Thursday, November 11, 2010

simple gifts: (pencil pleated) wrist warmers

First and foremost: thanks so much for cheering me on in my attempt at letting go of fears. When I didn't get to publish this post yesterday(various obstacles), I had another day to squirm and adjust my comfort level. Maybe it was just what I needed. But now I'm super happy to share today's tutorial... it's the first of this year's edition of my Simple Gift Series.  Some of you may remember these from the previous two seasons. Check out past projects here. The holidays are really sneaking up on us now, but no worries. I'm sure we can knock off some presents from our list if we keep the making of them... simple. These wrist warmers were whipped up out of necessity during last week's freezing temps. I was having a hard time getting anything done because my hands were so cold. They were a gift to myself, but now that I see how much I'm wearing them, and just how useful they are... onto the winter present list they go!
wristies loose
I'm sure there are tons of tutorials for wrist warmers from cast off sweater sleeves, but what makes these unique are the little details. To give them a fitted feeling around the fingers I created 5 parallel pencil pleats down the length of the hand with contrasting white thread. This gave them such crisp tailored look even though they were only sliced sleeves. Those little pleats looked so familiar, and then I realized that they were reminiscent of my grandmother's traditional leather gloves. Her father had immigrated from Romania when he was a small boy and grew up to be a glove manufacturer. There is much family lore about my great grandfather George, and I think he must have channeled those pleats, somehow.
wristie pin tucks
So, now they were snug in the hand but loose enough around the wrists to pull on over a sweater. Maybe too loose. So, I created a fitted option by sewing on buttons and some elastic loops on the arms. Now they have the ability fit over sweaters or to look trim... and even elegant (check out the final photo in this post).
If you'd like to make a pair, and I think you might, look for wool sweaters with a fine gauge and subtle cuff. Throw it in your washing machine and dryer for some quick felting and then get started.
Two sweater sleeves
4 buttons
4 loops of elastic or hair ties

1. Slice off sleeves if you haven't already. Somewhere above the elbow.
2. Try your wrist warmer on for size. Shorten it from the cut side. If you're satisfied with the length proceed to snipping the thumb hole.  I did this part by feel not measurement. A simple: oh this is where my thumb needs a hole! Make sure that the side seam is on the same side as your thumb, if possible, so that you can snip along the seam.
3. Sew pencil pleats: starting about an inch from the thumb hole- fold and sew down 1/8 of an inch from the side. Begin at the top and sew in a straight line down about 4 inches.I flared the bottoms a slight bit. My pleats aren't perfectly straight because I was experimenting and eyeballing as I went. For the next pair I might pin them first... or maybe not.
pencil pleats
4. Make four more parallel pin tucks/pencil pleats every inch. Snip threads.
5. If you'd like the fitted version make a teeny tiny hole along the seam below the thumb. Insert a loop of elastic and sew it in place.
adding loop
I used sturdy button thread since I felt there would be a bit of stress on it. Sew second loop several inches down. Try it on to see where best to place your buttons and then attach them, too.
taking in
On a cold and crafty morning you can slip on you wrist warmers (wristies), grab a cup of tea, and head to your sewing machine for making a couple more sets for giving!
wristies fitted
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  1. Those turned out great!! I've made these before but never with pleats. I will definitely make up some of these. Thanks.

  2. Love this idea! My winter coat is a 3/4 sleeve vintage wool coat and I live in Chicago, so I am always looking for options to cover my arms mid-forearm to wrist. Will have to try this :-)

  3. Maya!! Love these!! I have the perfect wool, thrown in the dryer by accident, sweater to try these on!! Yeah!! Must put this on my list: look for miscast sweaters at Goodwill/thrift shop!!


  4. My eyes are now open for a castoff sweater somewhere - will be rummaging through my dresser this evening when I return home. I'm so happy I can have warmer hands without figuring out how to knit fingerless gloves. Perfecto! Thanks again.

  5. I made a pair of wrist warmers from a pair of socks I'd bought to make sock dolls. I love the way the way they give so much more finger flexibility.

    Yours are so much prettier! Thanks for the tutorial; I'm trying the neat pleats and a sweater next time!

  6. Wonderful Maya...just wonderful.

  7. Oh you are just incredibly creative. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Even in this very hot and humid Sydney morning....I want to wear these! very cute and great tutorial! thanks for sharing.....

  9. This is a great new take on the sweater-sleeve-to-wrist-warmer genre! (Of course it is--*you* made them.)

  10. Thanks everyone... did I mention they're easy to type in, too? I'm wearing them right now!

  11. very cute. this reminds me that i have some of my daughters soft grey wool tights in my work space which i was thinking of wrist warmer converting. love the pleats you added.
    happy day to you Maya!
    ginny x

  12. This is a really creative idea.Very good work.

  13. Oh these are great - lovely touch, the pleats!

  14. Once again I'm in awe of the ideas coming out of your head! Thank you for sharing the tutorial too.

  15. Does felting the wool (washing it) totally eliminate unraveling? And can I toss it in cold water and the dryer with everything else, or do I need to wash it in warm or hot water? Is the dryer OK or should it air dry?
    Can't wait to make some of these!

  16. Jan,
    Does it totally eliminate unraveling? That depends on the sweater. For most the answer is YES! Wash it in warm or hot water and then toss in the dryer. There are lots of tips for felting sweaters out on the web, but this is all you should need to do for a tightly knit fine gauge wool one. Have fun!

  17. Super fantastic tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing :)