07 December 2008

Tutorial: Sweater Purse

Need - or want - a new purse, but finances are tight? Have an old pullover sweater that has seen better days? Keep the sweater out of the landfill and have the purse you need/want for free! Keep reading for the tutorial...

Don't have an old sweater? Then hit the thrift stores and find one you like! If you come across a wool sweater (rare here in Memphis since it doesn't get that cold), you can felt it first for a different look. Just follow the tutorial for making the purse.

Have a sweater that has stains on it? Cover it up with an applique or embroidery, or pin on a brooch to quickly hide it. Let your imagination run wild!

Here's the instructions:


one pullover sweater - the larger the sweater, the larger the purse. Great use for any outgrown sweater, or one that has stretched out. A sweater with a ribbed bottom works nicely, but it isn't necessary

some type of handle - I used round bamboo handles for this one, but you may have something else you can use

leftover fabric for the lining

interfacing for the lining if you wish (I recommend this if the lining is rather thing - it will provide extra support when the purse is full)

Lay sweater flat. Cutting from one side to the other in a straight line just below the arm holes. The ribbed edge will be the top while the cut edge will be the bottom.

Turn the piece inside out. Zig-zag stitch or serge around entire cut opening to help prevent it from unraveling. Pin cut edges together. (which will be the bottom of the purse). Securely sew shut.

Use this piece as a template and cut two pieces from any leftover fabric. This will make the lining. If you are using interfacing, attach it now following directions that came with it.

Add any pockets in whatever size you desire. This is your chance to personalize the purse the way you want it!

With right sides of lining together, stitch around side and bottom edges. Press top edge of lining toward the wrong side. Place the lining inside the purse with the wrong side of the lining facing the wrong side of the purse.

Pin the top opening of the lining to the top opening of the purse just below the ribbing. If there is no ribbing, allow enough fabric to easily wrap around the handles. Stitch the lining to the purse along the top edges and sides as needed.

You will need to cut open and seam the sides of the ribbing. This will make it easier to wrap around the handles. I find circular handles work well with this, and the larger the sweater, the larger your handles will need to be. Lay the handle on the wrong side of the ribbing, wrap the ribbing around the handle. Pin, then sew into place - and the sewing may have to be done by hand. Just make sure it is very secure. Repeat on the other side.

You could also attach hook and loop tape and use that to close the ribbing around the handle. I haven't tried it yet, but it would let you remove the handles if needed.

And there you have it! A new purse from an old sweater - recycling at its best!

As always, I'd love comments about this tutorial. Was it helpful? Did it inspire you to remake something you have? If something isn't clear, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to clarify.

Thanks for reading!


sweetb said...

So cute! Great idea. I have several wool sweaters that I bought at a thrift store to make longies for my little boy but one may have to be a purse. Time to dust off the sewing machine. I love the way you repurpose things like a sweater.

Madison Avenue Baby said...

I love this idea. And I like the sweater you chose; makes a lovely bag. I think your instructions are very clear. I'm going to try this.

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Oh how fabulous! I'm totally inspired to make one! I'll be linking.

TeeThymeDiva said...

Too cute! You could add some embroidery to it and make it very "Anthropologie" like. Now I need to hit my local thrift store.

Andi - udandi said...

I found your project by way of One Pretty Thing and I made a purse this past week. Your directions and photos worked well for me - thank you! I just posted it to my blog so I haven't gotten any feedback, but my coworkers who have seen it in person really liked it!

my felted sweater purse

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KatieB said...

I read this from a link on oneprettything. This week, I found that a much loved sweater was ruined in storage, it has faded stripes along the shoulders and down both arms. So, I remembered your post and now I'm going to make a purse. Thanks for the great tutorial.

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