DIY Sweater Pumpkins / Made With Upcycled Clothing

diy sweater pumpkins

There’s a little nip the air, and that means pumpkins and wearing sweaters. But as most of you already know, wearing sweaters is not what gets me excited; it’s MAKING THINGS WITH SWEATERS that makes me smile.

In this sewing tutorial I am going to show you how to make these fun, whimsy upcycled DIY sweater pumpkins. These pumpkins can be made with felted wool sweaters, cotton sweaters, orange knit, and even fleece. They have so much character; each one turns out a little different and is sure to bring a smile to anyone who sees them.

sweater pumpkins

I am not a big fan of Halloween decor, but I do like to decorate with pumpkins and leaves. So you can put these out for Halloween and leave them sitting around for Thanksgiving.

Don’t limit your color options to just ORANGE sweaters or fabric, look how cute they are made up using a yellow and even a brown sweater. A little whimsy, fun and something you don’t see every day.

diy sweater pumpkins upcycled clothing

You can make these DIY sweater pumpkins with upcycled sweaters, t-shirt fabric, and even fleece. They are quite easy to make and you can even sew these by hand if you don’t have a sewing machine. (Learn some easy and basic hand sewing skills here).

The pumpkin leaves are made with two different shades of green felt and this layering technique that I’ll show you, really adds a unique look.

The pattern comes with two different sizes of pumpkins and can be downloaded and printed out so you can save and use it as much as you want.

diy sweater pumpkins itmes

DIY Sweater Pumpkins Materials & Items Needed

If using upcycled wool sweaters read and watch this video for some great tips.

diy sweater pumpkins cutting out

DIY Sweater Pumpkins Instructions

1 – Cut out 6 sweater pumpkin panels.

They can be all the same color or mix and match colors and fabrics.

DIY Sweater Pumpkins2 -Using the leaf template, cut out one light green leaf and one dark green leaf.

 

Sewing Sweater Pumpkins Leaf

sweater pumpkins leaf veins

3 – Stack the leaves on top of each other, with the dark leaf on top.

Using the leaf template as a visual, sew the leaf veins using a straight stitch on the sewing machine.

You don’t need to be too particular. You can draw the lines lightly with a pencil if you feel you need a pattern or just free sew it. Clip threads.

DIY Sweater Pumpkins stem4 -Apply a strip of hot glue or craft glue along the back center vein of the leaf.

Place the stem wire onto the leaf.

 

sweater pumpkins sewing

Sewing Sweater Pumpkins

5 – With Right Sides Together (RST) place two of the pumpkin panels together and pin in place.

Sew from tip to tip and backstitch.

6 – Sew the third panel to the two you just sewed together with (RST).

Set that set aside while you sew the next three together. You should have two sets of three panels.

7 – With (RST) place the two pieces together. Line up the top and bottom tips and pin them in place.

Starting on one of the side panels, start sewing around the circle. (You will be leaving about a 3 inch opening for stuffing).

Take your time when going over the top and bottom tips where all the pieces come together.  Make sure the seams line up. Go slow so you don’t break a needle!

sweater pumpkins trimming8 – Trim the bottom and top tips.

diy sweater pumpkins stuffing

Stuffing the Sweater Pumpkins

9 – Stuff the pumpkin through the hole you left.

10-Sew opening closed.

Double thread a needle with matching thread and slip stitch the opening closed.

*I have a little tutorial on how to do the slip stitch. You can locate HERE

sweater pumpkins needle11-Making pumpkin contour

Double thread a LONG needle with upholstery thread so it is about 20 inches in length and knot the end.

To plump out and give the top indent: Stick the needle into the top center end poke the needle through the pumpkin to the bottom. You will have to pinch the top and bottom together to find the needle. Just gently keep poking until it pokes through the center bottom.

12- Repeat this back and forth a few times until you get the plumpness you desire.

End at the top and take a little stitch and knot. Don’t worry about the knot showing, as it will be covered up by the stem.

diy sweater pumpkins stem

Adding Sweater Pumpkin Stem

13- Cut tree branch.

Get out your tree pruners and go out in your yard and find a thin tree branch that looks suitable for a pumpkin stem and cut about two inches off.

Apply a big dab of hot glue in the top indent of the pumpkin and stick your branch in and secure place.

14- Wrap the wire around the stem several times and then wrap the other end around a pencil to make the curly vine.

Pull the pencil out and you are finished!

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I do. If you have any questions, please reach out.

OTHER POSTS YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN

 

DIY Fabric Carrots Sewing Tutorial

 

Baby Gift Ideas – Upcycled Sweater Toys

 

Make It With An Upcycled Sweater

Have fun sewing!

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Jan Howell

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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Upcycling Love | Thrift Store & Consignment Shopping Tips

upcycled love thrift store items

Upcycling and recycling used items is one of my passions and something I do frequently. Thrift stores, consignment shops and garage sales are just a few places where you can find items to repurpose. In this post I am going to give you some awesome tips on what to look for, and some ideas on how to use the items you find.

Upcycling, recycling, repurposed; what does that mean and what’s the difference?

These words are thrown around all the time and in ways mean the same thing, however there are a few distinct differences. Let’s go over them.

RECYCLING

Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. This process usually involves breaking the product down and making something else with it.

Some examples include: changing glass, paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, tires, textiles, batteries, and electronics into something else.

UPCYCLING

Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming  useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value. The keyword here is TRANSFORMING.

I love transforming things! There is something so fun about taking an item that is normally used for one thing and using it for another purpose.

Some examples include:

Taking a wool sweater, felting it down and making mittens from them. The sweater was originally used as clothing to keep you warm, and the new product is still clothing, but now it is used to keep your hands warm. Another example would be to take a piece of furniture and changing the paint color or even altering its size or shape.

REPURPOSING

Repurposing is simply using a product to serve another purpose.  Some examples include:

  • Tin bucket as a plant pot
  • An old tin mug normally used for drinking and using it to put paint brushes or pencils in.
  • Using a metal garden rake to hang jewelry on.
  • A wire bike basket to store and display magazines.

What are the benefits of recycling, upcycling and repurposing?

  • Keeps the Earth beautiful
  • Conserves natural resources
  • Saves money and energy
  • Reduces harmful greenhouse gases

Although there are small differences between each of these processes, they all share a common goal of being environmentally-friendly. Upcyling and recycling will not only save you money and save the planet; you can add some cute authentic style to your wardrobe and your home.

Here are a few ideas and tips on how I go about upcycling and recycling.

BE SURE TO WATCH THE VIDEO FOR SOME GREAT UPCYCLING IDEAS!

UPCYCLING CLOTHING

It’s pretty obvious that you can take a used piece of clothing and instead of throwing it away; you can either give it away or sell it for someone else to use. On the flip side, instead of buying new clothing, you can purchase used clothing at a lower rate and save it from being put in the landfill.

Thrift stores, consignment shops and yard sales are all great places to shop for used clothing.

TIPS:

  • Look for stains, holes and strong smells, and avoid these items.
  • Check the fabric content. I personally avoid clothing that you have to dry clean.
  • If you need a pair of shorts, you can always cut off a pair of pants and hem them. (It really is quite easy to do) I have an old tutorial that shows you how. I will be recording a new tutorial soon, so watch out for that.
  • Look for unique style and colors of clothing. (The knit shirt in the photo above, has the cutest grommet snaps)
  • Thoroughly clean items before wearing.

USING CLOTHING FOR FABRIC

What? Yes, I do this all the time. You can simply take an item of clothing and cut it up and make something else with the fabric. Some examples:

TIPS:

  • The bigger the item of clothing, the better. Depending on what you are making, you are going to get more yardage of fabric if you buy the XL or XXL (if you’re lucky).
  • Check fabric content. If you are making a felted wool project, you’ll want to at least have 70% wool. Get more tips on that here.
  • Large dresses and skirts have a lot of fabric yardage.
  • Check clearance racks at stores for new clothing as well as used clothing. I buy a lot of nice new clothing that are on the clearance rack to make other things with. It can be cheaper than buying new fabric.
  • I recommend getting a large bin to put clothing you will be using for fabric and label the container so you don’t get them confused with out of season clothing.
  • Thoroughly clean items before disassembling for sewing projects.
  • Here are some more ideas for upcycled jeans.

HOW TO GET RID OF THRIFT STORE SMELL

Vinegar

Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to your normal wash cycle, either hot or cold water. It will freshen and deodorize all of your clothing in your normal wash. If the clothes still smell, repeat. It may take a few wash loads to clear some smells, but it does work. (No worries, your clothes will not smell like vinegar once they are dried).

BAKING SODA

Baking soda is a great way to get rid of smells everywhere. (This is obviously okay for cotton and polyester, but you may want to do a patch test with other fabrics, such as rayon or cashmere sweaters.).

  • Lay the clothes on a towel or sheet, then sprinkling baking soda all over the clothing.
  • Add the piece of clothing to a large zip top plastic bag. Add baking soda to the bag, seal and shake to coat the clothes.
  • Leave the baking soda on at least an hour. Wash the clothes afterwards.

BUYING CLOTHING FOR ACCESSORIES

You can find some cool accessories on clothing to reuse. I’ve been known to buy pieces of clothing for the buttons, zippers, or even the trim. It doesn’t make sense to do this unless the item is on sale or free.

Before I throw a piece of clothing out, I always check to see if it has any cool accessories that I can take off and save.

TIPS:

  • Look for zippers that are unique. Zippers can easily be removed from items of clothing. Using a stylish zipper can really add a lot of charm to your homemade clothing and accessories.
  • Store disassembled hardware in a box where you can easily find them.
  • Keep button is a big jar. Not only will you have some fun buttons for sewing, but you can use them to embellish a lot of craft projects.
  • You can use the hardware from used purses and bags.

UPCYCLING JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES

You can find a lot of cute jewelry at consignment shops and even thrift stores.

This is a good place to find used belts and hats.

TIPS:

  • Look for items that are unique and good quality.
  • Don’t be discouraged by tarnished silver items because they can easily be buffed with a special cloth or liquid.
  • Thoroughly clean items before wearing or using.

UPCYCLING FURNITURE

I must admit that most of my household furniture is either upcycled or purchased on clearance or from the “scratch and dent” section. We always buy new mattresses, and couches, but almost everything else was a DIY or an upcyling project. I guess that’s what you get when you come from a family of ‘DO IT YOURSELFERS”.

My husband and I have transformed some pretty cool furniture over the years. I’m lucky to have a husband who is so handy.

TIPS:

  • Look for good quality both in materials and how it was made.
  • A lot of new chests of drawers are built so poorly and with cheap materials. That is one item that I like to buy used and refinish.  
  • Look for furniture that has “good bones”. By this I mean, has good form and style. It may not be the right color, but that is something that is can easily be changed.
  • If you don’t like the hardware on a piece of furniture, you can purchase new and change it out. Putting a new set of drawer pulls can really change the look of a chest.
  • My husband took this huge television cabinet and cut it down so it wasn’t so deep and made a cute cabinet for our bathroom. We put new handles on it and cut out a section in the doors, gave it a new color of paint, and look how cute it turned out. (The orange cabinet in the photo above).

KITCHEN GADGETS AND BOTTLES

There are a lot of fun ways to use old kitchen gadgets and bottles.

  • I used this old tin to put my paintbrushes in.
  • I have a thing for tall skinny bottles. They make really cute vases and can also be used to store small sewing supplies and office supplies.
  • Canning jars can be used for all kinds of things. In my kitchen, I use the pint size for drinking glasses. They also work well to store nuts, seeds and other pantry items. A pint size jar works well to store pencils and pens in. I have one on each of my desks.

TIPS:

UPCYCLING SHOES

I’m not one to buy a lot of used shoes. I know everyone has their own thoughts about this one. I will purchase used shoes that have been VERY lightly worn. You can find a lot of good, lightly worn shoes at a much lower price.

Where is a good place to shop for used items?

Some of the places to look for used items are: consignment shops, thrift stores, yard and garage sales.

Here is my receipt for my purchases at the consignment shop. (Watch the video below to see what good finds I found this day at the consignment shop).

  • 3 pairs of nice shoes
  • 2 adorable shirts
  • pair of aqua color jeans that I’m going to cut off and hem for shorts
  • 2 pair of earrings

Not bad! 

What is the difference between a consignment shop and thrift store?

THRIFT STORES

The majority of thrift stores are donation based and center on a charity or non-profit organization. Although donating truly ruined items is discouraged, damaged, heavily worn, and flawed items are relatively common. Items are sorted and priced by volunteers, then sent to the sales floor where they are bought by shoppers.

CONSIGNMENT SHOPS

Consignment stores are where members bring in gently used items for evaluation, and the buyers look them over to determine if they are likely to sell well from that particular shop. If the items are deemed a good risk, the shop will sell them and the shop owner takes a percentage of the sale.  Some shops will pay up front.

Play Video

If you’ve never been in a consignment or thrift store, I encourage you to open your mind and take a step inside. Upcycle, recycle and repurpose, you’ll be glad you did.

I hope this was helpful and that you have some new ideas for upcycling.

Please feel free to share some of your upcycled ideas on my Instagram. Tag it #fibersandtwigs

HAPPY UPCYCLING!

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My intention for this website is to share tips and tutorials that I have found on my journey of life that has brought me joy, improved health, and peace, in hopes that it will do the same for you. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

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diy Upcycled Sweater Hats

sweater hats
sweater hats

There is starting to be a little nip in the air and that means it’s HAT time! If you have some old sweaters kicking around that you don’t want to wear anymore, give them a second life and make a few sweater hats. These hats are easy to make and there are so many options. Only basic sewing skills are needed.

Types of sweater hats

Pilot & Pixie Caps

These caps are great for the little ones ears. Made out of a soft cashmere sweater or thin sweater edged with fleece, makes the perfect hat for these cool fall days. Can be made using fleece and upcycled t-shirts as well.

Bobbi Jo Hat

A fun box shape hat.

Beanie

Make a traditional beanie out of a stylish plain or patterned sweater.

Spiral Beanie

This is a super cute beanie. Looks intimidating to make, but very easy to sew up.

Go HERE to check out some great tips on how to find, cut up and prepare a sweater for crafting.

These sweater hat patterns come in a wide range of sizes, from infant to adult. With Christmas coming up, these make great gifts!

Get out your sweater stash, or find an old sweater kicking around and make an authentic, one of a kind sweater hat!

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How to organize and store felted wool sweaters

store felted wool sweaters

I am on a quest to organize, DE-junk, and clear the clutter from my home and my life.  The first thing I did was clean out my closet and have worked from area to area in my home letting things go and organizing.  I will post about this later as it is quite amazing some things I have learned.

As you all know, I love felted wool sweaters and I have acquired just a FEW over the years. (Ha, Ha)  I must say my SWEATER STASH was getting out of control. Every time I started a wool project, I hauled out my bins of sweaters (six and one mega size bin), lined them up in the hallway and would dig through them all, trying to find jut the right piece and color.  WHAT A MESS!

Not having my supplies in order caused PROCRASTINATION.  The thoughts of the mess, and the bother of hauling all those bins out, kept me from moving forward and getting things done.  Do any of you find yourself feeling like this?  It was time to MOVE ON.

I bit the bullet and turned on an audio book, got a chair, a pair of scissors and got to work.

store felted wool sweaters
This is what some of my bins looked liked.  Most of them were worse off.  So crammed I could hardly get the lids on them.  Who knew what was in there???
 

Here are a few tips on how to organize and store felted wool sweaters.

I am going to show you a technique that I have found that works really well in storing the sweaters so they don’t take up so much room.

1. WASH AND FELT THE SWEATER.  (Instructions here on how to felt and shrink sweaters).

2. DISASSEMBLE SWEATER.

Right after you acquire a sweater and have washed it, disassemble the sweater.  Cutting the sweater up like this will make it easier to cut out items for your project, and will save so much room when storing.  Here is a step by step guide in how I disassemble my sweaters.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut up the side seam to the arm pit.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut the sleeve off.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut through the shoulder seam.

store felted wool sweaters

This sweater has a turtle neck.  So cut off the neck piece if it has one.  This could come in handy for a lot of good things.

store felted wool sweaters

Cut the other shoulder seam and the other sleeve off.  DO NOT CUT THE
OTHER SIDE SEAM.  This will allow you to have more intact yardage if
necessary for larger pieces.

store felted wool sweaters

If the sweater has a good cuff.  Cut the lower 4-5 inches of the sleeve
off.  These cuffs work well for the cuffs of mittens and slippers!

store felted wool sweaters

Cut down the sleeve seam.

store felted wool sweaters

Open the sleeve piece up and fold.

store felted wool sweaters

If the sweater has a good cuff along the bottom of the sweater.  Cut the
lower 4-5 inches off in a long strip.  Once again, this cuff fabric is
wonderful.

If the sweaters have any cool accessories on them, BUTTONS, ZIPPERS,  POCKETS, etc. save them. 

Here are a few zippers that I have saved from sweaters.  The reason I saved these zippers is because of the cool zipper pulls they have.  This can really add charm to a project.  Yes, I know it will take some time unpicking the sweater from the zipper, but something you could do while watching t.v or riding in the car.  (As a passenger, of course).
store felted wool sweaters

3.  FOLD AND STORE

store felted wool sweaters

Doesn’t this look so much nicer than a wad of wool?

store felted wool sweaters
This is a flatter bin about 6 inches tall, that I store all my cut out
cuffs in.  Easy to find and easy to see what colors I have available.

If you are just starting to explore the world of FELTED WOOL SWEATERS  and you don’t have a big surplus YET, just find a nice bin with a lid to keep your sweaters in.

BUT, if you have been into this for a bit, you most likely have several sweaters of many colors kicking around.

PLASTIC BINS

To make your life easier when it comes to felted wool sweater projects, get yourself several bins, preferably the same size for easy stacking.  I get mine at Costco.  I used to have a big old mongo bin that I would throw some of the sweaters in, but it was way too big and hard to organize.  So, that bin is now being used for sleeping bags.

I cut my bins down from 6 regular plus the mongo bin, to only 6 regular size bins.  Yea!  It feels so nice.

SORT IN COLORS

Depending on how many sweaters you have, sit and figure out what colors need to go where.  I use a whole bin for greens, and one bin for blacks and grays.

Label the bins so you can easily see at a glance where things are.

I just got a Silhouette Cameo machine a while back and was able to make some fun vinyl labels.  You can make a paper label and tape it to the box or even just stick some masking tape on and write what colors are inside.

Establish a box for SCRAPS.  After you have cut things out you are going to have pieces that are too small to fold.  DON’T THROW THEM AWAY.  There are so many projects that require only a small piece of wool. Balls, hearts, and so many other things.

I also keep smaller box, or you can even use a bag, for the tiny scraps of felted wool scraps.  These I save for laundry dryer balls.  For more information about making these gems, check out this blog post.  

So, there you have it.  I hope this LONG post was helpful to you in some way.

If you have a great idea or have questions, please feel free to chime in and leave a comment.
Some times I feel like I am just talking to the wind.

Have fun sorting, sewing and of course, SMILING!

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Caring for your upcycled wool sweater projects

Caring for your upcycled wool sweater projects

So you have made some fun things with felted wool sweaters.  SLIPPERS, MITTENS, HATS, and STUFFED ANIMALS.

What are you supposed to do when they get dirty?
NO PROBLEM!
I wanted to do a quick post about caring for your upcycled wool sweater projects to put your mind at ease and let you know how well these items wash up, and how easy they are to care for.

The multicolored mittens in the photo are about 5 years old, the slippers are probably 3 years old and the slipper boots about the same.  They have been washed many times and are holding up just fine.
In fact, I think it makes them have more character the more you wash them.

I love putting my feet in a pair of newly washed slippers.  It tightens up the fibers so it is like getting a little hug on your feet.  The already felted (washed in hot water) sweater material will not shrink when washed again.  If the sweater was not properly shrunk, the item you made, may shrink.  For tips on felting sweaters, go to the post here.

I have not experienced any major shrinking with the items I have washed.  If they do shrink a bit, they will stretch out just fine.

How to wash wool slippers.

I just throw my wool items in the washing machine with a load of permanent press items, so the water is not hot, but it can handle warm water.  If you are worried, just put the water at a cooler temperature.  I even throw them in the dryer.  Then again, if you are worried, just let them air dry. Most likely the sweater fabric was pre-shrunk (hopefully).

If you have never made anything with a felted wool sweater,  give it a whirl.  Who knew all the fun things you can make with an old sweater.  Here are a few ideas of things you can make.  I have a few more felted wool sweater projects and patterns in the making and are soon to be listed.  So get you sweater stash out, or maybe you need to make a trip to the thrift store, and have fun sewing!!!!

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Sweater Heart Hand Warmer Tutorial

heart hand warmer

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, YEA!  I love this holiday!  I always like to make some kind of valentine gift each year and I think this year I am going to give these fun heart shaped hand warmers.  They are WAY easy to make and will be easy to mail to my family and friends.

I am terrible at sending out Christmas cards, but I do enjoy making and sending out valentine cards with a personalized note (of course).  That is one of my pet peeves, getting a generic card or letter in the mail.  Very rarely do you get something in the mail besides bills and advertisements.  Don’t you think it is fun to get a card in the mail with your name HANDWRITTEN and maybe even a cute sticker on the back of the envelope?  My mother-in-law and I still send notes back and forth every once in a while in the mail, and I just love it.  We do converse with email, but there is just something about a written note that really lifts your spirits.  Even with her arthritic hands, she still sends beautiful handwritten letters.

This little rice bags really do work quite well.  Just pop them in the microwave for 30-40 seconds and place them in your coat pockets.  They are a great thing to send your kids off to school with, or take in the car on the way to work.

So……go to your felted sweater, fleece or flannel stash and pick out some cute, bright colors and get to work, and with your handwritten valentine note, send a set of cozy heart shaped hand warmers.

heart hand warmer

cut out 4 hearts

heart hand warmer

Sew around the edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Leave about a 2 inch opening

heart hand warmer

Using a funnel, fill with 1/2 – 3/4 cup flax seeds or rice.

Flax seeds don’t put off as much aroma as the rice and tend to stay warmer a little longer, but rice still works quite well.
Go back to the sewing machine and sew the opening closed.

Ta-dah!  There you have it.
Finish them off with a ribbon and a note attached explaining how to heat and use the rice bags.

Click HERE to download heart pattern.

Check out my therapeutic rice bag pattern set in my craftsy and etsy shops.  Includes the heart and rectangle hand warmers, neck bag, eye pillow, back soother and foot warmer patterns.

heart hand warmer

My husband and I have become wimps.  We heat up the foot warmer every night and throw it in the bottom of our bed.  It works like a charm, keeps our feet nice and toasty!  This puppy stays warm for a good 3 hours or more.  All of these bags are really easy and fun to sew up.

Here is a link for the foot warmer tutorial.

heart hand warmer

If you have any questions, send me a note.
Have fun sewing!

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large jar top

side jar label

Some jars work better to have a label on the side.