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.
Eyeglasses Case In Progress
Where to Buy Recycled Sweater Products
- Karen Meyers
For a selection of bags and purses.
- Wooly Baby
Adorable Lambswool slippers.
- Felt Sew Good
A wide range of felted sweater goods.
- Snuggle Pants
Skirts and pants made from sweaters.
- Mounted Deer Head Trophies
Cable-knit deer head models by Rachel Denny.
Recycled Jewelry Partitioners
Please Comment On My Lens!
Sue, Nelson, New Zealand on December 11, 2016:
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
Barbara on December 04, 2015:
cool sweater unraveller!! Now I know what to do with my old bike. Any tips on reconstructing?
Rose Jones on May 06, 2014:
Exceptional lens - so many great resources. Pinned to my Knit and Crochet board as well as my Helping the Earth board.
laura-hisrich on January 29, 2014:
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!
stephanie-hallit on January 10, 2014:
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 on January 04, 2014:
ShelbyLinMarie on December 03, 2013:
Fantastic ides! I really love the sweater kitty. Thanks!
hgb282 on November 19, 2013:
Very creative and eco-friendly ideas. You definitely put a lot of work into this lens. Bravo.
chrisilouwho on November 18, 2013:
I've seen cushions like this in the stores but I never dreamed I could make one myself, thanks for this!
tonyleather on November 09, 2013:
I just LOVE any lens that promotes recycling. Well done!
costumesngifts on October 02, 2013:
Wow! Lots of cute ideas to upcycle a sweater! :)
anonymous on September 17, 2013:
nice as visit
anonymous on September 17, 2013:
nice and great as visit I appreciate you.
RANADEEP on August 20, 2013:
Great and very craetive ideas,thanks for sharing with us!!
MicheleWebber on August 06, 2013:
Great ideas, have bookmarked for future use! Thanks :-)
Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on May 22, 2013:
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.
anonymous on May 12, 2013:
Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on January 04, 2013:
OMG, so many cute sweater recycle projects so little time!
lewisgirl on December 11, 2012:
Monica Lobenstein from Western Wisconsin on December 08, 2012:
So much inspiration... Bookmarking this page!
anonymous on November 25, 2012:
This is a great site-- thanks for compiling all these sites on your site!
dawnsnewbeginning on November 14, 2012:
Great lens! Lots of good ideas to try!
remanon on October 19, 2012:
what an excellent lens - so much to read, so much to try. a huge thank you!!
MrsMcCraw on October 03, 2012:
I like your lens :) i did that before :)
Essentially Ind on September 25, 2012:
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...........:)
inspirationz on September 19, 2012:
loads of cool ideas here!
Xenia-consultant on September 07, 2012:
What wonderful socks, mushrooms and probably very warm.
wrapitup4me on September 02, 2012:
What great ideas!!! Bookmarked for future reference.
LoveToClean on August 29, 2012:
LOVE the mushroom pillow socks--- they look so COMFY as well!! :)
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on July 05, 2012:
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 on May 28, 2012:
SheilaMilne from Kent, UK on May 10, 2012:
I had no idea there were quite so many ways to recycle a jumper! I may even try some of them myself.
KateHonebrink on April 02, 2012:
LOVE this lens!! Now I have so many ideas to use old sweaters for - thank you so much!!
Teddi14 LM on March 24, 2012:
I love this lens. So many great ideas. I am pinning it now!!!!!
Gayle Dowell from Kansas on March 23, 2012:
Love all the recycled sweater ideas. I need to dig out my old sweaters! :o)
Ladyeaglefeather on March 18, 2012:
Great lens, I loved the pillowa
Lauriej1 on February 22, 2012:
I love the sweater pillow! I will definitely try to make some of these! Great lens BTW! :)
flycatcherrr on February 17, 2012:
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 from Ontario, Canada on February 15, 2012:
Amazing Lense! You inspire people to create :)
jimmyworldstar on February 02, 2012:
Who knew you could turn sweaters into fruits and vegetables! Sounds like a great idea to get rid of my old sweaters.
Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on January 16, 2012:
I love the cute cuddly cat. Great job with this lens.
Traceeshobbies on January 09, 2012:
Rally great ideas. Now I don't have to throw away sweaters that are outdated!
Traceeshobbies on January 09, 2012:
Rally great ideas. Now I don't have to throw away sweaters that are outdated!
klaird on January 04, 2012:
Great ideas! I've featured this page on my "50 Craft Ideas for Adults" lens.
Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on January 01, 2012:
wow, such creative ideas to recycle sweaters - you are very talented indeed!
howtosewadress on December 30, 2011:
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.
cardigansweaters1 on December 09, 2011:
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 on December 08, 2011:
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.
Godsgraciousgift on December 06, 2011:
I really liked the pictures showing things made out of recycled sweaters. Nice lens
marioaus on December 05, 2011:
omg these aren't just cute, they're really beautiful too.
rangiiria on December 03, 2011:
This is a great resource! I will definitely be revisiting this lens. Thanks ;-)
anonymous on December 03, 2011:
Wow! What a thorough site for those of us interested in felting crafts! And great bibliography, too! Strong work! Thanks!
bames24 lm on November 24, 2011:
love the slippers and the leg warmers :)
Mark Falco from Reno, Nevada on November 16, 2011:
Fun stuff. Love the domestic trophy in your intro.
WistaWren on November 11, 2011:
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 on November 06, 2011:
very creative lens, I love the Cuddly Cat
Wedding Photographer Bristol
earthybirthymum from Ontario, Canada on October 29, 2011:
nelspruitphotographer on October 22, 2011:
Wow, never dreamed there was an afterlife for old sweaters, brilliant! I sense a whole new hobby in the making for me - Thanks
Donnette Davis from South Africa on October 20, 2011:
Inspiring and inspirational, thank you for putting together a great lens full of brilliant ideas!
Bloomsandbugs LM on October 20, 2011:
So many great ideas here.
ResearchAddict on October 14, 2011:
Such cute ideas!
ananimoss2 on October 12, 2011:
We love all your creative lenses. And clever, I know how to find your lenses...with a big star in front!
Lee Hansen from Vermont on October 04, 2011:
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 ...
anonymous on September 01, 2011:
anonymous on August 27, 2011:
Another GREAT book on sweater recycling books it Felt it! Stitch it! Fabulous! by Katheryn Tidwell Bieber
Genjud on August 17, 2011:
Great ideas. I'm going to try a few for Christmas gifts. Thanks
profilesincolor on August 14, 2011:
Nice Work! Recycling at its finest! :-)
KarenCookieJar on July 22, 2011:
Super cute ideas!
Vicki from USA on July 13, 2011:
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.
anonymous on May 27, 2011:
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 on April 24, 2011:
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 on March 12, 2011:
What a great way to recycle old jumpers (yes I'm a Brit).
anonymous on February 26, 2011:
Wow.. just love your Lens.. Thank you
spider-girl on January 30, 2011:
Very creative ideas here, loved the lens!
Adriana from New Market on January 27, 2011:
WOW! Very creative! Blessed by a Squid Angel :)
charder on January 25, 2011:
Love the deer!
AbigailsCrafts LM on January 23, 2011:
Lovely ideas! The sleeve animals are adorable :D
I have a short lens about shibori felting - another project for reusing old sweaters ;)
Anahid LM on January 11, 2011:
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 on December 29, 2010:
Great ideas! I never thought of using old sweaters... other than wishing I didn't have to throuw them out.
jackieb99 on December 25, 2010:
I love the site! So many good ideas...I love recycling old things.
Lee Hansen from Vermont on December 16, 2010:
Oh wow, I have to make the felted sweater circles Christmas tree. I'm off to the thrift store right now for supplies!
AllieMcc on December 14, 2010:
Thanks for putting these all in one place! I love upcycling!
Craftybegonia on November 30, 2010:
Terrific and practical use of old things! I love to recycle. Those cuddle critters are cute and I loved the lamp shade too!
Jen from California on November 27, 2010:
Wonderful ideas! I love those cuddle critters - perfect for little kid stocking stuffers.
mockingbird999 on November 26, 2010:
I love the deer in your into module. That's really cute.
Loretta from United States on November 19, 2010:
Great ways to use those old sweaters!
anonymous on November 13, 2010:
Awesome lens! Loved the sweater pillow!
Rachel Field on June 20, 2010:
What an awesome lens! I love the deer head in the intro! Lensrolled to Recycling Fabric.
hayleylou lm on May 25, 2010:
These look wonderful, think I will try the Xmas tree, like this :)