Monday, November 14, 2011

upcycle an old sweatshirt - part 1

I recently found a box of old clothes from college, 90% of which I will never wear again.  I was about to throw them all in the "get rid of" box, when I realized several items could actually be reused.  My little guy needs some new hats and mittens for winter, and what better material than an old sweatshirt?  It's already warm and soft and stretchy!

So today I'm just going to write about making the mittens - I'll post about the hats and slippers later (probably whenever I get around to finishing them... hmm...)

Honestly, the hardest part of this whole project was getting my little monster to hold still enough to trace his hands.  So that's the first thing you have to do.

1. Trace the hands of the person you're making the mittens for.  (Just one hand will work if you can't get the other one traced too.)

I made two attempts - one with the fingers separated, outlining between each, the other more like a mitten.  (Please notice the scribbles and wrinkles in the paper.  He really doesn't like to hold still.)  Either way works, but be sure if you trace with the fingers separated, you make the pattern a little smaller than just outlining all the way around the fingers.

2. Use a piece of tracing paper or vellum (I always use vellum because it's a bit stronger and works really well as a pattern piece) and trace around the hand in the shape of a mitten to get the approximate size and shape you need the finished mitten to be.

3. Add about 1/2" around the mitten shape you just drew to allow for the seams.  This will also leave a little growing room too, since your seams won't be quite 1/2".  Then cut out your pattern piece.  (The picture above shows the cut out pattern piece over the original hand tracing.)

4. Line up your pattern piece at the bottom of one of the sweatshirt sleeves so that the wrist of the mitten lines up with the cuff seam of the sleeve - this lets you use the already finished cuff as the bottom of the mitten.  It makes it easy (no hemming! I'm super lazy) and it's already stretchy to fit over the hand, and hold around the wrist.  Trace your pattern with an erasable fabric marker.

(See how the base of the hand lines up with seam of the sweatshirt?)

5. Pin around your traced mitten to hold both layers of fabric in place, and cut out both pieces.

6. Now re-pin the two pieces together, this time with right sides together.

7. Stitch around the outside of the mitten, making sure to leave the bottom open!  (I stitched mine with 1/4" seams to leave a little room to grow)

8. Turn it right side out, and you're done!  If the unfinished edges inside the mitten bother you, you can use bias tape to finish them.  But like I said, I'm lazy, so I left mine.  Plus, the mittens are pretty long on my boy and tuck up under his sleeves anyway - which is actually really nice!  It helps them stay on even better.

9. Repeat steps 4-8 for the other mitten, of course.

I'll post about the cute hat (also made from the sweatshirt) soon!


  1. These are adorable! And I love that you use the original cuff. SO much easier than other kinds of mittens I've tried.

  2. Thanks Katie! Yeah, these were mostly inspired by me thinking, "What will be the easiest possible way to do this?" :)

  3. Very nice! I'm even lazier than you, though...I'd turn the sweatshirt inside out before tracing the mitten pattern. Then I don't have to flip the pieces before sewing, and I don't have to find a washable marker, because it will be marked on the inside. ;-)

    1. Great tip! I'll have to try that next time!

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