‘Baby it’s cold outside!’ (here in Canada) Keep those fingers warm in these super pretty Wool Eco Printed mittens. Adding some Free-Motion Embroidery makes these the most unique! No new materials were used in the making of these super cozy lined mitts.
Oh those Wonderful Virgin wool blankets!
I hate to see all those retired Virgin wool blankets end up in the landfill! They are still great even if they are felted from the washing machine, they will still make nice thick dense wool fabric for mittens! (amongst other things) Did you know that you can dye wool? There are many ways to dye wool, natural dyes like Logwood, Black Walnut, Indigo, Cochineal, & Madder. My favourite though is to use nature’s leaves to Eco Print on wool.
Eco printing Wool Magic:
The great thing about real 100% wool is that it does print amazingly! Here you can see the reliable silver maple leaves, onion skins and Weigela leaves. Check here to see how easy it is to print on wool. I have made so many things from printed wool!
As the wool takes the prints very well it also becomes more flat and therefore more dense. It becomes quite felted through the process of washing and drying. Shocking the wool fibres with temperature changes & agitation makes the fibres tangle together; making it more dense to let less moisture through.
Add some Embroidery Embellishment!
FME! What the heck is that?! It is Free Motion Embroidery! Using a specific presser foot for the sewing machine (each machine may have slightly different) and settings that allow you to slide the fabric around as you guide the fabric to make free-motion designs. It isn’t as difficult as you think. It’s actually so much fun, sort of like driving. I have seen FME done on all kinds and ages of sewing machines, each of my ‘fleet’ machines does it as well. If the print is a bit soft due to the nature of wool fibres you can add that extra outline element to define the edges.
You don’t have be too careful, it should look a bit loose and imperfect to show that handmade element. The leaf shapes are not perfect so it’s fun to just ‘zoom’ around almost like an endless line doodling.
The pattern may need to be adjusted for size depending on your choice of lining fabric and thickness of the wool. I often add a bit of seam allowance until I can try one on. You can always cut off but not add!
For these mittens I added up-cycled leather from some old jackets and pants for the palm side. There is so much valuable and beautiful leather to be had in old apparel if you just look!
Since the wool was folded when printing I was able to ‘bookend’ the prints to have matching mittens, but I think random prints are also great.
The outer shape is where you need most of the warmth as we usual curl our hands.
A Simple Sewing project:
Since the lining is slightly larger I just sew a bit bigger seam allowance. My favourite lining is micro-fleece sheeting as it is thin and stretches in both width and length. Many fleeces are said to be made of plastic water bottles. The lush suede palm was a pair of leather pants, subtle and strong. The inner hand has a thumb, inside thumb and palm. See video instructions here. It is a pretty simple sewing project and all seams are hidden when done, yay!
Take the time to steam press after turning the wool right side out. It makes such a nice finish.
The cuff is also up-cycled sweater knits that have enough stretch. I found that is a very simple and effective way to finish the mitten. It also makes for pulling it on quite easy. The ‘Bernie Mitts’ also use this easy cuff method.
See here for the cuff attachment if needed.
Once you have sewn the lining together and slipped it inside the outer, the cuff finished and attaches the 2 layers. Fold the cuff over and add a button of some type to keep it place.
Make some ‘Buttons’
I have a million buttons… but deciding usually takes so long. Soooo, I made some unique shapes to match. I look at every scrap of fabric and wonder what it can become?! These double layer free-motion leaves are cut AFTER sewing! That’s the real trick to sewing a small shape!
Rustic coconut buttons also work great with the colours on these wool eco prints.
Check out those old sweaters headed for thrift shop donation. Even some tights, knit hats & socks will work. I found everything in my house… (and those who know me aren’t surprised!)
This print is so lovely that I left it as is! Eco Printing on wool has been an obsession lately, and I’m not done yet!
Do you want a pair? They are up in my shop! These will probably be the only ones this year! And they are always ‘one-of-a-kind’!
I walk my dog in the cold and prefer a mitten that does not have excessive bulk so my hands can still function. These give enough warmth from the wool and the thin leather palm/thumb give me dexterity.
Every time you’d look at your hands you will marvel at how amazing nature’s gifts are! How blessed we are to be able to create artisan beauty from nature’s bounty. We need that positive feeling right now; warmth in many ways! Enjoy!
If you want more mittens check out ‘Bernie’ style Up-Cycled Mittens!
If you are new to eco printing there’s a whole lot to see and learn!