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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…

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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.

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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.

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Quite a stack came from 6 sweaters. 81 squares!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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!

barbmaker

I’m an artist & I make things… all kinds of things.

This Post Has 28 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. 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.

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    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.

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    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

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