skip to Main Content

Up-cycled Sweater QuiltI really hate to be wasteful. Post-winter purging time of sweaters and also my son’s birthday, hatched a bright idea. Previously-loved sweaters are cozy and warm, so why not give them a second life? Up-cycling is so rewarding. My son’s decor is grey tones and somewhat casual, so this will fit right in. My mother always taught me not to waste as she lived through difficult war times… So here goes…


Quite a stack of tones of grey and blue. They don’t need to be very “matchy”. The real charm comes from the blend of textures and knits.


I decided on a 9″ square so that I could get quite a few out of the pieces like the sleeves and across the fronts. You could use smaller as well. Larger sizes will leave more waste. I used a cardboard template and a rotary cutter for speed. Since the knits are stretchy there is some “forgiveness” in the exact shapes. This is not as fussy as true quilting.


Quite a stack came from 6 sweaters. 81 squares!


Since I have a three thread serger, I used it to piece random couples. I was hoping for a random pattern, and only tried not to have same colours next to each other. I then added doubles, then added quads, to make long strips. Do ease the knits together and not over-stretch them.


Once I had the long 8 square strips, I laid them out til I was happy with the random pattern. It allowed some switching and flipping. After sewing the strips together, I used a soft bedsheet as a backing. Place right sides together and sew all around, leave an opening and then turn right side out, close the opening with slip stitches.


Once turned, I laid it out on the floor and tied knots with yarn at the corner points. This gives it a rustic handmade look and is quite easy. It’s too hard to try to jam it under a sewing machine.


In keeping with the look, I added a large blanket stitch around the outside edges in contrasting yarn.


I did not use the traditional batting filler as I wanted it to be softer and not so puffy and bulky.


I had so many squares left over that I was able to make a couple pillows. They are 4 squares on front and back. Since these were well worn sweaters, they should wash quite well. Happy Birthday my son and Enjoy!

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 50 Comments

  1. Hi Barb, Love this idea. Can just imagine how comfy and warm this quilt would be. Your projects are always so inspiring!

  2. Hi Barb, wow I love what you did with those sweaters. It makes me think about the sweaters I threw out recently! However, I wonder how long it took you to make the quilt. How involved was it?

    1. Actually, It was pretty quick, much quicker than knitting! A couple hours to cut, maybe three hours to sew together. The other was small bits here and there. I always have project to keep me busy!

      1. Hi! I don’t have a surger. How can a sweater quilt be made with a regular sewing machine? Won’t it unravel?

        1. Sweaters are knitted, so they hold the edges fairly well. (think of a cut t-shirt, it is also knitted) If you tug a lot it may ‘run’, but I didn’t have a problem. Just give yourself a large enough seam allowance. Before I had a surger I would just zigzag the edges to help finish edges even more. When I doubt, take a scrap, sew it and give it a test… Good luck!

    1. As you can see in the photo I used a 3 thread serger, which is an overlock machine. It creates a stitch similar to the one on your t-shirts, finishing the edge and cutting all at the same time. If you don’t have a serger, then you can use a straight stitch with an added zig-zag stitch to finish it and stop it from unravelling. But honestly speaking; since it is knitted sweaters, they tend not to unravel like woven fabrics. Just leave a good size seam allowance (the distance from the stitching to the cut edge) Using a tight (many stitches to the inch) stitch also helps.

  3. Did you felt the sweaters, or leave them as is. I have a pattern from an older craft book that suggests pre-felting them. I like the softness of the original sweaters. You could also add fabric from wool garments. That pattern alternates sweater pieces with fabric pieces. Your throw and pillows look lovely.

    1. Thanks! No, I didn’t felt them. Some were not all wool, so I wasn’t sure how they would felt. It might be troublesome if some squares shrink and some don’t. I recall some crocheting where that happened…

  4. This is so cozy looking. I’m going to make one for my husband to use during his 3+ hour chemo treatments-so much nicer than a hospital blanket. Thanks so much for the idea!

    1. Awe that sounds wonderful for him! ‘And you can choose the softest ones. Being a ‘maker’ is a form of therapy itself, a gift for both the recipient and the giver. The wonderful patterns available also offer a focal point and something to look at when a distraction is really needed! ps, Thrift stores have quite a variety… Thanks for sharing, and best wishes.

  5. I’ve made many of these blankets from thrift store sweaters. I use 100% lambswool whenever possible, and I do felt it by cutting the sweaters up at the seams and washing in hot water 1-2 times and drying in a hot dryer before I cut up the squares. This way the material is preshrunk and can be washed as a blanket (I would use cold water in future washes). I also iron it after I wash and before I cut. This helps you get straight squares. You get get less material after it shrinks but a more durable blanket. Sweaters that are really bulky to start get too bulky when felted. Sweater materials that are thin to start don’t get much thicker when felted (merino, cashmere). You may want to keep this in mind when selecting sweaters. I use cotton flannel in a coordinating color on the back. These sweater blankets are really fun and rewarding to make and appreciated as gifts.

    1. Yes, that’s awesome! It must be hard to find the right wool sweaters though. I have bought a few and no matter what they don’t like to ‘felt’. I think the yarn is made different to stop the felting process sometimes as in ‘washable wool’ Glad you enjoyed the post.

    2. I use a fusible tricot interfacing on the reverse side of the felted or unfelted sweater…then it is easy to rotary cut accurately. You can butt the cut pieces side by side, use a stretch zigzag stitch to connect together. I use this method for garments, but for a sweater quilt, then you could lay the pieces (maybe spray baste in place) onto twice shrunk flannel and do the stretch zigzag stitch. A walking foot could help here. Edge-turn under the edge of the flannel and finish as suggested.

  6. Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s hard to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and visual appearance. I must say you’ve done a superb job with this. Additionally, the blog loads extremely fast for me on Opera. Outstanding Blog!

    1. Oh thank you! That is nice to see the hard work is appreciated. I know we tend to love pictures more than words. And I teach young adults so I know how they need encouragement to succeed.

  7. I simply want to tell you that I am just very new to weblog and certainly enjoyed your web page. Most likely I’m going to bookmark your website . You definitely have tremendous writings. Thanks for sharing your blog.

  8. Hello There. I discovered your weblog the use of msn. This is a very smartly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely comeback.

    1. Hi, I am just finishing a sweater quilt I made for my daughter and hubby. Well…..I started it at least 7 years ago and just have to back it as of now. Lol! I struggle with threading any tapestry needle with the yarn. Any tips?

      1. I had a pretty large eye needle. However as a tip, you can thread a loop of strong thread through the eye and then run the yarn end through the loop to pull it through the needle eye. Have you ever used the little treading tool? Must be available at the sewing notions section. Good luck and enjoy the quilt!!

    1. I suppose it doesn’t. It may have some rough seams showing though. If it’s too expensive, consider just using a nice soft well-worn bed sheet. It also allows the edges to be more finished. Good luck

  9. Such a good tutorial you make everything seem possible. The blanket looks so warm and cosy and with its personal history, which my son would appreciate also, it has become a family heirloom. Well done.

  10. Wonderful! Will be welcome in our minus 30 temperatures! Heading out to Value Village right now! Also asking close friends for their discarded sweaters! Thank you!

  11. When I make sweater quilts I use an old fabric such as a shirt or blouse and lay the sweater on top to cut it out. I use a rotary cutter and cut both the fabric and sweater at the same time then it will sort of merge together. If you don’t use that block right away you can either surge or sew around the edge to hold it. This will give a nice back on the quilt also and it won’t stretch out of shape.

  12. Thanks Barb.
    Lots of great tips from you and the comments. I’m excited to give this a try. What type of thread do you recommend? I’m going to start at home on my traditional sewing machine and if that proves difficult will use the libraries serger..

  13. Hi Barb,

    What would you charge to make a sweater quilt as a service? And would you accept a custom order? I have some sweaters but am not skilled at sewing.


    1. I’m sorry but there are so many logistics of shipping etc that would make it way too expensive. I’m sure your local fabric shop can suggest a local sewist. They should be receptive to a suggestion… ‘Hope that helps!

  14. Hi barbmaker,
    This blanket inspired me to get creative! So I gathered old sweaters from thrift shops in my community. I put all blockers together and want to put a fleece backing on it, but not sure how to fasten the centre or if it is necessary? Would it look okay if I tie a knot at the block corners with yarn, to hold front and back together/avoiding a floppy blanket? I don’t have a quilting machine.
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful projects ❤️

    1. Yes!Do you see the picture where I used white yarn and knotted at the corners? I used a curved needle to make it easier. I like the rustic look of the knots!

      1. I have lots of unfinished knitting projects. Most of them are from my mom that passed away. This would be a great way to use them.
        Thank you for these instructions . I can’t wait to make this beautiful heirloom blanket.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back To Top
Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content

Support my Blog!

In order for me to deliver valuable content for free, it takes both time and money. Any donations will be used directly to bring you new and useful content!

Donation Form

Personal Info

Donation Total: $5.00