The felted wool project, stage 2

Or should I call this post reclaiming blazers, the do’s and don’ts ?    Yesterday I posted that I had found some wool blazers to reclaim the material in for wool applique for my 1847 Bride’s Quilt.  And even posted a picture of where I was at in the reclamation.  Last night I finished tearing apart deconstructing the wool blazers and got the last of them started on the washing machine felting process.  I ended up with way more reds than I’ll use for a long time to come, and only a bit of blue and green.

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The green was a very loosely woven wool and will need at least one, if not two more washes before it will be in useable condition.  The blue only needs one more wash.
While I ended up with a LOT of reds and pinks from the blazers I had (6 in total ranging from size 6 to size 16), and while it’s more red than I can use for quite a while, it’s overwhelming to me to look at.  It’s that whole visual overload thing, when something is that messy and disorganized my mind goes into a frantic “what, where, how” mode and ends up being very paralyzing.  I am much better with a stack of wool like this to work from:


All of these, with the exception of the charcoal piece at the bottom are 9×12 pieces.  They all came from Vickie at Annie’s Keepsakes at a reasonable price and I’ve collected them a few at a time over the years with no concerns about major storage being required.


So while I’ve done the reclaimed wool project, I don’t think I’ll be traveling that road again given the time involved in the process and the overwhelming pile of bits and pieces that I now have to determine how to store in an orderly manner.


Although it may be less expensive (on the surface) to reclaim blazers, once I factor in time, electricity cost for processing and storage space  the best decision for me will be to continue to purchase from a vendor whose product I love for my wool applique quilts.


As for the don’ts of the project, well……   If you have dogs (specifically young dogs or pups), don’t let any pieces fall to the floor as you work unless you want to play a game of chase the puppy.   And have your broom very close by the washer and dryer to repeatedly sweep the floor as you transfer each load of wool from the washer to the dryer.  Oh and you may want to have an extra bag near the dryer for the lint that will come off the filter (and out of everywhere) as you remove the wool from the dryer.


As for the do’s of the project.  DO have a sharp pair of dressmaker shears as well as  a sharp pair of small pointed tipped snip scissors handy.  DO take the blazer apart at the major seams first so you’re working in only pieces. I found it easiest to take the dressmaker shears right along the seam to separate the pieces.  DO just cut away the hemmed or top-stitched edges (removing those stitches is insane and won’t result in that much more wool.  Think hard about how small of a piece you want to reclaim, the collars from the blazers ended up small enough to cut 3 or 4 one inch wool circles from, but not much more and took a lot of time to open the seams from.


And if you happen to get a blazer that is lined with fusible interfacing my recommendation is to just give up on the ones that the interfacing doesn’t come off easily in.  I spent over an hour on one blazer removing the interfacing in bits and pieces.  While that doesn’t seem like a big deal, I can hear people already saying “tv time”, for my life and my schedule that’s an hour that could have been spent much more productively.  And the next one that had that situation went to the garbage bin instead of fussing with it.  Most of the interfacing (and you will find it in there under the lining) came away nicely, so I decided not to mess with the ones that were stuck clinging for their life and coming away in 1″ or less bits.


That’s my take on reclaiming wool from blazers, I’d love to hear about your experiments with it.  And in the meantime, I’m off to contact Vickie with the list of greens I will need to work on my quilt.


October 1, a new month, a new project!

Well, it’s October 1, 2013 and while there are many topics I could comment on today, most of which would raise my normally low blood pressure to a steaming level, I think I’ll talk about my troubles tendency to suffer revel in startitis.

On the other hand, that has probably been well documentated and demonstrated, so let’s just get to the new project!  A while back I saw a quilt that I fell in LOVE (yes, in caps) with.  But every option I explored to make it was out of my price range.  The quilt is the 1847 Bride’s Quilt.  Have you seen it yet?  It’s a wool applique quilt with a very symmetrical layout, black background with medium bright wool applique and an interesting corner applique treatment.  Here’s a pic I grabbed off the web if you haven’t seen it yet:


But, as I  mentioned, I couldn’t afford the price tag on the options I was finding.  Thanks to a good friend, who is also a superb enabler, I was able to find an outlet for the patterns without purchasing all the fabrics to go with.  A great step in the right direction.  And while I have a small (but ever growing) stash of wool felt that I’ve purchased over the years from Annie’s Keepsakes I didn’t have enough to make the quilt.  And I wanted to try out this idea of reclaiming wool garments for wool felt or felted wool.

My first stop was to the second hand shops where I’ve collected a bag of used wool blazers:


Removing each blazer, I started by taking off any buttons that were on them:


Then cutting out the lining and cutting the seams apart so I had a basket of blazer parts:


At this point I realized, while taking them apart, that this was going to be a bit more work than I anticipated as most of them had fusible interfacing applied to the fabric.  So I set myself to ripping off the fusible interfacing as best I could, leaving me with a basket of miscellaneous lining, unusable parts and interfacing bits:


And while I’m not totally through the bag yet, I have most of the red toned blazers into what I hope are feltable pieces now:

I’ll continue this project a little bit at night until I have all the blazers hopefully felted.  And if it doesn’t work (that fusible interfacing has me concerned), I’ll break down and purchase more of the felt I need to make this quilt.

This won’t be a short-term project, it will be a long term handwork project that I can take with me to my sewing bee or when I need to sit and wait somewhere (like the car wash or the Dr’s office) and I need a different project than knitting.  My theory is that with the arthritis in my hands I need several different handwork projects to work on so my hands aren’t always stressed with just one motion.  (hey, that’s my theory excuse!).  And while I’m at it, I believe it may be time to implement a sidebar with projects in progress on it for easy tracking of exactly what I’m working on.  Perhaps that will cure my tendency to startitis……then again I seriously doubt there is a cure.  😉