How can I reuse or recycle … old jumpers?

Wool clothI’ve a few old jumpers (aka sweaters, pullovers, woolly warm things) that aren’t really suitable for wearing any more by me or anyone else. I’ve either shrunk them a bit in the wash, or they’re stretched and baggy, or are stained in parts or are, frankly, a bit stinky in (under arm) parts.

I know that you can unpick old jumpers for their wool – but only if they’ve been knitted as a jumper, not if the different parts have been just cut from one big piece of cloth and (I forget the right term for it) kinda stuck together at the sides – if you unpick tops like that, you just get thousands of little pieces of wool, just one row in length rather than one piece of very long wool. Unfortunately all the woolies in question are of the latter, unpickable variety.

So given they’re not really any good for going charity-shop-ward and I can’t unpick them to feed my newfound knitting addiction, any other suggestions of things I can do with the cloth? Some of them have sleeves that are ok but the bodies are too far gone; on others the bodies are fine but the armpits and cuffs matted – so any suggestions for using up the different bits of them?

(Photo by fugue)

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32 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … old jumpers?”


  1. k says:

    never tried, but was thinking about it…

    in my neck of the woods they make rugs….tear the fabric into strips and do some rug hooking:)

    you can reuse all types of fabric this way!

  2. Joan says:

    You could make them into cushion covers or throws by cutting them like cloth using the good bits and then sewing the edges to stop fraying using a zig zag stitch, then you could make patch work with them or applique ( hem edges with blanket stitch. This technique even works well if they have shrunk in fact youcould boil was them ( it they are wool not synthetic) to get this effect – boiled wool look.Some trendy shop sell cushions like these and they are really expensive – designer look that doesn’t cost the earth ( pardon my pun).

  3. ilsa says:

    You could also cut & restitch to make decent pot/pan holders.

  4. K says:

    I’ve been into doing just this lately – felt/boil the wool (shrink it until it doesn’t fray at the end) use the big bits to make pillows as suggested or bags or tree decorations of flowers for barrettes. Then, use the sleeves for some armwarmers or sleeveless gloves or legwamers. I’m wearing some arm ones now, very cosy

  5. G says:

    You can make wonderful cloth diaper covers after you felt the wool. It is breathable and waterproof.

  6. Rosie says:

    Cut out the bad bits and the smelly bits and make into polishing pads for windows , cars etc.

  7. john says:

    if all else fails and your sure that it is pure wool you can compost the thing. It will work better if you chop it into bits first.

  8. Janet says:

    Hello!
    I am new to this site and saw your question of how to use old sweater/wool garments. Well, I hope you have gotten seveal good ideas from others. May I add one more? I have went through my husbands closet and found some sweaters he didn’t want anymore and also some old wool jeckets that belonded to his late wife. Here is what I am planning on done/doing with these.
    1. I am cutting the sweaters into purse size pieces and making purses out of them. Just be sure that as soon as you cut out the pieces you take care and run a zig=zag stich around the pieces right away and don’t pull on the pieces as you stich but feed in the fabric into the food as you stich, so they will not unravel or run. These purces look kind of plain at first but I plan on adding beads and trim of fancy yarns to embellish.
    2. I am taking the old wool jackets and again making purses out of them.they all have material that is lining too. Since they belonded to my husband’s late wife and she left some wonderful daughter/granddaughers I am making the purses and embellishing them with the beads and yard and giving them to her children for gilfs for Christmas/whatever. I think that getting a new purse out of something their mother/grandmother wore, and they probably remember it too, that they would enjoy having something of her as a sentimentel items too.
    If you got any other really great suggestions from your question in this web site that you want to share with me, that would be great as I have lots of sweaters on hand and would love to know what else I can do with them too. I am thinking of maybe teddy bears or somthing besides pot holders.

    Hope I have helped.Janet

    • spiritfilled says:

      top marks you are so creative, great for little girls to sit with mum and nanny on a quick and easy project 5 stars bless you

  9. Rúna Björg says:

    Woolen jumpers can be used for insolation.

  10. fishcake_random says:

    New outfit for a snowman or dressing up clothes.
    maybe even a scarecrow, or a guy for a bonfire.

  11. Rosalind says:

    Machine-washable jumpers past their prime make good cat/dog bed liners. No need to cut them up.

  12. Max says:

    I prefer wearing old ones… It suits more my personality

  13. Litterbugworks says:

    Awww max!
    I make new jumpers out of old ones. A wee bit of cut and pasting can create something completely new! As a tip, use zig zag stitch to prevent freying….and avoid looking like a patch work quilt!!! Have fun x

  14. Lesley says:

    My ex-husband donated his old digging jumper, which was really old and ratty, to a display at one of the places where we were archaeologists. They wanted to have a model archaeologist at work, as part of the museum display, and needed to dress it.

    These days, I save them for rag rugging or, if they will unravel easily, I use the wool for demonstration purposes – I demonstrate basic spinning and weaving methods in schools, so any wool is fine for the kids to have a go at.

    • sarah lou says:

      oh thats quite a good suggestion, i also find rag rugging quite useful when havig a browse through my old clothes. they are mostly charity shop bought, where i suggest people have a look! there are some serious bargains around!
      sarah lou x

  15. Stephanie says:

    If they are old as in broken you could give them to an animal shelter for them to use as bedding for the animals.

    If they are still wearable (and you have just grown out of them or dont like what they look like) then you could give them to the Salvation Army or Good wll or some other op shop for someone else to wear.

    If they are woolen then you could un ravel it and reuse the wool to make a new and different jumper, or a blanket, or scarft.

  16. Zoe says:

    My mum has made some great hats for my baby.

    one from a sleve, just sew up the cuff and add a tassle
    (also from old jumpers). If it’s felted then it dosent fray.

    one from a polo neck

    could also make adult hats from other bits?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Smaller clothing items: I have gotten a pair of knee socks and a hat from one, piecing the hat and feet out of the body, and the legs of the socks out of the arms.

  18. Kendra says:

    Consider cutting into large squares, then sew together into an afghan. Big enough sweaters are just the size for baby blankets. Can also be felted, if 100% wool. Cotton would also make nice baby blankets. Cotton and ramie are pretty heavy, but would make good play spaces for babies, or a play surface that could do double duty as toy carrier with loops of button holes in 3 corners and a button in the fourth.

  19. AliceJ says:

    Composting is a good idea – I’m told that raspberries particularly like the keratin that wool will release as it breaks down.

    Do make sure it’s pure wool though! You can test for artificial fibres (which won’t compost) by burning a thread – if it melts slightly then it’s artificial, wool will burn and smell like burnt hair (burn a bit of the hair out of your hairbrush to compare the smell if you’re not sure).

  20. Tamara says:

    you can make a jester’s hat with the sleeves… tie off the ends of the sleeves and add pompoms… and remove the sleeves and then attach them to each other. add a band the size of your head, gathering the sleeve part to make it fit if necessary. fun for kids.

    see stelle and linda allison’s “rags”

  21. reanna says:

    i make hot water bottle covers from mine and give them to friends for christmas. Its really simple and you can always embellish them with beads etc aswell.

  22. Janet says:

    Line your hanging baskets, with your old wolly jumpers.

  23. oddsox says:

    I have lots of shrunken or non-fitting jumpers and clothes, both mine and donated pieces. I also love collecting buttons and have donations of these too. Here are some examples of how I turn these unwanted items into upcycled treasures! I hope you enjoy looking and get some inspiration to start upcycling too.

    http://www.folksy.com/items/40086-Pocket-Terrors?shop=yes
    http://www.folksy.com/items/39844-Sadly?shop=yes

    Shaz (from oddsox)

  24. Lucylocket says:

    Has anyone tried using old jumpers and/or blankets as a base for growing mustard and cress seeds? We are thinking of doing a quick project over a long weekend for a lot of kids, maybe joining together pieces of old woollen jumpers, laying them flat on the ground, sprinkling them with water and scattering seeds over them. Any tips?

  25. Bre says:

    I can use old jumpers especially any that have felted in the wash.
    Please e mail me brejackson@gmail.com. Thanks, Bre

  26. katz says:

    You can use cut-up jumpers for making:
    1) smaller clothes for children/babies
    2) to make toys/door stops (look for patterns on the internet or there are lots of books to help you out, but here’s one exampe: http://www.sewingpatterns.org.uk/ ) Doorstops could be filled with rice or something similar, stuffed toys and draft excluders filled with all sorts of soft and squishy leftover yarn/old pillowcase stuffing)
    3) knit the toys – perfect use of short length yarn
    4) knit booties or mittens – also perfect use of short length yarn
    5) make blankets from squares.

    My favourite one – are toys and doorstops!

  27. J says:

    How to Make Hats from Recycled Sweaters (or Jumpers) tutorial:
    http://www.craftstylish.com/item/28927/how-to-make-hats-from-recycled-sweaters

  28. snigface says:

    http://pinterest.com/pin/249668373062011403/ – saw this and thought of you x

  29. Lata singh says:

    You can cut the pieces and stich with another wool over a plain same colored cloth and stich matching satin border all around to make a table cloth ,also knot few woollen flowers with crochet and fix at places to decorate



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