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Repurposing Cashmere Sweaters

My current project is to create a couple of throw size blankets out of a HUGE stack of cashmere sweaters that belonged to a customer’s beloved family member who passed away.  The sweaters are all solids.  Fortunately, there is a great range of colors, along with a variety of different textures.  There are also a couple of fun details like kangaroo pockets that I will incorporate into the finished design.

Pinterest was a great place start for design ideas.  As much as I loved the larger square designs, the sweaters I started with were small and medium size women’s sweaters which shrank to about 60% of their original size after felting. My design is random placement of 6-1/2″ squares in a 9×10 grid with a few 4 patches thrown in for interest.  I am going to need at least 180 6-1/2″ squares for the size I am trying to make.  I plan to use every last bit of cashmere possible. Haven’t quite figured out the backing fabrics yet, but it will probably be a cotton/bamboo velour or flannel.  I ordered some velour fabric samples and will be able to make an informed decision once I “feel” the samples.

Sewing those little squares is going to be interesting with all of the variations in thickness of the cashmere. After much experimentation, I opted to stitch the cashmere squares on my Janome 3160QDC using a zig zag stitch set for 1.5 width x 1.5 length, a stretch needle, walking foot and foot pressure set on #3. I am also using So Fine thread to sew it all together. I will use 1/4″ seams and press the seams flat where I can (some of the cabled seams can’t be pressed flat). As much as I love my Janome 6600 for quilting, it doesn’t do so well on lightweight and knit fabrics.  I normally pull out my vintage Elna Carina for that type of sewing (the old mechanical Swiss Berninas and Elnas are legendary for their ability to handle fine/delicate fabrics). With the 3160QDC, I won’t have to!

***Backing update – the velour samples have shipped, but I scored a luscious silky cotton wide back during a going out of business sale at a LQS this afternoon.  It looks marvelous with the color palette.  We might go with this one.