Sew, What's New?

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You likely have some sweaters thrown in the back of your closet, damaged with a stain, moth h*** or two. Instead of tossing old and unused sweaters, turn them into something new and completely lovable. You can also look for inexpensive sweaters at the thrift store. Crafting with old sweaters saves money on craft materials and helps to reduce your household waste.

Yarn - If you knit, crochet or even weave, salvage the yarn from an old sweater to use in a new project. Find a seam in the sweater and carefully snip one of the seam stitches with a pair of very sharp scissors. Use a blunt needle to lift out the seam stitches, snipping the seam yarn for each. For a knit sweater, you want to unravel the yarn from the cast off edge, generally at the top of the sweater since sweaters are made from the bottom up. Start ripping from the last cast off stitch and carefully wind the yarn into a ball as you go. You should end up with four or more balls of yarn from the different sweater pieces.

Felt - Sweaters that are at least 20% wool can be felted in your washing machine. 100% wool sweaters will give a sturdier felt for different crafts. Make sure the sweater has not been treated to make it washable, such as "superwash, " as these will not felt. Throw the sweater into a zippered delicates bag and wash on high heat. Dry on high heat, cleaning the lint trap frequently. Some sweaters require more than one wash and dry to fully felt. The sweater will eventually shrink dramatically and will be ready to cut apart!

Pillows - Use a pillow form to help you measure and mark the size for your throw pillow on the old sweater. You need a sewing machine for this project or a bit of patience with hand sewing.

Potholders - Stitch several layers of the old sweater together and add binding or trim around the edges to create potholders. You can also use thick quilt batting to fill the inside of your upcycled sweater potholder.

Plastic Bag Holder - Have a dog you need to clean up after on walks? Use the sleeve of an older sweater to create a handy plastic bag holder to hang from a door. The stretchy wrist end is perfect for the bottom and you don't even need to stitch it closed. Just cut the shoulder seam and sew a neater edge. You can add embellishments such as ric - rac at the edges or cut out "Dog Walk" in fabric letters and appliqué to the sweater sleeve. Loop a piece of elastic and sew to the top to hang from a door.

Brooches - A brooch adds instant style to any jacket, sweater or bag. Either felt the sweater first to prevent unraveling or double - stitch a flower shape with your sewing machine. Use a fabric pencil to mark a simple floral design and double stitch over this design. Cut out the shape at least 1 cm away from the stitch line. Stitch and cut out another floral shape slightly smaller than the first. Layer the two flowers and sew together with an interesting button.

Coffee Cup Sleeves or Water Bottle Cozies - Cut a band in your old sweater sleeve to make a coffee cup sleeve, or use a larger piece of the sleeve for a water bottle cozy. You can felt the sweater first to make a more solid material fit for embroidery and other embellishing.

Cut out small pieces of wool for embellishing scrapbook pages or handmade cards. Cut out letters or even tiny sweater or scarf shapes for autumn. Make a wonderfully textured tree with an old fuzzy angora sweater.

Blanket or Quilt - If you have several old sweaters, turn them into lovely blanket or quilt. You can cut the sweaters into blocks or varying shapes, and even use the ribbing for the edges of the blanket. Some sweaters may be too thick for the sewing machine, so you will have to pin and hand - sew pieces together with right sides facing and ½ inch seam allowance. If seams do not lay flat after steam - ironing, hand - stitch seams to back of the blanket. Thinner sweaters can be sewn with the sewing machine and can be given a fabric backing.

Toys - Whether felted or not, old sweaters are a great material for making toys or stuffed animals. Create a puppet with the sleeve of a sweater. Hem the cut edge to prevent fraying. To make the head of the puppet, you can simply sew the cuff together straight across or trim a curved line and sew. For a puppet with hair, gather a few inches of the cuff and weave the thread back and forth. Pull tight and secure the thread. Cut off some of the gathered cuff to leave fuzzy hair.

Mittens - Trace your hand to make a pattern and cut out a couple of pairs of mittens for the winter. Check out the link for full instructions.

Caley Walsh is an editor for the crafting and DIY website has 1000's of free home decor ideas and craft projects in every area of crafting, including patriotic crafts for Memorial Day. We add new projects and tips everyday. Some of our readers favorites include Christmas Crafts, Free Knitting Patterns, Free Crochet Patterns and Crafting with Kids.


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Replies to This Post

I just joined...and see LOTS of recycle items to do!!! Some great ideas I hadn't seen before.....Now to find time!!!.....

Could someone explain the 'felting in the washer' process. Please
Sometime during the last couple of months I saw a refashioned sweater that was originally a v-neck. They cut it down the front then gathered it from the end of the Vneck to the hem and sewed on a ribbon to tye it shut. The last couple of day I have been trying to find it again on the web, but haven't been able to find it again. Does anyone recoginze this and know where to find it? Thanks
This is indeed timely - I have lost a lot of weight in the last year and have lots of sweaters to use. These are some great ideas. I also looked at one sweater which is a fuzzy material - at first I thought it was yarn - turns out it wasn't. So I used a bear pattern that I had and made a bear from the sweater - turned out great and the little person who received the bear was quite happy with it


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