5 Simple and Easy Ways to Upcycle a Sweater

Guest post from Lauren Mirecki

Every so often, we go through our closets and cupboards and pull out clothing items that are too worn, too small, stretched, shrunk or not wearing anymore. The clothes go one of two places – Goodwill or my sewing table. I have had a stack of sweaters we don’t wear anymore just calling my name to do SOMETHING with them. And it just so happens winter is the perfect time to upcycle sweaters into some new items that will get some new loving.

These projects are fairly quick (I think the longest one took me about 30 minutes, the others from 5-15 minutes) and do require a basic-knowledge of sewing skills. But if you can sew a straight stitch by hand or on a sewing machine, and know how to do a zig-zag stitch (yay for sewing machine pre-sets!), you should be good to go.

5 Simple and Easy Ways to Upcycle a Sweater:


Sweater to Boot Socks and Babylegs

Have you seen all the super cute boot socks that are out there? How about the cuffed-edges and cute patterns peeking out of the tops of your favorite boots? Well, now you can have some too, without too much effort and no expense!

Take a sweater with cuffed sleeves (it looks better than a straight sleeve)- make sure you get one that isn’t too bulky or loose in the sleeves, otherwise the “socks” will fall down around your ankles!

Cut the arms off just around the armpit area. This will be the bottom of your socks.

Turn the sleeve inside out, fold the fabric over half an inch or so, and sew a straight stitch to secure it down, then a zigzag stitch to prevent the edges from unraveling.

Turn right side out, and pull it on, cuffed end first. There you have it, a super cute boot sock!

You can do much the same for babylegs leggings. Oh how I loved babylegs on my little ones chubby legs! You can make your own out of a slim fitting sweater or shirt. Measure the length of your baby (or toddler’s) inseam. Cut the sleeve to fit the length. Make sure you use a tight-sleeve, so they don’t fall down around baby’s ankles.

Turn inside out, fold over the cut edge, stitch and zigzag to seal. Turn right side out and apply cuteness to child.

Sweater to Headband

For a cute, warm winter headband, use the turtleneck part of a sweater, a wide, ribbed waistband, or a part of a ribbed sweater. Cut a strip out the width you want your headband to be (best to measure around your head to make sure it will fit snugly with a little stretch).

Cut a piece of fleece the same length, or a little shorter, and sew to the inside of the band.

Sew the ends right side together and turn inside out. I used part of a side-buttoning neck on the red sweater and used the buttons to attach instead of sewing. You could also sew on buttons and do a button hole if you’re feeling more adventurous!

Sweater to Mittens

Using the sleeve of a sweater, trace an outline about an inch bigger than your hand. Cut out the mitten shape and turn the fabric right sides together.

Sew along the outside, close to the edge, leaving the bottom of the sleeve open for your hand to go in. Zigzag the edges, turn right side out and you have yourself a proper set of mitts!

Sweater to Coffee Cozy

Cut off the cuff of the bottom of a sleeve, sweater or turtle neck. If you’re using the sleeve cuff of a woman’s or tighter fitting sweater, it should be a perfect size to fit around a mug. If you cut your sleeve out of the bottom or top of a sweater, size it to fit around your mug.

Zigzag stitch the cut edge of the fabric to prevent unraveling while you’re sipping your java or tea. If you have a mug without a handle, you can simply slip the sleeve on, or sew the edges together to make a sleeve.

If you would rather make one for a handled mug, you will need to sew either snaps or a button or a button with a loop eye of elastic.

Embellish with buttons or fabric flowers and enjoy your hot drink!

Sweater to Long or Infinity Scarf

This project took a bit more time and effort, but I absolutely love the results!

First, cut the body out of two sweaters, just below where the sleeves attach. Make sure they are the same size, trim if not.

Turn inside out, fold over the cut edge and sew a straight stitch 1/2 ” over and a zigzag stitch to seal.

Next, cut the sweater loops into 4 identical panels – trim them to be the same size.

Sew the panels together, end to end, alternating one sweater with the other – making sure to sew right-sides together.

You can leave the sweater open for a traditional scarf, or sew it into one long loop for a great winter infinity scarf.

One more fun way to wear this scarf – a hooded scarf!

I hope you enjoyed these sweater upcycling ideas! Now it’s time to go through your cupboards and see what new creations you can come up with from what’s buried, deep in the back. Happy upcycling!

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  1. Jeri says

    WOW! The ideas are so fun, cute, and thrifty. I am so inspired. Now I have a good reason to take those never to be worn again sweaters out of my closet and into my sewing room. THANKS for sharing :)

    • says

      It was inspired by a cowl scarf my sister-in-law crocheted for my mother in law for Christmas. I fell in love but can’t crochet well, so this did the job! :D

  2. says

    This is so very, very cool! I never would have thought of this. I think I have a few boxes in my garage waiting to go to Goodwill that has a few sweaters. I”m sad I’ve already carted so much off without thinking I could re-use them in a new way!!! I’ll pin this for later reference. :)


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