On New Years Day I went to the studio. I thought I’d start the new year by making something.

{A precedent to set for the year.}

{A need to get my hands working with fiber after being up to my elbows in holiday food and wrapping paper for a few weeks.}

The pile of felted sweaters caught my eye and it was time to cut and play with all those rich wool colors. A striped Scottish scarf is what really firmed up my plans that day, and I set about tracing my hand on a paper bag, digging into the stash of tshirts for seam tags and lining, and hitting the cutting mat and sewing machine without a backward glance.

This is the first of three sets of mittens I’ve made. The design possibilities are endless. The freehand embellishment alone can make my head spin. I love freehand sewing on most anything, but the cut mitten shape allows for a worthy canvas upon which to watch the thread spin and whirl into imagined fiddlehead fern shapes or lightning bolt zig zags. I think I’ll do some raw edge applique or soutache designs next.

A few tips:

PATTERN: lay your hand on paper and trace it leaving an extra 1/2″ or more all around, BUT leave less at the top of your thumb and fingers. You want comfortable width for your mittens, but if they are much longer than your finger and thumb they’ll feel uncomfortable. I modified my pattern after sewing this pair, and also modified this pair to fit more snugly. They are downright perfect. THUMB: do be sure to have enough width for the thumb because you don’t want it to fit too tightly side to side.

SEAMS: I stitched 1/4″ seams but them trimmed the curves and cut straight into the seam between thumb and main part of mitten so the final mitten lays flat. When I sewed the inner thumb I back-stitched a little for extra strength at that seam knowing I’d need to trim close to it.

STITCH LENGTH: I used a short stitch (length of 2) for these mittens to assure that they are warm and don’t let too much draft through the seams. The tshirt lining adds a great deal of extra draft-proofing and warm and is worth the additional steps.

LINING: When putting lining inside the finished mitten, the mitten will be turned right side out. I put the lining on my hand (wrong side out) and then put my hand right into the mitten, making sure that the lining and the seams are comfortably lined up (especially the thumb) before doing the final pinning and sewing of the wrist area.

IDEAS: For the next two pairs I mixed sweaters to have two different fronts and backs on each mitten. The possibilities are endless.