Getting Crafty with an Old Holiday Sweater

The array of items craft
The array of items crafted from a single, used sweater.

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DIY final

Today we’re getting crafty for the holidays. Natasha Price has been making handmade gifts as far back as she can remember. She’s been sewing since she was three, knitting since she was six, and documenting her DIY projects on her blog Knit Nat AK for about four years. Price likes making creative gifts this time of year.

“I’m a dedicated thriftier and I really love getting inspired by the things I can find at a thrift store in the attempt to reuse the things that are already out there and make something new,” Price says. For her, the benefit of thrift store crafting is two-fold. Giving something unique, but also not breaking the bank.

“I don’t have the ability to spend a lot of money during the holidays so this is my alternative to give something thoughtful and be able to save,” Price says.  For today’s craft session I’ve brought two used items, which I’ve been told can be turned into a multitude of gifts. An old Christmas sweater and a record.

“You go to the thrift store or Bishop’s Attic. They have records for just a couple of bucks. I like to try and pick a record that the target person would enjoy or think is funny…” With that said, Price eyes my record selection, an album by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.  “This is really good, are you sure you want to get rid of this?”

I’m starting to think I might miss this record, but I came here to craft, so we head to the kitchen where Price preheats her oven to 250 degrees and pulls out an oven-safe bowl. “Place your record on top of the bowl and center it as best you can. And if your oven window is clear enough you can turn the oven light on and watch it get floppy. Let’s see how long it takes,” Price says.

It only takes about a minute before the record begins to sag. “It’s kind of relaxing. And you can see that it’s flopped all around the bowl. And then with the pot holders I kind of shape the record how I want it,” Price says.

The raw material.
The raw material.

When she’s finished, the record looks almost like an open flower. Price says you can gift the bowl as is, but she likes to put plants in them. “Just put soil in it, and you already have a hole in it for drainage. It’s pretty perfect.”

What about the album cover? “I would cut the album to the size of 8×11 paper. And then you take it to the print shop and for just a few bucks they’ll put a binding on it and you have a record album notebook,” Price says.

Next up is my Christmas Sweater. This one is vintage, and is covered in reindeer, trees and snowflakes. Price decides to make a set of wine koozies out of the sleeves.

“I’m taking the sleeve and putting it around the body of the wine bottle. And then you would just cut the sleeve halfway at the bottom. Then I just sew a seam across the bottom,” Price says. The seam is just one straight line, which Price says you can do by hand, but she prefers a sewing machine. She’s finished in no time.

“You could just give the wine bottle in and of itself but where’s the fun in that? Put it in a funny sweater sleeve. It’s just going the extra mile. It’s nice because you’re giving the gift of wine, but with a little DIY flair.” Price then cuts the torso of the sweater into one large square. She’s planning on making a throw pillow.

“You kind of have to get creative depending on the design of the sweater. That looks pretty good right, centered? We’re going to turn it inside out, and then I’m just going to sew all the way around but leave a little space, maybe three inches on one side, to stuff the pillow,” Price says. Again she sews simple straight lines, this time four of them. She fills the pillow with some stuffing that she got from the thrift store and we’re left with an incredibly soft and festive pillow.

Price shows us what's left after our 3 projects.
Price shows us what’s left after our 3 projects.

There isn’t much of this sweater left, just the waist band and a little fabric. But Price isn’t finished yet. She’s decides to make a set of mittens. She does this by grabbing a mitten from her closet and placing it on the sweater as a guide, and just like the pillow (fade sewing sounds) she cuts the desired shape out and sews up the edges.

“Oh yeah, it fits my hand perfectly, because I used my mitten as I guide. Look at how cool that looks!” Simply put, I’m stunned. Price has just turned two used items into six gifts. And they look really nice. Price says this is the kind of thing that inspires her around the holidays.

“I mean, there’s nothing wrong with going out and buying a gift. But every once and a while there’s something that I think ‘this is just such a cool idea, I have to make it for somebody.’”

And if that something happens to be a sweater, you’ll be glad you were on Price’s Christmas list. “We got a lot out of that sweater,” Price says, looking satisfied.