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Yellow Suitcase Studio: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Felted Wool Sweater Blanket Tutorial

* Do you have a question about this blanket? Check out the FAQs post! (added 11/13/12)*

I'm so excited to share this project with you! It is definitely one of my favorite handmade items. I'm so looking forward to snuggling up in it this winter and winters to come or.....right now.

First gather wool sweaters and think about what type of color scheme you'd like for the blanket.  For my blanket I used about 10 sweaters in cream, gray, and blue. Also, try and get  big ones. Since you're going to be shrinking them, you want to be able to get as much fabric from them as you can. I got most of my sweaters from a thrift store that one day had all clothing for $1! I know some stores that have a half off day. Keep an eye out at rummages too. I found a cashmere sweater at one recently for $1 as well. Ask family members too!

To felt the sweaters:
  • Cut seams of the sweaters open and remove any tags, buttons or zippers
  • Sort by like colors (you'll wash one color family at a time so the colors don't bleed)
  • Put the sweaters into an old pillow case (this keeps the fuzzies from getting everywhere in your washer and dryer). Wash with detergent on a hot-cold setting and on a speed that will give a lot of agitation. You can also throw in some jeans and heavy towels to increase the agitation. Ha all this agitation makes it sound like it's not a happy thing!
  • Check the sweaters before you dry them to see if they are shrunk up to your liking. Note - you can over-felt wool and some sweaters will shrink better than others.
  • Finally dry the sweaters in the dryer on a high heat setting.
 (There's a lot of other tips and tutorials out there for felting! This is what worked for me.)

I had a good laugh when I pulled this sweater out of the washer and saw how tiny it had become!

Now time to cut the sweaters! I decided on two square sizes 10.5" and 5.5" (4 of these size make up the larger size). The total quilt size is about 60" x 70" with a total of 42 - 10.5" squares. I made a template out of some cardboard and used a rotary cutter to do the cutting.

Next figure out a layout of the squares that you like.

I had a layout I liked and forgot to take a picture. Then I went upstairs to sew a couple squares. I came downstairs to this -

Kitties cause havoc sometimes. Seriously. Couldn't they have left at least some of it untouched?!?! Lesson learned. Take a picture to refer to.

Ok new layout and sleepy kitties. Take a picture. Time to get sewing.

I used the biggest straight stitch on my sewing machine. Use about a 1/4 in. seam allowance. I didn't use pins until I was sewing large pieces together. Sew parts of it in chunks starting with two then onto four. Then, sew the larger chunks together. Hopefully this makes sense! Some parts will be thick to sew through. Go steady and slow, gently pushing or pulling the pieces through the machine when needed. Give your sewing machine a good cleaning after this - lots of fuzzies!

 Here's the big chunks I ended up with before doing the final seams:

This is what the back looks like:

Once the front is sewed cut out your fabric for the backing to the same size as the front. I used a wool from Scotland that was gifted to me (long story). Since you might not have yards upon yards of wool in your stash, I think a flannel would work great! You don't necessarily need a backing since the felted wool will not fray.

I also rounded the corners by using a plate as a template.

Next onto finishing the edge. I hand stitched around it using a closed blanket stitch. If you're not into hand stitching there would be other ways to finish it with a sewing machine. I love love love the look the stitching gives it. It's just what I imagine a cozy textured blanket to look like. It went a lot faster than I thought it would and it's very rewarding! I hope these photos help you to see how the stitch is done.

This is the yarn I used for the edging -

I embroidered a little patch for the back with my initials and the year. I sewed it on a little bit before I was done sewing around the whole thing. It's a nice finishing touch!

All finished! Time to get cozy!

Let me know if you have any questions or if you make something similar. I love your comments!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Orchard and Barn Photo Shoot - Fort Atkinson, WI

Last weekend when I helped press cider at my in-laws, I also did a photo shoot for some dear friends. They rocked it!

Here are some of my favorites!

Thank you Jordan, Jen, and Stanley for your friendship, loads of laughs, and for being so good looking! My camera and I love you!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cider Pressing - Fort Atkinson, WI

My in-laws own an apple orchard in Fort Atkinson, WI. (Am I the luckiest girl or what?!?!) Towards the end of apple season we get together to make cider. This is what we did last weekend.

{bushels and bushels of apples}

{crank it!}

{laughter is necessary to make good cider}

{the goods - liquid gold}

Let me tell you will never find anything like this in the store. It's like you're eating an apple, but actually you're drinking it. Straight up apple juice. YUM.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10,000 Photos

Hi friends! I'm feeling a bit sentimental today. I hit a milestone with my current camera over the weekend - 10,000 photos. Well, if you want to get technical 9,999 photos since that's all the counter goes up to.

That's a lot of photos! And if a photo says a thousand words... just kidding that's too many zeros for me.

I had no clue I hit this mark until transferring files. I freaked out a little bit when I saw two folders and the numbers starting from 1. I was like oh no what did I do to my camera. YIKES. Then a sigh of relief when I realized it's just because the camera doesn't go past 9,999. Silly me.

I started thinking today about all the things my camera and I have seen over the past 9 months; the good, the meh, and the delete right away photos I've taken. I keep discovering and learning new things with it. It's a journey. Here's to the next 10,000 and countless 10,000's after that! I can't wait! Bring it on.

P.S. My sister hit the same milestone with her camera over the weekend too! What are the odds of that?!?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Heart Faces - Pink Challenge

This week's I Heart Faces challenge is pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month! I had the perfect session for this the other day. Sweet little Bailey :) She was a lovely model for me!

{Loved all of her faces!}

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Monday, October 10, 2011

I Heart Faces - Hands

This week's I Heart Faces challenge is hands. Here's my entry!

{my dad in his role as sailboat captain}

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Two of My Favorite Things

If you're a fan of Yellow Suitcase Studio on Facebook, you may have already seen this.

It's my favorite photo from this week and has two of my favorite things- vintage suitcases and sleepy cuddly kitties! First Elwood was lying there, then Jake came and cozied up by him. My heart melted.

{*sigh* I love these two}

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Homemade Yogurt In Your Crock Pot

I have a new recipe to share with you! Did you know that you can make your own yogurt? Well you can and it's so easy and cost effective! Seriously friends. Two ingredients, about 10 minutes of actual work, and you get to use your crock pot!

Step one:
Pour a half gallon of whole milk into your crock pot and turn it on low.

Set a timer for 2 and a half hours.

Step two:
After the 2.5 hours, turn off and unplug your crock pot.

Set your timer for 3 hours and let it sit there.

Step 3:
After the 3 hours, scoop out about a cup of the milk.

Then whisk in a small container of plain yogurt with active live cultures.

{see notes below about choosing a yogurt}

Step 4:
Wrap the crock pot in a heavy bath towel or two. I put it in the oven so it's out of the way and there are no drafts. Let it incubate for 8-12 hours.

{Goodnight. Sleep tight yogurt!}

After the 8-12 hours, look you made yogurt!

{Gooood morning yogurt!}

Step 5 (optional):
Strain the yogurt. This makes a thicker Greek style yogurt. I used cheesecloth, a strainer and a bowl that the strainer fits in. You can also use a tea towel in place of the cheesecloth.

Ladle your yogurt into the strainer and refrigerate. Check it every so often, until it is a thickness you like. If it got too thick, mix some of the liquid back in. The liquid in the bowl is whey. You can save it if you'd like and use it for other things.

Then you can divvy up your yogurt into individual containers or a big one. I love these little Libbey brand bowls with lids that I found at Target.

Now this isn't the sweetened stuff from the store that has as much sugar as a can of soda. Here's ideas for things you can add: honey, granola, jam, fresh fruit, nuts

{I enjoyed mine with some blueberry jam}

Here's the recipe without all the pictures and some notes:
(I've looked at this recipe so many times online from different places, so I don't know who to attribute it to)

Crock Pot Yogurt


1/2 gallon of whole milk (do not use ultra pasteurized)
1/2 cup or small container of plain yogurt with active live cultures (Check the ingredients. Also try to get something that doesn't have thickeners like pectin. I sometimes have a hard time finding a small container at my grocery stores. It can be any style, I used Greek because that's what I could find at my store. If you make it regularly you can use your homemade yogurt, but after a couple batches you need to get some fresh stuff.)


Pour the half gallon of whole milk into the crock pot and turn on low for 2.5 hours.

After 2.5 hours, turn off and unplug the crock pot. Let it sit for 3 hours

After the 3 hours, scoop out about a cup of the warm milk. Whisk in the yogurt. Then, pour mixture into the crock pot and stir to combine.

Cover with a thick towel and let incubate for 8-12 hours. 

After 8-12 hours it will be thickened. Divide up into containers and refrigerate.

To make a thicker Greek style yogurt: Place a strainer into a bowl. Line the strainer with cheese cloth or a tea towel. Scoop the yogurt into the strainer and refrigerate checking about every hour until it is a thickness you like.

If you start the process late in the afternoon you can add the yogurt as your starter before you go to bed and then you'll wake up to fresh yogurt!


Ha! Here's a blooper...

That's what happens when you're holding a spoonful of jam in your non-dominant hand and your heavy camera and lens  in the other (which really needs two hands) looking through the viewfinder not really seeing what you're doing. I thought maybe if I just wiped it up quick you wouldn't see. It's still there!

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