I love upcycling old sweaters to cozy up my home for fall and winter. When I’m out thrifting, I look for 100% wool sweaters in creamy whites, interesting cable patterns, and classic argyles. I’m also drawn to buttons. I don’t mind a few moth holes or small stains and it’s okay if they have been shrunken from accidentally being washed in hot water. This actually saves a step in the process!
So let me show you how from just one thrifted sweater, I made 2 Christmas stockings, 3 vase cozies and 1 flower pin!
I started with this old creamy white wool cable knit sweater that I found in a thrift store for $1. It was way beyond it’s useful life as a wearable sweater — shrunk and with several stains. But I was drawn to both the mix of patterns and the dark brown buttons
The first step to upcycling a sweater is to machine wash it in hot water and machine dry it with high heat. This tightens up the wool so when you cut it, it doesn’t unravel. It is similar to the process of felting wool but you don’t need to go to that extreme. One washing and drying will do.
I laid it out flat and proceeded to cut away the collar, the front placket where the buttons and buttonholes were and the lower two-thirds of each arm. Because I wanted to make Christmas stockings from the sweater, I did not cut away the entire arm. Rather, I left about a third which would ultimately form the toe of the stocking.
Here is my deconstructed sweater. Now it’s easy to see how the stockings will be formed.
The bottom of the sweater forms the top of the stocking which already has a finished edge. And one side edge of each stocking is the existing side seam of the sweater and that too is already sewn to the back of the sweater.
Now it’s a matter of figuring out the shape of the stocking and sewing up the raw edges. You don’t want to end up with a Christmas stocking that would fit Frankenstein’s monster so the easiest way to get a shape is to simply overlay an existing stocking as your pattern and trace around it with a marker. To do this, I turned the sweater inside out so that my markings are on the inside and will not be seen.
I pinned through both layers of the sweater, all along the outline. I sewed one continuous seam using my sewing machine set on a long stitch (this makes it easier to sew through thick knits), trimmed off the excess and then turned it right side out. If you don’t have a sewing machine, you could hand sew the edge using yarn and doing a whip stitch all around the perimeter.
To make the hanger, I used a piece of the sweater placket. You could substitute ribbon, cord or even leather. I folded my hanger in half and sewed it to the inside edge of the back side of the stocking. Because it has a tendency to stretch, I sewed it a second time through both the front and back of the stocking.
To embellish one of the stockings I used a piece of the placket along with 3 buttons. I like the idea of incorporating an element of the sweater in a new way. I think this stocking has a classic, tailored feel.
For the second stocking I embellished it with a sweater pin made from a small scrap of the sweater for a more feminine vibe. I showed how to make a sweater pin here.
I really like how they turned out. I didn’t line them because the wool is pretty dense already and we don’t intend to fill them with weighty presents. But if you are using a lighter weight sweater, you might want to do a lining.
Moving on to the arms of the sweater … these became vase cozies. I simply cut them to the height desired (I like a little glass showing at the top) and then hot glued the raw edge all around the bottom of my vases. You could also just cut the sleeve to the bottom edge of the vase and leave it raw. The top edge is already finished as it is the cuff from the original sweater.
The top edge can be “cuffed”, like I did on the vase on the left. Also, my sleeves were about the right width for my vases. If your sweater sleeves are too wide, just turn them inside out and roughly measure in from the seam where you need to sew to make them fit snugly. Sew down the length of the seam, cut off the excess and flip it to the right side. This is a crazy cool way to make your candles and vases look wintry!
Lastly, out of the sweater collar I made a mini vase cozy simply by sewing the two ends of the collar, sized to fit my vase.
This cozy simply slips over my vase and is not attached. I liked the finished edges so I wanted to expose them on both the top and the bottom.
I am super pleased with how these projects turned out … all from a $1 thrift store sweater!
I’d love to see your upcycled sweater projects! Please share them with me!