I ran across an online class offered by Craftsy called Project Upcycle. It was taught by Betz White and I enjoyed it immensely! I gathered exciting ideas from this class like berries in basket in August. Upcycling is the art of taking thrift store finds and transforming them into creative new items.
Right away I set about trying those ideas out. My first projects were these upcycled sweaters turned shrugs. It just so happened that one of our many local thrift stores was having a 50% off everything sale. So I hunted through the sweaters and found several made of 100% natural fibers. Betz said that felting sweaters works best with natural wool. The green one in these pictures is lambs' wool, while the red one is merino wool. Both cost about $4 apiece. To felt them, I followed Betz's directions and threw the sweaters into the washing machine with hot water and a little detergent. After that I tossed them in the dryer. They were smaller in the end, but a nice thick soft texture.
Betz said the felted sweaters wouldn't ravel when cut, which was true for the green one, but the red one raveled a little. Maybe that was caused by the different fiber. I dealt with the raveling by lettuce edging the red one with the rolled hem setting on my serger. This gave me the chance to try out that wooly nylon thread I've been wanting to use. It worked well. But when it came to the edge along the front opening, I couldn't do the same. By the time I noticed the raveling, I had already sewn on the ties (which were cut from the bottom waistband). So I just bent over about a quarter inch and zig-zagged a hem on it. It worked, and shows you can do this without a serger too. In the Craftsy class, Betz shows how to lettuce edge with a zig-zag stitch on a conventional machine.
Yesterday we went to Queen Creek for the American Heritage Festival. So I took advantage of the driving time by bringing along the green shrug. Since it was made in Scotland and was a lovely heather green, I thought of using a bit of the natural undyed wool a friend of mine bought in New Zealand and gave to me when she was moving. On the trip I crocheted an edging on the sleeves. This shrug felted up a little smaller, so it goes to the girls.
At the Shea's Mountain booth during the history festival I tried on what I think is the ultimate in upcycling. It's a fox fur hat made from road kill! No, I didn't buy it, but it sure shows that anything can be upgraded with a little creative thinking.