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Learn how to upcycle a sweater into a hat

If you buy clothes for kids, you know how quickly they grow out of things. I’m sure I merely blink, and my daughter is already ready for a new wardrobe. I am frugal when it comes to buying her clothing. So when she ran out of hats that fit her last winter, it was the perfect opportunity to determine how to upcycle a sweater into quick hats for her. Although I love to knit and crochet, sometimes I don’t have enough time to knit her one from scratch.

Crafting with young kids can be challenging. My daughter is always thrilled to ‘help,’ which means that every project takes me a little bit longer. But I never want to discourage her creative/crafting side, so I try to find some way for her to help. She loves to sort buttons and beads, sticking pins in things is always fun, and, much to my mother’s unbridled joy, she adores looking at and sorting fabric. But sometimes it is really nice to craft without her help.

For those times, I will often pack up my needed supplies and drive out to my parent’s house. My daughter loves to play with her cousins, so while they entertain each other (and me), I also get to craft independently. An added bonus is that I usually have my mom and sisters – all talented crafters – there for advice or help. When I was deciding how to upcycle a sweater into a child’s hat, it would not have turned out nearly the same without input from my sister Amy.

My original intention was to turn the sweater into a beanie-style hat for my daughter. Amy looked at the sweater and suggested I use the existing turtleneck to simply gather and fringe at the top. Genius! Thank you Amy 🙂 The result was an adorable fringed hat for my daughter.

Step 1 of How to Upcycle a Sweater

Gather your supplies

For this project, you’ll need an old sweater – with a turtleneck, wide sleeves, or both. You’ll also need scissors, crochet cotton (or really strong thread), and a yarn needle. Yes, that is all. No sewing machine required for this one! Optional supplies are embellishments of your choosing.

Step 2 of How to Upcycle a Sweater

Cut your hat from the sweater

There are a couple of ways to do this. If your sweater has a turtleneck, you can cut about 2″ (or however long you want your fringe) below the neck seam. If it has wide sleeves, you cut up from the bottom of the sleeve enough to fit the desired head, plus your fringe length. For a sleeve hat, I find it easiest to put the sleeve on the head like it’s already a hat. Then I gather at the top of the head and cut to include my fringe length. It also allows me to account for a folded brim should I desire one.

Step 3 of How to Upcycle a Sweater

Hand sew a gather line

Use your crochet cotton (or other strong thread) and yarn needle to install a running stitch line. If it’s a turtleneck piece, I find it best to sew on the cut side of the neck seam. For a sleeve piece, it’s where you’ll want the top of the hat. Just be sure to account for the extra material needed at the gather site.

Step 4 of How to Upcycle a Sweater

Gather your seam

Pull the ends of your crochet cotton tight and tie multiple knots to secure. Then use your yarn needle to insert the ends into the inside of the hat. Turn your hat inside out, hide the ends as you would for a knit or crochet project and trim.

Step 5 of How to Upcycle a Sweater

Cut the fringe

Clip the ends at the top of the hat to create your fringe. You can determine what width works best for your hat. The ones I cut on these hats were about 3/8″ wide.

Step 6 of How to Upcycle a Sweater into Hats

Add optional embellishments and enjoy!

You can add a variety of embellishments to really make your hat unique. Some I have done are ribbon flowers, buttons, ribbon, rick rack, embroidery, and crocheted flowers. The possibilities for customization are endless!

Happy Crafting!

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