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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Tip: Turn Old Turtleneck into Headband

By Brianna Southworth 75 2

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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Tip: Craft: Turn Wool Sweaters Into Pants

By Jackie 2

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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Tip: Recycle Old Sweaters into New Clothing

By April 187 452

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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Question: How Can I Make a Quilt From Old Sweaters?

By 'Miss' Bonnie 10 71

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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Most Recent Answer

By Bobbie Hudson-Penick 48 Flag

October 22, 2011

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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Question: Recycling Sweaters

Does anyone know how to make mittens and afghans from old sweaters?


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Most Recent Answer

By nicole 4 3 Flag

November 30, 2008

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

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Tip: Turn Old Sweaters Into Leg Warmers

By Cyinda 214 1,287

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. Next unravel the sleeve (from the top down) until the top is straight and level all around.

If you know how to knit or crochet, just loosely put one loop over the next (all around) until the area is "bound off" If you don't know how to knit or crochet just sew or (using fabric glue) tack each loop of yarn down inside the sleeve.

You can make your leg-warmers shorter by just unraveling more of the top (or cutting the yarn off, then turning it in, then zig-zagging or hand stitching) If you need to make the leg-warmers thinner, simply turn them inside-out and sew a seam up the inside, then zig-zag and cut off excess. I, myself leave the extra piece on and just tuck it down inside and tack it. This is good for a little extra warmth, but it also adds bulk.

For washable leg-warmers use acrylic sweaters, but for super-warm ones, use wool sweaters. For kids sizes, use kids sweaters. I've made lots of these using sweaters from thrift stores and they sure are warm and help keep your legs dry when it snows. Sometimes I'll even spray silicone on them as an added water repellent!

By Cyinda from near Seattle

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Tip: Beanies and Matching Mittens from an Old Sweater

By pam munro 522 790

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. All you do is use the edge of the sweater for a headband of the beanie and cut a head shape and sew it up and a hand shape on the arms of the old sweater, also using the sleeve edge as the new edge for the mittens. Great Idea.


By pamphyila from Los Angeles, CA

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Question: Recycling Cotton Knit Sweaters

How can I recycle old knitted cotton sweaters?

By Loretta from Steep Falls

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Most Recent Answer

By Kimbra 2 Flag

March 3, 2012

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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Article: Reusing Old Crocheted Sweaters

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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Tip: Modifying Crocheted Sweaters

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".

Recently we found a bunch of beautiful hand crocheted sweaters; you know the lacy kinds with floral or medallion patterns, under which she can wear camisoles or spaghetti strap shirts. She just loved them, but she really hates long sleeves all the way down to her wrists and prefers a 3/4 sleeve.

So we cut off about 6-8 inches of the end of the sleeves, finished off the new sleeves with trim or trim and beaded fringe (homemade) or ribbon. Then we used the cut off ends to make cellphone purses.

We don't use cellphones (although my daughter keeps dreaming of one!), but we know how popular they are. We sewed up the finished ends of the crocheted tube. Then we sewed a liner from velvet, satin, or other scraps we had (several liners came from a $1 velvet girl's dress we found at a thrift store). We put the liner inside the crochet tube, sewed them together at the top by covering the opening with bias tape or a strip of liner fabric. Then we added cord for the strap and using a strip of liner fabric, sewed a 1x4 inch flap over the top to be fastened with a snap or Velcro (so the phone won't fall out).

The purse is also great for glasses or will hold a checkbook, small wallet, and keys.

By Allison

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Tip: Use Old Sweaters In Crafts

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. Sew to an old blanket or throw and keep in the car for cold mornings or emergencies. They make the warmest car blankets!

By Glynda L.

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Tip: Recycling Older Sweaters

By Sandi/Poor But Proud 466 2,132

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. However, if you want to snooze and don't want a waffle face, make the useful ones smooth.

I don't have an example to give you, but this idea is pretty simple. Give yourself about an inch leeway to cover the older pillow. Or, you can use some No Fray" iron on and seal the seams, then sew it back to front and leave the seam edges out for a BOHO or Shabby Chic look. If you think the pillow will be used a lot, make it the kind that you can slip off and on like a pillowcase. That way, you and just whip stitch one side and easily take it off to wash. Hand sewing is better than machine, but a machine can be used. I like to see the stitches with a sweater, as you can use yarn and add charm to the pillow.

By Sandi from Salem, OR

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Crafts Recycled CraftsFebruary 28, 2012
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