Recycled Sweater Wreath

Inspiration from two creative women converged for this DIY winter decoration. Our makeover maven, Diana Durkes and her Recycled Sweater Rug, and my Mom—wreath-maker extraordinaire.

Recycled Sweater Wreath

I knew I’d design a wreath this year. I grew up watching Mom wire all variety dried flora to round metal frames. I remember a year in New Hampshire when she had Dad drilling tiny holes through walnuts and chestnuts. Mom twisted wired trios of the nuts, and the most fantastic medley of pine cones and seed pods, to a giant wreath frame. A spritz of clear gloss, then Dad secured her masterpiece over the fireplace.

So my idea here is a little warmth for your winter front door: A Recycled Sweater Wreath using felted wool.

Since I scratch more than relax if I wear a wool sweater, you won’t find any in my closet. We popped over to the local thrift store and grabbed these. I made sure that the sweaters were at least 50-percent wool (the more the better for felting).

Thrift Store Wool Sweaters

These three sweaters and one vest made plenty of felted wool—enough for at least two large wreaths—with extra to fashion a stylish accessory or two. (I see snazzy, felted-wool evening bag in my future!)

Other materials and tools:

  • Wreath frame: I used a 15″ metal frame that my husband fashioned from heavy wire. You can find inexpensive ready-made frames at your floral supply or craft store.
  • Reused cardboard for leaf pattern
  • Heavy-duty fabric scissors
  • Floral wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nosed pliers

Finished Wreath Closeup

To make the felted wool:

Cut each sweater apart, separating sleeves from body, front from back. Cut off any ribbing or collars and trim off the seams. You want to end up with flat panels of knit wool.

Wash the panels (like colors together) in your washing machine’s hot water, high agitation cycle, with some laundry soap. Then run the panels through the dryer.

This felting process locks together the fibers of the wool, creating a thick, durable fabric. Decide if one round through felts your material enough–I ended up running my pieces through this cycle twice. (And be prepared to reach in and “de-fuzz” your wash basin and your dryer’s lint screen after each load.)

Here’s a quick slide show of the project, and instructions below.

Click on the photo to start or pause the show. Mouse over the bottom of the photo to bring up the controls. Click the square icon on the bottom right to watch full-screen.

To make the wreath:

  1. Make leaf-shaped pattern from the cardboard.
  2. Cut leaf-shaped pieces of felted wool. For this 15″ wreath I used 72 leaves cut from:
    • Two sleeves of the dark green sweater,
    • One sleeve from the multicolored sweater,
    • Half a sleeve from the white sweater, and
    • The grey-green back of the argyle vest.
  3. With the wire cutters, cut 5″ pieces of floral wire.
  4. Stack bunches of leaves using color combinations you like.
  5. Thread a floral wire piece through the bunch once leaf at a time, about one-half inch from the leaf tips.
  6. Fan out the leaves to your liking, then with needle-nosed pliers, twist the wire tightly underneath your leaf fan.
  7. Wrap the remaining wire tightly around a crosspiece of your wreath frame to secure the bunch to the frame.
  8. In the photos you’ll see that I wired groups of three and four leaves. Later I decided the best looking arrangement of the leaves was as flowers, a “Sweater Poinsettia!” I could have saved time by wiring the full nine-petaled flower at once.
  9. Finish attaching all the flowers to crosspieces. My wreath has six flowers.
  10. Fill in and cover the remaining exposed frame with wired trios of leaves. Wire the trios in between adjoining flowers and tuck the leaves under the flower petals.

Felted Flower

That’s it! You’re done. I’m thrilled with the idea of a Sweater Poinsettia Wreath and I can imagine it in other beautiful jewel tones. Red wool sweaters will be flying out of closets and thrift stores.

Recycled Sweater Wreath on Front Door

 

What kinds of wreaths do you make or buy for your holiday décor?

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4 Comments for “Recycled Sweater Wreath”

I’m inspired, threw a couple of sweaters in the washer today. On purpose.

I absolutely LOVE your sweater wreath.
Beautiful work….very well done and very inspirational!!!
keep dreaming….keep designing!

Thanks so much, Brenda. Dreaming and designing as we speak…hope you are too!!

-Kathy

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