In this project, use old sweatpants to make mittens for kids. This is a great way to recycle the fabric from all those holey, stained sweatpants (and sweatshirts) that no one can wear anymore. The project includes three sizes of patterns, each with two optional applique patterns. This is a good project for new sewers.
As an added bonus at the end of the project, Aunt Annie tells you how to make a scarf from old sweatpants, and recommends other websites with more applique patterns and 20 ways to recycle old jeans (and sweatpants.)
Choose the size of mittens you want to make. The small size will fit most pre-schoolers, while the medium and large sizes work for older children. (The large size also fits small adult hands.) Download and print the pattern on computer paper.
Tip: You can also make a pattern by tracing a child's hand on a sheet of paper. Be sure to allow for the ¼" (5 mm) seam and the ½" (13 mm) hem.
Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.
All of Aunt Annie's project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.
Cut out the mitten and applique patterns on the black outlines, using paper scissors. Use the appliques on the mitten pattern or the separate appliques pattern. You can also make letter appliques using the alphabet patterns below in Step 3.
Find some good areas on the sweatpants without any holes or stains. Pin the mitten pattern through two thicknesses of sweatpants. Cut closely around the mitten pattern.
You will need four mitten pieces total, so after cutting the two pieces for one mitten, repin the pattern onto the sweatpants and cut again.
Optional: You will need two applique pieces cut from a contrasting color of sweatpants. Pin the applique pattern to two thicknesses and cut.
Pin the appliques near the center of the back pieces of each mitten. Lay the mitten backs side by side to make sure you have chosen opposite-facing pieces. Stitch around the appliques using a satin stitch (a very close zigzag stitch.)
Tip: Instead of pinning, tack the applique pieces to the mitten back with a glue stick, then stitch.
Pin each mitten's front and back together, right sides facing. Stitch around each mitten a scant ¼" (5 mm) from the edge, leaving the cuff open.
Be careful to follow the curves at the top of the mitten and thumb. At the thumb joint, with the needle down, raise your sewing machine's presser foot and turn the fabric.
Cut a piece of elastic that will fit around the child's wrist. Or use a 5½" (14 cm) piece for the small mitten, 6" (15 cm) for the medium mitten, or 7" (18 cm) for the large mitten.
Fold a ½" (13 mm) hem over at the cuff. Stitch the hem down near the edge of the material, leaving a 1" opening in the back.
Pin a safety pin to one end of the elastic. Thread this end of the elastic through the opening in the hem, and work it around until is comes out the other side. Be careful not to lose the other end of the elastic in the hem.
Overlap the ends of the elastic about ¼" (5 mm) and sew through both layers several times with a needle and thread. Slip the joined ends into the hem and stitch the hem opening closed.
Turn the mittens right side out. Use the eraser end of a pencil to help turn out the thumbs.
Tip: The mittens can also be sewn by hand. Use a blanket stitch for the applique, and a back stitch for the seams.
That's it! Your mittens are ready
After making mittens from your old sweatpants, you should have enough fabric left over to make a matching scarf. For kids, a scarf doesn't have to be very long or wide—42" by 3½" (110 cm by 9 cm) should do. It may take some piecing together to find enough fabric, but this toasty double thickness scarf is worth it!
Tip: Appliques can be sewn on the scarf before making the the double thickness (step #4).