crafts, sewing, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: funky felted basket

FIRST, AN ALERT. (Not an "ALERT: Jackspeak." Although I'm sure he'll be alerting me about something any moment now.)

Today you can head over to the incredibly inspiring sewing site, BurdaStyle, for their "Project of the Week." This week, it's from ReSew!

Alison Dahl Kelly, Editor/Creative Director at BurdaStyle (and a competitor on season three of Project Runway), chose the "Sugar Stripes Dress" to feature from the book. The sewing community at BurdaStyle is helpful, encouraging, and jaw-drop-on-floor talented. I am so thrilled to be a part of BurdaStyle this week! I hope you'll head on over for a look, plus the chance to win a copy of ReSew.


Okay, onto today's post!

If you missed it at Crafting a Green World, here's my way of making felted baskets out of thrifted wool sweaters. You can make them in any size, from big and fat to tall and skinny; just change the size of the rectangles and squares. I love the idea of making them for gifts, and then filling them up with little treasures like jewelry, small sewing supplies, gift cards, a stash of pens or pencils… stuff like that. Candy works too. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Lindt Mint Lindor Truffle Balls fit very nicely. Just in case anyone wants to make a basket for me.

The basket requires just a few basic sewing tools, and it's a hand-sew only project. Timid about hand-sewing? Don't be! You can be as beginner-ish as you wish–your stitches will disappear right into that plush felted wool.

C'mon, let me show you how to make it!

funky felted basket tutorial

This little basket was made from the leftover scraps of two wool sweaters I just couldn’t throw out. I opted for a solid color on the inside of this basket and a colorful stripe on the outside, but you can choose whatever color combinations you like. You can also make the basket from just one sweater, with the same fabric on the inside and the outside of the basket.

Here are “before” photos of the sweaters I used:

To make the basket, here’s what you’ll need:

Two 100% wool sweaters (or just one); scissors or rotary-cutting equipment; a ruler, measuring tape, or rotary ruler; long pins; thick thread or thin yarn to coordinate with your sweaters (I used perle cotton thread); a large-eye needle; sewing thread to coordinate with your sweaters; a piece of corrugated cardboard, about 9" x 9"; and buttons (optional).

Note: Your wool sweaters need to be “felted” so they won’t fray when cut. To felt a sweater, simply machine wash and dry it, using cycles you would normally use. You may need to wash your sweater more than once for it to fully felt; when you can’t see the stitches in the sweater any longer, you’ll know it’s felted enough to cut into it without any unraveling.

From each of the sweaters, cut 1 square, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"; and 4 rectangles, 3 1/2" x 7". Determine which sweater fabric you would like to show on the outside of the basket and which sweater fabric you would like to show on the inside.

Lay one of the outside and one of the inside 3 1/2" x 7" rectangles wrong sides together. Lay the two 3 1/2" squares wrong sides together. Place the square layers on top of the rectangle layers, making sure the pieces that show on the outside of the basket are facing out. Align the edges of the squares with the short sides of the rectangles; pin.

Knot a long double strand of perle cotton onto the large-eye needle; hide the knot in between the layers. Starting 1/4" from a corner, hand sew the four layers together using a running stitch 1/4" from the edge. Make stitches about 1/4" in length and about 1/4" apart. Leave the needle and thread in place; do not knot or cut.

Lift the square layers away from the rectangles. Place another set of two rectangles on the square side adjacent to the side you just sewed; make sure the rectangle you want to show on the outside is facing out.

Align the square edges with the short sides of the rectangles; pin. Following the same sewing directions above, sew the four layers together.

Repeat the same sewing steps on the other two sides of the square. Your basket should now have four sides (above are photos showing the inside (red) and the outside (stripe) of the basket.)

Using the same sewing technique described above, pin and sew the four sides of the basket, starting at the bottom of the basket and continuing to the top.

When you reach the top of each side, tie off and bury the thread knot in between the sweater-fabric layers.

From the cardboard, cut 1 square, 2 3/4" x 2 3/4", and 4 rectangles, 2 3/4" x 5 3/4".

Slide a cardboard rectangle in between the sweater layers on one long side of the basket; repeat for the other three sides. (If your cardboard rectangles are too wide to insert, cut a little strip away from one long edge of the cardboard until the piece fits snugly in between the sweater layers.) Push the cardboard down firmly, until it fits tightly in each bottom corner. Place the cardboard square inside the bottom of the basket; push the corners of the cardboard securely into the corners.

Using doubled sewing thread and a whipstitch, sew the tops of the sweater rectangles closed, enclosing the cardboard in between the sweater layers.

TIP: Hand-sewing wool with regular thread can be a little tricky; the tiny knot will likely slip right through the wool. Follow these steps for securing your stitches:

1. Thread your needle; then knot the two ends of the thread together to form a loop.

2. To start a line of stitching, guide the needle through the sweater fabric where you want to begin. Hide the knot in between layers or along the inside edge. Before you pull the knot tightly against the sweater (and it pops right out the other side of the sweater fabric!), thread the needle through the loop of the doubled thread. This will hold the thread in place so you can begin your line of stitching.

3. To end a line of stitching, tie a large knot in an inconspicuous place; then take 3-5 tiny stitches over the knot and cut the thread close to the sweater fabric.

Okay, let’s finish this basket!

I found these cute vintage buttons at yard sale.

You can add buttons wherever you like, or not at all. I liked these buttons off to the side of this basket. When you’ve decided where to place your buttons, tip the basket on its side and sew them onto the basket using your regular sewing thread (see “TIP” above for securing your stitches on wool). You won’t be able to knot your thread on the inside of the basket—your needle will hit the cardboard!—so I hid my thread knots underneath my buttons.

I added buttons to the centers of each side on this basket (my trial and error basket).

You can vary the sizes of your squares and rectangles to make your basket taller, shorter, wider, or skinnier. Once you’re done, go find something to put in your pretty wool basket and display it for all to see!

Hope you enjoyed it; thanks for stopping by. Cheers, crafties!


The ReSew blog tour, day five: everyone flock to Crafty Nest!


Welcome to day five of the



Today the ReSew tour is dropping by Crafty Nest, built by a woman with a sharp eye for style and a passion for doing chic on the cheap. I first found Monica's site when Jack and I made these fabulously huge snowflakes two Christmases ago, and I've followed her ever since.

Monica's had an impressive work history as a graphic designer for O, The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and Sunset. Just head over to her tutorial page and you'll see why she's a favorite to follow. Plus, she loves to upcycle! I got a kick out of what she says about upcycling on her blog:

"I attempt to keep my projects as easy as possible for people like me who don’t have a lot of time to kill. However, they invariably end up being more difficult than I plan."

Monica, I couldn't have said it better myself.

Head on over to Crafty Nest today for a Q & A with Monica and me, and enter to win a copy of ReSew while you're there!


The ReSew blog tour, day four: CraftGossip!

Welcome to day four of the



Today we're heading over to a crafty girl's dreamland; a seemingly endless virtual library of projects, patterns, techniques, ideas, and inspirations for nearly every craft under the sun. Everyone's gossiping about it. It's CraftGossip!

Craft Gossip
Just about anyone who's crafty knows about CraftGossip–one of the best places on the internet to visit when you need a jolt of inspiration. Anne, the curator of the sewing section of CraftGossip, is a friendly, funny woman who brings the freshest ideas in creativity to her site every day. Today Anne's reviewing ReSew and hosting a giveaway of the book too! Head over here to check it all out.

On Friday, the ReSew tour is dropping by Crafty Nest, built by a woman with a sharp eye for style and a passion for doing chic on the cheap. I first found Monica's site when Jack and I made these fabulously huge snowflakes last Christmas, and I've followed her ever since. Hope you'll join us!


the ReSew blog tour, day three: meet Amy, and her very creative side

Welcome to day three of the




If you are a quilter–or if you've ever wanted to be–you will love the view over at:


I think I'd like to dub the woman behind Amy's Creative Side with a new name–Amy-zing! Her blog shot into much-deserved fame from the get-go; she has her own beautiful quilt book out, called Modern Basics; and she and a friend have singlehandedly created the Sewing Summit, a sewing and blogging conference for the modern sewist, to be held this October in Salt Lake City. Whew! (When I think about the Sewing Summit I get so excited I almost pee my pants. Seriously.)

Head on over to Amy's place to get her take on ReSew, see some interior shots from the book, and enter to win a free copy of the book too! And while you're there, don't miss the chance to check out this prolific quilt designer's work. She is a powerhouse of ideas for gorgeous, streamlined, modern style. I wanna drape my house with her quilts, inside and out. My grass and trees, too.


The ReSew blog tour, day two: “POST” PONED :(

Welcome to day two of the


Today I was so thrilled to pile you into my cybercar and cyberdrive you over to the "mommyhood" to meet Shannon, the heart and soul behind Luv in the Mommyhood. Crafty? Check. Inspiring? Check. Addicted to Pyrex? Check! Along with her great tutorials, Shannon has a "weekend wishes" series that will keep you coming back every week.

I don't think I've ever found a more kind and thoughtful person through the internet as I have found in Shannon. Not ever. So that's why I was really, really mad at the Kaysville Utah Post Office (84037) when I found out that Shannon still had not received her copies of ReSew as of yesterday. (Cripes! I guess Canada is farther away than I thought.) Shannon offered to go ahead and post our interview without the book in hand, but I really wanted her to see it first. So, we decided to postpone the post. Because of the post office. Lotta posts, I know.

And then, she went and did this.

And that clearly proves why Shannon is the most kind and thoughtful person I've ever met through the internet.

And because I consider her a friend, I can now say this to her: You stinker! You are the best. Thank you.

We'll reschedule the ReSew interview with Shannon when she finally gets her books (which, really, should be super soon!). Until then, I hope you'll head on over to the 'hood and check out all the fun to be had. This girl's the real deal.

LITM park bench
And she's saved a seat just for you.

Tomorrow we're off to Park City, Utah to visit the "amy-zing" Amy Ellis, the creative force behind Amy's Creative Side. Hope you'll join us!

(And if you missed yesterday's kick off of the blog tour over at Sew, Mama, Sew!, you can check it out here. The giveaway is closed but there's a free pdf of a project from ReSew just for you. Hope you enjoy it!)