I’ve got a quick and cozy project for Fall for you: how to make a pillow from a sweater.
Sweaters are one of my favorite things to upcycle! You’ll love this pillow from a sweater because:
- It takes about 20 minutes to put together.
- You can make a sweater pillow from just about any sweater you have.
- It’s a great way to remake an old pillow or change up your decor for different seasons.
- You can have a DIY sweater pillow for free-about $2 vs. $40-160 from a home store.
This project is perfect for beginners and if you’re new to sewing with knits, you can totally handle this one.
So grab an old sweater and a pair of scissors, and let me show you how to make a pillow from a sweater.
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DIY Sweater pillows supplies
- Old sweater
- Large buttons: 3-6 is a good number
- Old pillow or a pillow form
Sewing tools for this project:
- 80/12 universal sewing machine needle
- Hand needle and thread
- Sewing pins
- Sewing scissors (my favorite ones here)
What kind of sweater should I use for a DIY sweater pillow?
You can make a pillow from just about any kind of sweater. Here’s some ideas:
- That sweater you shrunk in the wash
- Button front cardigan
- Crew neck or turtleneck sweater in cotton, polyester, acrylic, or wool.
- Crocheted or knitted sweater knits are good here, but pass on sweater knits with large openwork which won’t seam well.
The one type of sweater to pass on when you’re thinking about making a pillow from a sweater is an open front cardigan.
Open front cardigans are typically made from rather drapey fabrics which won’t make the best pillow cover. Also say no to sweaters made from lightweight sweater knits for the same reason.
If you want some more advice on sewing with sweater knits check out this post.
How to make a pillow from a sweater step by step
Pin the sweater
First turn the sweater inside out and pop the pillow inside the sweater.
From here, pin around the pillow right up to the edge of the sides of the pillow, leaving the bottom hem free of pins.
On my particular pillow I didn’t need to pint the sides fully since the width of the pillow was basically the width of the pillow.
You can see too that part of the side of the pillow is taken up by the sleeves.
That’s okay. This is an upcycling project, so little “features” like partial sleeves from upcycled fabrics is part of the territory.
Cut the sweater
From here, use your scissors to cut just 3/8″ past the pins. This will be the seam allowance.
Pop out the pillow and set it aside.
Sew the sweater into a pillow
Set your sewing machine for a narrow zigzag stitch (0.5mm width, 2.5mm length).
Sew around the pinned sides of your pillow with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
Press the stitches lightly with your iron.
Check your work and troubleshoot
Turn the pillow right side out through the hem.
Check your stitches for holes. It’s really easy to miss a spot especially in the neck area since the front and back neck of the sweater are not even with one another.
If you do have any holes in any of the seams, go back over that area. It’s okay if your seam allowances are a little wonky here–sweater knits are very flexible and forgiving.
Closing up the pillow
Pop the pillow back inside the sweater pillow cover.
Stitch as close as you can to the edge of the pillow through both layers of the sweater knit fabric. You’ll still have the ribbed hem of the sweater past this point.
We’re just securing everything in this step, and I’ll show you what to do with the extra fabric in the next step.
Sewing on the buttons
Fold over the hem over the unstitched side of the pillow. Snug up the hem right at the edge of the pillow.
To finish off the DIY sweater pillow, sew on buttons through the hem edges to the pillow front.
I used 3 buttons on my pillow because they came on the sweater, but feel free to use more.
And that’s how to make a pillow from a sweater. Play around with this project. It’s so easy to customize your sweater pillows with fun buttons and this is such a quick win project, you’ll want to make a couch’s worth of pillows.
Looking for more cool ways to upcycle sweaters?
With Fall hopefully in the air soon, it’s a good time to start playing around with sewing sweater knits. Upcycling old sweaters is one of my favorite ways to sew with sweater knits because it’s not always easy or cheap to buy sweater knits as yardage. The good news is you might have sweaters hanging out in your closet you don’t wear much that are perfect for upcycling. Also, if you live where there’s any kind of cold weather, you can thrift some awesome sweaters with very little wear made of beautiful quality fibers you’d be hard pressed to find in the thrift store.
Check out my Eguide Easy Refashions for All Seasons for some creative upcycling project ideas to help you sew with sweater knits and more all throughout the year.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.