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Recycling Sweaters Into Crafts

Sweaters can be used in a variety of recycled crafts. This is a guide about recycling sweaters into crafts.

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January 14, 2014 Flag

Don't throw away old sweaters. Recycle them! I have even bought them at thrift stores to recycle. Most projects can be done in under an hour.


Approximate Time: 1 hour or less


  • old sweaters with the ribbing still intact
  • thread
  • needle
  • sewing machine


  1. Save old sweaters or find them at thriftstores to recycle into "new" items. Wash and dry before starting.
  2. Sweater sleeves make cute leggings for little girls. Cut them off at the shoulder, and sew into a straight line. You may wish to add elastic depending on the size of the girl and the size of the sleeves. Position so that the ribbing (cuff part) of the sleeve is at the ankle.
  3. Use the body of the sweater to make mittens. Again, use the ribbing of the sweater to be the cuff of the mitten (at the wrist).
  4. Use the body of a cotton or wool sweater to make hot trivets for your dining room table. This is fun to do for the holidays. For example: use an old Christmas sweater for Christmas trivets, a pink or red one for Valentine's, or a green one for Saint Paddy's Day. Don't use acrylic sweaters for this as they can get too hot and melt.
  5. Sleeves cut and hemmed to size make good water bottle socks to absorb sweat off a cold bottle or to help insulate it.
  6. Large sized sweaters can be cut down to make jumpers or sweater dresses for toddler girls or sweater vests for toddler boys.


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May 3, 2016 Flag
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This is a guide about recycle yarn from old sweaters. Old outdated sweaters of your own or thriftstore finds are a great source for reclaimed yarn.

A knitted item with a ball of yarn being unraveled from it.

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March 31, 2009 Flag
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Wool Sweater PantsTurn your old wool sweater into a pair of pants for your baby! Wash the sweater with hot water and dry with high heat to shrink it. Cut off the sleeves, and sew them together to make a pair of "legs". Finish the waist with a draw-string (an old shoe-string works great) or elastic. You can even use the collar or bottom of the sweater to make it look more professional around the waist. And, wool makes a great diaper cover, too!

By Jackie from Burlington, KY

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February 28, 2011 Flag

I have several old sweaters that my family and I love and would like to recycle or re-use. I want to put large squares from the sweaters together to make a king-sized quilt.

Can I stitch the blocks of sweaters before cutting them apart, to keep them from unraveling, then cut them out, and attach them to each other by stitching them along the prior stitch line?

I do not knit at all and have very little experience sewing. I only know how to make some hand stitches, and I don't have a sewing machine.

If my idea is ridiculous, please advise me how I can do the "quilt" or submit these sweaters to someone else to do it for me.

By Miss Bonnie from Denver, CO region

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October 22, 20110 found this helpful

If you go to buy a used sewing machine please take a sewing person with you as you could end up with nothing and have spent your money. I rebuild old machines and can find a lot that have a little wrong with them for 20 dollars but you have to know how to use one to buy used.

Go to a Sewing place that fixes machines and 50.00 with a 30 day guarantee is a good price and you are covered and they will instruct you or you can order a book if one doesn't come with it by googling the name of the machine. You seem to be wanting to tackle an awful big job so be careful, get some help.

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October 22, 20110 found this helpful

I did a google search and found quite a few instructions. I do agree with the rest that you will need a sewing machine even if you are a very accomplished hand stitcher. I will include some of the links I found & you can easily do the search with " making quilts from sweaters" , or other variations of your own query. ... nket-with-recycled-sweaters/page/all ... /felted-sweater-patchwork-quilt.html (I only found part 2 but I'm sure with a bit of looking there is a part1 here someplace)

Hope this helps get you started.

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May 2, 20160 found this helpful

Your question gave me a brilliant picture of a "quilt" made from sweaters! OOOOOO! cozy!!

Try going to a quilt shop with your idea and find a class to join. It could be the start of a wonderful new hobby for you!

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October 22, 2010 Flag

At garage sales, I always keep an eye out for turtlenecks. I don't like the way I look in them; rather, what I do is bring them home and snip off the "turtleneck" part, which I then wear as a stretchy headband! Just make sure you cut so that the seam is still attached to the neckline of the shirt. That way, you have a finished edge on what is left, and your new headband stretches nicely. :)

By AlaskanAurora from Dutch Harbor, AK

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February 4, 2009 Flag
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Leg-warmers are back in style and can easily be made from the sleeves of old sweaters, even sweaters with holes! Just turn the sweater inside-out and cut the seam out at the arm-hole using sharp scissors.

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December 19, 2007 Flag

Look at the latest holiday edition of for instructions how to make easy beanies and matching mitten from an old sweater! Kids are always losing theirs, so this would be great for a wintry mom.

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February 28, 2012 Flag
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How can I recycle old knitted cotton sweaters?

By Loretta from Steep Falls

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March 3, 20120 found this helpful

I made an old sweater of mine into a hot water bottle cover! I didn't have a pattern, just snipped off the arms, ballparked the size, and did a quick stitch around. I kept the turtleneck opening of the sweater around the spout of the bottle. Keeps it very warm and cozy!

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July 25, 2005 Flag
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Enhance your Shabby Chic or vintage decorating with crafts from OLD CROCHETED SWEATERS from the thrift store. These sweaters are often torn or pulled in one area so are not useful as sweaters anymore. I have bought them for between $1-$3 each.

  1. LAMPSHADES: cut the bottom off under the arms and draped this tube over plain white paper lamp shades. tape to the inside to avoid burning the loose threads

  2. DRAWSTRING BAGS: cutting a circle out of the front or back of the sweater and a contrasting fabric, sew a hem, thread cord through and gather. store lingerie or other items and drop a bunch of them into a wire basket so they show

  3. WINDOW VALANCE: cut off the bottoms just below the arms, separate the front and back pieces, sew binding tape along the sides and top, add some fabric yo-yos along the bottom edges in your room's colors, add tabs or rings and hang side-by-side

  4. ANTIMACASSARS: instead of doilies, use colorful squares. circles or diamonds cut from the sweaters. edge with bias tape or roll over edges and crochet an edging

  5. BEDSPREAD OR THROW: a little tricky but you can cut squares and piece together with or without a backing

  6. LAVENDAR SACHETS: cut shapes from the sweaters. match with fabric. lay down fabric right side up, the sweater piece, and another fabric piece right side down on top. sew three edges and turn right side out. fill with lavender and sew closed. tie matching ribbon around one or two together

  7. PLANTERS: paint pots white. cut sweater piece to fit around. apply glue to wrong side of crocheted piece and wrap pot.

  8. TABLETOPPERS: cut to fit night- or end table and cover with glass cut to fit

  9. OTHER: with fabric: tea cozies; kitchen appliance covers; clothespin bags; book and phone book covers/ without fabric backing: dishcloths; dainty bathroom face cloths; curtains; mug sweaters....

You can decorate using one or two main colors of sweater - like all white or all cream or white and blue, for example. Or you can use many colors throughout.

You can create a romantic wedding with sachets out of white or cream sweaters, napkin rings out of strips of white or cream sweaters tied around rose colored napkins and a silk rose on floral wire, whatever you can think of to add that vintage look!

Using these sweaters has been my favorite crafting ever!

By Allison

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July 9, 2004 Flag
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My daughter is 14 years old and very particular about her clothes. Luckily she is happy to shop at thrift stores and is willing to spend her own allowance and money from relatives on clothing she doesn't "need".

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March 3, 2012 Flag

I like making them into pillow tops. The sleeves can be bolsters and the backs can be the main front of the pillow. Keep in mind that some pillows are for decoration only, so it's OK to put things like the buttons, any rosettes, embellishments, etc. on them.

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June 11, 2005 Flag
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Old sweaters are excellent (and beautiful) for recovering throw pillows, or making pillows for the kids to use on the floor while playing video games. Another great use for them is to cut them into huge squares and sew together.

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August 24, 2004 Flag
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Does anyone know how to make mittens and afghans from old sweaters?


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August 25, 20040 found this helpful

The best way I've found is to take the sweater apart and unravel it into a ball keeping it very loose. I take the arms off first, then find the connecting yarn and open them up. Usually, the thread runs from the wrist to the underarm. I cut off the wrist piece & work from there. Then, detach the neck piece & discard, or save for emergency scrap material, Last, separate the shoulder seams.

The front and back pieces will have a few inches of cut yarn, usually. I trim these, and then pull the pieces until I reach the first row that goes all the way across, and ball from there. If you save each piece in a separate ball and use one arm and front or back first, you will know when you've used half of your material, and be able to gauge how much more you have to work with.

I've found that 2 mens XL sweaters will make a nice sized afghan.

If you shop at thrift stores, (of course, wash first) you can find some wonderful quality yarn for just a few dollars. Sometimes, if the garment in the store is damaged, it sells for pennies, You might also ask the manager if you can buy (by the bag) the sweaters that they don't deem fit for sale. Some will be unusable, but most can at least be used for granny squares. Have fun : )

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August 25, 20040 found this helpful

I use the sleeves of the sweater to make mittens. Trace a mitten shape as big as your hand (or whomever you are creating for) on the inside of the sweater sleeve using the cuff of the sweater as the wrist of the mitten. Cut out the shape, sew along the edges and turn inside right.

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November 30, 20080 found this helpful

do you have to baste felted squares or can you just go ahead and sew them on a machine????

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