Old wool sweaters are my second favourite fabric to upcycle after denim. And my favourite thing to upcycle sweaters into is pillows. This time I’ve made shaped DIY sweater pillows for fall/autumn. They are in fall colours and shaped like acorns and an oak leaf.
Making pillows for fall/autumn is quite apt, as my nickname for that time of year is sweater season. I associate acorns with fall. Last autumn, I made an acorn map wreath for the front door.
I got the idea to make these DIY sweater pillows when sorting through a stash of old sweaters. They had been given to me by my Mum, a lot of them were in autumnal colours. Such as oranges, yellows, and browns. Perfect for making seasonal acorn pillows.
By the way, most people in the UK call sweaters, jumpers and pillows cushions. However, even though I’m British, I wasn’t bought up in the UK but in Hong Kong. It was a British colony at the time, but there were a lot of American cultural influences. So I’m used to American and British English and often get confused between the two.
What Sweaters To Use For The DIY Fall Pillows
I used to only upcycle with sweaters with at least 70% wool. If you put these sweaters in the washing machine on a hot wash, the sweaters would shrink, thicken, and felt. Felted sweater wool is excellent for crafting with. Sweater felt does not unravel or fray, so there is no need for hems.
However, I have other sweaters that perhaps don’t have such high natural wool content that can be used. Even if they don’t felt, if you can cut the sweaters and they don’t unravel, you can still use them for some crafts.
Especially if the sweater was made on a knitting machine instead of hand-knitted, it could often be cut without unravelling. Some wools like cashmere don’t felt but still make lovely soft cushions.
You will need two sweaters in contrasting fall colours for the acorn DIY sweater pillows. You only need one oversized sweater in an appropriate colour for the leaf pillow.
What Else You Need To Make DIY Sweater Pillows
- Acorn Nut Patterns – download for free here
- Acorn Cup Patterns- download for free here
- Oak Leaf Pattern – download for free here
- Crewel wool in autumnal colour.
- Needle and thread or sewing machine
- Fiberfill – I use the filling from old bed pillows.
How To Make Acorn Pillows
Step 1: Decide on the sweaters that you are going to use. I chose two sweaters for the acorn pillow—one in a dark brown for the nut and another patterned sweater with a mustard yellow for the nut.
Step 2: Put the sweaters in a hot wash in the washing machine. Then in the tumble dry to shrink and felt them. Only the yellow sweater felted. Even though the brown sweater did felt, it did not unravel when cut, so it was still suitable for this project.
Step 3: Print out the two patterns for the acorn pillows. One for the nut and one for the cup. Remember, the patterns are in half, so they must be drawn out in full. (The full design was too big for standard computer paper).
Step 4: Next, pin the acorn cup pattern onto the sweater and draw around it. Place the pattern so that the straight edge of the cup is lined up with the bottom of the sweater. The bottom of the sweater is normally ribbed, giving a nice bit of texture to the pillow.
Cut out two acorn cups from the same sweater for each pillow.
Step 5: Next, on the brown sweater, use the nut pattern to cut out two acorn nuts from the sweater.
Step 6: Next, take one of the sweater cup pieces and fold over the straight edge by about 1cm. Then, pin it to the straight edge of the acorn nut. Overlap the two pieces by about 1 cm. The folded edges should be visible on the front side of the acorn sweater pillow.
By hand or machine, sew both pieces together and then repeat with the other acorn pieces.
Step 7: Next, place the two full acorn pieces right sides together. Then stitch around the edge, leaving a margin of about 5mm. Leave a gap of about 5cm for stuffing.
Step 8: Using the small hole you have left open, turn the stitched acorn pillow’s right sides out. Then use the hole to fill the pillow with fibre. Finish off the DIY sweater pillow by hand-stitching the stuffing hole shut.
How To Make The Oak Leaf Pillow
Step 1: Use the oak leaf pattern for this DIY sweater pillow. Place the pattern onto the sweater and cut out two leaf shapes—one for the back and one for the front of the pillow.
Step 2: Draw a simple leaf vein pattern on the front pillow piece using some sewer chalk.
Step 3: Use crewel wool (or thin wool) in a contrasting colour stitch over the chalk lines. A simple running stitch will do for these sweater pillows.
Step 4: Pin both oak leaf sweater pieces’ right sides together. Then stitch them together. As the sweater felt doesn’t fray, you can sew the pieces together with a minimal seam (less than 5mm). Leave a small hole for filling the leaf pillow.
Step 5: Finally, turn the leaf pillow’s right sides out and fill it with fibre. Then hand stitch the hole closed.
The acorn pillow was fun, so I made another one with a stripey jumper.
More fall crafts and upcycle ideas
You only need the body part of your old jumpers for these upcycled sweater pillows. But don’t throw away the sleeves; you can also use them to make a fun DIY knot pillow.
Keep the leftover scraps, too, as they can go towards making an upcycled felt rug for matching your fall pillows. Or, if you don’t think you’ll have enough to stretch for a whole rug, how about combining them with denim to make upcycled fabric placemats.
If you love acorns and oak trees, Pictureboxblue has some beautiful free botanical leaf prints, including many oak trees and acorns. Check out this painted acorn Christmas garland and these embroidered paper oak leaves for more acorn inspiration.
- Old wool sweaters in fall colours
- Acorn and oak leaf pattern (free to download on blog)
- Crewel wool
- Needle and thread or a sewing machine
- Print out the patterns for the acorn and oak leaf
- The patterns are in half so draw them out to full size.
- Pin the acorn cup pattern to the sweater matching the straight edge of the sweater to the straight edge of the pattern.
- Cut out two acorn cup pieces
- In a sweater of a different colour cut out to nut pieces
- Fold over the straight edge of the acorn cup about 1cm and pin it to a nut piece. The straight edges should overlap by 1cm.
- Stitch these two pieces together and repeat with the other side.
- Pin the full acorn sides right sides together.
- Stitch around the acorn leaving a 5cm gap
- Turn the acorn sweater pillow right side out and then stuff with fiberfill before stitching the hole shut.
- To make the leaf pillows, cut out two leaf patterns.
- One on leaf side draw veins with chalk and then stitch along the lines with crewel wool.
- Next, pin and stitch the oak leaf pieces right sides together leaving a 5 cm gap.
- Turn the leaf right sides out and fill with fiberfill. Then hand stitch the hole shut.
For more sweater pillow ideas, visit allfreesewing.com