Once you’ve finished spring cleaning your closet, you may find yourself wondering about uses for old sweaters. Sure, donating them is one option, but what about those sweaters that even your local charity wouldn’t want? Try these creative ideas and turn your old sweaters into creative, fun and frugal projects for your house.
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No-Sew Uses For Old Sweaters
1. Salvage the yarn. Locate the sweater seam and snip one of the bottom stitches. Use a knitting needle or chopstick to lift the seam stitches, cutting as you go. Once you’ve removed the seam, begin to unravel the yarn at the cast-off edge at the top of the sweater. Wind the yarn as you go, and you’ll get around 3 to 4 balls of yarn from each sweater.
2. Felt it. Sweaters that are at least 20% wool can be felted in the washing machine, a process that makes them stiffer for use in craft projects. Simply wash and rinse the sweater by itself using the highest water temperature, then run it through the dryer. (Beware, you’ll need to clean the lint filter repeatedly, and may want to consider cleaning your entire dryer after this project.) After several wash/dry cycles, the sweater will shrink dramatically and grow very dense, which means it’s been felted. Use that material in projects like this cute felted flower fascinator hat, or cut squares to use as coasters.
3. Make your own dryer balls. You can spend the time unraveling the sweater to make yarn balls and convert them into dryer balls like Jillee describes, or you can cut strips from the sweater and wrap them into balls, then felt them.
4. Turn old pullovers into cardigans. If you know how to use an iron and a pair of scissors, you can turn an old pullover sweater into a cozy cardigan following these steps.
5. Make a cup or bottle cozy. Using the felting process described above means the fabric won’t unravel once you cut it. So turn those old wool sweater sleeves into cozies by sliding the felted sleeve over the cup or bottle, cuff-end first. Trim the bottom to fit as needed.
6. Use the cuffs as vase or candle embellishments. Alicia at Thrifty and Chic shows how attractive old sweater sleeves can be when slipped over a candle or vase and tied with an attractive ribbon.
7. Give flower planters a punch of color. It’s going to be at least a month before Spring flowers start showing their colors, but you don’t have to wait that long! Follow Duo Fiberwork’s instructions to add a pop of color to your planters while you wait.
8. Make a Spring (or any season) wreath. Once again, use that felting process described above to make a fun, simple yet snazzy sweater wreath. All you’ll need are some old sweaters, scissors and hanger wire!
9. Make embellishments. Felt a sweater and cut out flowers, geometric shapes, even letters to embellish your scrapbook pages or other craft projects.
10. Make legwarmers. Everything old is new again, apparently. The legwarmers of my youth (which was a long time ago) are back in fashion… for now. Rather than spend a fortune buying them — and you know darn well they’ll go out of fashion the moment you do — simply cut the sleeves off from old sweaters. Tuck the cut end into your boots and leave the cuffs showing above them. Voila, you’re in style. For now.
Uses For Old Sweaters That Require Sewing
10. Turn them into pincushions. These adorable cupcake pincushions look almost good enough to eat, don’t they? Cute Everything will show you how easy they are to make.
11. Make a throw blanket. Got 5 or 6 wool or wool-blend sweaters? Turn them into a pretty, cozy throw blanket for those chilly Spring nights.
12. Make pillow covers. Felt your sweaters, then turn them into pillow covers a la Martha Stewart.
13. Make fingerless gloves. If you get stiff wrists while typing, or just can’t stand using gloves because they stop you from texting on your iPhone, you’ll love these fingerless gloves made from old sweaters.
14. Make a sock money outfit. Do you see that photo? Do you see it??? I don’t think I even have to describe it further. In fact, I may just start stalking women with babies so I have an excuse to make an adorable sock monkey outfit using Homemade Ginger’s tutorial.
15. Make a pet bed. Pets love cozy, warm places. That’s why my cats have taken over my pillows and my dog sprawls on my sofa seat the instant I stand up. Making a pet bed from old sweaters might just put an end to that. Then again, it might not.
16. Stitch a simple aromatherapy pillow. Fill a sweater with a mixture of rice and your favorite tea or dried herbs, and stitch the ends shut as The Magic Onions shows, and you’ve got yourself a pretty, fragrant pillow you can use as-is or microwave a minute for added comfort.
17. Stitch a beautiful flower pillow. Grab a pillow form and an old sweater, and turn them into a beautiful flower pillow for your sofa using this tutorial from Squeezing It All In. Pretty!
18. Make a hot water bottle cover. Those of us with arthritis, and those of us who don’t like paying outrageous heating costs, know that a water bottle can be of great comfort. Except when they burn your skin. Keep that from happening by making a hot water bottle cover from an old sweater.
19. Turn a sweater into a shopping bag. No need to buy those shoddy yet overpriced reusable shopping bags from the grocery store. Here’s how to turn an old sweater into a reusable shopping bag. You can even use it as a bohemian-style purse!
20. Make an infinity scarf. If you have a favorite sweater you just can’t bear to completely part with, turn it into an infinity scarf instead. Homemaker’s Challenge shows you how, along with five more projects for up-cycling sweaters!
Now that you know all of the great uses for old sweaters, cleaning out your closet doesn’t sound nearly as overwhelming, does it?