Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Sign in or become an insider to access this story

Sign In

How to Upcycle a Sweater

Combine ready-to-wear knits into fresh looks
Threads Issue #212, Dec. 2020/Jan. 2021
Something old becomes something new when you combine three preworn sweaters into one. Pattern: Jalie 2795.

There are many reasons to repurpose clothing into new designs. It saves money. It reduces waste and saves the planet. And it is a lot of fun. When you start looking at a thrift store as a fabric source, you’ll see that it is a treasure chest of colors, textures, and patterns.

I love to remake preworn sweaters, and especially to combine multiple knit garments into a single, one-of-a-kind piece. Most sweaters contain at least two textures, and often more. Plain stockinette, ribbing, and other decorative knit patterns offer a range of interesting fabrics that can be repurposed in unexpected ways. Look at the knit’s wrong side, too, to find surface patterns that coordinate with the right side.

Unless a sweater is extralarge, you are unlikely to have enough fabric to make an entire garment from it. Instead, look for other sweaters that match or coordinate to combine in the project. This is where the fun begins, although it doesn’t end here. From choosing sweaters to upcycle, to planning and executing your project, you’ll get to expand your design and sewing skills. I’ll show you two upcycling approaches. First, you’ll see how to work with a commercial pattern to create a new sweater. Then you’ll learn how I make a free-style design, with silhouette and details inspired by the sweaters and transformed through my imagination. I think you’ll enjoy trying your hand at a sweater project like one of these. You’ll exercise your creativity, contribute to fashion sustainability, and add a truly personal piece to your wardrobe.

The right sewing techniques make sweater reconstruction a breeze.
The right sewing techniques make sweater reconstruction a breeze.

Advice for handling sweaters

Sweaters offer incredible design opportunities, but they aren’t the same as fabric yardage. Some basic prep and sewing methods make the…

Start your 14-day FREE trial to access this story.

Start your FREE trial today and get instant access to this article plus access to all Threads Insider content.

Start Your Free Trial

Sign up for the Threads eletter

Get the latest including tips, techniques and special offers straight to your inbox.

Sign Up

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Subscribe to Threads today

Save up to 42% and get a free gift



  1. User avater
    curleyque | | #1

    What great ideas. Thank you for descriptions and instructions. I can't wait to recycle some of my own sweaters that no longer fit!!

Log in or become a member to post a comment.

More From Threads

Discussion Forum

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All

Shop the Store

View All
View More