15 Ways to Repurpose Old Sweaters

Who says you have to say goodbye to a favorite old sweater?

cozy chunky sweaters in earth tones are piled up on wooden chair

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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

person wearing chunky tan sweater hugs self while wearing sweater patterned mittens

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Our sister site Liveabout offers step-by-step instructions on how to make mittens out of a sweater with an existing finished edge around the waist, or the finished edge of the sleeve for baby mittens. Just trace your hand 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, or consider lining sweatshirt material with fleece.

2. Make a Snug Knitted Hat or a Slouchy Beanie

slouchy chunky sweater beanie with brown buttons on model with long hair

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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

repurposed chunky sweaters turned into pillowcases arranged on couch with plants in background

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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

person holds hot beverage in red-and-white sweater cozy while reading book

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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

old gray sweater turned into fingerless gloves worn on model with long hair

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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

model lounges on grass wearing gray knitted boot toppers and holding sprig of flower

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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

hand lays flat on tan chunky sweater to measure out with scissors and thread

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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.

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?

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.

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 diaper cover from old sweaters is more economical and pretty straightforward with some basic sewing skills.

14. Make Amazing Sweater Boots

old sweater slippers modeled by woman in jeans who sits on white chair

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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. The blog Urban Threads features a detailed tutorial.

15. Make Pocket-Warmers

multiple sweaters in earth tone colors hanging with cuffs rolled up

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

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.