Up-cycled Sweater Quilt

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!

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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..

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. I have some felted sweater pieces that I’ve been hanging on to for years. I love this idea! However, I do not have a server. Any idea how to interlock the pieces without?

    1. I had sewn for many years without a serger and I used a tight zigzag to help prevent fraying after a tight straight stitch. Have fun! I’m going to have some new ways to use felted wool, up on the site very soon… Felted wool also eco prints amazingly well