February 07, 2013

"Wear Your Sleeve on Your Heart" {DIY Guest Post}

Hello Petit Cadeau readers! 

My name is Melissa Q. and I blog over at a happy stitch.  I am truly pickled that Alison asked me to stop in for a visit today, and especially thrilled to share a handmade gift idea for my favorite holiday, Valentine's Day! I find that once the expectations of Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years are all packed up and put away, I am ready to embrace a low-key holiday like Valentines Day. 

Sweet, little surprises are my favourite, especially alongside a nice brunch. That is the idea with my super-easy felted heart pillows...tuck in a little bite of chocolate or a love note and just like that, the day is off to a good start!

Felted Heart Pillow


(+) old wool sweaters for felting (or purchase wool felt)
(+) paper (for your pattern)
(+) sewing machine (or needle + thread if you want to try hand sewing)
(+) poly-fill or felt scraps for stuffing your pillow
(+) optional: embellishments (like buttons) 

I started this project by 'felting' two old wool sweaters. Felting is great because it thickens the wool and stops it from fraying, making it possible to use for sewing without worry about the seams. I happened to have a few sweaters in my closet with ever-growing holes in them, so I used those.  You might be able to find some at a thrift store, or by hunting around in a family member's closet. Just look for sweaters (or even blankets) that are 100% wool, a mix of yarns won't felt as well.

To felt the sweaters:

(+) Cut the sweaters along all their seams and wash and dry them on a hot setting. Repeat if necessary.

(+) My sweaters felted after washing and drying twice. You can see below how different it looks after felting:



Once your wool is felted, you are ready to make your pattern. Pattern is sort of a misnomer actually, because this part is embarrassingly easy.

(+) Fold a piece of paper in half and cut half a heart along the fold at the size you want.     Now open it up...yup, just like elementary school. Adjust it until you like how it looks. What a heart!

Now it is time to pull it all together and sew!

(+)  Decide which sweater you want as the "main heart" and which sweater as the "pocket". Cut a piece of the pocket fabric large enough to sit across the entire bottom half of your heart pattern.

(+)  Lay down three pieces of felted wool: 

1 piece for the back of the pillow, 

1 piece for the front of the pillow and 
1 pocket piece. 

Place your pattern over the top of all 3 pieces, situated so that the pocket piece is located at the bottom half of the heart (where it will form a pocket once it is sewn).

(+) Pin the heart pattern in place.

(+) Sew, keeping the pattern pinned onto the wool leaving a 2 inch opening on one side. Just be sure to pull out the pins as you sew along (sewing over your pins will dull your needle and make for frustrating sewing!)

(+) Using sharp scissors, cut along outside the stitches you have just made, leaving 3/8 of an inch (or so) of raw edge.

(+) Stuff the pillow with poly-fill (or even shredded bits of the felted wool) until it is sufficiently fluffed. 
 Note: If you are using poly-fill the best way to keep it from getting lumpy is to break apart the poly-fill as you stuff it in, clumps should be no bigger than a cotton ball.

(+) Last, sew shut the 2 inch opening. This final stitch can be a little tricky, especially if your heart is really "stuffed". 

The best thing to do is to push the filling away from the 2 inch opening you are trying to sew shut as much as you can. And, just do the best you can. Remember stitches aren't very visible when sewn on wool! 

There you have it...a fantastic, stuffed heart! You sappy old dog.

I embellished mine with another little heart made of felted wool which I simply sewed into place by hand. It was just for fun. You could leave it without embellishment, or go nuts with buttons, or even embroider a name! Whatever extra you want.  Less is more, and more is more, you know?

 Melissa answers a few questions from Alison!

I'm no machine sewing expert.....is it difficult to sew wool? 

Good question. Felted wool is pretty easy to sew, it's a little bulky but very forgiving. As I mentioned, you can't really see your stitches very well after your sew, so it isn't as if you notice if they go a little off-track. One tip: use a heavier-fabric needle such as a shmetz #80.

I'm clumsy with sissors and have been known to get a little too scissor happy when cutting the tags from my daughter's clothing, leaving small holes behind - oops! Any tips for cutting around the the sewn heart? 

Oh dear. Yes, I have that problem, too! My tip is to cut twice, actually. The first time you cut around the heart, leave a little extra room and then, when everything is sewn together in the final step you can go back and trim the edges again. 
Just be careful. Use tiny sharp scissors if you need to (definitely use fabric scissors). 

Any suggestions for good sources of felted wool or other fun materials/fabrics that could be used? 

I do recommend checking out your closet because you never know what you will find. If that doesn't yield good results, thrift stores are a great source. 

At the end of the day, just about anything could be used, really, because even regular old cotton or flannel could be fun if you don't mind the look of an unravelling edge, which I think can look fun when it is done right.

a happy stitch is the blogging home of Melissa Q., a Minnesota native transplanted to the suburbs of New Jersey, where she lives with her Irish husband and two wild, nature-loving boys. In addition to her life as a sewing instructor, handmade ware-hawker and crafting enthusiast she is an honest to goodness sentimentalist dedicated to finding new ways to use and refresh old fabrics.

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