Recycle Old Sweaters: Learn How to Felt Wool

By transforming wool into felt, you can recycle discarded wool sweaters into an array of useful items and fun gifts. Try it out with this easy project for playful, personalized pot holders.

  • Sweater Chop Shop
    In “The Sweater Chop Shop,” recycled wool knitwear becomes the gateway to everything from a beautiful blanket or throw pillow to a holiday wreath or a child’s stuffed toy.
  • Make Pot Holders
    Pot holders can add a bright, inexpensive handmade spark to a kitchen.
  • Wool Pot Holders
    After you’ve mastered the single-square pot holder tops like those shown here, you can create a playful look by patching together a variety of fabrics.
  • Pot Holders
    Fun fabrics for the backing of your pot holders are often easily found either around the house — look through your old clothes, tablecloths or other items no longer being used — or at the thrift shop.
  • Sew Pot Holder
    Thread your needle with a 2-yard length of Persian wool or embroidery floss. Beginning at the corner with the hanging loop, insert your needle under the cotton top layer and push down through the hanger and the wool bottom layer(s) of fabric. Pull yarn through to the bottom of the pot holder, concealing the knot under the top cotton layer.
  • X-stitch
    Finish your X-stitch with thread coming out of the fabric about half an inch in from the cut edges of the layers, and begin to blanket stitch around the edges of the pot holder. Be sure you are catching all the layers with each stitch. Keep your corners neat and square by double stitching the first and last stitches of each side seam.

  • Sweater Chop Shop
  • Make Pot Holders
  • Wool Pot Holders
  • Pot Holders
  • Sew Pot Holder
  • X-stitch

The following is an excerpt from The Sweater Chop Shop by Crispina Ffrench (Storey Publishing, 2009). Using recycled textiles to create home accessories, sweaters and even furniture, Ffrench has rescued nearly 500,000 pounds of clothing from landfills throughout the past two decades. In The Sweater Chop Shop, Ffrench shares her techniques and designs for more than 20 recycled sweater projects — functional art that’s good for your wallet and even better for the environment. 

Pot holders may sound a little hokey — like something you may have brought home from summer day camp. I like “hokey,” and find pot holders useful every day. They can really add a bright, inexpensive handmade spark to a kitchen.

Making pot holders is quick and simple, and they are a great gift any time of year. Plus, because these are constructed with wool, they are fire-retardant and insulating, making them super-functional yet cute (of course).

The simplest design is to use a single 7-inch-by-7-inch square top. After you’ve learned the basic technique, try patching pieces together to make colorful tops, such as the ones shown in the Image Gallery.


Felted wool sweater (see “How to Felt Wool,” below)
Sharp fabric scissors
Rotary cutter, pad and extra blades or a 7-inch-by-7-inch pattern made from cardboard
Permanent felt-tip marker
One 7-inch square of woven cotton cloth for backing (an interesting patterned cloth is nice)
One 1-inch-by-6-inch strip of nonraveling cotton jersey (such as T-shirt material)
Extra-long straight pins
One size-16 yarn darner needle
Persian wool or embroidery floss

How to Felt Wool

Felting wool requires three conditions — heat, moisture and friction — which can be provided by your home washing machine and dryer. Here are a few tips for successful felting.

1/14/2014 6:13:06 AM

Very interesting. Thanks. I found other interesting blogs and tutorials at Very useful and amazing work galleries.

11/10/2013 1:15:36 PM

Informative, Creative Fun, Useful. Perfect! Thank YOU! =)

kestrel moore
12/1/2012 11:34:06 PM

Why would anyone complain about the length of the article? A tutorial should be clear and concise so that it is more readily understood. Apparently, you want Cliff Notes for Wool?

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