These are my new chair pads that I've been making out of felted wool sweaters, or Sit-upons if you want to sound quaint.
Meant for warmth (not cushioning), they do a great job, and I think they're pretty cute.
These came about in an interesting fashion. Every year when we make Christmas gifts there always seems to be a 'theme' - a new craft that is prevalent among the gifts because of its novelty. We have had the year of crochet and the year of wood burning and the year of one stroke painting; this year was unquestionably the Year of the Felted Sweaters. In fact every time I put in another load of sweaters in the wash to felt I would say things like, 'Oh, I feel like Betz White,' or 'My laundry room must smell just like Betz White's (baaa baaa).' She is the one who wrote the book: Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects about felted sweater crafts. I haven't read it yet but I just got it out of the library and I'm looking forward to perusing it's sweet pages.
So we had all these extra sweaters sitting around and we discovered that wool sweaters are nice and warm to sit upon. We've been keeping our thermostat set rather low (as in 'Freeze Yer' everything) and consequently our wooden kitchen chairs can be downright chilly. I realized I could make chair pads out of felted wool sweaters. At about two dollars a sweater the price sure is right, and I really like how they look. They are all different colors, but by using the same leaf motif they all look nice together, and they fit in fine in my casual kitchen. So I think they are as pretty as they are practical for keeping your seat nice and warm.
We get our wool sweaters at the thrift store, and we try to go on half price day. We always get sweaters that are 100% wool, and those that felt best are the ones that say dry clean only. Sweaters that are marked machine washable have been treated so they will not felt no matter how many times you wash them. It's also inevitable that we find 'accidentally' felted sweaters- all wool sweaters that people have inadvertently run through the wash. You can often find them in the children's section as they are so small, but you can tell by their misshapen appearance and strange proportions that they were once meant for adults. Stripes and all-over patterns are fine, but sweaters with just a section of a pattern will end up with uneven thicknesses. Fair isle patterns will end up quite bulky due to the extra yarns. A few small moth holes are okay if they are not in the main area of the sweater. To felt the sweaters, I just run them through the washing machine on a hot water cycle with a small amount of detergent, about half a dozen sweaters at a time, keeping lights and darks separate. Most people then machine dry them, but we don't have a dryer so sometimes I need to wash them twice. The sweaters will shrink considerably and the fibers will merge together creating felt.
Each pad is made from one sweater, using both the front and back. I've found it's easiest if you sew the two layers together before you cut out the circle. I mark out a large circle on the sweater with chalk - I've been using a very large cookie tin lid for a template.
Then I machine sew along the chalk line with a decorative stitch, sewing the two layers together.
Then I cut out the circle about half an inch beyond the stitching. I originally had delusional ideas of blanket stitching them all by hand and possibly hand appliqueing them, but I quickly realized that wasn't going to happen anytime soon for eight pads, so I did it all by machine. It looks fine and I think it's sturdier that way, as these are for kitchen chairs in constant use.
Then I cut out the leaves and stems from felted sweater scraps in contrasting colors, and arrange them in a pleasing fashion.
I use a zig zag stitch to applique all the pieces on. I sew all of the stems on first, using just a zig zag run down the length of each one. Then I add the leaves, zig zagging around the edges. I arrange the leaves to cover up the starting point of the circular top stitching, and also any tiny moth holes that might be present.
A bit of non slip mesh can be used under the pads to keep them in place, helpful if you have climbing sorts around. Voila! (Or should I say, Bob's your uncle!)