Felted Wool Sweater Blanket Tutorial

* Do you have a question about this blanket? Check out the FAQs post! (added 11/13/12)*

I’m so excited to share this project with you! It is definitely one of my favorite handmade items. I’m so looking forward to snuggling up in it this winter and winters to come or…..right now.

First gather wool sweaters and think about what type of color scheme you’d like for the blanket.  For my blanket I used about 10 sweaters in cream, gray, and blue. Also, try and get  big ones. Since you’re going to be shrinking them, you want to be able to get as much fabric from them as you can. I got most of my sweaters from a thrift store that one day had all clothing for $1! I know some stores that have a half off day. Keep an eye out at rummages too. I found a cashmere sweater at one recently for $1 as well. Ask family members too!

To felt the sweaters:

  • Cut seams of the sweaters open and remove any tags, buttons or zippers
  • Sort by like colors (you’ll wash one color family at a time so the colors don’t bleed)
  • Put the sweaters into an old pillow case (this keeps the fuzzies from getting everywhere in your washer and dryer). Wash with detergent on a hot-cold setting and on a speed that will give a lot of agitation. You can also throw in some jeans and heavy towels to increase the agitation. Ha all this agitation makes it sound like it’s not a happy thing!
  • Check the sweaters before you dry them to see if they are shrunk up to your liking. Note – you can over-felt wool and some sweaters will shrink better than others.
  • Finally dry the sweaters in the dryer on a high heat setting.

(There’s a lot of other tips and tutorials out there for felting! This is what worked for me.)

I had a good laugh when I pulled this sweater out of the washer and saw how tiny it had become!

Now time to cut the sweaters! I decided on two square sizes 10.5″ and 5.5″ (4 of these size make up the larger size). The total quilt size is about 60″ x 70″ with a total of 42 – 10.5″ squares. I made a template out of some cardboard and used a rotary cutter to do the cutting.

Next figure out a layout of the squares that you like.

I had a layout I liked and forgot to take a picture. Then I went upstairs to sew a couple squares. I came downstairs to this –

Kitties cause havoc sometimes. Seriously. Couldn’t they have left at least some of it untouched?!?! Lesson learned. Take a picture to refer to.

Ok new layout and sleepy kitties. Take a picture. Time to get sewing.

I used the biggest straight stitch on my sewing machine. Use about a 1/4 in. seam allowance. I didn’t use pins until I was sewing large pieces together. Sew parts of it in chunks starting with two then onto four. Then, sew the larger chunks together. Hopefully this makes sense! Some parts will be thick to sew through. Go steady and slow, gently pushing or pulling the pieces through the machine when needed. Give your sewing machine a good cleaning after this – lots of fuzzies!

Here’s the big chunks I ended up with before doing the final seams:

This is what the back looks like:

Once the front is sewed cut out your fabric for the backing to the same size as the front. I used a wool from Scotland that was gifted to me (long story). Since you might not have yards upon yards of wool in your stash, I think a flannel would work great! You don’t necessarily need a backing since the felted wool will not fray.

I also rounded the corners by using a plate as a template.

Next onto finishing the edge. I hand stitched around it using a closed blanket stitch. If you’re not into hand stitching there would be other ways to finish it with a sewing machine. I love love love the look the stitching gives it. It’s just what I imagine a cozy textured blanket to look like. It went a lot faster than I thought it would and it’s very rewarding! I hope these photos help you to see how the stitch is done.

This is the yarn I used for the edging –

I embroidered a little patch for the back with my initials and the year. I sewed it on a little bit before I was done sewing around the whole thing. It’s a nice finishing touch!

All finished! Time to get cozy!

Let me know if you have any questions or if you make something similar. I love your comments!

KristinaNovember 10, 2011 - 11:47 pm

Very Pretty. I have been saving sweaters for a blanket like this for a while now…except I hope to quilt it on my longarm. Yours looks great.

Adam and WendyNovember 11, 2011 - 3:57 am

I started to collect sweaters today! I’ve been seeing your post on Pinterest a lot lately and I really want to make this!! :)

Katie ScottNovember 13, 2011 - 2:45 pm

This is amazing thank you fir the detailed tutorial!

JenNovember 29, 2011 - 5:00 am

I CANNOT wair to try this!! Goodwill, here I come :

jeannie maxwellJanuary 29, 2012 - 11:21 am

Holy moly! That’s beautiful. I can’t use a sewing machine yet but I want to try this first when I do. Lol maybe I’ll start with something smaller. Found you over at Tara’s blog through the Leibster award. I’m going to follow along. You are talented.

Maxwellhouseinteriors.blogspot.com

AdrienneFebruary 24, 2012 - 11:17 pm

I am going to try this only using my dog shirts since she has outgrown them. She has so many clothes! This way I can remember her as a puppy! Thanks

AnonymousNovember 29, 2012 - 5:34 pm

My grandmother’s home health aide just shrunk two of her nice (and expensive) sweaters. She gave them to me at Thanksgiving, so I could do something crafty with them. I really didn’t know what I would do with them, until I saw this. Thanks for the inspiration and the excellent instructions! — Elizabeth

AnonymousJanuary 24, 2013 - 11:29 pm

I am guessing it must be wool sweaters only.

AnonymousJanuary 31, 2013 - 3:04 pm

Just love it! Did you use any batting? After you had the backing on, did you sew it to the front at all, or just basted and edged? Curious how the layers stay together if the backing is just applied and edged. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m working on mine now. Cutting squares as I write this. LOL.

AnonymousMarch 25, 2013 - 3:23 pm

I could only imagine how warm and cozy it is under your blanket. Now I know what I can do with old sweaters we no longer wear. Please tell me it works on sweaters that are not wool. Also how did you attach the back to your front. Thanks.

AnonymousMarch 29, 2013 - 2:04 am

Where can I Find One Like This At?? Or Where Can I Buy One. I Would Like To Get It For A GifT For A Friend Of Mines Birthday

Connie ItzenJanuary 9, 2014 - 2:54 pm

That’s beautiful! I am saving sweaters.

Yellow Suitcase StudioJanuary 9, 2014 - 5:11 pm

Thank you Connie!

LindaSueSJanuary 10, 2014 - 10:15 pm

The yarn you used to sew the blanket together is cotton yarn. I’ve made many dishcloths out of it and it shrinks up pretty good. Will that be a problem when/if you wash the blanket? Will the sewn stitches shrink?

Yellow Suitcase StudioJanuary 11, 2014 - 2:09 pm

Good question! I haven’t needed to wash my blanket so I can’t speak for if would shrink. I suggest washing cold/delicate and line drying so if you wash it that way I don’t think it would shrink. There are so many other yarns out there that could be used!

Kanji NadiyaparaJanuary 12, 2014 - 9:48 am

Great west work

Françoise BigourdanJanuary 12, 2014 - 10:10 am

Very pretty and especially a way of recycling the sweaters from which one has difficulty separating. I see that the cats helped you much

Maria Teresa Ramos SmithJanuary 12, 2014 - 10:43 pm

I would love to make a blanket. With old sweaters, but I hate to cut. Them up thinking someone else can use. These old sweaters. Sorry!

Brank DoolanJanuary 13, 2014 - 12:59 pm

I will have a go, its a great way to re-cycle. Thanks

Sally SchnitziusJanuary 19, 2014 - 5:24 pm

What a great tutorial. I wd luv to find the same 3 colors & make one exactly like it. Yours is absolutely beautiful & so professional looking.

Eileen KennyJanuary 27, 2014 - 9:18 pm

Ab so lute ly gorgeous… makes me want to go and raid all my hubbys jumpers, right now…

Mariane FirstFebruary 6, 2014 - 3:31 am

beautiful am heading for Good Will & Hope Chest for old sweaters

HibernateFebruary 7, 2014 - 5:08 am

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Sue PhillipsFebruary 15, 2014 - 3:20 pm

This is fabulous. I’m off to Value Village and Guys Frenchys…….

The Craft Area - Peace but Not QuietFebruary 27, 2014 - 2:05 pm

[…] about 70 squares of thrift-store sweaters I’ve cut out, because I’m determined to make a sweater quilt one of these days (probably in August, when it’s 100 degrees out.) The file folder (Target) […]

The Craft AreaFebruary 27, 2014 - 2:09 pm

[…] about 70 squares of thrift-store sweaters I’ve cut out, because I’m determined to make a sweater quilt one of these days (probably in August, when it’s 100 degrees out.) The file folder (Target) […]

Franca FilomenoMarch 1, 2014 - 7:28 pm

I have been cutting felted sweaters into squares and have been looking for a good way to sew them. When I saw this one, I knew this is how I wanted to do mine! Thanks for sharing!! Can’t wait to get sewing!

Kim AndersonMarch 14, 2014 - 10:51 pm

This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing the step by step directions. I think I could totally do one of these this year in preparation for next winter. They look cozy and I can find some colors to match my own spaces pretty easily from thrift stores. Can’t wait to make one.

GBowerMarch 15, 2014 - 4:59 pm

My sweet mom died last year and I have had a hard time “letting go” of her old clothes……this is perfect for her sweaters! I wanted and thought of doing something like this, buy didn’t know how…….Thank you sooooooo much!!

Yellow Suitcase StudioMarch 18, 2014 - 2:04 pm

What a great idea to keep her close! Glad this could help you!

Sally-Ann WesselsApril 5, 2014 - 10:29 am

Hi there, I love your quilt from old sweaters! Looks gorgeous and I would love to try one! My question is, does it have to be a certain type of wool, natural or synthetic? Do all the pieces need to be made of the same type of ‘fabric’? If you cut them up, does it not unravel? I am scared to cut one up to experiment! I don’t have an overlocker so would a normal straight stich on a general sewing machine be sufficient? Thank you for your time and for answering all my concerns!

Yellow Suitcase StudioApril 10, 2014 - 2:25 pm

They do need to be a high percentage of wool to shrink and not unravel; that’s why I did the felting. All of the pieces I used were wool though some were a lot more bulky than others. I used my regular sewing machine and used a big zigzag stitch. Check out the FAQs post if you have other questions! http://yellowsuitcasestudios.com/2012/11/13/felted-wool-sweater-blanket-faqs/

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JodieMay 16, 2014 - 12:24 am

Love this! I actually did shrink a wool jacket and still have it lol I had no idea this is how you felted wool, and I LOVE the way it turned out. I DO have a collection of sweaters I was going to create winter wear out of, may have to change that up 😛 Love the wool you have for the back, so jealous! I do have a nice portion of really nice flannel (is there bad flannel??) I could use, this would be worthy of it 😀

susanneJune 16, 2014 - 7:49 pm

Wonderful, looks like a lot of thought went into this project. I have been collecting real wool sweaters, only problem is I get hives working with wool, can’t wear any either.

Take care and keep up the great work.

nancyAugust 7, 2014 - 8:39 am

I love the quilt, esp.the pocket.That rocks.

I’ve aquired 15 moth eaten(front only)very expensive Scotland Cashmere 4xT mens sweaters. They are trimmed of seams, and flanneled to my satisfaction. Bug damage-do a workaround

Since their colors are vast, but similarly textured, I’m stressing on the color/type of thread for stitching the squares when cut. All solids: reds,gray,greens,dark blue,royal blue,and black. Can you maybe give assistance to a newbie to this project? I was a professional seamstress many years ago, but this befuddles me.

The simple binding and stitching is within my pay grade, cutting info about cutting not using the wheel, and squaring them is a new skill. Can acquire tool if necessary. The cost of the damn cashmere sweaters was over $8000, and I must cut them to pieces! They were useless other than cage liners. I couldn’t go in good conscious and give them to Salvation Army. And will create a lap blanket like no other on the face of the earth for my DH(they were his)He wore them for years in the office daily Hopefully, with your help. Thanks so much, Nancy

Debbey WatsonAugust 16, 2014 - 5:54 am

I made this blanket last year for my daughter’s birthday, she was thrilled. Thank you so much for posting such comprehensive instructions. I really enjoyed sourcing all the sweaters and making the blanket. I am about to start making one for my son and then one for me.

Teresa AmlinSeptember 8, 2014 - 11:49 pm

I just wrote these directions down. I’ve been storing sweaters for a while now to make one of these but, I like your pattern much better than what I was going to make. I’m going to start on this real soon. I was wondering? Is the 10 sweaters for one side or for both? I’m so excited to get this sewed now. Thank you for the instructions being so plain and simple.

Malvis Cabrera-BrooksSeptember 15, 2014 - 3:02 am

Thank you for the detailed steps. I will start collecting sweaters ASAP to make one!

Marybeth KeenaSeptember 26, 2014 - 11:29 pm

I just found what I’m going to do with my dear mothers sweaters. I lost her to cancer only two months ago and need to find a way to keep her memory and sweet love with me. I’ll feel her arms around me when I can wrap up in a quilt like this. What a perfect way to honor the woman who knit so many afghans for others… From my deepest heart <3 thank you so very much.

DIY Sweater Upcycling | KreaVillaSeptember 28, 2014 - 5:43 pm

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sandraOctober 24, 2014 - 5:06 pm

hello I have a question? do we make a backing for this blanket? I have never done this and looking forward to trying it out.. I have put aside old sweaters,,, thank you

Lisa RogersOctober 26, 2014 - 2:02 pm

Awesome idea ,I Love it , great job ! I really love the edges of the blanket , and how u tied it off , to keep it from fraying!

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Evelyn HuizingaDecember 7, 2014 - 8:38 pm

i have been collecting wool sweaters for years to make repurposed mittens and came across this blanket idea………….i love it and am putting aside my cashmere sweaters for this. do you have to felt the sweaters first or can you use them as is?
and thanx for the idea of the rotary cutter; i have one and never thought to use it for this……….appreciate all the great tips : )

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kariDecember 10, 2014 - 3:42 pm

I’m definitely going to start collecting sweaters. This is a fabulous way to upcycle them!

[…] Felted wool sweater blanket tutorial (So cuddly and warm!) […]

marcellaDecember 15, 2014 - 1:38 am

i, too collect wool sweaters from thrift stores and such, usually to make stuffed animals and i applique and embroider with lots of wool. but i just loved loved loved your idea here with the blanket.too cute. i will defintely have to make 1, or 2. when i do , i will send a pic. thanks 4 the great lesson

Hannah ShoemakerDecember 30, 2014 - 12:38 am

Followed your instructions and my blanket turned out wonderfully! Gave it to my boyfriend for Christmas with our initials on it:) Had a hard time with the closed blanket stitch, so I just did a simple stitch around the edges. Will try to post a picture soon!

Donna FedericoDecember 31, 2014 - 12:37 pm

After it is all finished and at some point will need to be laundered will some of the squares not shrink more than others? Also when cutting the squares out won’t the wool start unraveling?

Laura CrechriouJanuary 11, 2015 - 5:37 am

Nice, I am going to try this.. I recently acquired some sweaters to use and I cant wait to get it going.. I am wondering how do you wash it after its done? what temp? t hanks

Lisa Mata BondJanuary 17, 2015 - 3:23 am

I am so excited to start my blanket. I got 8 cashmere/100% wool sweaters at the Goodwill OUTLET for 17 dollars! Look one up in your area; it’s worth it! You pay by the pound. If you have the time and patience, you will probably find what you need in one visit. :)

Marion BrownFebruary 1, 2015 - 2:43 pm

i just finished making this blanket and it is so warm and soft! The only change I made was that I used fleece for backing instead of wool, as I thought it wouldn’t shrink and would be cheaper. I wish I didn’t! You cannot do the charming blanket stitching that really makes this stand out! You can’t get a needle through it. I ended up putting it right sides together and stitch get on a machine and then turning it out. Still a nice blanket but not as nice as it could’ve been. Spend the extra money and get a nice wool.

Beverly AminFebruary 19, 2015 - 9:36 pm

Think you did a great job!!! The hand sewn blanket stitch really makes it. I love the colors and something to keep in mine. Thanks for sharing. I loved all the sweaters you used.

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Paulette PronkMarch 23, 2015 - 2:17 pm

Really love this and yes I have some sweaters but boy am I ever going to shop for more…this is a great Christmas gift idea!!!

Marie ShivellApril 4, 2015 - 2:56 am

Do have to be wool and could you please help me. I am going to try and do this but it hard for me I see things backwards.
Could let me know how you count the sq’s? I can’t wait to do this it is so pretty.

WandaApril 6, 2015 - 5:48 pm

wondering if angora sweaters would work? seems a shame to felt them

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Lyn ZalkJune 14, 2015 - 1:07 pm

FANTASTIC!!!! Ive been collecting shrunken sweaters for a while as I always thought of them as useful materials for just such a project!!!! Yours is gorgeous!!! Inspired to continue collecting them and doing a ghan!!!! <3

Joyce BuchananJune 23, 2015 - 10:58 pm

great can’t wait to go to the op shops and gather my jumpers.

Ruth MaccarioAugust 17, 2015 - 9:41 am

j adore la recoupe

Susie HemmelgarnAugust 17, 2015 - 11:33 am

I love it….so cuddly for cold winter days!!

Marylin AngeloffAugust 17, 2015 - 4:32 pm

Really a great idea!!thank you!

Trudy Bertels-JanseAugust 18, 2015 - 9:21 am

Love it

Sherry Ewing-SpurrierSeptember 3, 2015 - 2:30 pm

Beautiful. I want to try this for sure. Thanks for sharing!

Yoonsun ParkSeptember 6, 2015 - 11:42 pm

I really like your color and size match!! I know it’s a kind of tough job. Thank you for showing your job process.

Penny Emery JohnstonSeptember 15, 2015 - 7:42 pm

The picture of your shrunk sweater it doesn’t appear that the seams of the sweater were cut.

YanaSeptember 20, 2015 - 6:20 am

Do the jumpers need to be preshrunk? I am using all jumpers that have been washed a bunch of times and plan to wash the finished product on a wool cycle, so do I have to preshrink the jumpers anyway?

Tricia LeBlancOctober 4, 2015 - 12:43 pm

Beautiful!!!!

Kay BarnsleyOctober 8, 2015 - 5:04 pm

thanks for showing this its great

Ellen Fraser-BarbourOctober 18, 2015 - 1:53 am

Thanks for sharing! I have been searching for a way to recycle some of my dad’s alpaca and marino wool jumpers which I’ve never had the heart to throw away. I might just give this one a go!

Ellen Fraser-BarbourOctober 18, 2015 - 1:54 am

Thanks for sharing! I have been searching for a way to repurpose some of my dad’s marino wool jumpers which I’ve never had the heart to throw away. Perfect idea to make it into a cozy blanket !

Genevieve BeiseOctober 18, 2015 - 7:48 pm

Love this idea, I am always looking for inexpensive ways to make gifts for family & friends

Wesley SC HartOctober 23, 2015 - 7:04 am

Ive had issues finding sweaters for cheap, but I have found thermal type shirts from the same company in different colors at my local thrift store. I also found a cheap extra large twin soft blanket that I am going to use as the backing. I think though my measurements are a little off. This is my first time sowing and cutting but this project just looked so easy, though I am finding it takes a little more planning then I thought, though having a good time with it.

Isabel WhiteOctober 29, 2015 - 9:23 pm

Love your idea, just a comment as an old hand at knitting etc. We were alway taught that cotton/polyester thread will cut wool fibres when used for sewing knitted garments. That is we will sew a jumper up with wool and sew buttons on a cardigan with wool. Hopefully this isn’t the case in this instance.

Christene Osborn GutierrezNovember 3, 2015 - 12:54 pm

So much easier than knitting it all, AND cheaper! Someone said they couldn’t find sweaters on the cheap, try finding wool yarn on the cheap! And then spend months trying to knit something other than a basic pattern. I can’t wait to do this…taking back all the yarn I just bought in favor of sweaters at Goodwill on senior citizen day.

Christene Osborn GutierrezNovember 3, 2015 - 1:00 pm

I have a front loading washer, no agitator. Does anyone know if it will still felt my wools?

mmm21MichelleNovember 13, 2015 - 8:14 pm

very smart the way to use old sweaters and the result is very pretty, thank

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