Monday, February 23, 2015

Sweater Savvy

     As winter slowly winds down and you transition your closets into spring clothing selections, don’t be too hasty to weed out those old, tired sweaters.  They can be upcycled into crafty, cute, and practical projects.  Most are easy to accomplish, but you will have to do a little work to secure the seams when you cut the sweater.  Reuse the existing seams as much as possible.  When you have to cut across the stitches, either roll the rough edge over and hot glue it, or sew one or two straight seams along the cut to keep the sweater from unraveling.  You can also felt the material to keep it stable.  You can often get two to three projects out of one old sweater.  Here are some ideas:
  • Sleeves can become boot socks or boot cuffs.  Stitch lace or buttons on the cuff as embellishments.
  • Sleeves can also double as coffee or tea mug cozies.  Button decorations look great on these as well.  Make the cozy a little longer, and it becomes a wine bottle cover.

  • Using your hands as size guides, cut out mitten shapes from the body of the sweater.  Stitch, embellish, and piece different fabrics together for custom looks.

  • Create custom sweater pants for your baby or toddler.  Sweater booties are also a great way to keep little feet warm.
  • Customize your cuts to make dog sweaters for your furry friends.
  • Cut off the arms and neck and use just the body of the sweater from chest down to create an infinity or neck scarf.

  • Glue sweater fabric onto a wood bangle for a new look on your wrist.  Fabric glue or Krylon Spray Adhesive works well for this project.
  • Fashion a new lampshade cover using adhesive on the old lampshade to hold the sweater fabric in place.

  • Design a sweater pillow, using stuffing or a pillow form on the inside.

  • Make a cute stuffed animal.  There are numerous patterns available on-line.
  • Create holiday decorations such as pumpkins or stockings, or cover round ornaments with the sweater fabric.

  • Upcycle a belt for the handle and stitch the sweater for the base, and you have a purse or laptop cover.
  • Make a hot water bottle cozy out of the sweater body.
  • Attach strips of the sweater to gift wrap for a custom design.
  • Reupholster chair seats with sweater fabric.
  • Make an ottoman or pouf cover.

  • Cut and stitch a strip that fits around your head for an ear warmer.  Add flower embellishments.
  • Cover a boring vase, lamp base, candle holder, or flower pot with sweater material for a fresh look.
  • Create a new piece of clothing or a quilt by stitching together sweater squares.  Mix and match colors and designs for a funky, fun look.

No matter what level your DIY ability is, there is a sweater project you can accomplish. Now you don’t have to throw out those old favorites—you can enjoy them in a variety of new, unexpected places.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Fenton Art Glass Company

     The Fenton Art Glass Company was the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States.  Founded in 1905 by brothers Frank and John Fenton, the company started out in Martins Ferry, Ohio in an old glass factory building.  The brothers launched the company with $284.86.  Early Fenton pieces were made using glass blanks from other companies, but the brothers soon decided to produce their own glass.  The company moved to a new building in Williamstown, WV in 1907.

     Frank Fenton desired to produce new and unusual colors, and from 1905 to 1920, the Fenton Company reflected influences from Tiffany and Steuben artists.  In 1907, Fenton introduced "Iridescent" glass, known today as "Carnival" glass.

     During the Depression, Fenton produced practical items such as mixing bowls and tableware, but after WWII, the company returned to making beautiful hand blown and hand painted glassware.  In 1952, milk glass "Hobnail" became Fenton's flagship pattern.

     Fenton ceased "traditional" glassmaking at the Williamstown factory in July of 2011.

Today, the factory produces jewelry specializing in glass beads and teardrop earrings.  Visitors can observe jewelry making and view the large glass inventory still in the factory.

  Fenton may be purchased at the factory gift shop or in antique shops around the world.  Collectors may display one or two fine pieces, or they may focus on Fenton specialties such as shoes, baskets, hand painted pieces, cats or other animals, lamps, or specific colors or styles of glass.  Fenton values vary depending on age, rarity, and condition.