Use an Old Sweater To Make Two New Wardrobe Pieces

Ugly sweaters are not a waste: They’re an opportunity.


Consider this lowly knit mock turtleneck. It was buried in an old clothes bag in my closet, about to be sent off to the local thrift store, when I saw one of its dark green sleeve cuffs peeking over the top of the bag. For a split second I thought it was the edge of a boot sock, but when I found out that it wasn’t, I decided to turn it into one. Except that it turned out to be more than a boot sock—in a couple of hours, I’d stitched that unloved sweater into a pair of boot socks and a cozy casual sweater skirt, too.

And I promise, it took very little stitching skills. The biggest challenge for me was being able to stitch in a straight line around the top hem of the skirt and around the edges of the boot socks to keep them from unraveling. Apart from that, if you can sew on a button, you’re good to go!


Step 1: Cut off the arms

It really doesn’t matter if you cut on one side of the hem or around the sweater shoulder. Since you’ll be cutting this part off anyway, just cut a clean line alongside it.

sweater-boot-socks-3 sweater-boot-socks-4

Step 2: Cut off the excess

You’ll see that the top of the sweater arm is wider and curves outward a bit. All you need to do here is cut that curved bit off so that it’s even.

You can actually stop here, if you want to. For a simple boot cuff to wear on the inside of your boot, or a leg warmer to wear slouched over your short boots, this is really all you need.

Because this was so easy, though, I decided to take it a step further and add a little bit of embellishment a la turn-of-the-century Victorian boot fashion: buttons!


Step 3: Cut along the sleeve hem

Again, it doesn’t matter if you cut on one side of the hem or the other; just make sure you keep it consistent.


Step 4: Hem the cut edges

This is where that awesome stitch-in-a-straight-line skill comes in. Find the two edges of the sleeve that have been cut—and could potentially unravel—and fold them in about half an inch and use a straight stitch to hold it in place. You could even iron the hem down beforehand to make it easier to stitch straight.


Step 5: Stitch on the buttons

I used six buttons on this one, but I have another boot sock that used 10—it just depends on your style, and frankly, how many matching buttons you can find to evenly spread between both socks.


Step 6: Cut the button holes

To do this, I pinned the top and bottom of the sock together so that they wouldn’t move, and then placed the button-free side over the buttons, cutting a very, very small hole above each and then working the button through it. It doesn’t take much to make a button hole! Also, if you’re worried about fraying at this point, you can add a dab of fabric glue to the edges of the buttonholes—this should keep it from unraveling any more and will give the buttonhole a better hold and shape.


You’re done! Show off your fashionable boot glory now or, like me, put them on with some slippers and whip yourself up a cozy sweater with the excess materials.

IMG_5564Step 1: Using the instructions above, cut off the sleeves and make boot socks!

IMG_5616Step 2: Trim the trunk

Again, I lay no claims to being any kind of a seamstress. To get the shape I wanted, I just turned the sweater trunk inside out, placed my favorite sweater skirt over the top of it and trimmed around the edges until it was the same shape, making sure the bottom hem of the sweater was the bottom hem of the skirt.



Step 3: Sew

Next, I stitched the edges where I’d cut it all the way to the top, then folded over the top about an inch and a half. Inside this fold, I ran a length of elastic band, stitching one end to one of the side hem edges to keep it in place and then just stitched beneath the band all the way around. By not actually stitching through the elastic band, it allows the band to pull the skirt in around your waist without cinching up awkwardly.

And now, really, that’s it! Boot socks, simple or buttoned, and a cozy sweater skirt from an outdated sweater. I think I need to dig through my husband’s closet a little more and see if there are any other sweaters he’s not using! Of course, I’ll ask first…

Kristin Hackler writes about the intersection of fashion, home and sustainability for eBay, one of her favorite places to buy or sell lightly worn clothing. Follow Kristin’s adventures on her eBay profile, or on her blog, Cardboard and Cloth.



natasha p
Past Member about a year ago


Chun Lai T
Chun Lai T2 years ago


Philippa Powers
Philippa Powers2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Michele Rosenbaum
m r3 years ago

used to make skirts out of t-shirts 30 years ago. leg warmers...good idea to use the sleeves, thank you.

Peter K.
peter K3 years ago

Very interesting, the mind boggles!!!!

Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ
Sonia M3 years ago

Good idea thanks for sharing

Jim Ven
Jim V3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Rose Becke
Rose Becke3 years ago


Pauline C.
.3 years ago

It's never too late to save the world! #savetheworldin24hours! #savejianandruss!