Wool has many advantages over other fibres, even other natural fibres, when used for pillows. "The Knitter's Book of Wool" explains that wool is absorbent enough to wick away moisture and is self-extinguishing when exposed to flame, meaning that the fibres stop burning when the source of the fire is removed. Take advantage of the comfort and safety features afforded by this natural fibre by making your own wool throw pillows from reclaimed or recycled wool sweaters obtained from thrift stores, garage sales or even your own closet.
Place a 100 per cent wool sweater in your washing machine with detergent and one or two pairs of blue jeans--these add friction, which helps the wool fibres felt.
Wash the sweater in the hottest water available; hot water, combined with soap and agitation, encourages wool fibres to lock together.
Dry the sweater in a dryer set to high heat.
Turn the sweater inside out and lay it flat on your work surface.
Cut the hem or ribbing off the sweater. Cut across the body of the sweater just below the neckband to create a straight top edge. Cut up and down the sides of the sweater to remove the sleeves, creating two squares or rectangles of wool with straight edges. Since the fibres are locked together, the cut edges will not unravel.
Embroider or add embellishment to the wool squares now, if desired.
Lay the squares of wool on a work surface with the right sides facing together and the wrong sides (those visible when the sweater is inside out) facing outward.
Pin the wool edges together along three sides. Sew along three sides of the squares of wool using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Use a sturdy thread such as rug or buttonhole thread and a needle designed to handle thick, dense fabric. Alternatively, you may use wool yarn and a tapestry needle and sew by hand.
Secure the stitching by sewing a second line of stitches just inside the first set of stitches, parallel to them. This reinforces the seams.
Turn the pillow right-side out. Fill the shell with stuffing. Stuff evenly and use a bit more stuffing than you think is needed--stuffing settles and compresses with time and use.
Pin the open edges of the pillow together. Hand-stitch along the open edge of the pillow using a needle and thread or tapestry needle and wool. Tuck the unfinished edges 1/2 inch down toward the interior of the pillow as you sew so the raw edges are not visible.
Steam the pillow seams lightly. Manipulate the corners into right angles while the pillow is warm. Smooth over any embellishments or embroidery for a polished, finished appearance.
Felting a sweater also shrinks it. To avoid shrinking the sweater into dimensions too small for a pillow, check on the sweater multiple times as you're washing and drying it. Experiment with cutting different shapes from the felted sweater. Instead of having a square pillow, you could create a circular or triangular pillow.
Tips and warnings
- Felting a sweater also shrinks it. To avoid shrinking the sweater into dimensions too small for a pillow, check on the sweater multiple times as you're washing and drying it.
- Experiment with cutting different shapes from the felted sweater. Instead of having a square pillow, you could create a circular or triangular pillow.