How can I reuse or recycle an acrylic sweater/jumper?

We’ve covered wool jumpers/sweaters on the site before now – what to do with them when you accidentally shrink your most favourite jumper ever in the wash. But what about acrylic jumpers? They don’t get ruined in the same way but cheaper ones tend to lose their shape and look a bit washed out over time. That’s the position I’m in now with a few things from before I brought in my “at least 50% natural fibres” rule (in practise, it’s usually a minimum of 80%) – they’re approaching the end of their wearable life even by someone as scruffy as me.

Since they can’t be felted (either accidentally or on purpose), they can’t be used for a lot of the same reuses as wool jumpers – they’re too thin (and anyway, not heat resistant enough) to be turned into a pot holder or something like that, and I don’t think they’d be absorbent enough to be used to make a soakers/nappy covers for babies.

If they were prettier jumpers & cardigans (rather than just boring one colour ones), I could use the less washed out ones to make a cushion cover – I love the stripes and matching stripy draught excluder in that tutorial and actually, that’s another idea – I could use the arms to make a draught excluder, stuffed with the shredded material from the body. But what else could I do with them?

Have you reused, recycled or upcycled acrylic jumpers in any interesting, practical or fun ways?

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15 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle an acrylic sweater/jumper?”

  1. Christina P says:

    You can use the arms as leggings for babies. I’ve seen tutorials for those. Or maybe they could be made into leg warmers for you!

  2. They make good blankets or bed liners for animal shelters. Acrylic and polyester have to be very tightly knitted or crocheted to work in diaper covers, so most commercial sweaters wouldn’t work that way.

  3. Melinda says:

    They could be sewn to make gift bags. Adding the collar of a shirt to a sweater front would be cute.

    The sleeves would work well for bottles, either as a gift bag, or simply padding where they might bang and break, such as a picnic basket?

    Sleeves can also be filled ti make small bolster-style pillows- washable and good for children, maybe.

  4. Olia says:

    Cover with it the back of a chair, or a car seat.

  5. Janet Forbes says:

    If they’re still in basically good condition but a little stretched out, you can always restyle them into something more wearable (e.g. cut them open, hem them up and turn them into open sweater-vests). There are lots of ideas on

  6. Jamie says:

    If you have a spare shoe box, you could make them into a bag?

    see for an example.

  7. Virginia Smith says:

    Make a dog coat for a small dog in an animal shelter – may need to line it with some warm fabric or double layer it, sew potholders, sew a cushion cover and decorate with some wool embroidery.

  8. Carly says:

    cut them up & use for dust rags and cleaning clothes

  9. Caroline O'Brien says:

    Unravel them and knit them into something new.

    • louisa says:

      Acrylic sweaters don’t often unravel easily – they’re made in sections cut from rolls of knitted fabric (like other clothes) rather than pieces knitted into the desired shape, so when you try to unravel them, you end up with hundreds of short lengths rather than one continuous thread.

      You can find out if a jumper is worth unraveling by checking the seams – if they’re sown or crocheted together, it’s fine but if they’re serged together, the yarn has been cut. If you don’t know what I mean, you can see examples here:

  10. Manny Raid says:

    you could make a dog sweater.
    you could dip the edge into nutrients and suckle on it when in an emergency for food.
    cut it up and make winter underwear.
    make ankle warmers or wrist warmers.
    make a pillow out of it to hug when you are lonely.
    Tie it between two trees and use it as a suspended seat.
    line the inside with polyurethane and seal it to make a human shaped pool floaty.
    use it to tie your cat down while you vacume.


  11. There are textile recyclers in most towns they will even pay you a small amount per KG.

  12. you can use it for the making of: cushions, gloves, gift bags or any other small to medium bags, or give them to the ones that need warm clothes, even if they’re not new….You have a lot of choices here :)

  13. Abby White says:

    You can make a cushion cover, or, if the sweater is too old, you can use it as a garment for your garden scarecrow.

  14. Gemma says:

    I use all of my non compostable, too damaged to go to the charity shop clothes as stuffing for draft excluders.

    It’s perfect, really dense and heavy, and reduces my heating bill :)

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