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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:

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 :)

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.

Pom-Pom Sweater

Refashion Sweaters

Into other styles and types of clothing.

Sweater & Felt Carrots

Complete with thread roots!

Complete with thread roots!

Plushie Pears

Made using felted sweaters.

Made using felted sweaters.

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!

Turn Your Knitwear Into New Creations

Recycled Sweater Cushion

Creative Repurposing Ideas

Felted Sweater Mittens

DIY Sweater Revamps

Gorgeous Patchwork Blanket

Fun Sweater Reconstructions

Cuddly Cat

Sweater Craft Videos

More Sweater Projects

Dusting Mitt

Woven Sweater Rug

Upcycling Sweaters

Pullover to Purse

Give Your Sweaters a New Life!

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!

Impressive Sweater Transformations

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.

Where to Buy Recycled Sweater Products

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!

Sweater Unraveller

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:

GREAT!!!

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:

Cute ideas!

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on January 04, 2013:

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

lewisgirl on December 11, 2012:

Great ideas!

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:

cute sweaters!

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:

Awesome Lense!

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:

Great Lens!!

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 :)