How to make a wine cooler from an old sweater
Oh how I do love to recycle old things and turn them into new things. This wine cooler is actually the sleeve from an old charity shop jumper which I machine felted. It's a really easy project to make, and it's a great housewarming or party gift, as you can put the person's (or your own!) favourite wine inside when you give it. You can also personalise it with some little felt cutouts or embroidery, if you like. The one shown was given as a gift to some friends who have animal nicknames - hence the bird and monkey felt cutouts. This is also a great project if you have gotten a hole or stain on your favourite wool jumper. Don't throw it away, give it a new life!
Instructions on how to make your own recycled sweater wine cosy:
First, a couple of points to note...
Make sure your chosen sweater (or jumper for us Brits) is 100% wool, and that the label says handwash only. Machine-washable wool will not felt. The size of the sweater is not that important, but I reckon an XL would be too large and an XS might be too small to fit onto a wine bottle. The one shown was a ladies Medium sweater. Ideally the sweater won't have raglan or massively bulky tapered sleeves. The straighter the sleeves, the better.
The whole process is a bit experimental: you can't guarantee exactly what size your item will come out. Even if you can't make the wine cooler, you could make other items from the felted sweater, such as hotpads / oven mitts, placemats, coasters, or tote bags. Another idea would be to cut both sleeves off, sew them into a long tube and fill them with old socks, underwear or t-shirts to make a draft excluder.
You will need:
100% wool sweater
Safety pins or old shoelace
Washing machine & detergent
Bottle of wine or other delicious beverage
Optional: embroidery floss or yarn and a large needle, needle and thread, felt pieces, fabric glue or heat-n-bond adhesive, sequins, beads or buttons
Possibly needed: masking tape or lint brush/roller
Stuff your sweater into an old pillowcase and tie, roughly stitch or safety-pin the pillowcase shut. This will help keep your washing machine from clogging up with little tufts of wool.
Chuck it into the machine, and put in a normal amount of laundry detergent, but NO FABRIC SOFTENER. Now put the machine onto the hottest wash cycle and start.
Once the cycle has finished, open the case and check your sweater. Try sliding a bottle of wine into the sleeve. If the sweater has not shrunk enough, you may find that it shrinks a bit more if you run it through another wash cycle. If you are scared of it shrinking too much, you can use a Quick Wash or short cycle. Sometimes it won't shrink any more, though - it really depends on the sweater.
When your sweater is finished with the washing part, take it out of the pillowcase and put it somewhere to dry. A radiator is fine.
Some sweaters really shed a lot of fluff, so you may need to remove the excess fluff with masking tape or a lint brush when it's dry.
Once dry and fluff-free, you can cut the sleeve off the sweater. Properly felted wool will not fray, so there's no need to worry about the edges. You can cut the sleeve to whatever size you desire: you may want a short sleeve that just covers the thick part of the bottle, or if you want one like mine, cut it about where the metallic wrapper on the neck starts.
Now you can get as creative as you want. You can choose to stop here and leave it as-is, or you can embellish it however you want. For my version, here's what I did next:
Sew 4 darts around the top of the sleeve, so the cooler looks more like the shape of the actual bottle.
Use a blanket stitch to sew around the top edge of the sleeve for a decorative effect.
Cut out shapes from felt and adhere them to the sleeve with hot-melt iron-on bondable adhesive (or fabric glue).