How to Make DIY Recycled Sweatshirt Mittens

These fast and easy mittens are made from old sweatshirts and will be passed on to a crafting charity. If you are interested in recycling a sweatshirt or want to donate, follow the easy instructions below to make your own pair!

Fleece (if sweatshirt is too thin by itself)
Sewing scissors
Seam Ripper
Sewing machine and thread

Begin by laying your sweatshirt of choice flat on the floor. You will only be using the bottom part of the sweatshirt, but feel free to save the other sections for other recycling projects. Some sweatshirts will be pullovers without zippers - it really doesn't matter. However, be prepared if your sweatshirt is like this green one. It is more difficult to work with sweatshirts that taper at the end because mitten cuffs are in danger of being smaller than you might want.
If your sweatshirt has a zipper, cut straight up along the seam on both sides to remove it.

Most sweatshirts have a large front pocket or two small pockets. Starting at a pocket corner, use your seam ripper to remove the top and sides of the pocket(s) as cleanly as possible. It is likely that a slight outline will be visible where the pockets were, but it can be smoothed out with an iron and shouldn't be significantly noticeable on the mittens.

While some pockets are higher up on sweatshirts and therefore can be completely removed with a seam ripper, most sweatshirt pockets share a bottom seam with the lower sweatshirt cuff. If this is the case with your sweatshirt, do not attempt to seam rip the bottom of the pocket. Instead, use your sewing scissors to cut as close to the seam as possible. Take your time and be sure not to cut so close that your cut a hole into the seam. If this does happen, it can be hand sewn into place.

Once the pockets are removed, it's time to lay the sweatshirt flat. Following the seam lines, remove any sleeves and hoods from the sweatshirt so they are out of your way. If the sweatshirt had a zipper, there should already by a gap between the two sides of the sweatshirt and the sweatshirt can easily fold out as shown below. If your sweatshirt did not have a zipper and is still one cylindrical piece, cut a line straight up one of the side seams, including disconnecting any shoulder seams, and then lay the sweatshirt flat. 

Once you have lain the sweatshirt flat, use a favorite mitten or your hand to cut out the outline for the new mitten. Remember that the bottom ribbing on the sweatshirt will be the cuff of the mitten. Make sure to cut the mitten outline significantly large than whatever outline you use, especially at the cuff if the sweatshirt makes the cuff roll up smaller. This is to ensure that when you are sewing the whole mitten, the seam will be large enough to prevent holes when turned right side out.

Cut out four mitten outlines, two for each hand.

Fleece is great for lining because sweatshirts, while thick enough to contain our body heat, are not always thick enough to warm our smaller fingers. However, if you prefer to have thinner mittens, skip this step.

When the mitten outlines are finished and if you want to use fleece, lay the fleece flat on the floor. Line up the edge of the fleece to the top of the mitten cuff so that the fleece will not prevent cuff elasticity.

Cut out four pieces like this, making sure there are two for each side if your fleece has a softer or patterned side. If your fleece is soft and plain on both sides, this won't matter.

It's time to attach all of the pieces together. begin by taking opposite pieces of sweatshirt cut outs and put them together so that the sides of what will be on the outside of the mitten are touching. The rough or fuzzy side should face outward. Then place a piece of fleece on both sides so that the side you want to be felt when the mittens are worn are facing outward. Repeat this assembly for the other mitten.

Line up all pieces as well as you can and pin them in place.. It is more than likely that not all of your pieces will line up perfectly depending on how you cut them. If you cut a large size then you want, you can sew a large seam to ensure that all of the pieces are sewn together.

It's time to sew! Seams will depend on the size mitten you want and how to cut it out. Make sure to reinforcing stitches at the cuff.

When you finish sewing, cut along next to the seam so that the edge fabric does not make the inside of the mitten feel snugger. Finally, hand stitch a few portions of the bottom of the fleece that is at the top of the cuff in order to prevent the wearer from putting their hand in between the sweatshirt and fleece rather than both sides of fleece. I do this by hand in order to make the stitches less visible than they would be with a sewing machine.

This done, turn your mitten inside out and voila! If there are any holes along the seam of your work where not all of the pieces were sewn together, just hand sew them shut.


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