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How to Upcycle a Sweater for a No Sew Winter Cowl DIY

Looking for ways to upcycle an old sweater without sewing? This is fast and easy, taking a too-small or holey sweater into a simple cowl/hood! You *can* sew the edges as a hem, if you want, but after washing and drying the wool it’s pretty unnecssary. You could embroider some snowflakes along the edge and it would make a pretty gift, too! Lots of sweaters have holes along the cuff or in the armpit, and this DIY avoids both those issues without wasting the entire sweater.

That is a whole lotta orange in the original sweater. Yikes! I love how cozy the cowls are – we spend lots of time hiking and playing at the playground, even in winter, so having several options to rotate through and wash is a huge plus.

If you’re ready to make one for yourself, check out my tips on shopping to upcycle or refashion and then hit up your local thrift store. You could even use sweater scraps in stripes, and make a color blocked version!

Steps:

  1. Find a wool/cashmere blend sweater sized Small or Medium. Wash cold & hang dry! I don’t do dry-cleaning.step-1
  2. Cut with sharp scissors or a rotary cutter in a straight line under the armpits.step-2
  3. Fold, and wear! The knit fabric shouldn’t fray or unravel unless you really pick at it – the washing machine helps to felt it a bit. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could do a blanket stitch or serge around the edge.step 3

This is another version I made a long time ago and have worn often. I like being able to pull it up in the snow!

Easy wool sweater upcycle idea! Just cut and wear - no sewing required. Such a fun refashion tutorial, perfect for a craft night or to make with teenagers.What better way to get a cozy cowl for practically free! Click through to see a second example and more tips.

You’ll be left with some wool scraps – make some soft hand warmers with my heart-shaped tutorial or browse this list of ways to use up felt scraps. I try to generate as little trash as possible, even when upcycling, some bits and pieces of this sweater will live on as stuffing inside my son’s giant dump truck pillow (free pattern here!).

This Post Has 28 Comments

  1. I love how you can pull it up over your head in the second photo, so clever! I really dislike that many of my coats don’t have hoods, problem solved!

  2. I love this idea! I have a couple of sweaters that just don’t fit correctly through the shoulder and bust area. They would be perfect for upcycling. Thanks for the tip!

  3. You are too cute! I love the ease and pop of color. Orange is such a hard color to embrace. I LOVE it on my daughter, but not so much on me.

  4. LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT. MY FOUR GIRLS DON’T LIKE TURTLE NECKS AND I HAVE HAD TO GIVE THEM AWAY. GREAT IDEA. ALSO GREAT FOR GIFTS.

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