An orange cat peeks out from between the folds of an old sweater used as a blanketPin

20 Favorite Things to do with Old Sweaters

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Have you ever held onto an old sweater because you feel guilty for getting rid of it? We’re all a bit more conscious these days about what we add to the landfill, but at the same time we know not to donate things that are worn out.

The solution? Repurpose your old sweaters with one of these clever uses.

1. Turn old sweaters into free yarn.

With a little patience and a needle, you can use your old sweater’s thread as yarn. First, you unravel the sweater by finding the seam and carefully cutting the bottom row of stitches.

Then, unravel the sweater by pulling the thread at the edge loose, winding it into a ball as you go.

My sweaters are kind of…large…so I get 3 to 4 balls of yarn from each that I turn around and use for other projects.

2. Make felt in Your washer and dryer.

If your old sweater is at least 20% wool, you can turn it into felt using your washer and dryer. Wash it on its on using your machine’s hottest, longest cycle then dry it with high heat.

Now, repeat until your sweater shrinks and grows dense. Then use the felt for sewing or craft projects like these cute felt finger puppets.

Did You Know?

Felting is an age-old technique which historically relied agitating wool soaked in hot urine by hand. This is famously depicted in a scene in Outlander where a group of women “waulk the wool.”

3. Make your own dryer balls.

Make DIY dryer balls by combining the two methods above: unravel the yarn, then roll it into a ball and felt it. Or, cut strips of the sweater and make a ball out of those.

Pop 3-6 of your homemade dryer balls in with wet laundry to prevent static. They’ll also speed up drying time as they bounce around fluffing your clothes.

Pro Tip

To add essential oils to your homemade dryer balls, dab 1-2 drops onto each ball. Wait for it to soak in completely, so they don’t leave spots on your clothes, then toss it in the dryer. The heat will spread the fragrance to your clothes.

4. Create a no-sew cardigan Sweater.

If you can use an iron and a pair of scissors, you can use an old pullover sweater to make a cozy cardigan following these steps.

As someone who finds an open neckline more flattering, this one of my favorite things to do with old sweaters—I scour garage sales to find pullovers just for this.

5. Make a cozy.

After felting an old sweater with the method above, use the sleeve as a bottle or can cozy. Simply snip off the old sweater’s felted sleeve and cut it to fit your beverage container. The felting process ensures the fabric won’t unravel.

6. Cover candles that clash.

Fans of scented candles know they favorite fragrances don’t always come in shades that match their home’s decor.

As Chas’ Crazy Creations shows, you can use the sleeve of an old sweater as a “slipcover” that ties into your color scheme. Or change the color to match the seasons!

7. Give planters a punch of color.

If you’re more into plants than candles—or a fan of both—you can do something similar for your flower pots. Manuela has all the tips you need to use an old sweater as a decorative planter sleeve that’s both clever and cute.

8. Create a wreath.

Do you change your front door wreath each season or hang decorative wreaths throughout your home? Turn old sweaters into wreaths with these great steps from Karianne, who goes into the felting process in detail, too.

Did You Know?

Wreaths have been symbols of power and victory since ancient times, famously worn as laurels by victorious Roman generals and Olympic athletes.

9. Embellish your crafts.

If you’re into scrapbooking or making your own greeting cards, you know how expensive embellishments can be.

After felting a sweater, use your Cricut or scissors to cut out flowers, geometric shapes, even letters to embellish your scrapbook pages or other craft projects.

10. Make a retro fashion statement.

Apparently everything old is new again, including leg warmers. To make leg warmers out of an old sweater, cut off the sleeves. Then fold and iron each cut end using hemming tape so they don’t fray. Slide your legs in and you’re in fashion. For now.

11. Create cupcake pincushions.

Making a cupcake pincushion using an old sweater is such a cute idea! This “junky to funky” craft project makes an adorable gift for someone who sews. You don’t even need great sewing skills yourself to make it.

12. Make a throw blanket.

I pick out sweaters that look and feel cozy, don’t you? If you wind up with a hole too big to hide with a scarf or it no longer fits well, use that old sweater to make a cozy throw blanket?

This one does require some sewing skills—Barb uses a serger—but I bet you could also do it using a basic blanket stitch. Check out the video below for a quick how-to.

YouTube video
Use this basic blanket stitch to make crafts from old sweaters

13. Comfort cold wrists.

These fingerless gloves are basically leg warmers for your wrists and they’re super easy to make. For those of us who are cold all the time, they’re a fantastic way to repurpose an old sweater.

14. An adorable toddler Halloween costume.

Quite possibly the most adorable way to use an old sweater turns it into a sock monkey costume for a toddler.

If you’re not into Halloween, it’s okay: this set consists of a shirt, pants, and ridiculously cute hat. It’s like long-johns, but made from an old sweater so it’s cozy, too!

15. Make a pet bed.

My little dog is rarely more than 3 feet away from me, even when I’m downstairs in my chilly office. So I love the thought of using an old sweater to create a cozy pet bed for her.

If your dog is bigger than a cat, you might need to tinker with the instructions a bit, though.

16. Aromatherapy Pillow.

Have you seen those pricey rice-filled pillows that you heat up and put around your neck or behind your back? Put your wallet away and use an old sweater to make one.

First, you felt the sleeves and stitch one end shut. Next, add rice and dried herbs and stitch the open end. Now, you’ve got a DIY aromatherapy pillow you can microwave for 2-3 minutes and use where you need warm relief.

Did You Know?

Aromatherapy harnesses the power of scents like lavender and chamomile, which are scientifically proven to soothe the mind and reduce stress, turning your space into a tranquil oasis.

17. Designer knock-off flower pillow.

I am too embarrassed to tell you how much I spent buying a round felt pillow cover embellished with felt “petals” to make a flower. It was a lot. Like, a lot.

Had I known I could make one using an old sweater, I wouldn’t have broken into tears when my dog tore it up one day while I was at the store.

18. Hot water bottle cover.

One of my favorite frugal ways to stay warm is by turning down the heat at night and using a hot water bottle to pre-heat my bed. That water bottle stays warm even longer with a cover on it.

To make a hot water bottle cover from an old sweater, cut off the arm and close it with bonding tape using your iron. Slide your water bottle into the open end before filling it.

19. Make a tote bag.

If you’re into the boho look or know someone who is, this felted wool handbag is a clever way to use an old sweater. This project does require basic sewing skills, and can be embellished if you want. Such a fun, frugal gift!

20. A Sweater Snood.

You don’t hear a lot about snoods these days—everyone calls them “hoodie scarfs” but it doesn’t have the same ring. They’re a great way to repurpose a baggy sweater or one that’s lost it’s shape.

So, next time you’re getting putting your winter clothes in storage, don’t toss out the baggy or stained ones. Turn those old sweaters into one of these clever projects instead!

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6 Comments

  1. Mary zaugg says:

    It’s a small baby’s sweater I can’t cut it will unravel. I just wanted to make something that I could save as a memory. It was my granddaughter when she was small. She is 24 now. Thank u

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Mary,
      I hope one of these methods gave you an idea you can use!

  2. Rosemarie geer says:

    Thanks for several good ideas.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

  3. Jan Wolfsbergen says:

    Burra Bears in Shetland will turn old sweaters into heirloom teddy bears. This is especially nice for extra special jumpers.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      What a wonderful idea!

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