Upcycled: 1 Sweater into 5 Winter Accessories

Spring may be on its way, but here in the UK we’ve still got some weird and wild weather, and it’s still FREEZING! So I’ve been doing everything I can to try and keep the cold out.

In the spirit of ‘buying nothing new’ for another year (or no new clothes at least), I thought I’d try and rustle up some cosy accessories from an old jumper I found for £5 in  charity shop. The hat and mittens were inspired by tutorials from A Beautiful Mess, but I thought I’d challenge myself not to waste the rest of the material.

Sometimes the argument for not making something is that it’s cheaper to buy it, but I don’t think even Primark can beat £1 a piece! I got a hat, handwarmers, a neckwarmer/headband, mittens and a turban headband (plus enough for a kiddos hat), all out of one top.

Instructions and links for how to make these can be found below. You don’t really need a lot to make them, but the jersey needles are a must if you use a sewing machine…

You could possibly hand sew them if you don’t have a sewing machine and have the patience, but a machined stitch will be more robust if you’re going to wear these a lot.

I found the original instructions for sewing a sweater hat here, along with tips for machine-stitching knitted fabric. The principle for each piece is really the same, but I’ve added a few suggestions below.

The hat

This hat is so simple and comfortable. If you base it on a hat you already own, then there is no danger of it not fitting.

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The mittens

For these I made them from the sleeve of the sweater because it has a ready-made cuff that is exactly the right size for your wrist. I didn’t cut the straight side, so it had a ready made seam, and used the curved edge to fit my thumb.

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For the rest, I had to cut out the pieces from the sweater first (see below)

The turban

I’m always amazed by just how warm turbans keep you, considering they don’t even cover the top of your head.

To make mine I cut out the middle band of the sweater (18cm tall) and cut down ONE hem to create a long strip. Before I cut it, I measured the length of the fabric to make sure it would go round my head twice and a bit. If your sweater isn’t so big, you could construct a longer strip by putting smaller strips wrong side together and sewing a 1.5cm seam to join them.

Once you have your strip, fold in half (right sides together) and sew a seam 1.5cm wide. Stop a little before the end so you can turn your tube right side out.

Wrap the tube twice round your head and hold where the two ends meet. Put one tube into the other, about 3cm, and pin, then sew over this end (you might need to do this with your machine manually by turning the wheel, rather than using your pedal).

To cover up this end and keep your two circles together, cut a 6cm wide strip of sweater from the leftover scraps that is long enough to go round your turban. If your fabric frays easily, roll over the edges and hem. Wrap round the closing of the turban, rightsides together, and sew. Trim of any excess then turn rightside out. You can handsew a few stitches here to keep it in place.

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The hand warmers

I love hand and wrist warmers, I even wear them indoors if my hands get a bit chilly whilst typing. Depending on the size of your jumper, you can increase or decrease the length of them to suit you.

Mine are made from oblong pieces (13cm x 25cm) cut from the chest and back of the sweater. My sweater had a really nice stripey wrongside, so I decided to use that as the right side to give my accessories a bit of variation.

First, put together your right sides and then mark out where you want your thumb to come out. Fold down a seam here (wrong sides facing) about 5cm long and sew. Place your pieces rightside together and sew a 1.5cm seam down the whole of the side without the opening. Repeat on the other side but this time stop either side of the opening.

Fold down a 1 cm seam at the top and bottom of the handwarmer, pin and sew. Turn rightside out and repeat to make your second handwarmer.

These look great over the mittens too. So warm!

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The neck warmer/headband

After cutting up my sweater, I was left with two large tubes from the top of the sleeves. With one, I made a kids hat using the same method as above, but creating a hem at the bottom. With the other, I simply turned it wrongside out and creating a hem at either end.

My sweater arms were wide enough to get over my head, so it turned out I can wear it as a neckwarmer or a thick headband. If you have smaller arms on your sweater, you could stitch other pieces together to create a bigger tube.

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And that’s it! Other than some scrappy offcuts, THIS is how much fabric I was left with. The buttons can always be re-used in other projects and I think these pieces will go to Fi to make some cuddly owls.

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Have you made anything out of an old sweater? Will you give it a try? I think old sweaters would make great cushion covers too.

Lu. x

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