Make Mittens From Used Sweater




The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally the single largest business day in the American retail calendar. But people were not born to shop, its a learned behaviour. Buy Nothing Day actions only require that the participants spend a day without spending.

Make some mittens to help curb your consumption:

1. Reuse something you were gonna throw away ( an old sweater )
2. Don't spend any money making this
3. Make it more difficult for yourself to reach in your pocket, wallet, or purse... and spend $$$
4. One of a kind MITTENS!!! How can you go wrong???

From the Adbusters website:
Reasons for participating in Buy Nothing Day are as varied as the people who choose to participate. Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.

This instructable was inspired by an ad on the back page of the November/December 2007 issue of Adbusters magazine.

**** Just got a link from my dad... Martha Stewart had a holiday segment where they made this type of mittens and other used sweater craft. Here is the link Craft Sweater Mittens Etc*********

Step 1: What You Need

***** for this instructable it is important that you don't buy anything, it's an exercise in the reuse of materials that are normal discarded. Reuse is similar in importance to Reduce and should be practiced with Recycle as a final step or possibility. For more information about this, I recommend Heather Rogers' book Gone Tomorrow, The Hidden Life of Garbage*****

1. An Old Sweater... preferably one you don't to wear anymore ( like the one you got from your aunt for x-mas)

2. Paper for pattern (I used regular printer/copy paper)

3. Scissors

4. Thread ( dental floss will work if you don't have any thread)

5. Needle (for sewing).

That's really all you need for these mittens, but you can also add whatever else you feel necessary. I used some other old sweaters and fabric I had around the house for the lettering.

Step 2: Pattern : Trace Your Hand

Put your hand on the paper, then trace it.

Make sure you leave enough room around your thumb and fingers. Once sewn, the mittens will be turned inside out, so you need some extra room. This is something I found out by making these mittens. I made the thumbs a little bit too small. They still work, but comfort is important so its best to leave yourself enough room.

Step 3: Cut Out Material

Pin your template to your old sweater.
Then, cut out the material using the pattern as a template.

Step 4: Cut Out More Material

You probably have two hands and each mitten will have two sides so math says that you will need 4 of these total.
Repeat the cut out step until you have more mitten pieces to sew together. Again, you'll need four... two for each hand... front and back.
This picture shows enough for one mitten. I flipped the pattern so that both mittens will look the same on the front. Sweaters usually look different on the front than they do on the inside.

Step 5: Sew Mitten Pieces Together

Yep... place one on top of the other and sew around the edges.
I don't think it makes too much difference what type of stitch you use, but make sure its pretty tight so that the mittens don't come apart.

Repeat this step for both mittens.

Step 6: Inside Out

Flip the mittens inside out.
Now your seam will be on the inside.

Step 7: Two Mittens: Customize

So you should have two mittens now. Depending on the sweater you used, they might be kinda boring.

Add whatever you want on the outside to make them your own.

I made mine for Buy Nothing Day so I cut out some letters from another sweater and stitched them on top.

Step 8: Try Them Out!!!

Yep, my mittens fit.

And they also hamper my ability to take money out of my wallet. Perfect.
Now I'm ready for corporate holiday season!!!! YEaH!!!!1!!



    • Paper Contest

      Paper Contest
    • Warm and Fuzzy Contest

      Warm and Fuzzy Contest
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest

    20 Discussions

    I love this. The amount of damaged clothing that comes through our thrift store is imense. I'm always looking for ways for customers to re-purpose the clothing.

    7 replies

    Since making this, we've also made stocking caps and other things out of old sweaters. One of the biggest tricks we've learned is to felt the sweater.. i.e. washing/drying on high to force the fibers together more for cotton

    Learning to felt is on my to-do list. Is it just  washing it in hot water, then drying it on high? I can see how that would make better mittens.

     You'll need to use only wool for felting.  
    1. Put the mittens to be felted in a pillowcase, in a washer with hot water and a very little washing detergent.
    2,Then agitate for about 5 minutes and check to see if the felting is done, if not repeat until the size is correct.  
    3. Remove from washer and shape to size and put something (like cardboard) inside the mitten so that it doesn't felt together.
    4. Allow to air dry 

    Great instructable! I've made several pairs of these as Christmas gifts for my grandchildren. It is much easier and comes out better if you felt the sweater BEFORE you cut out your mittens. Felting also keeps the edges from unraveling. Unraveling edges will eventually lead to unraveled mittens. If someone didn't want to felt the sweater first, they should zig zag the cut edges before sewing the pieces together to prevent unraveling. If you are going to make these, you want them to last awhile, right? Also, if you sew these on a sewing machine, you should use a stretch stitch. Otherwise the threads will break when the mittens stretch. If the fabric is felted, you may not need to use a stretch stitch because felted knits will stretch less. If you are sewing them by hand, you can use elastic thread and a big eye needle. That will give them lots of stretch. Use a backstitch if you know how. Much sturdier! You can even take the elastic thread out of an old piece of clothing. Anything that has smocking will have elastic thread in it that can easily be removed. Just snip an end near two seams and use a needle to pick one end out until you have about 1" of free thread. That should give you enough to grasp and pull. Then the elastic thread should pull right out.
    Also, here's another pattern and video for fancier recycled sweater mittens that are felted:
    I hope this helps! Good luck and above all, have fun.

    Great Comment!
    You're right - felting is the key really... I think I better start making more of these again, its that time of year!!!!


    9 years ago on Step 8

    can't get easier than this!


    9 years ago on Step 8

    Loved this instructable!
    I'm gonna go and try it right now. :]

    Great job on the sweater mittens! I am thinking about trying this myself. I was going to last year, but got lazy and found a great site online that sells better handmade mittens than I could probably make myself even with practice. I really love the mittens I bought for myself and I got a couple extra for christmas gifts too! was the site. Good luck to everyone else who trys this project!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    You should probably leave a seam allowance of at least 1/4 of an inch!

    This is the amount of overlapping fabric you need where the two pieces are sown together.  Don't want em to tight ya know!  LIke me you might end up making them for your nephew instead! ;) 

    Great instructable.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Seems like a cool lil project, but didn't you buy the sweater, and won't you ultimately end up throwing the mittens away? If you participate in this, as I do, largely for environmental reasons, you may want to consider making something you might otherwise have bought, from materials which others have thrown away. That way you not only help by not buying, but also by reusing the waste of other peoples hasty, pointless purchases. Good instructable never the less, and keep the message coming.

    1 reply

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Actually, I bought the sweater at a reuse store (Goodwill I think) about 4 or 5 years ago and didn't use it too much until now. I'll probably make about 5 pairs of mittens out of it and give some away. Additionally, I'll use them till they where out and then use the material as rags in my studio for clean-up. Plus, I've bought mittens or gloves every winter for almost my whole life which i won't do this time. And they make it really hard to get to your money to buy stuff so that's part of the point. Interesting questions though.