13 Ways to Reuse Old Sweaters

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Man wearing ugly Christmas sweater
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

What should you do with old sweaters?

You bought those sweaters for ski slopes you no longer visit, holiday and ugly-sweater parties at offices where you no longer work, or for fashions and sizes you no longer wear. Now, they take up space in your closet.

But what do we do with the sweaters we no longer want? It seems a shame that such a cozy piece of clothing should be tossed into the giveaway bin. And admit it, you still kind of like that reindeer sweater.

So think about ways to repurpose those old wool sweaters – maybe into awesome winter holiday gifts. We’ve rounded up the best craft ideas to repurpose old sweaters.

Here are 13 usable things you can create out of your unwanted sweaters.

1. Toddler leggings

Toddler holding a Christmas gift
Natalia Lebedinskaia / Shutterstock.com

Have you got brightly colored or crazily patterned sweaters you no longer wear? We bet you know a kid who would love them.

This easy tutorial shows you how to turn old sweaters into toddler leggings so cute you’ll want to cut up your new sweaters to make more.

2. Coffee sleeves

Woman drinking coffee on a cold day.
pikselstock / Shutterstock.com

We usually grab a cardboard sleeve for our take-away coffee cups to keep our fingers safe from the hot cup. Then we throw them away when we have finished the beverage.

Cut down on the waste and show a little flash by turning sweaters you’re not wearing into one-of-a-kind coffee sleeves. These sweet little cozies are made from old wool sweaters that have been felted, or simply washed in hot water with plenty of detergent.

These make great gifts, perhaps paired with some nice coffee or a mug.

3. Three little mittens

Woman in mittens holding shopping bags
Iryna Inshyna / Shutterstock.com

Instead of buying or knitting new mittens, why not take the DIY approach using your unwanted winter tops. You can make a pair and a spare from one old sweater.

Felt the sweater or keep it in its original form. If that old favorite sweater kept your heart warm all these years, it can do the same for your hands.

4. Fingerless gloves

Woman with fingerless gloves on her hands holding a cup of hot chocolate or some warm winter drink
encierro / Shutterstock.com

These cute fingerless gloves are made from the arms of a sweater and are useful for phone and camera use on a wintry day. (We even use them at work when it’s extra chilly but we need to type.)

Go for a more manly look for your favorite guy friend. They make great gifts for officemates or workplace gift exchanges.

5. Old sweater tote bag

Woman holding a pile of sweaters and colorful laundry
Fresja / Shutterstock.com

This tote bag made from a sweater is cute enough to serve as a purse. You could take it one step further and add appliques, or simply attach some thrift store costume jewelry to the sides as embellishment.

Since the arms aren’t being used in this pattern, you could make some boot leggings to match the tote.

6. Hot water bottle cover

woman in sweater with pillow
Grusho Anna / Shutterstock.com

Feeling a little under the weather? You’ll feel better snuggling with a hot water bottle cozied up in a hot water bottle cover repurposed from a favorite old sweater.

In fact, you don’t have to be sick to enjoy it: Tuck it under your covers before bedtime, and you can turn the thermostat down a few degrees and still keep warm all night long.

7. Scarves

Tabby cat curled up in a scarf on a chair.
Konstantin Aksenov / Shutterstock.com

Forget paying a high price for those trendy infinity scarves. If you’ve got an old sweater, DIY this easy-to-make project and you’ll be runway ready in a jiffy.

These scarves also make wonderful holiday presents you can craft on a dime.

For a different look, you can also repurpose old sweaters into hoodie scarfs, which marry a hood and a neck wrap into one fashionable item.

It’s Little Red Riding Hood meets Paris Fashion Week. This is a great way to use a lighter-weight sweater, as the hood requires a doubling of the material. Look for cashmere sweaters or other soft wools.

8. Old sweater beanie hat

cold weather
Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

Don’t forget to cover your head. Turn a not-so-adorable sweater into a way cool beanie.

A special lining makes it itch-free, so it’s a great use for that old wool sweater that always kept you scratching.

9. Sweater skirt

A couple wearing holiday sweaters and hats
evrymmnt / Shutterstock.com

Take the ugliest sweater you can find and make it into a rock star skirt. You’ll be the hit of the office party.

10. Sweater pants

A woman knits yarn that was a comfort buy during the coronavirus crisis
goffkein.pro / Shutterstock.com

This video made the rounds on Facebook, and the sweaters turned into pants became an item on campuses in the northeastern United States. They are called “swants.”

The pattern is tricky but very doable. Make sure you choose the largest sweaters available — check your husband’s closet. Don’t tell him I told you.

11. Throw pillow

knot pillow
Meandlace / Shutterstock.com

An easy way to use up a sweater you aren’t crazy about is to pad it and pillow it. It might look better on your couch than it did on you, and now you have a unique decor item for your living room.

12. Cardigan

Woman holding coffee in a cozy knit sweater and scarf
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

Do you have a pullover sweater that is just too snug? Turn it into a sweet cardigan and wear it over a shirt.

13. Yarn

Two women knitting
SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com

If you don’t want to make anything yet, but still have the urge to put that old sweater to good use, then deconstruct it and save the yarn.

Sweaters can be difficult to unravel for yarn, but this great tutorial can help you get the yarn ball rolling.

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