How To Make a Recycled Sweater Ornament

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

There’s definitely no shortage of holiday ornaments out there to buy, but there’s something so satisfying about making a few. It’s always nice to give/receive something handmade—and one-of-a-kind—and by making a few for yourself, you get to create a little memory that you can revisit every year when you pull them out to decorate the tree.

These ornaments are fairly easy, adorable, and—bonus!—you’re recycling. Even if you’re not generally crafty, making ornaments is a great way to spend some time away from screens and with loved ones. Pro tip: a little eggnog or special holiday punch is a must at any crafting party.

What You Need


  • Styrofoam ornament balls
  • Patterned winter sweater(s)
  • Ribbon
  • Thread


  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Wood skewer
  • Hot glue gun


(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

To start, pick up some styrofoam balls at your local craft or dollar store…

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

And an old winter sweater at a thrift shop—or use one you already have. Look for a great pattern on the sleeve.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Ideally, the styrofoam ball should be large enough that the sleeve of the sweater fits around the ball snugly so that there’s no excess material. Children’s sweaters work well for this.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Next, place the ball where you want it, finding the best pattern placement.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Cut the sleeve, leaving approximately one extra inch of material on each side of the ball.

Turn the sleeve inside-out and sew one end together with a needle and thread. Trim as much of the extra fabric off as possible, then turn it back right-side-out.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Some styrofoam balls come with holes at either end, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to make one using the wood skewer (or something similar). Make the hole approximately the size of a dime.

Place the ball into the pouch you created with the sleeve. Using the back of the skewer or a pencil, gently push the “knot” you created by sewing the sleeve closed into the hole in the ball. Make the hole larger if necessary.

Once the bottom looks good, it’s time to finish off the top. First, pull and stretch the fabric over the ball, making sure it’s completely covered but that you have as little extra fabric as possible. Then, do a dry test and make sure the fabric can fit into the hole you made. You want it to look as neat as possible, so increase the size of the hole if necessary. Once you’re happy with how it looks, do it again—but this time apply a few drops of hot glue to help keep the material in place.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Use another drop or two of hot glue to top your ornament off with a decorative bow and a looped thread for hanging.

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

Fill up a whole tree, or just make a few for yourself and give the rest as great handmade gifts!

(Image credit: Melissa DiRenzo)

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