Wardrobe upcycling is nothing new. After all, when you think about it, clothing is made from cloth. Lots of other things are made from cloth. So when your clothes have served their functional purpose as attire, why not use that material for other things? Sweaters are a great example of apparel that can be given new life in a variety of ways. From leg warmers to satchels, the pieces and parts of your old sweater will serve a new purpose. If you’re onboard with refusing to trash that old sweater but don’t know what to do with it, here are some ideas to get the juices flowing. Let us know what you come up with too!

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rag dolls in a basket with dresses

Doll clothing

If you have a little person in your home, you’ve likely got baby dolls or Barbies around too. It’s always fun to mix up wardrobes, even for the toys, so drag out the sewing machine and make sweaters for your kid’s pals.

Sweater boots

Yes, you read that right and you know they sound cozy. Sweater boots are actually just a cover for your shoes. Cut off the sleeves of your less-than-favored sweater and attach them to the sides of your shoe for an existing sole and an entirely new style. Roll over the top and add a button for a trendy appeal.

four dogs wearing sweaters sitting with backs faced towards camera

Pet clothing

Just because your sweater started out as human attire doesn’t mean Fido will take offense. After all, dogs get cold too. So make a few adjustments and let your discarded sweater bring warmth to the four-legged members of your home.

Wine bags and gift wrap

Along with brown paper, fabric has long been an ideal choice for gift wrap. It adds depth and character, plus it can be reused endless times. Wrap a square box with fabric and hand sew it together at the seam or add a fabric bow to the top. Use the sleeve or other scrap fabric to make a wine or liquor bag for a unique and cozy look to your gift.

two white throw pillows placed against a wood wall with small lamp next to them

Throw pillows

The bed and couch can always benefit from a facelift. Considering the amount of time you spend in, on or near both, creating new throw pillows makes perfect sense. Simply recover an old pillow with your sweater material. If you want to design a throw pillow from scratch, lay out the pattern to accentuate hems, necklines, and buttons on your finished product.

Related: HOW TO: Recycle a sweater into a cuddly pillow for your couch

Throw rug

Following the theme of a quilt, put together a patchwork area rug for the pets, the kids’ rooms or the kitchen.

a frog and two mice stuffed animals

Stuffed animals

Some of the most adorable stuffed animals are homemade, and old sweater material offers a lovely, cozy and rustic feel. You could create a patchwork design on larger animals or use one solid piece of sweater fabric for the body of your stuffed bear, dog or monkey.

Kids pants

While you’re decking out the dog and the dolls, you might as well give the kiddos some winter pants too. Imagine the adorableness of tiny legs wrapped in the warmth of sweater sleeves and your design is already half-way done.

gloves, beanie and scarf

Gloves, hat and scarf

Sweaters represent warmth so why not carry that theme through to its second life. Use the different sections of your sweater to create fingerless gloves that could be long or short. Then make a matching scarf in the traditional long rectangular design, turn it into an infinity scarf, or even braid sweater lengths for a unique spin. A beanie hat made from the same material will pull the entire look together.

Drawstring bag

When you purchased your sweater many moons ago, it was likely because you liked the pattern. Keep that happiness in your life by turning it into a multi-use drawstring bag. Turn your sweater upside down and create grommets holes throughout the bottom band. This becomes the top of your bag while the rest of the sweater body forms the bag portion.

different colored patches on quilt


The tradition of quilting goes back hundreds of years as a way to turn discarded fabric scraps into something useful. Today, sweaters can serve that purpose well. Simply collect squares of sweater fabric and layout the design you want. After sewing all the squares together, add a backing and enjoy the warmth of those old sweaters for many additional years.

Hand warmers and satchels

Even the smallest scraps can be put to use when upcycling your old sweaters. Sew two squares together and stuff them with lavender and/or essential oils for a lovely drawer satchel. You can make useful hand warmers in a similar way and fill them with rice. These can be heated in the microwave time after useful time.

Related: Everlane introduces long-lasting outerwear made from recycled water bottles

teapot in a cosy pouring tea into teacup

Coffee, plant or teapot cosy

Sweaters are cozy and that’s the reason they make a perfect cosy. You’re probably familiar with the mainstream foam cozies sold to keep your soda cold, but what about keeping things warm? Wrapping your coffee cup in wool is a sure way to keep the heat in longer. Use a sweater sleeve to make a coffee sleeve. Embellish however you please. You can use the same idea to make cozies for your flower pots or even your teapot. Let your imagination soar!

Tissue box cover

Yes, these are still a thing. After all, who wouldn’t rather look at a sweater print than the mass-printed cardboard boxes that your tissue comes in?

person wearing socks on a couch with blankets

Socks or leg warmers

Socks from sweaters? Yes! Warm your cold feet this winter with your favorite old sweaters. Once again, recycling sweater sleeves makes it easy to add a button and turn them into leg warmers (they’re back in style you know) or those adorable boot socks that also protect your leggings from the rough top edges of your boots.

Hot pads

Your kitchen benefits from the color and print, while your hands benefit from the protection. Cut squares and finish the edges or make a handmit. Either way, make sure your fabric is thick enough to protect you from burns.

woman wearing burgundy headband and scarf


Turn your favorite old sweater into your new favorite headband or hair scrunchy with a little creativity and some elastic.

Via Apartment Therapy, Treehugger

Images via Shutterstock