Are you wondering what you can make with old sweaters from the thrift store? Then you will love this old sweater snowman project!
Let’ get to it! The first step is to gather the supplies.
- wool sweaters – one in a neutral color, one with stripes,plaids or pattern
- vintage buttons
- DMC embroidery floss or heavy thread/yarn in a neutral
- sewing needle with large eye
- old pillow or new Polyfil stuffing
- fabric scissors
- plates in varying sizes or compass w/marker
- small rocks or plastic Poly Pellets
- lunch baggie
- vintage style buttons
- hot glue gun and glue sticks
- E6000 glue
Shop for supplies in my Amazon Storefront!
how to wash old sweaters
You can shop for sweaters at a thrift store or your own closet. Look for a sweater with an all-over design that reads like one in a neutral color – off-white or white is fine. It is important that the sweaters be 100% wool. The scarf and hat will be made from a sweater with more defined designs – think stripes and plaids. See the examples below? They have a pattern to them and will be perfect for the snowman scarf and hat!
Because I keep a stash of sweaters on hand that has already been prepared for wool projects, the first step is not pictured. Did you ever have a sweater that was accidentally shrunk in the wash? That is exactly what we want to do with these sweaters!
Throw the sweaters in the washer and wash on the hottest water setting as possible with the most agitation possible. This process shrinks the sweater. In the textile industry, it is called ‘boiled wool or felted wool’
Then throw it into a hot dryer until it is completely dry. As a result, the sweater will be much smaller in size than when you started. Boiling the wool prevents the yarns in the sweater from fraying and raveling apart.
how to cut old sweaters
Turn the sweater inside out and cut along both side seams. Next, cut the seam that attaches each sleeve. Leave the sleeves in one piece. I see another snowman in the making with those 😉
This snowman stands almost 12″ tall. I didn’t plan the height of our little fella, I just started cutting circles!
The largest circle is about 12″ in diameter and could be cut from the back sweater piece. Trace around a 10″ dinner plate adding approximately 1″ extra. Don’t worry about the marker on the sweater – it won’t show in the final result!
Cut a total of three circles. I used a smaller salad plate for the middle circle, cutting extra just like I did with the larger plate. Then I cut the smallest circle using the same plate.
Don’t get hung up on the measurements with this step. Rather, just be sure to have three circles cut in graduated sizes as I have pictured below,
The neutral sweater that I chose happened to be a name brand. I have plans for this cute little tag!
how to stitch felted sweaters
This next step takes just a few minutes. Using the large needle and the DMC embroidery floss (or heavy thread/yarn), stitch a running stitch all the way around each circle. Stitch approximately 1/2″ away from the edge.
As you stitch around, the wool will begin to gather. See how it starts to gather into a ball? Be sure not to pull too much thread – you want a tail left at the beginning of the stitching! When you are finished with each circle, keep the thread ends loose.
did you say rocks??
Yes!! Rocks! I was fresh out of Poly-Pellets, so the rocks in my landscaping area were the next best thing! A handful (about 1 1/2 cups) of the rocks will give the snowman some stability for standing. The plastic baggie adds some additional protection for the surface that the snowman will be placed on.
The baggie with rocks (or the Poly-Pellets) goes into the largest circle.
how to use an old pillows
Now for the stuffing! I used an old pillow that I kept when we replaced our bed pillows. Cut open the seam of the pillow cover just enough for your hand to reach in. This is a great use of old pillows! If you don’t have old pillows, you can use Poly-Fill.
To prevent the stuffing from getting lumpy, make a well in the center of the previously added stuffing and add a new handful of stuffing to the center of the well. Keep doing this until they are filled firmly.
Pull the thread to tighten up the opening….
…then tie a knot! Most of us don’t have an extra hand so my big toe was very helpful 😉
The snowball might be a bit flattened out by now so just use your fingers to fluff it up a bit.
assemble the snowballs
After tightening and securing all three snowballs, glue them together with hot glue. The largest snowball should be on the bottom 😉
Use a good amount of glue on each snowball and hold each one down firmly for a couple of minutes. Most importantly, the glue should be completely cooled off and set before lifting your hand.
how to dress a snowman
Our little snowman needs a scarf and hat! For the hat, I cut a piece from the patterned sweater and included the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater. I cut the piece to be approximately 6″ x 4″. Precision is not necessary.
Put the two 4″ edges together and stitch. I deliberately stitched a bit cattywampus to create the handmade look that I love. Make sure that the end result is turned right side out!
Turn the little hat around so that the seam runs up the center back (see the image above?). Using a running stitch, close up the top of the hat. I also used thread to tie around each corner. That gives it a nice touch.
The scarf is a piece of the same wool sweater cut at approximately 15″ by 2″. The scarf needs to be to the scale of the snowman, so these measurements might vary for your snowman. For this reason, it is better to cut a piece too big rather than too small. I also added ‘fringe’ to the scarf by cutting 1″ slits on the ends. You will see that in the final result!
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what to do with old buttons
Now for the buttons! This step is completely optional. The buttons add such a cute touch. If you do not have vintage buttons, you can use small scraps of the patterned wool sweater and create little patches. I have done this with other snowman projects and it is an adorable look!
E6000 is a great household and craft glue to have on hand. I glued buttons on all over the snowman. Use as many as you want. The buttons I chose were of varying sizes and neutral colors. I think silver buttons would add such sparkle to the snowman!
Our little fella might be getting cold by now so let’s give him a hat and scarf! Pull the hat down onto his head more than you think is necessary to allow for a rolled hem on the hat. Adjust the hat where it looks best to you and roll up the hem.
Use a dollop of E6000 just under the hat to secure it. Do this in the front & back and on both sides of the hat. Be sure that you hide the glue under the hat – you don’t want it to show!
His eyes are small black beads I found in my vintage button stash. If you don’t have beads, you can use small black snaps or small black buttons.
First, secure your thread onto the wool with a knot, and then add the first bead. Secondly, run the needle through to the spot where the second eye will be and pull the thread up. Third, add the second bead then stitch back to the first bead.
By doing this you will be able to pull the thread tightly and the ‘eyes’ will dent inward just a bit. It creates a cute little expression. Stitch the eyes fairly close together. Check out the final snowman to see what I mean!
how to make a snowman nose
I started making a new handmade snowman each year several years ago. As a result, I knew that I would need snowman noses each year, so I made a bunch on them at once out of orange polymer clay. The little noses hang out in my craft room just waiting for the perfect snowman!
Here are a couple of substitutes for polymer clay noses:
- small orange buttons
- wooden skewer painted orange
- short, small stick from the yard painted orange
If you use a stick or a skewer, make sure it is a size that fits the snowman face. Poke a little hole where the nose will be and add a bit of glue to the end of the stick. Next, just poke the stick into the opening! Don’t worry, it won’t hurt the snowman 😉
sweet snowman made from old sweaters
And here he is! I added the scarf with a stitch to hold it on. The little button on the scarf adds some cute detail as well as the doll buttons on the brim of the hat.
See the little cuts made on the ends of the scarf? That is the fringe I mentioned earlier in the post.
Remember the tag on the sweater? It fits perfectly on the brim of his hat! Just a touch of E6000 holds it on!
While rooting around in my vintage button jar, I found this little jewelry clasp! I attached it with a stitch. If you find little pieces like this, be sure to add them to your snowman. They really make each snowman unique!
Check out his little beady eyes! See what I mean about pulling that thread just enough to create little indentations? He really has such a cute expression on his face!
thanks for stopping by!
This little fella was so much fun to make! I hope you are able to make one this year. Even if you don’t have time before Christmas, you can make one during the winter months. These little snowmen love to stay out all winter!
I just couldn’t resist searching for some snowman Christmas decor and I thought I would share them with you! Feel free to shop the links by clicking the image below!
UPDATE: Here is a video I made making another snowman! I’m sure you will enjoy watching it!
That’s all for today! If you make a snowman, let me know! I would love to see him on Social Media! So tag me @reinventeddelaware so I don’t miss the cuteness!
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UPDATE: Be sure to read this post for more ideas on upcycling thrifted sweaters:
And here is a fun post that includes more Christmas projects from Pinterest: