Monday, December 15, 2014

making things cozy

Last week I made a sweater pillow out of my husband's old sweater. This time around I recycled one of my own, because it only seemed fair. (Ha!) I still love the stripes and the colors of the sweater, but it had seen better days. I wore it a lot!
Turning your sweater into a pillow cover is easy! I was going to do a full-blown tutorial, but I had horrible lighting for photographs (oh, how I miss the sun!) and really, it isn't that complicated. So, I'll just run through the steps quickly, because I need to enable you to do this too! And you better believe, I'm brain storming ideas for using the sleeves. :)
 
Before you get started, try the sweater on the pillow form you are going to use. (If you have kids around, this will be highly entertaining to them!) Be sure that the sweater is long and wide enough to fully cover your pillow. This sweater had a V neck, and it was JUST long enough. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a bit of the V at the very top. I was determined to make it work!
 
1. Find a zipper slightly shorter than your pillow form.
2. Add fabric tabs to each end of the zipper. (I have a tutorial here that covers that step, just be sure that you do not follow the zipper length in the tutorial.) The zipper with tabs should be approximately the length of your pillow form.
3. Trim tabs even with the width of your zipper if you haven't done so already.
4. Turn the sweater inside out and cut off the sleeves.
5. Sew the zipper into the bottom of the sweater as shown in the photo below. The right side of the zipper should be facing the right sides of the sweater. I would recommend keeping the ribbing from the bottom of the sweater in tact if at all possible. It makes things so much easier! (I didn't even use a zipper foot, just my regular piecing foot. )
6. Use a ruler and a chalk marker to mark a square that corresponds to the size of your pillow form. Keep in mind that the sweater will stretch a little bit, so you can err on the small side, but just a bit.
7. Open the zipper at least half way.
8. Sew on the marked lines. Back stitch at the beginning and ending of each seam.
9. Cut off the excess sweater bulk, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance.
10. Try it on the pillow form.
11. Take in the seams a bit if necessary.
Here is the zipper installed. No zipper top stitching necessary. (YAY!)
Using a striped sweater was a bit tricky compared to using a solid colored sweater, but all in all, I think it turned out pretty good! This is a very fun and quick project! No interfacing or extra materials necessary.

Because I'm sure someone will ask about pillow forms....I make my own using the tutorial here.

If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments!

Oh, and I would recommend getting permission from the owner of the sweater before turning it into a pillow. It's good to keep the peace. :)

Happy Monday to you!

30 comments:

SarahZ said...

Ooooo! If only I hadn't gotten rid of that striped sweater I loved!! Lavender, grays, greens. Darn it! This is just too cute!

RMorgan said...

Can't wait to try this! All those sweaters I have donated over the years could have been pillows!!

Kymberly said...

Very cute. Sweater sleeves make great can/coffee mug coozies.

Elaine M said...

Very cute, liked the other one also. I would make fingerless gloves from the sleeves, my daughter love them.

1stteacher said...

How fun.

Corrie H. @ Mountain Stitches said...

Very cute! You're so creative!

a maidenhair fern said...

ok. Isn't this like sewing on knit? sweaters give like knit. Won't the seams be stretched out? Did you just use a 2.5 stitch length? and the 1/2 inch seam allowance didn't ravel? This is so exciting!!! I'm going sweater hunting in my house :)

Heather Hubble said...

How do people keep their cushions (pillows to US sisters) from sliding down leather armchairs? I get really irritated by it and in my next project I'm going to try sewing a band of that light rubber drawer liner to the bottom of the cushion to try and stop the slide. Love to know how others cope.

Beatrice said...

Hello, thank you for the tutorial!
I took the liberty of sharing the links to both your posts on a French quilters forum, giving you full credit, of course. I hope it's OK. Let me know if you want me to remove them.

Suzanne said...

Awesome and so much fun. How long before the kids are volunteering their sweaters to be part of the sweater pillow revolution? I wanted to ask about the giant pillow filler so it was great that you led me back where you wrote about it. One more question about making those though...do you tear off chunks of the batting like you break off bits of poly fill?

Jody Polen said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial. I have my father's Ohio State Snoopy sweater from the 70's and have been waiting for something special to do with it. I think I may have found it! Thank you so much.

margaret said...

this has worked a treat but by the time I have finished with my sweaters they are only fit for the bin! The one I wear a lot I have had since 1990 I am sure anything made these days will not last as well mind you it does look a bit the worse fr wear but never mind it keeps me warm

Patti said...

After my granddaughter brings back my BEAUTIFUL sweater, it really is beautiful, that she is wearing to an ugly sweater party, I am going to make it into a pillow. Thanks for the tute!

amandajean said...

a maidenhair fern,

I didn't have much trouble with the sweater stretching. I think keeping most of the sweater in tact before sewing (and a few well placed pins, to keep the layers from shifting) helps a lot. I used a pretty short stitch length. The same I use for piecing...just under a 2 on my juki. (I know it varies quite a bit from machine to machine.)

The seams didn't seem to ravel excessively. I was kind of surprised!

I hope that helps!

AJ

amandajean said...

Heather Hubble,

Most of the time my cushions end up on the floor, so they don't slide on the leather. Hahaha! Actually, my leather chairs dip back a bit, so gravity keeps them in line. I'm not sure one would cope with slipping pillows. It would drive me crazy as well!

AJ

amandajean said...

Beatrice,

That is just fine! Thanks for checking and thanks for sharing the links!

AJ

amandajean said...

Suzanne,

My kids don't wear sweaters. They dislike them, so I just gave up buying them. :)

When I used batting for pillow filler, I did pull it apart like I do with the fiberfill. Are you finishing the denim pillows for Christmas?

Hope that helps!

AJ

Anina said...

So pretty! I may have to go see what old sweaters we have. Or visit the thrift store.

Vivian said...

This is just too flippin' cute! What a great way to repurpose that too small (whether from weight gain or washing) sweater. Love it!!

Anne said...

I love this idea ever since seeing the one you made with the husband's sweater. Just yesterday I saw sweater pillows at Pottery Barn, but using old sweaters is so much more fun. I'm going to make one from my Mom's old holiday sweat shirt. Not quite as cozy as a sweater but it will remind me of her and her love of cardinals. Here's an idea for those sleeves. http://www.springleafstudios.com/2013/09/repurposing.html

Fabric Fanatic said...

AmandaJean, I love the sweater-pillows....so comfy. But, today you have intrigued me with that quilt that is folded over the back of the chair. Lovely neutrals, low-volume, but not enough showing so that I get the full effect. Any chance you can show the whole thing?

Laura said...

Permission from the owner - funny! Love this idea.

RosieGma said...

Love the pillow, and the little "v" at the top is called "detailed"...Just a hint about what to do with the sweater arms,, socks, just overlock stitch the cuff area just like tube socks,,,make arm warmers, boot socks, fingerless gloves, or just stuff them for neck pillows....Love the pillow form tutorial also....

Ellsie320 said...

Mittens!

quiltzyx said...

Love the sweater pillow! As to the sleeves...

I got a sweater at the thrift store once & used just the sleeves to make a neck roll/foot pillow for my Secret Pal at quilt guild who was recovering from foot surgery. The sleeves made it the perfect size!

Karen said...

My sweaters are all cowering in a corner, living in terror of being chosen to become a pillow! What a super idea, Amanda Jean. I love both the pillows you've made, and I'm even willing to take a stab at pillow zippers!Thanks so much!

Sreim said...

I really like this pillow

Elena Boen said...

You could turn the sleeves into covers for microwave heat sacks.

Simply, Sarah said...

My daughter made leg warmers and peek-a-boo socks for her riding boots with sweater sleeves.

LInda Orr said...

If your sweater is handwash/dryclean animal fiber, it's fun to felt it first. The sleeves can be used as a wine bottle sweater when gifting a bottle of wine.