Jilly Hollmann shows you how to turn scraps of fleece into custom-fit mittens for everyone in the family! Learn how easy it is to sew your own Smitten Mittens, and add some hearts for good measure…
Jilly started sewing after she developed chronic pain and fatigue that prevented her from doing most of the active things she used to enjoy. Fortunathely she had always enjoyed creating, and she was still able to make beautiful things! (You might remember her exciting Embroidered Portraits tutorial here at Sew Mama Sew.) Jilly decided to expand her repertoire to a new craft– embroidering– and thus began the love affair that has become her consuming passion! She went from embroidering embellishments to hand-sewing entire items, and eventually stepped up and acquired a sewing machine. Jilly loves to upcycle, design patterns and to inspire others to realize their own dreams to make things they love and can use. She lives in New York City, where she also grew up, with her incredibly kind husband and her two fascinating children.
Want more sewing patterns designed by Jilly? Check out the latest in her shop and use discount code LOVETOSEW to receive a whopping 50% OFF any of Jilly’s downloadable patterns!
Smitten Mittens: Nothing Says “I Glove You” Like a Pair of These for Valentine’s Day!
I’ve discovered an easy way to make soft, warm mittens that fit just right and I’d like to share it with you. In honor of Valentine’s Day, this tutorial shows you how to embellish them with a triple heart (three times the love!), which actually really makes them pop. They are double-layered for extra warmth.
Tools + Materials:
- 3 Pencils
- 2 Rubber Bands
- ¼ – ½ Yard of Fleece, in your preferred color (depending on size of mittens)
- Felt Squares (or you can use any smaller scraps you have on hand, as long as they are big enough to cut out a pair of hearts) in red, pink + hot pink
- Embroidery Floss, in maroon + light pink
- Embroidery Needle
- Elastic: 12 – 24 inches (depending on size of mittens), ¼-inch wide
- Thread, to match your fleece
- Sewing Machine
- Heart Pattern
Step 1: Draw a Custom Pattern
Place your non-dominant hand face down on a piece of paper, centered so there is room on both sides. You should include a couple of inches of wrist too in a straight line. (You’ll probably have to do the drawing sideways so you can bend your arm at the elbow.) Your fingers should be relaxed– not spread out, but not squeezed together– and your thumb should stick out at about a 45 degree angle. Trace around it with a pencil held vertically. No need to trace down into the grooves between the fingers, just around the tops.
Place a rubber band around three pencils so they are parallel and in a row. Push it towards one end and then place another rubber band around towards the other end. Make sure the points of the two outside pencils are on the same end, and at the same height.
Use this pencil “device” to add about 1 ¼ inches to your hand outline. Hold the device vertically so the two outside pencil points both touch the paper. Trace your hand outline with one of the outside pencils, holding the device so that the “3-in-a-row” line across the device is always perpendicular to the line you are tracing, and so the other outside pencil draws a line that is always equidistant (and about 5/8″) from the line you are tracing. When you finish do it again, this time tracing the line you just drew.
The outermost line you’ve drawn will be your custom mitten pattern, with one adjustment. Make a pencil mark in your “outer outline” at the point just below the thumb where the outline begins to narrow. About 1½” higher along that line (or ¾” higher, if this is for a child), make another mark. Using a ruler, draw a horizontal line (i.e. a line parallel to the bottom edge of the paper) from that point to the point at the same height on the other side of the outer outline. Now draw a line down from each of those points to the bottom of the paper. It doesn’t have to be a straight vertical line (although that’s OK); it can curve in a little and then come out.
Step 2: Cut Out the Pattern Pieces + Felt Hearts
Cut out your pattern and pin it to your fleece. Be sure the direction of stretch in your fleece will go from side to side of your mitten. Also be sure to add an inch or two to the bottom of the wrist in your pattern as necessary, so the distance from the top of the wrist (i.e. the point at which you made your pencil marks in the previous step) to the bottom edge of your pattern is long enough. (This should be three inches for adult mittens and two inches for child mittens.) Now cut out your perfect, custom mitten pattern… Eight times! If your fleece does not look the same on both sides, be sure to cut four with the thumb facing one way and then four with it facing the other.
Print out the Heart Pattern and cut out the three paper hearts. Transfer to felt by tracing around the shapes, two in red for the smallest heart, two in hot pink for the medium and two in pink for the largest. Cut out the felt hearts.
Step 3: Sew the Hearts in Place
Place a large pink heart right in the center (from left to right). The center should be right about at the height where the “thumb” meets the “fingers” in the pattern, on one of your eight fleece cutouts, right side of fleece facing up. Place the hot pink on top of it, and the red on top of that, so that each smaller heart is centered horizontally and vertically within the heart under it.
Pin or, as an easier alternative, use a bit of spray adhesive to hold the layers in place. Using maroon embroidery floss, sew a running stitch just within the outline of the red heart, stitching through all four layers (three felt and one fleece).
Using the light pink embroidery floss, sew a running stitch just within the outline of the pink heart.
Repeat the above three steps with another of your fleece cutouts. If the fleece has two different sides, be sure the thumb faces the opposite way when you have the right side facing up this time.
Step 4: Sew the Elastic in Place
Measure the width of your fleece cutout at the wrist (i.e. at the height that is 3 inches above the bottom edge for adult mittens and 2 inches for child mittens). Subtract either ¾” (for adult mittens) or ½” (for child mittens) from this measurement, and cut four pieces of elastic measuring this shorter width.
Take a piece of cut elastic and pin one end to the edge of the wrist of one of the fleece cutouts, wrong side up.
Pin the other end of the elastic to the other edge of the wrist. This will cause the fleece to buckle or curve, which is fine.
Place one wrist edge with elastic pinned to it under your sewing machine’s presser foot. (You might want to remove the pin now.) Using a zig-zag stitch with the stitch-length dial set to zero, sew a few locking stitches so your elastic is securely fastened on one end.
Change the stitch length to 3. Stretch out the elastic so that it lays flat against the wrong side of the fleece.
Continue to use a zig-zag stitch and holding the stretched-out elastic in, sew across the length of the elastic and the wrist. Once done, turn it over. The right side of the fleece, with elastic underneath, should have a zig-zag stripe across it and be slightly gathered.
Repeat the above five steps with the other three pieces of elastic and three more of the fleece cutouts, including the two with hearts sewn to the right sides. If the fleece has two different sides, be sure the thumb faces one way for two of the cutouts and the other way for the other two.
Step 5: Sew Fronts to Backs
Match all eight fleece cutouts together into four pairs, all with right sides together. (Even if your fleece is the same on both sides, sides with elastic sewn on are “wrong” sides and sides with hearts sewn on are “right” sides.) Pairs that will be the outside layer of the mittens will have elastic on the outside (wrong side) and hearts on the inside (one with hearts per pair). Pairs that will be the inside of the mittens will have neigher elastic nor hearts. Match these up with right sides together as well, if the fleece has a right side. Pin all pairs.
Stitch each pair that will be the inside of the mittens together with a straight seam that is 5/8″ from the edge (i.e. a 5/8″ seam allowance). Stitch each pair that will be the outside of the mittens with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
Leave a gap of ½” from the bottom of the pairs unsewn. In addition, leave an opening of about 3-4 inches unsewn across the top of the pairs that will be the inside of the mittens.
Trim all seams to ¼”.
Step 6: Sew Insides to Outsides
Place an “inside” and an “outside” pair so their bottom edges meet. Make sure thumbs are on the same side. Fold up loose ½” of fabric along bottom edges and press together (i.e. bottom front of inside to bottom front of outside, and bottom back of inside to bottom back of outside– right sides together). Pin.
Stitch where you have pinned with a ¼” seam allowance. Be careful to sew through two layers only, and to not accidentally sew any fronts to backs across their bottom edges!
Turn the entire mitten inside out by pulling it through the gap across the top edge of the “inside.”
When you have finished doing this, you should have what look like two mittens, right sides showing, attached by their bottom edges.
Sew the gap closed.
Stuff the inside into the outside, using a stick or pen as necessary to really get those thumbs in there.
Now try those babies on and see how good a custom-fit mitten can feel!
Between the fleecy softness, the double-layer warmth, and the universal symbol of love in triplicate, these mittens are sure to leave you (or someone you love) smitten and enhance the happiness of your Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!