Monday, January 20, 2014

Baby it's cold outside: Quilt-As-You-Go Sweater Quilt

The response to my last post has been humbling and overwhelming. The personal notes and kind words left me speachless at times (I know you don't believe me, but it is true,) and I thank you. You all forced me to see that even though I don't like to hear praise and encouragement when I am angry at the universe, I need to accept that knowing that people are strangely, (and possibly irrationally) confident in my abilities is a life line I am in no position to reject.

I will probably write more about CSID in the future, but for now, it is back to DIYville for some happy happy denial time. I am going to show you how to make a truly easy sweater quilt.
  • First, you will need some old sweaters in colors you like. Cotton is fine, but choose tighter knits so they won't fray. Wool is great because you can felt it by washing it in a hot/cold cycle then popping it in the dryer, but you will need more sweaters. (I used 6 men's sweaters and made two lap quilts, about $15 at the thrift store.)
  • You will also need fleece which will replace both the backing and batting. Buy enough yardage for the size quilt you plan to make. (JoAnne's routinely has this at 50% off or use a coupon. Mine was around $20 total.)
  • You will need a good bit of complimentary or matching thread. For this project I used brown on the bobbin, and grey on the quilt top. ($4)
  • Optional, you will need one men's shirt to make the binding (thrifted, $3).
  • The project total should be around $42 for two lap sized quilts or one large quilt.
Break down the sweaters by removing the sleeves and opening the seams. Cut the pieces to a uniform width (5-7 inches is good). Then cut the strips into 3-4 different lengths. You will want a good mix of long rectangles, squares and small rectangles. (Because this was hard on my hands, I did it over a few evenings.)
Cut your fleece to the approximate size of the finished quilt, plus 2" on all sides.
Layout your sweater pieces in rows to achieve an over all balance of color and texture.
Working one row at a time, use a wide zigzag stitch to join the pieces, overlapping the pieces to create a flat and visible seam. Do your best not to stretch the knit as you sew. (One evening.)
Finished strips. There was some bubbling where the knits stretched wile sewing, but I was not going to stress about it. I wanted this quilt to be a little raw and imperfect, aka fun ans stress free!
Final assembly (one afternoon if not chasing a toddler.)
Lay out the finished strips and check your arrangement.
Pin the first strip to the fleece backing. Trim the second strip as needed to make a straight line, overlap it on top of the first strip, and pin. Sew through both strips and the fleece with a wide zigzag stich.
Continue trimming, pinning and sewing one row at a time until all the rows are attached to the fleece.
This is what the back will look like.
Trim the quilt and the fleece to square up the edges, then finish by either zigzagging along the edge or attaching a wide binding.
And you are done!
Wash the quilt to remove any stray fuzzies (mine was covered), check the seams, and remove any stray threads.
The finished quilt is very warm, fuzzy and heavy. It is perfect for snuggling on the couch on a cold winter night! I want to do it again in springy brights and maybe another in textured whites, you know, someday when I have more time and less hemorrhoids. (Yup, third trimester is awesome.)

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