15 ways to repurpose old sweaters

cardigan on a hanger
CC BY 2.0 Mr.TinDC

Who says you have to say goodbye to a favorite old sweater? Breathe new life into it with these fun, creative, DIY projects.

If your favorite sweater has sadly reached the end of its life, do not despair! There are ways to reinvent it and breathe new life into its cozy, fuzzy warmth. Here are some ideas for repurposing old sweaters that are perfect for cold, wintry days.

1. Make a pair of mittens. Use a sweater with an existing hem around the waist, and cut your mittens at the bottom of the sweater so that the hem will keep them snug around your wrist. Wool would be the warmest material to use. See instructions here.

2. Make a snug knitted hat or a slouchy beanie. Similar to the mittens, use the existing hem of the sweater as the edge of a hat, which will keep it snug to your head. Depending on how high you cut, you can make one that fits close or slouches.

3. Make a fuzzy pillowcase. If you love cuddling up inside a sweater, why not on top of one? Turn an old sweater into a pillowcase for your bedroom or sofa. Decorate with buttons if you want, or make an envelope-style case.

4. Keep your mug warm with a cozy. Knitted cozies are all the rage these days, as they help keep beverages hot in glass or ceramic mugs, not to mention feeling wonderful on the hands. Cut a strip of old sweater and attach with Velcro or a button to a Mason jar or coffee mug.

5. Make some fingerless gloves. Anyone who reaches for their phone in the winter knows how useful fingerless gloves can be. Cut the sleeves from an old sweater to whatever height you want, and make a hole for your thumbs. Voilà, fingerless gloves in much less time than it would take to knit a pair!

6. Make some boot toppers. Not only are they stylish, but they’re also practical. Boot toppers keep your legs warmer and, if you’re wearing tights, will prevent runs that are caused by the rough tops of rubber boots. Cut a wide band from the upper sleeve of an old sweater that goes partway down your calf and fold over the extra material over the top.

7. Make a pocket scarf. This is a scarf that has a pocket at either end where you can keep your hands warm and stash a cellphone or Kleenex. Cut a scarf out of an old sweater, starting from the pocket on one side, up and around the back, and down around the other pocket.

8. Make a bum warmer. I’m not sure if there’s a more official term, but this is what my tights-wearing friends call them! A bum warmer is essentially a miniskirt that adds an extra layer to otherwise not-very-warm pants in wintertime. Check out this tutorial.

9. Make some leg warmers. If a sweater can keep your upper body warm, why not put that ability to work on your lower body, too? (This blogger calls them boot socks, but they’re the same thing.)

10. Make a cozy headband. Easy as pie – cut a strip from an old sweater with a pattern you love and stitch it up to make a stretchy, comfy headband. Make it narrow to hold back hair and look stylish, or make it wide to double as a hat and keep your head warm in cold weather.

11. Make a funky wrap. Maybe the original sweater didn’t fit quite right but you love its feel? Turn it into an asymmetrical wrap and continue to stay warm.

12. Make a warm cowl. A cowl is a wide scarf that attaches to the other end and drapes over your shoulders like a shawl. It is an attractive and practical accessory in cold weather. See instructions here.

13. Make a wool diaper cover for your baby. Wool covers are a great option for absorption and breathability when using cloth diapers, but they can be expensive. Making your own from old sweaters is more economical and pretty straightforward with some basic sewing skills.

14. Make amazing sweater boots. This has to be my favorite upcycling idea! Turn an old sweater into snug boots by shaping and sewing the fabric over some old shoes. Check it out here.

15. Make pocket-warmers. Like a heated beanbag on the go, you can cut square-shaped bands from a sweater arm, stitch up the sides, and fill with dried beans, lentils, buckwheat or pie weights. Toss it in the microwave for a minute until hot, then put in your pocket before heading out into the snow. I use a larger version of this in bed, made of buckwheat and dried lavender. Instructions here.

Tags: Clothing | Crafts | Do It Yourself | Recycled Fashion | Recycling | Reusability

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