One Sweater, Many Crafts: Easy Winter DIY from Recycled Sweaters

It’s supposed to snow here later this week and although I’m pissed about winter, I am not pissed about winter clothing. I love sweaters and mittens and hats and socks more than I think is socially acceptable. But what happens when your favorite sweater shrinks in the wash or you awkwardly stain it with your mom’s pasta sauce? What then?
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Never fear. Repurposing an old sweater into a hat, a pair of mittens and a pair of fake boot socks is so easy and quick that I made myself a cup of tea before starting the entire project and it was still warm by the time I was done (and that included a break for rethreading my bobbin). Seriously, it’s one of the easiest projects ever — it should mean something to you that I can do it, because I failed home economics in 8th grade and look at me now.
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Hat and Mittens

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What you’ll need for this project: A sweater, preferably on the large side. I thrifted mine years ago for another project that never happened and it’s a men’s XL. You can still get away with using a shrunken, small sweater, of course*. Also, a marker (the magical disappearing ink kind is what I used here), coordinating thread and a sewing machine (or tons of patience for hand sewing).
Level of difficulty: Like I said, your tea is still going to be warm by the time you finish.
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Steps 1 through 2.5

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1. Turn your sweater inside out and align the bottom hem. Trace about 1/2 inch around your hand, using the bottom and side hem of the sweater. Repeat on opposite side for other hand, as well.
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2. Find a hat that fits your head. The one I used was knitted for me by Zeller’s mom and it’s really tall and slouchy. You only have to use it as a guide for the width of your head and you can approximate the height yourself if your hat is also of the tall and slouchy variety.
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Optional step 2.5: Because you won’t be cutting out these shapes before you sew them, I found it easier to sew a straight line above all of my shapes so I could cut it out without maneuvering the bulky sweater around the sewing machine or risking everything unraveling, as sweaters are wont to do.
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Step 3

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3. Using a loose zig-zag stitch (we want our fabric to be able to move and stretch) and a tender touch (no pulling on your fabric or it will end up bunchy), sew around the shapes.
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4. Try them on your head and hands to make sure they fit. If they are a little too loose, mark new lines and re-sew.
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step done.

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5. Voila, new hat and mittens!+
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these are my mittens and they are warm

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* If your sweater is too small to fit a hat and mittens along the bottom, use the sleeves for the mittens.
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Fake Boot Socks

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What you’ll need for this project: Sleeves of a sweater, magic disappearing marker (or regular marker, whatevs), coordinating thread and a sewing machine or just a little bit of patience for hand sewing.
Level of difficulty: Sixty seconds and zero fucks.
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steps 1 and 2

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1. Turn your sleeves inside-out. Mark how long you’d like your boot socks to be. Go with longer than you think. These are going to just be the part that peeks over the edge of the boot, acting as an ambassador between your boot and your tights/leggings/jeans so the transition isn’t awkward and you don’t have a really full, thick sock bunching up in your boots. They’re like leg warmers sans jazzercise.
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2. I got rebellious at this stage and cut without sewing first because I was annoyed at how it was fitting in my machine, but if you don’t get annoyed, that’s good! If you do, cut it and sew quick before it unravels. Fit the sleeve around the arm of your machine and sew in a big circle.
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step 3

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3. Done! Now wear them bunched on top of your boot and no one will know you aren’t wearing six foot long socks. Goodness gracious, this was easy.
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these are my fake boot socks but you’d never know

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These are only a few ways you can repurpose your old sweaters, but I’ve found tons of tutorials online for planter covers, iPad sleeves, pocket warmers, pot holders, scarves, etc. Are there any other ideas you’ve found for cleverly repurposing your favorite sweater?

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Hansen is the DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in her free time.

Hansen has written 186 articles for us.

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