Makeover — Recycled Sweater Rug

by Diana Durkes

Today let’s work some DIY magic with our furniture and accessories makeover specialist, Contributor Diana Durkes. Diana gives “New Life to the Tossed and Found” at her blog, Fine Diving in Chicago.

Recycled Sweater Rug

Not that anybody asked me, but in my opinion, crafters are geniuses. They take often overlooked bits of things, parts big and small, and put them together in the most practical and creative ways to make…useful things. Without crafters, we’d be absent cozy felt slippers, long finger-knit scarves and exotic scented candles.

The art and craft of re-using old t-shirts—now that’s eco-genius to develop uses for an avalanche of old cotton. I’ve seen tee’s used for a charming country wedding dress and comfy pants for babies.

Then, this pillow by Taryn brought to mind another plentiful material and, further, how I might transform the foothill of old sweaters in the basement. Sweaters line the racks of thrift shops, too, and the supply never seems to diminish.

My Stack of Old Sweaters

To start, I gathered up a pile from the basement with the idea of making it into a patchwork throw rug.

Pier One Throw Rug

For the rug’s back, I grabbed a Pier One throw rug from the top of the dryer. It was once a sturdy kitchen sink mat until I washed it.

My Old Cream Sweater

I revised the rug design when I picked up this soft cream sweater. (I know it looks perfectly cute in the picture, but it was really ill fitting.) I took the sweater apart with scissors, and then by machine I sewed it back together in a rectangle shape.

Sweater in Pieces

Laying it on top of the Pier One rug, I sewed the two layers together. My machine labored through the layers’ thickness—if you want to avoid this, you can whip stitch them together by hand with thread, or maybe with yarn and a decorative border stitch.

Completed Rug

Diana DurkesWhile I only succeeded in recycling one sweater, just one makes a soft, cozy rug. I’m packing it up to send to my daughter in Colorado. It will be perfect for getting out of bed on cold mornings in her first apartment.


Diana Durkes is a creative recycler and a confessed alley shopper. She gives a makeover to one found item each week, and publishes the before & after on her blog, Fine Diving in Chicago.

She also writes the Tossed and Found column for Time Out Chicago and pens the blog Garage Sale Warrior for the Chicago Trib’s Chicago Now.


How many old sweaters are hiding in your basement? What are you going to make with them?

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31 Comments for “Makeover — Recycled Sweater Rug”

It turned out great! Found via One Pretty Thing.

Hey Heather!

That Diana is a recycling magician, isn’t she? I also love the idea of the patchwork sweater rug, or even a throw. What do you think?

Thanks for popping in,
— Kathy

I love this idea!

This is such a great idea. The new rug turned out great!

[…] A recycled sweater rug from Home Workshop is pure […]

Dorinda and Jenn,

It looks so warm and comfy too. I bet her daughter adores it.

Stop by anytime.
— Kathy

[…] creative women converged for this DIY winter decoration. Our makeover maven, Diana Durkes and her Recycled Sweater Rug, and my Mom—wreath-maker […]

I did unique crafts like this 40-50-& 60 years ago. Always making something out of what was left over–like pillows from old sweaters. I was called cheap and crazy so I kept the items hidden from friends and others to cut the negative remarks. Wish I could do it over again. I would make a hit with all the ideas i had then, as a young person.

Hi Suzanne,

You were a trendsetter and you didn’t know it! Pillows from old sweaters is brilliant; and I wish you would do it all over again too and share with us one of your new creations. At least share with young family members, who will be inspired by your creative ideas.

Thanks for stopping in and please come by and share your ideas with us anytime!
— Kathy

[…] last month’s makeover, I used a thrift shop resource to turn old sweaters into a throw rug. This month, I thought I’d continue the idea of giving new life to a plentiful thrift […]

It looks very pretty, but why not give sweaters that don’t fit to a resale shop or Goodwill so someone who needs a sweater has one? If it’s truly not wearable (holes, etc) then I can see giving it a new life as a rug but the sweater you used I am sure someone less fortunate would have really appreciated.

You make a good point, Kelly and it’s something to consider. I know for me, I donate piles of clothing to the Goodwill every year, but it’s hard to turn off my creative eye for certain items I might make into something that I, a friend or family member can get some use and joy from.

I appreciate your visit,

wonderful, ha ha, i’m more lazy than that, i just felt the wool ones and they shrink up nicely, even felt , then throw them down where needed, they’re double thick and soft and warm and if slippery throw some sealer rings underneath [ grandma sewed them on. ] i getmany comments on my cute shrunk sweaters. they wash easy also

Do you think you could make a large area rug with this technique? Around 8 x 10? I have never done anything crafty except for sewing a button or a little knitting, but I loved this idea and desperately want a cozy rug for my living room. Thoughts?

Ashley, I’m with you. I’d love to make a large recycled rug, too. Like the small rug, I think it can be done with two main steps. One – sew recycled sweaters together (felting them first will give more stability) to the rug size you want. Two – give the rug a sturdy backing, such as jute or heavy canvas to give them even more stability. You might be able to find a source to do this step at a nearby needlepoint shop.

I love your sweater rug! It’s quite lovely!! I have made pillows from denim jeans. It’s also a fun project. I’ve been doing it, on and off, for several years. I don’t remember where I got the idea. I probably learned how from some internet source, but I don’t remember.

This is wonderful! I had 63 sweaters before I moved out here to Cali. I am so excited to have another use for sweaters and I love rugs!

[…] Credit: Home Workshop […]

Wow, Jewels — you’d better get to work. Send us a photo when you craft up some rugs!

Nice to see you here,


Another great reuse idea with your jeans pillows! I have also seen lovely (and warm) denim quilts.

Keep creating,

I love this idea! I had a whole bunch of old sweaters packed away that I no longer wear but once loved so couldn’t bear to part with (you know: maybe they’ll come back into style some day…) and got right to work deconstructing them for a bunch of bedside rugs for this year’s handmade presents.

I didn’t have any old rugs to use for backing and wanted them to be made entirely with what I have on hand, so I put a layer of cotton quilt batting between the sweater and the backing to make it a little thicker and heavier. I used an old, heavy linen skirt for backing the first one, but also thought a painter’s canvas drop cloth would make a good, sturdy, inexpensive backing and be large enough for several throw rugs. I did happen to have a sizable piece of leftover rug pad and will include that with each rug gift to keep them from slipping around on hardwood floors.

The first one turned out beautifully and is big enough that you actually could use it as a throw, too. Many thanks for the inspiration!

Lisa! I am overjoyed that you were inspired. Diana has had such a great response to this project.

We would love to see some photos of your rugs — shoot them over to

Thrilled with your enthusiasm for the creative and recycled,


Other useful items I have made from old jeans is large bbq oven mitts, first i use a piece of denim and cut out the shape of the mitt then using black #10 thread I satin stitch smaller pieces of denim to the top of it creating unique designs, when I’m happy with the look I sew the mitt layer to another plan quilted mitt to double up on the finger protection. They literally last forever and look quite decorative as well. Sorry you will have to visualize as I have never taken pictures of them.


Those sound practical and artful – how creative! Do send photos if you ever do take them.

Thanks for sharing,

[…] Fashion an area rug; sew flat pieces of sweaters together into the size area rug that you require. Use an old rug or canvas as a foundation and whip stitch the sweater rug onto the base. […]

I was inspired by this project and made a sweater rug of my very own. I used a combination of crochet and upholstery needle to connect the sections. It was a lengthy project but really easy! Such a fantastic way to put a sweater (too ugly to wear) to great use!

[…] any old sweaters taking up space in your closet? Well, this DIY rug will take care of that. You can transform just about any old sweater into a rug. The cool thing about this is that it can work for just about any sweater. This project shows you […]

[…] This is such a clever idea! By combining an old rug or sink mat with a sweater, you get a pretty new rug! Home Workshop explains how to make your own upcycled sweater rug! […]

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