Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Old wool

One of the treasures that Kerry and I found while cleaning out some of my mom's old sewing supply stash were bags and bags of old wool scraps. The material was originally used by my mother and grandmother to make suits and dresses for themselves in the 1950's and early 60's. For some reason, they saved the pieces left over from cutting out their patterns. Perhaps they couldn't bring themselves to throw out material which probably cost a lot or perhaps they had a project in mind; I'll never know. But that brought us to the question. What do you do with old wool?

Aside from being odd shaped pieces, the fabric was in good condition. Kerry washed it all (on gentle cycle with Woolite). And then sorted the larger, usable pieces by color. And then we bagged it and put it away. Still sitting with the question, What do you do with old wool?

Even though the material is 40 or 50 years old, the colors and patterns were still vibrant and interesting. There were blue boucle plaids, several different colors of herringbone, light greens, dark greens, and tartans. We have also have vibrant reds, oranges and pinks. There are more sedate browns and greys. Some of them are more masculine, and others quite feminine. I have seen photos of my mom and grandma in dresses made out of some of these materials.

We each took some to play around with. I decided to make a few small clutch-style bags with my pieces. I liked the idea of using suiting material for a rather feminine design. I paired the wool with bright trims, satin linings, and antique buttons and broaches. I really like the results. I added pockets inside each bag, just right for a phone and a lipstick. The tassel trim isn't at all practical, but neither is the bag. It is just a special occasion bag.

Kerry made a beautiful tote bag for me using all the blue colored wools we had. Using our favorite patchwork patterns, she was able to incorporate all the different patterns we had. She accented the handle with brown and white ribbon and the result is quite nice. It has been a lovely winter bag to use.

On the web I found several others with ideas about how to use old wool. highlights a "Trash to Treasure" feature that recycles old wool coats to be made into placemats, photo frames and pillows. Who knows, maybe I'll try one of those projects next.

What would you do with old wool? And if you have any good ideas for wool, what about men's ties? We have a nice stash of old ties, too.