was faux fur pillows.   Many years ago, our mom bought a faux fur coat.  I never knew she wanted one, but somehow, she ended up with it.  And she loved the thing.  When she finally quit wearing it, it hung in her closet for many years.  About 3 years ago, we moved our parents to an assisted-living apartment.  When we were cleaning out their house, we discovered the coat.  It smelled.  No one wanted it, but our older sister took it to her house.

3 years ago, we celebrated a milestone birthday (the number will go unmentioned).  Our husbands each had a surprise birthday party for us.  One party was in November, and the other was in December.  Our birthday is Christmas Day.

At the second birthday party, our older sister took twin #2 a surprise birthday present.  The fur coat.  She was so excited when she opened it.  Check out her response here.  Doesn't she look happy and excited?!  It still smelled bad.

A month later, twin #1 was visiting twin #2.  When twin #1 was packing up to go home, twin #2 and her husband kindly offered to help load her car.  After they had left for church, twin #1 got in her car and spotted smelled an unfamiliar box.  When she opened it, guess what she found. The fur coat.  and the smell.  Thanks.

The fur coat and the smell have been sitting in her garage for 3 years now.  Guess what!  The coat was made in the USA.

Cutting up and ruining an old fur coat is a scary thing.  Even if it is faux fur.  But first, let me get to the smell.  If we had planned this challenge earlier, there would have been plenty of time to air it out with the windows open.  But since it was early December when we made that decision, it was to cold to open the windows.  The tag on the coat indicated that cleaning should be done by a furrier.  The cost was going to be $75.  So the smell remained.  Even with 2 or 3 coats of febreeze, there was still a stench.  And faux fur flies and lands everywhere in your house.  Keep that in mind if you ever want to cut up your fur coat.

There are 7 kids in our family.  So, the plan was to make a fur pillow for each of them.  Hehe.  I wasn't sure if there would be enough coat for 7 pillows, but yes there was.  Here's how it broke down:

2 arms (with the elastic still in the cuffs) -- 2 pillows
2 front pieces (with pockets included) -- 2 pillows
1 big back -- 3 pillows

The 2 front pieces made really cool pillows.  Muffs, really.  Each side had a pocket, and I made sure the pockets were accessible in front.  Just like a muff.  a one-armed smelly muff.  I didn't use the collar, because it would have involved too much work removing all the thread.

These pillows were given out at our Christmas celebration the Saturday before Christmas.  Everyone was just delighted to get their pillow.  Our brother, Jeff, was unable to be with us that day.  But he called me a few days ago to thank me for his pillow.  His wife washed it in cold water on the gentle cycle (in a mesh bag), and then air dried it.  He said it came out fine with no matting.  Another hint if you ever want to was faux fur.  I would suggest not to wash the entire coat at one time.  Cut it up in manageable pieces first.  I haven't been brave enough to wash mine yet.

So, now that you know our story, you can vote on your favorite recycled garment.

We've revised our sewing challenge plans for 2013.  You will see the new ideas on the right.  We'll try to stick to them this year, but sometimes we just have to change our plans.  You know how life goes.