How to make a blanket out of sweaters! This project has been in the works for several years. I love thrifting and can’t pass up something that’s wool when it’s in the Goodwill Outlet bins and a buck or two, but 2020 has given me motivation to actually go through and make all the things I’ve thought about upcycling or refashioning! This is a great way to reuse sweaters that have felted or shrunk and makes for an extremely warm, cozy blanket. Keep reading to see how I turned a stack of 8 sweaters into a cozy diy throw!
Embarassingly enough, I still have another whole tote of even more sweaters, but these were the thicker ones made from heavier weight wool. My two cats made this project twice as hard because they insisted on sitting on it constantly, including when I was trying to pin or sew it! I’ll share a full walk-through of how I made mine at the bottom, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Wool is pretty forgiving and the nice part about using upcycled materials is you aren’t out much money if the project tanks!
Some general tips for making diy sweater blankets, even if you don’t use my tutorial:
- There will be lint! Be sure to clean out your machine under the bobbin frequently
- Use scraps from the sweaters to test your stitches before you do them
- Use ballpoint needles or suffer lots of skipped stitches (I can attest to this firsthand)
- If all your sweaters are a similar weight and thickness, your life will be much easier; it prevents sagging and unevenness
- The less stretchy your sweaters are, the more neat and tidy your patchwork will look
- Be patient when collecting sweaters! Put a call out to friends and family, and slowly collect at the stores as you comb through the racks. Part of the fun is piecing together color combos you like!
I used a zig-zag with the edges of each piece flush against each other because many of my sweaters were very thick, but you could consider using them like quilting cotton if you’re working with thinner merino wool instead of thicker shetland wool.
This blanket was impossible to photograph because holding it up super stretched and distorted with how heavy the entire thing turned out! I realize this isn’t the most flattering picture – you can see that even with the stabilizer, some things went a little wonky and the hand tied knots look like dust on those white panels. But I wanted to share the overall vibe, even if it isn’t perfect!
You can also see a touch of rippling especially with the plain grey pieces – that sweater was much lighter and stretchier but I liked its color better than the other felted options I had, so I sacrificed precision for prettiness! In an ideal world I would’ve gone out and found more felted sweaters but I was trying to work with what I had.
While you’re here, check out these posts too:
- 40+ ways to upcycle sweaters into something new
- 15+ sweater refashions to recycle old sweaters into new clothes!
- How to turn upcycled flannel shirts into a cozy quilt
Pin this how to make a blanket out of sweaters tutorial for later using this photo or link:
how to make a blanket out of sweaters
- It will depend on size but 8+ 100% wool sweaters
- Sharp scissors: [Etsy – JOANN – Amazon]
- Wash away stabilizer:[JOANN – Amazon]
- Rotary cutter: [Etsy – JOANN – Amazon]
- Quilt ruler: [ JOANN – Amazon] – Shop cutting mat: [ JOANN – Amazon]
- Sewing machine – walking foot highly recommended; I use this one but they are machine specific!
- Iron: JOANN – Amazon
- Backing fabric & binding fabric
Step 1– Use sharp scissors and cut along all seams, then wash and dry all the sweater pieces however you’d like the finished piece to be washed and dried. For me, that meant on hot and high drying, just in case! This helps felt and shrink things up as well, too.
Step 2– Trim off cuffs and seams to see what large pieces you have to work with. My largest pieces were 16.5″ long by 9.5″ tall so I used that as my base ‘size’, cutting a few of those out wholecloth from sweater fronts and backs and then working to patchwork the rest of them.
Step 3– When making the patchwork I just cut straight edges and then stitched chunks together, as shown. I put strips of the interfacing beneath the seam to cut down on rippling; if you have all thicker sweaters this is probably an unnecessary step. Iron everything as you go! Use steam and high heat to flatten everything out.
Step 4– Flip it over and trim excess stabilizer if you want; this just gives you a good view of the ‘back’ and how I pieced things together. Make each piece larger so you can trim it up and keep it straight.
Step 5– Trim the patchwork rectangles to match the wholecloth ones!
Step 6– Lay everything out and start stitching! I made columns then joined them together. Iron everything as you go! Use steam and high heat to flatten everything out. If you’re eagle eyed, you can see that I also added one random improv row that is thinner, just trying to use up all my big pieces.
If you wanted to stop here you could after squaring everything up nice and even! With the zig-zag there isn’t necessarily a true ‘back’ of the quilt and you could blanket stitch around the edges. But I wanted it to be warmer so keep reading. At this point I wash and dried the top so the stabilizer would wash away.
Step 7– Lay your finished “top” on top of your backing fabric. An old sheet would work great here; I just happened to have some wool knit that I wanted to use up which makes it double warm but also much, much harder to sew since both pieces were stretchy and saggy. Use safety pins to prevent shifting and don’t worry if edges are wonky at this point. Then quilt! I chose to just hand-tie knots everywhere. Use your ruler and rotary cutter to make everything even again and make sure it folds up nice and equal/even.
Step 8- These next two steps are optional; I serged around all my edges once it was all quilted, so nothing slipped around. You could also do a basting stitch around the edges. I also curved the corners since everything was going to be so thick, I didn’t want to do binding around corners!
Step 9-Last step is binding! I used the same wool knit as the backing, cut into 2″ wide strips. I then sewed it on with a .5″ seam allowance and folded it over and hand sewed it to the back, as shown. I think you need to test these numbers out depending how thick your finished quilt is, but if you haven’t done many quilts you can see a general tutorial for cutting the strips and sewing them on, here on Wendi’s blog!
You’re done! Those hole-y, shrunken, stretched out sweaters are now a super cozy blanket to keep you warm!
Wednesday 29th of March 2023
I have made about 7 of these body length blankets out of 100% recycled wool. I back mine with chenille. Love the weight of the blanket. You cannot buy weighted (real) blankets any more. I edge mine with a blanket stitch with yarn. Every time I re-see one of my blankets at a friend, family members' house...I kinda fall in love all over again.
Saturday 26th of February 2022
Did you cut the wool fabric for the binding on the bias??
Stephanie - Swoodson Says
Saturday 26th of February 2022
Hi Donna! No I did not because it already had stretch to it.
Linky Thursday | StacySews
Thursday 29th of April 2021
[…] still something comforting about snuggling under an awesome blanket – like this faux fur or upcycled sweater […]
Thursday 18th of March 2021
This is awesome! It looks so incredibly cozy!! Great idea!
Wednesday 17th of March 2021
I like that - looks really warm and cozy.