How to Sew a Free Recycled Sweater Mittens Pattern and Matching Hat

November 29, 2012 separator DIY Tutorial

I’m excited to tell you that today, Valerie is back with another Sewing 101 tutorial! This time she shows us how to turn an old sweater into an adorable hat and long mitten set. Be sure to read her blog to get to know her a little better, and if you love her style, but sewing just isn’t your thing, pop over to her shop to pick up some pre-made fashion!

Winter arrived quite suddenly, didn’t it?  Now that we’ve all had to break out our cold weather clothes, here’s a great little project to make from a last-season sweater you don’t want to wear anymore!  This matching set of hat and mittens could also make a sweet little holiday gift, if you’re going handmade this year!

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How to Sew a Recycled Sweater Hat and Mittens


  • Sweater
  • Matching thread
  • Pins
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Sewing scissors
  • Marker
  • Measuring tape


If your sweater is wool, give it a machine wash and dry. Oooor maybe you’ve already done that on accident and shrunk it, like I did!.

How to Sew a Recycled Sweater Hat

Measure the circumference of your head, around the part where you would wear the brim of your hat. Then measure from the top of your crown down to your ear.

On the bottom band of your sweater, measure over 1/2 of your circumference measurement minus 1 inch.  (For example, my head was 24″ around, so I measured over 11″ [1/2 of 24″ = 12″ – 1″ = 11″]) Mark the distance with your marker.

From the bottom of the sweater, measure up the distance you measured from your crown to your ear plus 2 inches. (My crown to ear measurement was 8″, so I measured up 8″ + 2″ = 10″) Mark both measurements with pins to form a rectangle using the side seam and bottom as two of the sides.

Cut out around the rectangle, leaving the side seam and the bottom band intact.

Using a straight stitch, sew up the remaining side seam with right sides (the side of the sweater fabric you want to be on the outside) together.

Open up your hat, which is now a tube. You are going to sew around the entire top of the hat in a single layer. Using a long stitch (at least 4 mm length stitch), sew around the circumference of the top of the hat one time, 5/8″ from the edge. Make sure that your last stitch comes right up to the first stitch, but doesn’t overlap. Leaving a few inches of dangling thread, remove the fabric from the machine. Then sew another line of stitches in the exact same manner, just inside of the first line. Make sure that at the beginning and end of the stitch lines you leave a few inches of thread.

On one end of the two lines of stitches, isolate the two threads that are both on the same side of the fabric. Move those to the side. Then, take the remaining 6 threads (4 on one side of the fabric, 2 on the other) and knot all of those threads together.

Using the two threads you left out of the knot, pull on the threads while simultaneously sliding the fabric along them. (This called gathering – new sewing word!)  Keep siding the fabric all the way around the entire circle of the top of the hat. You’ll want the fabric to be tightly gathered, as closely as it can be.

Flip the gathered top to the inside of the hat.

Thread a hand sewing needle and knot the end.  Then, pack the gathers of the hat into a small circle and hold it tightly in one hand.

Using the threaded needle, push it through all the layers of the gathers (you might have to push really hard!). Move your needle around the circle and push it through all the layers many times at different angles. Pull the thread tight after every stitch. Keep going until the gathers are tightly packed and feel solid. Knot off the thread.

Turn your hat right side out. It’s finished and ready to wear!

How to Sew Recycled Sweater Mittens

Now, use the sleeves of your sweater to make mittens!  We’re going to use the bands at the end of the sleeves as the cuffs of the mittens as well.

Move up the sleeve far enough that your hand will fit with your thumb slightly separated from the rest of your hand. 

Trace around your hand with the marker, keeping your four fingers together, and using the sides of both sleeves as the sides of the mittens.

Pin through both layers of the sleeve on the inside of the mitten shape close to the lines.

Cut out around your mitten on the outside of the lines.

Lining up the cuffs together, pin your mitten down to the other sleeve and cut out around it.

With the right sides together on the inside of the sleeve, pin around the edges of the thumb and finger parts.

Using a short, straight stitch, sew around the edges of the mitten close to the edge.

Carefully clip the V between your thumb and fingers, as close to the stitches as you can without cutting them.

Flip your mittens inside out – finished.


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  3. There are no photos with this tutorial making it incomprehensible. And I have no idea what the hat looks like once finished. Can you send a link to a version that does have illustrations?

  4. I have made mittens from old sweaters before, but never thought of cutting them from the sweater sleeve, using the finished edge of the cuff, and making them arm-length. I LOVE this idea! Thanks so much for sharing this great tutorial and giving me a good idea!

  5. love your step by step tutorial with pics. so helping. have been meaning to learn sewing since a long time, and this post has further inspired me 🙂

  6. These are both so cute. I love that hat and those mittens would be adorable with a wonderful polka dot sweater that I have. I even have some lovely buttons I could use to adorn the side! I’m pinning this! xx. Mckenna Lou

  7. How fun is that! I just got a sewing machine, haven’t gotten comfortable with it yet. But am determined to do so! 🙂

  8. Definitely want to make that hat! I remember sewing the top of a knit hat together like that and it’s all cute bunched up haha.

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