Ever shrink a wool sweater in the wash? What do you do with it after? Give it to a really tiny friend? Well, I guess you could, but let’s be realistic, it would probably be really ill fitting – so let’s save a tiny friend from a fashion faux pas and do something else cool with that sweater. I’m going to show you a really simple way to make a re-usable coffee sleeve from an old sweater that will incite 'oohs' and 'aahs' from your local barista and coffee-drinking cohorts.
When wool is washed in hot water and dried, it becomes “felted”. Felted wool has some really great characteristics- it’s dense, insulating, and my personal favourite, it doesn’t fray when you cut it! So that means crafting with felt is generally non-fussy.
• shrunken wool sweater
• paper coffee sleeve
• 1 piece of paper
• Something to decorate your sleeve (buttons, trim, felt)
First, you’ll need a shrunken wool sweater. If you haven’t already ruined your favourite sweater in the wash, you can take an 80-100% wool sweater, stick it in the wash on hot and machine dry. The sweater I’m using as an example was purchased at a thrift store.
Step 1 – make a pattern for your sleeve. I’ve used a paper sleeve I got with my coffee and traced it onto paper and then cut it out.
Step 2 – pin the cut out pattern to your sweater and cut along the edge. It might not come out very straight but that’s OK – you can trim it afterwards.
Step 3 – if you want to decorate your sleeve, do it now! I’m a big fan of buttons, so that’s an easy way to snazzy it up.
Step 4 – figure out how you want to connect the two ends together. Again, I love buttons! This was so simple, I pinned my sleeve together so that the ends overlapped, then I sewed the buttons on through both layers. Make sure that you’ve made it the proper size- if your felt is a bit stretchy you might want to make the sleeve smaller.
There you have it – an eco-friendly, re-usable sleeve that you can just pop in your purse and protect your hands from your hot cup, but keep them warm in winter.
So what are you going to do with the rest of the sweater? Why not make some coffee sleeves for your friends as a sweet gift? Or save the rest of the material for another great project like a stuffed toy, a bag, or a pair of fingerless gloves – the possibilities are endless!
Note: for those who are in a hurry, you could even just cut the cuff of the sweater sleeve and use that around your coffee cup! And of course, you don’t have to use a sweater to make one of these puppies, go ahead and re-use any type of material you have around the house (a lovely dinner napkin with a stain in the corner for example).
Smeeta, aka Rita Leung is an avid crafter based in Vancouver. She loves to find creative inspiration from around the world and of course from the West Coast. You can find her goods at smeeta.etsy.com.