DIY Craft Tutorial: How to Turn an Old Sweater Into a Christmas Tree Ornament

Updated on October 12, 2017
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Donna enjoys using her arts background to create fun craft projects with a special focus on using repurposed or handy household materials.

Recycle Your Favorite Old Sweaters into Cute Christmas Ornaments
Recycle Your Favorite Old Sweaters into Cute Christmas Ornaments | Source

Reuse and repurpose your favorite old sweaters by turning them into cute and cozy Christmas Tree ornaments! This is a great way to recycle your clothing while creating unique holiday decorations for your Christmas tree and home.

This process involves felting your sweater in a washing machine. This is an easy process and the directions are included below. Once your sweater is felted, you can make many ornaments out of one sweater using all different shapes and designs. I chose to make my ornament in a Christmas tree design, but you could also make a star shape, a Christmas ball, or any animal shape. Use a shape that best coordinates with the design or decoration on your sweater.

Materials for Turning an Old Sweater into a Christmas Tree Decoration
Materials for Turning an Old Sweater into a Christmas Tree Decoration | Source

Materials for Turning an Old Sweater into a Christmas Tree Decoration

The materials for recycling your sweater into a Christmas tree ornament are quite basic, but you can add more decorations and embellishments if you choose:

  • a sweater that is at least 70% wool for felting - it's best to use a sweater with a colored design that will create a pattern on your finished ornament, though you can use a solid colored garment and add you own decoration with beads, buttons, and other trimmings. I used a Fair Isle sweater for my ornament.
  • some coordinating felt fabric for the back of your ornament. However, you can choose to use your sweater fabric for both the front and the back. Felt fabric is a good choice because it will not unravel when cut.
  • sewing needle and coordinating thread
  • fiber fill or cotton balls (optional) for stuffing your ornament
  • beads, buttons, sequins, and ribbon to decorate your ornament
  • sharp scissors, a pencil or marker, and a ruler
  • white craft glue for attaching decorations


Felting your wool knits will make the fibers mat together into a solid material that can be cut and used like other fabric.
Felting your wool knits will make the fibers mat together into a solid material that can be cut and used like other fabric. | Source

Directions for Recycling Your Sweaters into Christmas Ornaments

1. The first step is to felt your wool sweater in a washing machine. This is an easy process and does not harm your washing machine. You can find directions for felting your sweater here.

2. While your sweater is in the washer, you can begin to look for outlines or shapes to use for your Christmas tree ornaments. You can find shapes of holiday images online, or you can make your own.

How to create an outline of a Christmas tree for making an ornament
How to create an outline of a Christmas tree for making an ornament | Source

3. I made my own template of a Christmas tree. I folded a piece of paper in half and marked the top and bottom edge of the size I wanted to make my tree. I made my tree 4 and 3/4 inches tall, plus another 1/2 inch for the tree base (5 and 1/4 inches total height). I also marked two inches for the width of my tree.

Then I drew the profile of a tree in the space I marked on my paper. When I cut out my sketch and unfolded the piece of paper, I had a tree template.

Source

4. Once your sweater is felted and dry, decide what area of your garment you want to use for your ornament. I used the Fair Isle design for the top of my Christmas tree, but wanted some of the solid white for the bottom.

Working from the inside of your sweater, pin your paper template down in the area you want to use and trace your shape with a marker. Then cut out your shape, using sharp scissors.

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5. Then trace your shape again on your felt or the fabric you are using for the back of your ornament. When you cut out your shape, leave about a 1/4 border all around your design. This will make your back piece of fabric slightly larger than your piece of felted sweater for the front (see photo above).

Source

6. Now, if you choose, you can decorate the front and back pieces of fabric. Although I consider the sweater side of my ornament as the "front" side, I still wanted to add some detail to the back of my ornament. So I added some sequins and ribbon garland to my back fabric using white craft glue. Then I glued seed beads on to my front sweater fabric to look like decorations on my tree.

You can decorate and embellish your ornament as much as you want. You can also add some embroidered stitches or use buttons to decorate your material.

Source

7. Once your pieces are decorated and your glue has dried, you can sew your pieces together. Put your two pieces of fabric together, back to back, so that the fronts are showing on both sides. Taking your needle and coordinating thread, begin sewing at the bottom right hand corner of your ornament.

Note: If you don't want to stuff your ornament, you can just glue your two pieces of fabric together using craft glue or hot glue.

Source

8. As you work toward the top of your ornament, sew or glue in place a loop of ribbon or twine to serve as a hanger for your decoration.

9. Continue sewing around the edges of your ornament until you get to the lower left corner. Leave you needle and thread attached and hanging while you stuff your ornament with fiber fill or cotton balls. This is optional, but will give your ornament a bit more shape. You can stuff it as much as you want or as your fabric will allow. Use a pen or pencil to stuff into the corners of your shape if needed.

10. Now continue to sew your ornament all around. Add any additional embellishments you may wish. I added a star button to the top of my tree by gluing it in place with some white glue.

Source

These recycled sweater ornaments are a wonderful handmade addition to any holiday tree or decor!

Copyright © 2015 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.

Questions & Answers

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      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 17 months ago from USA

        Hi Dolores - I agree completely! I always love putting out our handmade decorations and enjoy remembering the stories behind each one. I hope your family members appreciate the love and consideration you've put into your ornaments. They are very lucky to receive such gifts.

      • Dolores Monet profile image

        Dolores Monet 17 months ago from East Coast, United States

        Hi Donna - that is such a pretty ornament! I've made a few things with old sweaters and I enjoyed the felting process, how the material changes so...been thinking of making some homemade Christmas tree ornaments for next year, to give as gifts to young people just starting out (they have few ornaments). I love a story that goes with an ornament - where I got it, or who it once belonged to, but homemade is best!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate Christmas!

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Claudia Mitchell 2 years ago

        Awe - We definitely have some homemade ones too. A couple from me when I was a kid, a couple from my husband and then a whole bunch from my daughter. They definitely bring back memories.

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Thanks so much, Glimmer Twin Fan! My parents Christmas tree is completely decorated with handmade ornaments - some made by us over the years, some bought at craft shows and gift shops. Some of the older decorations that we made as kids are truly ugly, but they all bring back good memories. Thanks so much for your comments. Best wishes for a happy and crafty new year!

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Claudia Mitchell 2 years ago

        Happy New Year Donna - Congrats on this HOTD! Another great project. I am thinking that one year it might be fun to have a tree decorated completely with recycled/homemade ornaments. This would definitely be on it.

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Thanks, Heidi! Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

      • heidithorne profile image

        Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

        Absolutely adorable! Congrats on another Hub of the Day. Well deserved. Merry Christmas!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi Linda - Thank you so much for your kind words and congratulations! I appreciate you stopping by. Best wishes for a very merry holiday season!

      • Sunshine625 profile image

        Linda Bilyeu 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

        Awesome way to reuse a sweater! Congrats on your HOTD.

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Thanks, Sally! I appreciate you stopping by again. Best wishes to you and your family for a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year! Looking forward to reading more of your hubs in 2016!

      • sallybea profile image

        Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

        purl3agony

        Hello Donna,

        Just returning to your Hub to say very well done on your HOTD, well deserved as always. May I take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi Kristen - Thanks for your return visit and congratulations. I appreciate it! Have a wonderful holiday and I look forward to your new hubs in the new year!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi ChitrangadaSharan - Thanks for stopping by. I really do love this little ornament and plan to make many more from my old sweaters. I think a whole tree decorated with fuzzy ornaments would be very cute. Thanks so much for your comments and support!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi FlourishAnyway - Thank you so much. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! Best wishes for a new year of wonderful hubs :)

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Donna, congrats on HOTD, once again, since I've commented on this already. Happy holidays!

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

        Congratulations for HOTD!

        This is a very creative idea and looks so cute as well. Moreover we can use our old sweaters and help the environment.

        Thank you for sharing your idea!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

        Congratulations on HOTD! Wonderful to see crafts and recycling combined. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi RTalloni! This would be an especially fun way to repurpose any ugly or outdated holiday sweaters :) Thanks, as always, for your comments and support! Wishing you a very happy holiday and a wonderful New Year!

      • RTalloni profile image

        RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

        Cute, cute project. Thinking through the sweater's pattern to design ornaments would be fun stuff, especially when working embellishments into them.

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Thanks, Kristen! I really love this Fair Isle design, too. Thanks so much for your wonderful comments. Happy Holidays!

      • Kristen Howe profile image

        Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

        Donna, you're simply amazing with these crafty hub ideas. I love this idea to use old sweaters-the old one you've chosen in the pics were perfect and festive for the occasion. Well done!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi Jill - I think I'll make that my new mantra - "Looking for ways to make the world a little more beautiful through repurposing" :) Thanks, as always, for your comments and share. I appreciate it! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season and are enjoying a few extra days in your garden thanks to our warm weather!

      • The Dirt Farmer profile image

        Jill Spencer 2 years ago from United States

        Another brilliant way to make the world a little more beautiful through repurposing. Thanks, Donna!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi kimbesa2 - Thanks so much! I appreciate your comments and support!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi Sally - Thanks so much! I couldn't resist using this green and white sweater to make some ornaments. Hope you are enjoying the holiday season and you are well on your way to finishing all of your Christmas craft projects! Best wishes!

      • purl3agony profile image
        Author

        Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

        Hi aesta1 - I love using materials I have on hand when crafting. I think this makes each item more special and unique. So glad you like this project! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

      • kimbesa2 profile image

        kimbesa 2 years ago from USA

        Cute and eye-catching...thanks!

      • sallybea profile image

        Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

        Hi Donna,

        That is cute, looks like you had fun creating this hub. The Fairisle sweater looks great on the tree.

        Best wishes,

        Sally

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        That's brilliant. Recycling materials like this always help.

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