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Guest Tutorial: How to Recycle a Sweater into Four Stocking Caps (in under an hour), by SeriousSewing

Original Sweater

Give that old unwanted sweater new life by recycling it into several cute hats for the winter. A $5 thrift store find could become four fantastic gifts. This technique works best with very stretchy wool or acrylic sweaters. Cotton knits just don’t have enough elasticity and get stretched out of shape too quickly. What you’ll need:

  • An old sweater-larger is better
  • Some polar fleece (a half yard should be enough for two hats)
  • Straight pins and measuring tape
  • A serger or sewing machine with an overcasting stitch

Stocking Cap Instructions: 1. Cut the sleeves off the sweater straight up from the armpit area. You won’t need the extra fabric at the top of the shoulder. You’ll have a tube with a large end and a small end near the cuff. 2. Measure your head all the way around where you like a hat to sit. Then measure the large opening you just cut. You want the opening an inch or two smaller than your head measurement. My head is 22″ around and this sleeve opening is 20″–perfect. 3. Turn the sleeve inside out. Do you see the seam line where the sweater was sewn together? Cut along that line from the large opening toward the cuff. (If you need to make the head opening smaller, now’s the time to do that.) You want a long triangle ending in a point at the top. After it’s cut, pin the seam together and serge it closed.

4. Now for the band around your ears. You could use the neckband to make this, if there’s enough elasticity. It should stretch over your head and then relax back when you take it off. I happened to have some colorful polar fleece lying around, so I decided to use that. Cut a strip six inches wide by as long as you need to go around your head (my strip was 6″ x 20″). Fold the strip in half and serge it into a circle. 5. Fold your circle in half lengthwise so you have a 3″ wide circle. Pin the loose ends of the ear band to the wide end of the sleeve with the right sides together. (All three layers should be on top of each other.) Serge all three layers together making sure not to stretch the fabric as you sew. 6. Fold the ear band down. Add a tassel if you like. And try it on! Use the other sleeve to make a matching hat for a friend. Then you still have the sweater body left. Cut up some more triangular hat pieces from that, or experiment with different shapes for some funky styles. Use the same procedure above to whip them up. If the bottom of your sweater is stretchy enough, you can just leave that as your ear band. Then all you have to do is cut and sew up the back seam. Depending on the sizes, you can make four to six cute hats from one sweater. Once you get the hang of it, you can make a hat in under 10 minutes. Sweet!

Julie Anne Eason is a freelance web publisher and writer specializing in crafts and sewing projects. She frequently writes reviews to help beginners buy dress forms, needle punch machines and the best beginner sewing machines.

~Guest post by Julie Anne Eason of SeriousSewing.com

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  • Anonymous

    Love this – Julie makes it look so easy! :)

  • Jaci Wollenberg

    What a great way to recycle those old 80’s sweaters!

  • http://MailleEtc.etsy.com Bonnie

    Very cool, Julie! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://eightymillion.etsy.com Jennifer Schulting

    How cool is this. And it’s one thing a thrift store has plenty of.

    Great post Julie. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lynn.hoyt Lynn Hoyt

    Great way to give new life to old sweaters!

  • http://twitter.com/isabellascloset margie johnson

    what a wonderful idea!

  • http://jewels50.etsy.com thanks so much for sharing

    That’s very nice of you.

  • Firecrackerkid Primitives

    This is cool! I’m gonna have to try that.

  • Julie @serioussewing

    Thanks for the compliments everyone. It really is as easy as it looks.

  • http://www.handmadespark.com/blog/10-easy-thoughtful-gifts-to-make-for-crafters-%e2%80%93-fancy-handwarmers-guest-post-series-by-julie-anne-eason/ 10 Easy, Thoughtful Gifts to Make for Crafters – Fancy Handwarmers: Guest post series by Julie Anne Eason | Handmade Spark

    [...] Remember, every yarn and hook will make a slightly different size border. So experiment until you get the look you want. What should you do with the rest of the sweater?  Why not make a matching hat? [...]

  • Kantus Monk

    How would you make a jesters hat ?

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