Thrift Store Recycled Sweater Tutorial


Time for another Feathered Fibers tutorial, this time it is how to remake or reconstruct a thrift store sweater into a stylish garment you would love to be seen in.  This is a beginner’s project:


I have remade about 8 thrift store sweaters over the last few years.  I first learned how to do this from Leslie Riley, a very talented mixed media artist.  Anyway, here are the supplies you need:


Need 1 sweater from the thrift store, rummage sale, or even “borrowed” from the back of your closet or husband’s closet.  The sweater above was in perfect condition with the exception of extra long, stretched out sleeves, which I plan to shorten.

**Helpful Hint: Use a sweater that has knitted holes large enough to get a crochet hook and yarn through.  The sweater in this example is perfect for this project!

**Helpful Hint #2: Wash the sweater and block dry to get the thrift store cooties out of it before you start.

**Helpful Hint #3: Take your thrift store sweater with you to the yarn shop if you don’t have the perfect yarn already in your yarn stash.

Also need:


crochethooks also scissors, sewing machine, pins, thread, etc.

This sweater is pretty easy, all I’m going to do is adjust the sleeves, finish them off, and then add more decoration to the collar.  Before you grab your scissors, there are several steps that you must do first.

Step 1: Measure the alterations and pin where the sewing lines will be.

Here is how to handle a pullover sweater (like in the blue sweater at the very top of this tutorial):


Here is what you can do with a turtleneck sweater:


As I was saying, Step one is to figure out your design and where your stitching line will be.  I pin along the line where my stitching will be to use as a guide:


The next- and VERY important step is to sew 2 lines where you have pinned, about 1/4 of an inch apart. Follow the picture below for a visual reference:


You do this so that you will have a secure space to place your crochet stitches, plus the sweater will not unravel.  Once you have done all your double stitched lines, you can trim about 1/4″ from the stitched line like I have done here:


Because this project is easy, all I had to do was the sleeves.  Now it is time to crochet:


You may choose to do single crochet stitch, double or any other combination of a crochet stitch.  Here is a picture with one sleeve finished and one sleeve not finished:


For a bit more decoration, I also crocheted the collar, too:


I also could have crocheted the bottom edge at the bottom, but I didn’t want to overdo it on this one.

Finishing touches:  You can make the favorite closure of your choice, button hole, frog closure, tied closure, really whatever you like.

Congrats!!  Your thrift store project should be finished.  Please send me a picture as I would love to see your new sweater, too.

Pat yourself on the back…you have just saved another item from ending up in a landfill!

Here are some close ups of other sweaters I have “remade:”






Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  I have a whole page of various tutorials covering many subjects.

Take care,  Carla

30 thoughts on “Thrift Store Recycled Sweater Tutorial

  1. I have not been to a thrift store in years. Used to go when the kids were younger. It was hard to imagine that people would throw away such good clothing but kids do grow and can be picky. The one that is close to work is really quite pricey. Most around here are kid/maternity consignment shops. Perhaps a little Googling is in order.

  2. Update: Ok – I was wrong! There are lots of consignment/thrift shops around in my “area” and I knew about most of them. Ah, the memory…it’s just about shot.

  3. Thank you for sharing your ‘how to’. 🙂 This is probably one of my ‘most favorite things’ that you do. That red sweater makes me smile. Maybe its time to run to Sally Anns.

  4. Just for Oreneta and Becky, I dug the blue sweater out of my closet, and added some pictures. The yarn used was a novelty yarn found years ago at my local yarn shop. I took some pictures of it closeup to help see it better.

    If anyone makes one, I want to see it!!

    Confession time, the blue sweater needs a button closure or another type. I was a bit lazy. LOL!

    Thanks, Carla

  5. You made my day. Thrift Store cooties! LOL! I always wash my stuff that I bring home, now I know what I am washing out! I will be chuckling for days about this one…… 🙂

  6. This is such a wonderful idea — and GREAT excuse (err, reason) for buying one skein of fun, colorful yarn!

    As soon as I finish one, I’ll send a photo — but don’t hold your breath, as I run slow …


  7. I am just starting out with remaking thrift store clothes and am very excited about it. The sweaters are wonderful. Can you explain how you crochet the edges? Thank you for sharing your creativity.

    • Linda, just do single or double crochet. I believe most of my samples have 2 rows of either single or double crochet.

      If you have never crocheted before, there are some wonderful beginner links that I link to on my freeform crochet tutorial.

      Regards, Carla

  8. Pingback: Recycled Sweater Fun – Ways to reuse your old sweaters! « Art By Chrysti

  9. Pingback: Recycle/Reuse Sweater Challenge #1 « Feathered Fibers

  10. Great site Carla! I want to re-work my turtlenecks. Too hot for this old gal. Have you ever converted them in to a shawl collar? Is it possible? Thanks for any ideas. Nanc

    • Hi Nancy, I have used a very large turtleneck or cowl neck sweater to get some interesting necklines. Play with it. Since I am making a wrap sweater, I need to either buy one a few sizes larger or add on with the crochet work or perhaps another sweater piece.

      Have fun! If you make something, I would love to see it!

  11. After reading all of your instructions and the comments by viewers, it occurred to me that I have an oversized mens irish knit cardigan purchased from thrift store that I can do something interesting with. There are 3 good thrift stores within a 10 minute ride from me that I been visiting for years. There was a reason that i kept that sweater and now I have found it. Yea!!!

  12. Pingback: recycler les chandails | Atelier de JAM

  13. Hi, I just found you on Pinterest; what great ideas. I can’t crochet either, but was wondering if maybe I could fake my way through it. i’ve been watching videos( muvch easier to try to learn for me, since I can play it over and over! I’ve been making berets and mittens from old sweaters, mostly cotton sweaters since we live down South in Mississippi. When it gets cold, it’s freezing cold! I’ve added the burnt fabric flowers to the berets and mittens. I have to say, I used the sleeve hems as the top of gloves and neck lines and hemlines as the cap hems. Thank you for the awesome inspirations!

  14. Hi, just a quick tip……… If the holes in the sweater aren’t large enough to get your crochet hook in you can always blanket stitch around the bottom of the hemmed area and then crochet through the blanket stitching, easy!!!

  15. If you have some oversized sweaters that you love can you reduced the size (width) by running a sewing machine up each side and along the sleeve or would it be better to cut off the excess fabric and make a new seam? The sweaters are large knits.

    • Kookie, I think I would de-construct the sweater and then reconstruct to fit my body. There are many fiber and garment artists who create fabulous sweaters and jackets by combining several sweaters into one unique garment.

      Keep in mind that if you simply sew down seams, you will have quite a bit of bulk to deal with. Instead, I would put the garment on and then ask a friend to pin it to fit your body. On the basis of this, I would sew double lines, then trim the excess away. Then I would reconstruct the sweater. Hope this description helps.

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