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CraftSanity on TV: Making hats out of recyled wool sweaters

I love soft and cozy wool, especially the affordable, recycled sweater variety. My affinity for warm fibers is definitely related to the fact that I spend most of the winter here in West Michigan trying to warm up. I’m typing this post while sitting in front of the fireplace with a quilt on my lap, wearing a hat made from a recycled wool sweater and arm warmers fashioned from the sleeves of another sweater.

I’ve made hats from felted wool sweaters using a variety of techniques. Today I demonstrated one of the simplest ways on WZZM’s “Take Five & Co.”

1) The first step is to find a wool sweater and completely disregard the washing instructions on the tag. (Or, better yet, collect a shrunken wool sweater from a friend who machine washed it by mistake.) I used a lovely mint green 100 percent cashmere sweater that I found at Goodwill.  (If it weren’t for the sizable holes, I would have kept it to wear.) If you can’t find a 100 percent wool sweater, no problem. I’ve had success with sweaters with at least 60 percent wool content. Once you find a suitable sweater. wash it on the hottest setting on your washing machine and then dry it in the dryer to full the fibers so they stick together and will not unravel when y0u cut your hat shape.

2) Measure your head to see what size hat you need. Subtract two inches from this figure to account for fabric stretch.

3) Turn the sweater inside out. Measure 8 to 9 inches up from the bottom ribbing and cut all the way across. Set the top of the sweater aside. Now take your head measurement, minus two inches for stretch and divide by two. (Ex. If your head measures 21 inches around, subtract 2, which equals 19 inches. Then 19 divided by 2 equals 8.5inches. These means you will make a vertical cut up from the bottom ribbing 8.5 inches from the side seam. Depending on the size of the sweater, you may have enough fabric to make two hats from this bottom piece.

4) If you want to add an applique to the right side, now is a good time to stitch one on with embroidery thread or wool yarn. Once the applique is stitched in place, fold the fabric again so the right sides are facing and sew  up the side opposite the existing sweater side seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

5)  Thread a yarn needle with about 18 inches of yarn and make half-inch basting stitches around the top of the hat about 1/4 inch from edge of the tube. (I used wool yarn. It doesn’t matter what color you use because it won’t show.) Pull tightly to gather the fabric. Tie a couple knots to secure. I like to continue stitching randomly across the gathered fabric and then knot the yarn again

6) Turn the hat right side out and you’re ready to brave the cold with a little more handmade comfort. Stay warm everyone!

P.S. Below is the video clip of today’s TV demo.


Comment from Dulce VanDyken
Time: January 8, 2010, 7:04 pm

Very cool another great project to do.
Thank you for sharing.

Comment from byneedleandthread
Time: January 9, 2010, 10:17 am

very fun! and what a precious little hat model you have there. :)

Comment from debbie
Time: January 10, 2010, 12:07 am

I just bought two wool sweaters at the dollar store and had lots of fun with them. Why they had them at the dollar store, do not know. They were selling them as “vintage” clothing.

Comment from Beth
Time: January 11, 2010, 12:57 pm

So cool! Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

Comment from Jennifer
Time: January 14, 2010, 12:29 am

What a great idea! I think I would need to add a liner to keep my skin from itching – that crazy wool. But, I could probably find a bit of fabric laying around somewhere.

PS – I just started following your blog, but I have listened to your podcast for a long time – and thanks for your creative stories and interviews. I look forward to them every month!

– Jennifer

Pingback from Recycled Sweater Fun – Ways to reuse your old sweaters! « Art By Chrysti
Time: January 21, 2010, 3:48 pm

[…] Another Hat project […]

Comment from SewCraftyMeg
Time: January 28, 2010, 2:44 pm

Neat tutorial! I am looking for things to make from wool sweaters and love your hat project. Thank you for sharing!

Comment from Jan
Time: January 31, 2011, 11:17 am

I love this pattern. I have sweaters that I have a very hard time parting with because they are still in great condition but some are double digits old. Yep. I hand on to everything. So, now I can part with them to an extent.
Thanks for sharing.

Comment from ethel konczak
Time: January 12, 2012, 3:07 am

How about adding a pattern for mittens made from recycled sweaters. My daughter-in-law and I made 15 pair for Christmas presents and we have people wanting to have us make some. They sell for anywhere from $15.00 to $50.00 a pair.

Comment from Sabrina Preikszas
Time: August 13, 2012, 11:12 pm

Do you talk to women’s groups?

Comment from Sue Smith
Time: September 5, 2012, 7:17 pm

Can’t wait to try this. Has been on my to-do list for a while!

Comment from Carol Gregg
Time: January 8, 2013, 11:57 am

I have a stack of sweaters just waiting for this treatment! What a great idea and pattern, thanks for sharing with us!

Comment from Victoria
Time: January 8, 2013, 3:51 pm

I have one of my husbands wool sweaters (that he thru into the dryer) just waiting to be made into a hat! Thanks.

Comment from Wilfredo
Time: May 31, 2013, 4:34 am

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand.

It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for
your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

Comment from renee
Time: October 31, 2013, 5:37 pm

This is such a great idea, I was just at the thrift store petting all the sweaters trying to think what the heck I could do with them all. Now I know!

Comment from Gilda
Time: December 6, 2013, 8:23 am

I made two hats last night and they are WONDERFUL!!!! I will make more today–it’s addictive! ha ha thanks for the idea/tutorial!

Comment from Myles
Time: June 11, 2014, 2:18 pm

An impressive share! I have just forwarded this
onto a coworker who has been doing a little homework on this.

And he in fact bought me lunch because I discovered it for him…
lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this
issue here on your blog.

Comment from domain
Time: October 11, 2014, 11:26 pm

Hola! I’ve been reading your weblog for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead
and give you a shout out from Dallas Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good job!

Comment from Elaine. Milligan
Time: October 27, 2014, 4:02 pm

Any ideas for the top and arms of the sweater?

Comment from Anna
Time: December 3, 2014, 1:47 pm

I am allergic to wool. Will another material work just as well?

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