Fun SWEATER Crafts! How to Make New Things From Old Sweaters - Recycling - Fashion - Sewing
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:
Best Sweater Recycling Books
Books make excellent resources for inspiration as they contain a huge choice of projects and full color craft displays.
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
Techniques for Revamping Sweaters
How to felt wool jumpers and how to unravel sweaters yourself.
- How to Felt a Sweater
Your sweaters must have a high wool content.
- Felting Sweaters
You can also felt wool blankets.
- Unravelling Sweaters
To re-use the yarn.
- Adding Embroidery
To your sweaters.
- From Sweater to Yarn
Learn to unravel a sweater.
- More Sweater Unravelling
Another tutorial for retrieving and recycling yarn.
Into other styles and types of clothing.
- Cosy Sweater Socks
Extra long socks made from sweater sleeves.
- Quick Mittens
Recycled mittens with a charming blanket stitch border.
- Cute Wool Hats
With ears and pom-poms!
- Slouchy Hat
Cute beanie style.
- Snowy Day Hat
Free pattern for a lined hat with cute braids.
- Sweater to Skirt
In 30 minutes.
Lovely photo tutorial.
- Open Cardigan
Transform a thin sweater into a cute cardi.
- Lightning Knit Dresses
Funky sweater revamp.
- Legwarmers and a Cowl Scarf
2 tutorials in 1!
- Bubble Skirt
Cute stretchy skirt.
- Sweater Dress
Such a cute girl's dress.
- Sweater Revamp
Sweater & Felt Carrots
Sweater Recycling Tutorials
Into non-clothing items:
- Winter Wreath
Made of leaves cut from sweaters.
- Ornaments, Tote Bags & More
Great ideas for reusing felted sweaters.
- Knitting Basket
Luxury storage container.
- Tutorial List
- Silly Monster Puppets
Cute felted creatures.
- Easy Softie
Simple rabbit toy.
- Fruity Pillows
Fun round pillows - very original!
- Chair Cover, Blanket & More
Lots of projects including hats and pet products.
- Cup Holder and Coasters
Perfect for using up sweater scraps.
- Re-Upholstering a Chair Seat
With a comfy sweater.
- Hot Water Bottle Cover
Cute and cozy cover for your hot water bottle.
How to Make Sweater Christmas Ornaments
Go green this Christmas by recycling sweaters to make cozy Christmas ornaments!
What You Will Need:
* Chunky knit sweater
* All-purpose glue
* Styrofoam ball; try to find a ball diameter close to approx. 3"
* 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Turn Your Knitwear Into New Creations
- Sweater Bangles
Cozy jewelry pieces using your patterned knits.
- Knee-High Socks
Upcycled sweater sleeves make the cutest socks.
- Ombre Pumpkins
Lovely cosy decor for the Fall season.
- Stylish Sweater Bag
Fashionable leather-bottomed upcycled bag.
- Pom-Pom Sweater
Follow the trend for 3D embellishments with mini pom-poms.
- Rugged Sweater Boots
Brilliant idea for adding knitwear sections to make your boots unique.
- Patchwork Throw or Pillow
Piece together sweater sections for a big throw blanket.
- Felted Wool Roses
Perfect for using to embellish other items.
- Woven Scarf
An unusual and interesting scarf design.
Recycled Sweater Cushion
Creative Repurposing Ideas
- Camera Strap Cover
A cozy strap for photographers.
- Upcycled Knitwear Wreath
Use sweaters in the place of socks, plus yarn and felt sections.
- Felt Plant Pouches
Fun for guerilla gardening or decorating a fence.
- Tiny Woolly Kittens
No instructions for these, but they are too cute not to feature!
- Gift Wrapping Bag
Interesting and re-usable pouches for smaller presents.
- Braided Headband
A stylish way of keeping your hair out of your face!
- Winter Pom-Pom Hat
Using another hat as a template.
- A Snood for your Pet
You'll love these adorable photos.
- Beanie with Ears
A cute hat with ears sticking out to represent an animal of your choice.
Felted Sweater Mittens
DIY Sweater Revamps
- Rabbit Plushie
Adorable bunny rabbit toy.
- French Press Cozy
With button fastening.
- Beach Ball Pillows
Fun spherical cushions.
- Waterproof Boots
Felted boots with rubber bottoms.
- Felted Slippers
With flower embellishment.
- Cow Print Sweater
Fast refashion for only $3.
- Pocket Pillows
Sweater throw pillows with useful pockets.
- Ruffle Scarf
Pretty, feminine Winter scarf.
- Sweater Skirt
Cute and comfy skirt made from an old jumper.
- DIY Chic Camera Strap
How to take a rectangular piece of a sweater and create a cosy camera strap.
- Fair Isle Embroidery
How to add a sweet cross stitch pattern to a knitwear.
Gorgeous Patchwork Blanket
Fun Sweater Reconstructions
- Dog Sweater
Cute sweater to keep your dog warm.
- Wool Jewellery
Felted earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
- Laptop Sleeve
Ignore the knitting part if you have a sweater to use.
- Upcycled Coasters
Dual-color coasters made from felted sweaters.
- Plaster Vase
Using a sweater to add texture.
- Cuddly Trees
Built up in layers.
- Foxy Mug Cozy
Test out your needle felting skills to make a cute coffee cozy.
- Long Johns
Warm and snuggly pants.
Sweater Craft Videos
More Sweater Projects
- Cat Bed
To make a comfy place for your cat to sleep.
- Sweater Boots
With a funky Fairisle pattern.
- Racing Snail
Very cute felted plushie.
- Cross-Stitch Pillow Cover
Beautiful stitched snowflake and geometric pattern examples.
- Simple Sweater Pillows
How to make pillows the easy way.
- Hand bag
Woolly bag with fab wooden handle.
- Wool Mittens
Felted mittens are a quick project.
- Cable Knit Lampshade
Quick and easy way to revamp a plain shade.
- Laptop Compubody Sock
Hilarious invention for blocking out distractions.
- Laptop Cozy
With a zipper.
- Woolly Gremlins
Fun sweater creatures.
- Applique Pillow
With a cool repeated pattern sewn on the front.
- Wine Gift Wrap Cozy
Lovely way of wrapping a wine bottle - with added pom-pom!
Woven Sweater Rug
- Snowflake Wreath
A cuddly sweater wreath for Winter.
- Sweater Vases
These would make great gifts.
- Nice 'n' Easy Bag
Simple sweater bag tute.
- Pretty Hand Bag
With circular wooden handles.
- Vintage Style Bag
With cute pearl buttons.
- Mice Softies
Sweet mice toys.
- Felt Hats
Fun, cute hats for Winter.
- Wool Patchwork Throw
Felt your wool sweaters, cut into squares and use for a blanket.
- Ear Warmers
Cute little headband to keep your ears warm.
- Toddler Pants
DIY sweater pants for toddlers made using the sleeves.
- Heart Sweater
Add a statement heart applique to a sweater.
Pullover to Purse
Give Your Sweaters a New Life!
- Scrappy Felt iPad Cover
Cover your electronics in a patchwork of felted sweaters.
- Patchwork Pet Bed
Spoil your dog or cat rotten with this cozy bed.
- Felted Chicken
Lovely softie which would be a nice toy or decoration.
- Stuffed Argyle Pig
One of my favourite sweater projects - very cute!
- Birdie Slipper Socks
Adorable and cozy socks with bird applique.
- 6 Sweater Crafts
Includes covering bowls, lampshades and vases with a sweater cozy.
- Sweater Handbag
With a cute lining and wooden handles.
- Alpaca Wool Bag
Feminine felted bag with flower decorations.
- Wool Insoles
DIY insoles for making your shoes warm and cozy.
- Wine Bottle Gift Bags
Use your sweater sleeves to create bottle cozies.
Handmade Sweater Pins
Impressive Sweater Transformations
- Sock Monkey Costume
An absolutely adorable kid or baby costume.
- Sweater Stockings
Cozy festive stocking decorations for Christmas.
Cozy floral headwrap inspired by an Anthropologie design.
- Christmas Stockings
Make your own stockings for the holidays.
- Sweater Wall Art
Recycle old sweaters to make statement artwork.
- Xmas Ornaments
Make cozy baubles with pieces of old sweaters.
- Elf Slippers
Cute slippers with a little curl at the front.
- Sweater Cape
This amazing giant sweater would be so cozy in winter.
- Recycled Wool Sleeves
Cute and cozy sleeves made with sections of a few different sweaters.