Source: Egle/Flickr

While winter may sometimes feel like a drag because of needing to lug around so many layers of clothing, a joyous part of the season is that all those clothes allow for some interesting self-expression. With jackets and hats and fuzzy socks and sweaters and scarves, the potential for getting funky goes up a few notches every day the cold remains. What’s more is that winter warmers, i.e. snuggly clothing, are easy to make from upcycled materials.


For those with just a smidge of craftiness, perhaps a penchant for thumbing through the racks at the thrift store, the potential for sweet DIY winter clothes is large. There are fun hats, wacky leg warmers, comfy socks, and all the rest of it. Lots of these upcycles require little to no sewing, and they can look as stylish as they do kooky. Plus, it gives a person something to do while they are indoors and avoiding the next blizzard.

Hat from t-shirt

Winter hats, particularly beanies, are worth enduring some cold. There’s something about them that feels right. An easy DIY beanie is to take an old t-shirt with a cool striped pattern and cut a square out of the bottom of it, front and/or back. An adult head is a little over 20 inches around, so start from there and make the hat. If the square is cut from the bottom of the t-shirt, the hem can be used as the bottom of the hat. The square should be sewn into a tube and the cut end of the tube tied into a knot. Voila.

Leg warmers from sweater sleeves

Old sweaters are easy to find at thrift stores, the backs of closets or grandma’s house. There are several blogs out there about turning old (mom) sweaters into leggings for daughters, but this time things aren’t quite so altruistic or crafty. This is easier and ideal for others as well. It begins with finding stretchy, fuzzy sweater. After measuring the length between your ankle and calf, cut off the sleeves so that they’ll fit well on your legs. Then, the tough part is folding the top part of the sleeve and stitching it (a zigzag stitch) to create some elasticity to hold the leg warmers up.

Socks from sweater sleeves

For those who like to kick it at home with some cozy socks, this might be the perfect upcycling project for old holiday sweaters. Again, this one starts my cutting the sleeves off of a sweater. Then, the sleeves go on as if they are already socks, only inside out so that the curvature of your toes can be marked, cut and sewn into a snug fit. Wrap a piece of elastic just below the knee and make sure its tight enough to hold the sock up. (Repeat the process for both legs). With the socks still inside out, sew the elastic into a cuff at the shoulder side of the sleeve. Sweater socks!


Vest from sweater

With all of those sweaters missing sleeves, it only makes since to create something from the rest of the sweater. Upcycled pillow cases are amazing, but for a late winter warmer to slip on under a jacket, it’s worth making an upcycled sweater vest. Essentially, this is done by removing the sleeves via taking out the crochet seams on the sleeve side. What remains is a sweater vest. From there, a pocket can be added to the front with a rectangle of fabric and some basic sewing. This adds a little comfort and warmth for those so inclined.

Scarf from flannel sheets

Whether its flannel sheets or flannel shirts, flannel feels so nice and warm and snuggly, so It only makes sense to have more flannel stuff. Scarves are an easy option. Sheets are a much better choice for this because they’ll provide plenty of fabric to make a nice, wide and long scarf. Cut a piece out, as straight as possible, about five feet long and 18 to 24 inches wide. (Note: Strips of shirt would need to be sewn together for this.) A seam can be created by rolling the long side inward twice, ironing it to keep it in place and sewing them. Another seam about an inch inward from the two narrow ends creates some stylish fraying typical of scarves.

Pancho from blanket

It should just be said that panchos are highly underrated in the United States. These are super easy to do if it’s an old fleece blanket because fleece won’t fray. That means no sewing. If a fleece blanket is around, fold the blanket in half and measure to the middle of the blanket along the folded part. The simple version is to cut a hole—semi-circle—at this center mark. Of course, there are fancier versions with more precise measurements, and they aren’t all that difficult either. It’s a comfy way to stay warm.

Well, that’s not so far from an entire day’s attire, and it’s a bit of fun as well. In the end, if the project doesn’t work or there are a lot of scraps left, the material can be recycled anyway. That’s a good, green way to stay warm in the winter.


If this article tickled your fancy, check out this one on how to use old clothes to make new stuff. A bit of reverse craftology.

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