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With the chill in the air I’m back at one of my obsessions again; Mitten making mania! Perhaps it’s that quest for the perfect combination of fit, warmth and function that sends me making and perfecting each year. One can’t have enough mittens can they?! Our precious hands do so many things that may require various types of protection. I have taken my ‘making’ to natural fibres this year so I’m in love with wool….

I have been collecting those old thick woollen blankets. They were once the cherished staple of each household and lasted for decades. It is sad to see such wonderful pieces end up in the landfill due to being replaced with those darn cheap ‘comforters’. Here’s one way to make great use of them.

I recently visited the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair where I met this charming fellow. He was ‘telling’ me the great virtues of wool. I had no idea how strong it is; each fibre can bend back on itself over 20,000 times. It has the ability to absorb moisture to up to 30% of it’s own weight but resists building up bacteria since it releases it back into the air. The crimped nature of the fibres makes it able to return to it’s shape after wearing. It is biodegradable and each sheep makes a new fleece each year.

Felted Wool Blankets or Sweaters

The other reason they are so great is that they are probably already ‘felted’. Felting happens when the wool is washed and is somehow ‘shocked’ by different temperatures of water. This makes the fibres mesh strongly with each other somewhat like those dreadlocks seen in hair. You can tell if something is felted by checking to see if the individual strands of wool are now all ‘fuzzed’ together so that they are indistinguishable.

Why is that so great? Well it now makes it super dense and thick. It also makes the edges NOT unravel when you cut it. Being a sewer I love it when I don’t need to always ‘finish’ the edges of the fabric that I’m using.

The Free Mitten Pattern

It’s a good idea to wash the wool before using if it is vintage or stored for a long time. Make sure it is perfectly dry as well.

As a bonus I have drafted out a pattern for you. It is sized for about a medium large ladies hand. Download the free pattern (2 page PDF file) and print it out (make sure that your printer does not shrink the pages to print). Perhaps make a test mitt for sizing purposes.

 

 

When laying out the pattern, it gives more stretch of it is cut on the bias (meaning at a 45 degree angle). Pin and cut or trace with a marker.

The unique method I used was partially seams on the inside and outside. (you can however use the pattern either way)

Step #1

Sew the inside thumb to the inside hand matching the dots. This seam will be on the inside as it is more comfortable that way.

Step #2

Clip at the dots to the stitching. This will allow the fabric to change to exterior seams for the rest of the mitten.

Note the clipped sections after seams

Step #3

Bend the inside thumb up and match ends to sew around the thumb and mid seam. The thumb is slightly shorter on the inside to allow better bending towards hand. Ease to fit edges together.

Step #4 (optional)

If you want some elastic at the wrist, then you can at this point sew some elastic along the wrist (test for you length) to the inside piece. I find that a snug fit is just as good…

Step #5

Easing the outside to match the length with the inside (slight difference in length for comfort of bending the hand) and sew around the outside. The seam allowance can be adjusted for slight size variation.

After sewing at the seam allowance (about 1/4″) it is easier to then cut to a small even edge.

Good job making your first mitten! Note the inside seam of the thumb is towards the inside. You could have all the seams inside if you prefer, you will then feel them with your fingers though.

Step #6 Embellishments

Since these will definitely look handmade why not embellish them even more. A simple blanket stitch around the outside with a winter white wool yarn is perfect. I can imagine these with additional crocheted stitches at the wrist as well, or add some crewel stitching to the outside of the hand.

But don’t stop there! Make more mittens of all kinds… Reuse those old leather coats as they can be sewn nicely with a home sewing machine. In that case you may use the pattern with a slightly bigger seam allowance to make a liner as well.

Endless possibilities!

I marbled some wool blankets to make some interesting colours.

Virgin wool blankets come in all colours and can also be dyed or eco-printed.

In past years I made liners that were made of a short faux fur and then they were washable since being a separate piece.

Add some trim, a simple threaded way to tie it and add a poof of faux pom to the ends.

These are the warmest ever! Sometimes almost too warm!

In my stockpile I have some vintage furs from my milliner mother so I could not resist a mink pair. I bet that mink is almost as old as I am.

To adjust the size for a man you can either print at a larger scale or add length by splicing in additional length. Mittens are quite easy to adjust for size.

For the stretchy ribbing I used some tights as they will hold their elasticity perfectly. Black suede and faux mink… I can’t decide which I like best!

If you are scrambling to find gifts on a budget these are a great idea as they can also be handstitched. You may have all you need in the back of the closet already as who really wears those leather skirts anyways?! Handmade gifts warm the heart…

…and warm the hands!

 

barbmaker

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 25 Comments
  1. What beautiful mittens!! You are one talented lady, all you do is simply top notch. You have inspired me to make ‘mini’ mittens just for looks to add to my Christmas tree!! I’m going to get started right now! lol

    1. Oh that sounds darling! The blanket stitch would look great on them too! The hardest part I find is deciding what stuff I;m going to use and staying on one track… I need more hours in the day!

  2. These look wonderfully warm. Thanks for the pattern Not sure if they’ll be ready for this Christmas though. Many thanks for your artistry and generosity.
    Susan in Canada

    1. Everything you do is beautiful and inspiring!!! Knitting for the homeless in Philadelphia,Pa..these would be great!! Thanks for the idea!!

  3. Merry Christmas Barb! I am so looking forward to making several pair.
    FYI… You motivate me & for that I am grateful our paths crossed!
    Thank you for sharing your creative mind with us!

    1. I am so glad! There’s something nice about being able to cozy on the sofa and finish some handmade mittens while the snow is coming down outside… Speaking from just having shovelled about 8″ !!

  4. Great mittens thank you for sharing. One question please. Are these the same pattern as the leather ones pictured at the bottom of your post only made inside out?

    1. Yes, pretty well the same pattern. I like to have a ‘cup shape’ to my mittens so I ‘ease’ the inside shorter than the outside, so it will depend on how much you can stretch the fabric to ease together. The leather are the same pattern with inside seams. The wool have some inside and some outside seams. I usually do a test mitten as each fabric, leather is somewhat different when working with it. Good luck!

    1. Depending on the thickness of the fabric the lining can be cut similarly to the outside with more seam allowance. There are so many possibilities of combinations! It’s a great little project with such easy ways to try on…

  5. I cannot say enough how much I LOVE this pattern! So many options for different details! My first pair, I used a faux leather palm and thumb with a cuddle herringbone on the back with a soft shirting flannel lining cut on the bias, and fleece interfacing for interlining! I also added a wristband in cotton lycra french terry! So beautiful and comfortable!

    1. Thanks for looking. Not always, as it depends much on the wool/fabric. I like to have the wool pretty felted (most come that way since people wash them) Yes, the wool may change shape but that is usually a good thing since then it molds to the hands better. Happy making!

  6. I cannot download the mitten pattern. It won’t open. Is that something I’m doing wrong? I have yet to see a photo of your completed mittens. I’m very interested in using leather and wool in the mittens. Do you line your mittens? If yes, with what? I don’t care for fleece as it makes my hands sweat then get cold. Thank you for your post!

    1. Oh dear! I think some devices don’t know how to download. The full post is here. I do line my mittens sometimes if I use the up-cycled leather, I like to use a micro fleece, but you can use what ever you like, maybe even a sewater or t-shirt fabric. I made some lux ones with fur lining but you need to adjust for bulkiness. I’ll send pattern

    1. Yes, that would be the most logical but it’s not a rule as sizing can also allow some stretch as well as having some ribbing at the cuff. Sometimes I try to use every scrap so they end up in different directions. If they can’t ‘ease’ together I do as best as I can and adjust by cutting any excess off after. All hands are different so I do a test one and them work from there… (as all fabrics have different stretch and bulkiness)

  7. Hi Barb,
    Thank you for sharing your talent; Impressive!.
    A few years ago I bought a pair of sweater mittens at a local Farmer’s Market which turned out to be my favorite mittens of all time. I wore them so much I wore a whole in the palm. I decided to investigate on how to make the mittens myself and am proud to say I made over 30 pair of felted wool mittens to give as gifts for friends and family this Christmas. Everyone loved them.
    Recently very dear friends of mine gave their father’s wool Army blanket and requested I use it to make mittens. Yikes… I am afraid to cut it up but they are insisting. I would like to make a pair of warm chopper style mittens using the wool, cream color Army blanket and leather for the father’s adult son and adult grandson. I have no experience sewing leather, and zero creative ideas on how to incorporate both. If you have any thoughts or ideas to share I will be forever grateful!
    Happy 2019
    Terry j

    1. I understand, I have a collection of pure virgin wool blankets. The wool sews nicely but the leather can be a bit picky. The problem is often that it tends not to like to slide under the presser foot. There are feet that roll and also putting tape under the foot helps. Make sure stitches are long to prevent ripping through. The key is to test with scraps. Some of the coat weight will sew pretty well and work well if the seams are not seen. I have also put powder to help the ‘slide’ but it can get into the machine. Good luck

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