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Fun SWEATER Crafts! How to Make New Things From Old Sweaters | Recycling | Fashion | Sewing

Updated on May 10, 2015
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Sweater Craft Tutorials & Fun Ideas

Sweaters (or jumpers if you're here in the UK!) are a staple of every wardrobe and just like other clothes we outgrow them or go off them....so then what do you do? Well you upcycle them of course!

On this page you will find plenty of how-to's to show you everything from re-using the sweater yarn for knitting, to making all kinds of goodies like slippers, blankets and coasters! Some don't require any sewing whilst some need a sewing machine, and some are quick and easy, whilst others require more advanced skills - there is bound to be the perfect DIY project here for you.

I hope you find this lens fun and useful :-)

This Is What You'll Need:

f you don't already have old sweaters to hand, then thrift stores are great for picking up cheap sweaters - just make sure they're wool if you want them to 'felt' in the washing machine :)
f you don't already have old sweaters to hand, then thrift stores are great for picking up cheap sweaters - just make sure they're wool if you want them to 'felt' in the washing machine :) | Source

Best Sweater Recycling Books

Books make excellent resources for inspiration as they contain a huge choice of projects and full color craft displays.

Sweater Renewal: Felting Knits into New Sweaters and Accessories
Sweater Renewal: Felting Knits into New Sweaters and Accessories

Ideal for knitters, crocheters and embroiderers especially, this book includes 25 how-tos for felted cases, pillows and fashion items.

 
The Sweater Chop Shop: Sewing One-of-a-Kind Creations from Recycled Sweaters
The Sweater Chop Shop: Sewing One-of-a-Kind Creations from Recycled Sweaters

Fun and unique things to make from your old sweaters - from patchwork blankets and cushions to dresses and stuffed toys.

 
Born-Again Vintage: 25 Ways to Deconstruct, Reinvent, and Recycle Your Wardrobe
Born-Again Vintage: 25 Ways to Deconstruct, Reinvent, and Recycle Your Wardrobe

Inspirational examples of ways to breathe new life into old clothes so that they become fresh and exciting again.

 

Introduction To Sweater Recycling

Ideas For What To Make

Sweaters are a wardrobe staple in most countries, but once they are outgrown, are accidentally shrunk, go out of fashion or get a hole in, they are often thrown out. This is particularly a problem with today's disposable fashion culture, but there are soooo many ways you can re-use a sweater that after you've read this page, you'll never throw one out again!

I am a knitter but my favorite thing about sweaters is that they provide a great piece of knitted fabric without me putting in the hours to knit it - after all, you can't just go out and buy a yard of knitted material at a fabric store. And also you will find some sweaters that just have really fantastic patterns like fair isle or Christmas designs, as well as interesting textures like bobbles, cables and ribbing that you can't find ready-made elsewhere. So I like to make good use of these attributes by making them a feature when the sweater is revamped.

Other advantages of repurposing sweaters include: it is eco-friendly because you are recycling something that would have otherwise perhaps been thrown out, you get something brand new and updated out of something that was unused by you before, and also it's lots of fun! Some of the best examples of what can be made with sweaters are hats, slippers, padded gadget cases, bags, mittens and pillows. Usually the choice is whether to transform the sweater into something else that is wearable, or to turn it into something completely different like a home decor item.

Usually the projects require a basic level of sewing skills, but I would say that nearly all of the ideas below can be completed by a crafting newbie. If you are a beginner sewer and want to attempt the easiest tutorials first, I would recommend arm and leg warmers as these make use of the existing sweater sleeve shapes (so most of the sewing has already been done for you!) Also, if you don't want to deal with stitches coming undone and unravelling at the edges, felting is a popular technique where you basically shrink a 100% wool sweater in the washing machine (on-purpose) to make felt. Felt is a versatile and simple fabric to use because it doesn't fray at the edges so you don't have to hem it before making it into a product. For more information on felting, click here and here.

One more thing to keep in mind is the option to make much bigger projects like blankets by using the patchwork technique where you sew together squares of the sweater fabric to make a large piece. I love the look of patchwork sweater blankets and throws, so this is a fab project to attempt when you're feeling more confident.

If you don't have any sweaters at home already, thrift stores and any second hand sales are the best places to find cheap used items. Of course you don't have to buy sweaters that are only in your size if you're doing it this way (because you're not going to be wearing them), so I would suggest you look for men's XXL sizes so you get much more sweater fabric for your money!

Felted Sweater Hearts

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Techniques for Revamping Sweaters

How to felt wool jumpers and how to unravel sweaters yourself.

Pom-Pom Sweater

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Refashion Sweaters

Into other styles and types of clothing.

Sweater & Felt Carrots

Complete with thread roots!
Complete with thread roots! | Source

Plushie Pears

Made using felted sweaters.
Made using felted sweaters. | Source

Sweater Recycling Tutorials

Into non-clothing items:

How to Make Sweater Christmas Ornaments

diy-christmas-sweater-ornaments
diy-christmas-sweater-ornaments

Go green this Christmas by recycling sweaters to make cozy Christmas ornaments!

What You Will Need:

Option 1:

* Chunky knit sweater

* Scissors

* Twine

* All-purpose glue

* Styrofoam ball; try to find a ball diameter close to approx. 3"


Option 2:

* Sweater

* Yarn; in a color that goes with the color of your sweater.

* Yarn needle

* Regular needle and thread; where the thread is a color that matches your sweater.

* Scissors


Instructions:

Option 1:

- Cut out a section of sweater that, when wrapped around the Styrofoam ball, has an excess of about 1" at the edge.

- Take a length of twine (at least 20") and use a small amount of glue to attach the center of the twine piece to the bottom of the Styrofoam ball.

- Wrap the twine around the ball and tie a knot at the top. Add a little bit of glue to keep the knot in place. The twine should now go all of the way around the center of the Styrofoam ball. Leave to dry.

- Place the Styrofoam ball on top of the piece of sweater (with the 'right' side of the sweater face down).

- Making sure the twine ends are kept out of the way and are not enclosed, wrap the sweater piece around the Styrofoam ball. Remove any creases and folds in the sweater and once it looks good, tie another piece of twine around the excess of sweater. The twine should be as close to the ball as you can get it, and should be tightly double-knotted before a pretty bow is then tied. Another pair of hands is helpful for this step.

- Use scissors to carefully cut the excess of sweater into a neater style, taking care not to cut through the twine.

- Double-knot the twine to create a loop for hanging on a Christmas tree branch, and then cut off the excess.

- Finished!


Option 2:

- This ornament might be easier to make if the sweater is felted first, but this is not compulsory.

- Cut strips off a sweater at the bottom, then cut the seam out of each strip. This will give you thin lengths of sweater material.

- Use a needle and thread to sew two of the strips together to make a longer length.

- Starting at one end of the strip, roll it up in a random arrangement to create a ball shape. If you run out of sweater before you reach the size you want, sew another strip onto the end as in the previous step.

- When you have a ball shape in the size you want for your ornament, sew the end on to secure.

- The place where you have just sewn the end on will now become the bottom of the ornament, so cut a long length of yarn (about 60") and use a yarn needle to fix the end of the yarn to the bottom of the ornament with a knot.

- Bring the yarn to the top of the ornament and fix with a short backstitch, going in and out of the sweater material.

- Take the yarn down the other side of the ornament and do a short stitch again when you reach the knot you previously made at the bottom.

- Keep repeating this yarn wrapping and stitching, until you have between 4 and 8 wraparounds - depending on your preference - with all of the yarn sections evenly spaced around the ornament. Try to keep the stitches neat at the top and bottom.

- Knot the yarn at the bottom to finish and cut off the excess yarn. You could weave the yarn tail into the ornament too if you would like to hide it.

- Cut a short length of yarn (about 7" long) and use the yarn needle to guide it under the yarn stitches at the top of the ornament. Tie the yarn in a knot to make a loop, and this is what will let you hang it from a Christmas tree branch.

- Finished!

Patchwork Sweater Hoodie

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Recycled Sweater Cushion

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Felted Sweater Mittens

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Gorgeous Patchwork Blanket

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Cuddly Cat

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Sweater Craft Videos

Dusting Mitt

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Woven Sweater Rug

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Pullover to Purse

Source

Handmade Sweater Pins

Made with sweaters, wool felt and embroidery stitches. I love the colours!
Made with sweaters, wool felt and embroidery stitches. I love the colours! | Source

Eyeglasses Case In Progress

This cute eyeglasses case front is made from a felted wool sweater.
This cute eyeglasses case front is made from a felted wool sweater. | Source

Recycled Jewelry Partitioners

These tiny sweater boxes are for storing and partitioning a jewelry collection so that delicate earrings don't get scratched, and necklace chains don't get tangled - clever!
These tiny sweater boxes are for storing and partitioning a jewelry collection so that delicate earrings don't get scratched, and necklace chains don't get tangled - clever! | Source

Sweater Unraveller

Do you recycle your old sweaters into other items?

See results

Please Comment On My Lens!

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    • profile image

      Sue, Nelson, New Zealand 11 months ago

      Was the manager of a Red Cross shop ,came across so many Sweater that were not worth selling, put them into plastic bags and gave them to SPCA,

      Took some home and taught myself how washing machine felt these.

      15 years later I still make blankets which I donate to different causes.

      I wish there had sites like this one which have some lovely fresh ideas to

      refer too thankyou

    • profile image

      Barbara 24 months ago

      cool sweater unraveller!! Now I know what to do with my old bike. Any tips on reconstructing?

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      Exceptional lens - so many great resources. Pinned to my Knit and Crochet board as well as my Helping the Earth board.

    • profile image

      laura-hisrich 3 years ago

      I have a few that are hand knit either by me or others saved up for recycling, and I have the Sweater surgery book, but that all seemed very complicated. I did once steel a big one of my husbands to make myself a big card-coat, but mostly I was thinking more like cushions. I love that you list has so many simpler ideas than making new garments! THANKS!

    • profile image

      stephanie-hallit 3 years ago

      What great information. My sister hunts for sweaters at thrift stores, unravels them, and knits them into scarves and hats. She says the best sweaters to look for are made of real wool, and they are easier to take apart and use if they have NOT been cut when they were made. She gets so many happy comments about recycling. I think I might try it. Your Lens is great!

    • suzyjahi profile image

      suzyjahi 3 years ago

      GREAT!!!

    • profile image

      ShelbyLinMarie 3 years ago

      Fantastic ides! I really love the sweater kitty. Thanks!

    • hgb282 profile image

      hgb282 4 years ago

      Very creative and eco-friendly ideas. You definitely put a lot of work into this lens. Bravo.

    • chrisilouwho profile image

      chrisilouwho 4 years ago

      I've seen cushions like this in the stores but I never dreamed I could make one myself, thanks for this!

    • profile image

      tonyleather 4 years ago

      I just LOVE any lens that promotes recycling. Well done!

    • costumesngifts profile image

      costumesngifts 4 years ago

      Wow! Lots of cute ideas to upcycle a sweater! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      nice as visit

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      nice and great as visit I appreciate you.

    • profile image

      RANADEEP 4 years ago

      Great and very craetive ideas,thanks for sharing with us!!

    • MicheleWebber profile image

      MicheleWebber 4 years ago

      Great ideas, have bookmarked for future use! Thanks :-)

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      You have some great ideas, I like the patch quilt, the hoodie and the mittens they would make a wonderful gift for the grand kids.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Cute ideas!

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 4 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      OMG, so many cute sweater recycle projects so little time!

    • lewisgirl profile image

      lewisgirl 4 years ago

      Great ideas!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 4 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      So much inspiration... Bookmarking this page!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a great site-- thanks for compiling all these sites on your site!

    • dawnsnewbeginning profile image

      dawnsnewbeginning 5 years ago

      Great lens! Lots of good ideas to try!

    • remanon profile image

      remanon 5 years ago

      what an excellent lens - so much to read, so much to try. a huge thank you!!

    • profile image

      MrsMcCraw 5 years ago

      I like your lens :) i did that before :)

    • Essentially Ind profile image

      Essentially Ind 5 years ago

      wow.........just can't put in words the excellence of this LENS. too creative, so much to learn from this learn. The use of wool for making different lovely stuffs is too good. Too inspirational...........:)

    • profile image

      inspirationz 5 years ago

      loads of cool ideas here!

    • profile image

      Xenia-consultant 5 years ago

      What wonderful socks, mushrooms and probably very warm.

    • wrapitup4me profile image

      wrapitup4me 5 years ago

      What great ideas!!! Bookmarked for future reference.

    • profile image

      LoveToClean 5 years ago

      LOVE the mushroom pillow socks--- they look so COMFY as well!! :)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Wonderful resources! A trip to the thrift store, this page, and I'd be all set for winter crafting! (Or summer crafting for that matter!)

    • biggking lm profile image

      biggking lm 5 years ago

      cute sweaters!

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 5 years ago from Kent, UK

      I had no idea there were quite so many ways to recycle a jumper! I may even try some of them myself.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      LOVE this lens!! Now I have so many ideas to use old sweaters for - thank you so much!!

    • Teddi14 LM profile image

      Teddi14 LM 5 years ago

      I love this lens. So many great ideas. I am pinning it now!!!!!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      Love all the recycled sweater ideas. I need to dig out my old sweaters! :o)

    • profile image

      Ladyeaglefeather 5 years ago

      Great lens, I loved the pillowa

    • Lauriej1 profile image

      Lauriej1 5 years ago

      I love the sweater pillow! I will definitely try to make some of these! Great lens BTW! :)

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Deer head, plaited rug, cuddly cat... I'm having a hard time to choose a favourite project! What a fantastic resource: I'm sure we all have old knitwear that could use a new life.

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Amazing Lense! You inspire people to create :)

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 5 years ago

      Who knew you could turn sweaters into fruits and vegetables! Sounds like a great idea to get rid of my old sweaters.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 5 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      I love the cute cuddly cat. Great job with this lens.

    • profile image

      Traceeshobbies 5 years ago

      Rally great ideas. Now I don't have to throw away sweaters that are outdated!

    • profile image

      Traceeshobbies 5 years ago

      Rally great ideas. Now I don't have to throw away sweaters that are outdated!

    • profile image

      klaird 5 years ago

      Great ideas! I've featured this page on my "50 Craft Ideas for Adults" lens.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      wow, such creative ideas to recycle sweaters - you are very talented indeed!

    • profile image

      howtosewadress 5 years ago

      Expressing yourself is the most uplifting feeling a person could feel. Once you learn how to sew, youâll be able to express yourself more. And youâll be more proud with the way you look just like this lens. nice one mate.

    • profile image

      cardigansweaters1 5 years ago

      You do cover a lot of information. I started camping way back, however those camping trips required a lot of hiking (4 hours and up), I learned to travel light and comfortable

    • manicnymph profile image

      manicnymph 5 years ago

      Awesome - very exhaustive!! I'm a bit handy myself and have recycled different kinds of clothes into new products, it's a great way to get something new out of something old.

    • profile image

      Godsgraciousgift 5 years ago

      I really liked the pictures showing things made out of recycled sweaters. Nice lens

    • profile image

      marioaus 5 years ago

      omg these aren't just cute, they're really beautiful too.

    • rangiiria profile image

      rangiiria 5 years ago

      This is a great resource! I will definitely be revisiting this lens. Thanks ;-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wow! What a thorough site for those of us interested in felting crafts! And great bibliography, too! Strong work! Thanks!

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 6 years ago

      love the slippers and the leg warmers :)

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Fun stuff. Love the domestic trophy in your intro.

    • profile image

      WistaWren 6 years ago

      Everything displayed on this lens brought a smile to my face! Some of these projects I am definitely gonna try, but I don't know where to begin! Lovin' it ALL! 8o)

    • wcjohnston profile image

      wcjohnston 6 years ago

      very creative lens, I love the Cuddly Cat

      Wedding Photographer Bristol

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Awesome Lense!

    • profile image

      nelspruitphotographer 6 years ago

      Wow, never dreamed there was an afterlife for old sweaters, brilliant! I sense a whole new hobby in the making for me - Thanks

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 6 years ago from South Africa

      Inspiring and inspirational, thank you for putting together a great lens full of brilliant ideas!

    • Bloomsandbugs LM profile image

      Bloomsandbugs LM 6 years ago

      So many great ideas here.

    • ResearchAddict profile image

      ResearchAddict 6 years ago

      Such cute ideas!

    • ananimoss2 profile image

      ananimoss2 6 years ago

      We love all your creative lenses. And clever, I know how to find your lenses...with a big star in front!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      I just felted 5 wool sweaters from the thrift store - thanks so much for all the wonderful craft ideas. Now I'll need to buy more sweaters ...

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great Lens!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Another GREAT book on sweater recycling books it Felt it! Stitch it! Fabulous! by Katheryn Tidwell Bieber

    • Genjud profile image

      Genjud 6 years ago

      Great ideas. I'm going to try a few for Christmas gifts. Thanks

    • profilesincolor profile image

      profilesincolor 6 years ago

      Nice Work! Recycling at its finest! :-)

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 6 years ago

      Super cute ideas!

    • Retro Loco profile image

      Vicki 6 years ago from USA

      You have shown so many ways to recycle a sweater, I don't know where to begin! I love that sweater deer head -- it would be perfect in our lake house! The felted sweater tree and carrots are adorable. Great crafts lens on making new things from old sweaters.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      i love the laptop sweater...i've got to start on that one!

      _____________________________________

      get the perfect DIY conservatory to improve the look and feel of your home!

    • CherrrieB profile image

      CherrrieB 6 years ago

      I love how this is organized. I wanted to check out many of your lenses because you spend much time on detail. Helps to get my mind on certain subjects in crafting.

    • MagpieNest profile image

      MagpieNest 6 years ago

      What a great way to recycle old jumpers (yes I'm a Brit).

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow.. just love your Lens.. Thank you

    • spider-girl profile image

      spider-girl 6 years ago

      Very creative ideas here, loved the lens!

    • Adriana Daniela profile image

      Adriana 6 years ago from New Market

      WOW! Very creative! Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • charder profile image

      charder 6 years ago

      Love the deer!

    • AbigailsCrafts LM profile image

      AbigailsCrafts LM 6 years ago

      Lovely ideas! The sleeve animals are adorable :D

      I have a short lens about shibori felting - another project for reusing old sweaters ;)

    • Anahid LM profile image

      Anahid LM 6 years ago

      I Love this lens great ideas for old sweaters. Thank you I will felt my old sweaters and make blanket out of them. Great work. Anna

    • KokoTravel profile image

      KokoTravel 6 years ago

      Great ideas! I never thought of using old sweaters... other than wishing I didn't have to throuw them out.

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

      I love the site! So many good ideas...I love recycling old things.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      Oh wow, I have to make the felted sweater circles Christmas tree. I'm off to the thrift store right now for supplies!

    • profile image

      AllieMcc 6 years ago

      Thanks for putting these all in one place! I love upcycling!

    • profile image

      Craftybegonia 6 years ago

      Terrific and practical use of old things! I love to recycle. Those cuddle critters are cute and I loved the lamp shade too!

    • Akitajitsu profile image

      Jen 6 years ago from California

      Wonderful ideas! I love those cuddle critters - perfect for little kid stocking stuffers.

    • profile image

      mockingbird999 7 years ago

      I love the deer in your into module. That's really cute.

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 7 years ago from United States

      Great ways to use those old sweaters!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Awesome lens! Loved the sweater pillow!

    • Rachel Field profile image

      Rachel Field 7 years ago

      What an awesome lens! I love the deer head in the intro! Lensrolled to Recycling Fabric.

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 7 years ago

      These look wonderful, think I will try the Xmas tree, like this :)