Help me save 2500kg of textile waste from going to landfill [and a great cardigan pattern]

I sew A. LOT. and although I would like to say it was, by no stretch of the imagination is everything I make up-cycled, zero waste or otherwise sustainable or eco-conscious.  There are some occasions though, where it just makes sense to take the eco option.

Picture this:

You are shopping for sweater knits. You stroll into a shop and find upwards of 10 different sweater knits in all colours of the rainbow, made from all different types of fibers, and in different weights. You are tossing up between a teal cotton knit, and a periwinkle blue lightweight merino. Neither will cost you more than $6 for your project, and as a bonus they both come with matching ribbing and buttons.

Welcome to thrift store shopping for knits to up-cycle! There are so many good things about thrifting for sweater knits, here are my top 5:

  1. It is much cheaper to buy sweater knits this way
  2. The fabric comes with matching ribbing/cuffs/collars for FREE
  3. The fabric often comes with matching buttons for FREE
  4. A lot of the finishing work from the garment can be re-used, so essentially half the work is done for you.
  5. Not to mention that it is a very sustainable option!

I did a few quick sums, and I have worked out that if everyone that subscribes to or Thread Faction Studios on social media or our newsletter (around 10K), were to make their next project an up-cycled one, between us we could save 2500kg of textile waste from going to landfill.

Help me save on textile waste

…and it couldn’t be simpler to do:

Check out your local thrift stores and grab an appropriate ‘donor’ garment, bring it home and throw it in the wash as you usually would (if you have a wool or cashmere sweater, make sure you wash it according to the washing instructions).

Cut your donor garment along the seams to separate the parts into usable fabric panels and then cut your pattern pieces as you usually would.

I used our #116 Unisex Kids Cardigan pattern for this re-fashion. You can grab this pattern as part of Issue 15 of  One Thimble Magazine, or you can grab it from the Thread Faction website.

As you can see in the pic above, I used the existing waistband and cuffs from the donor sweater so I could do away with those pattern pieces entirely, and just add a bit of length to the pattern pieces when I was cutting them out.

If you are shying away from a project like this because you are not confident with button holes, check out this post to get all the tips, and if all else fails you can always use snaps with this pattern too!

Cute upcycled cardigan from 2

This was a pretty skinny donor sweater, so I had to piece together the scraps to cut the neck band piece (if you look carefully you will be able to see the joins in the pic above), bit I think it looks great, adds interest and doesn’t take away from the design at all.

So now my little miss 6 has a new cardigan that cost $5 (compared to a minimum of $20 in the shops) that I know is well made and will last. No-one has a cardigan the same, and we are doing our bit for sustainability.

Cute upcycled cardigan from

So, if you decide to get on the bandwagon and help me keep 2500kg of  textile waste out of landfill, be sure to grab some pics and hashtag them #sew4bub and #zerowastehomesewing I would love to see your creations!

Thanks for reading
Liz xx

5 thoughts on “Help me save 2500kg of textile waste from going to landfill [and a great cardigan pattern]

  1. YES. There is so much waste out there, and so many amazing thrift store finds just begging to be given a new life. I sew almost exclusively with up-cycled materials from various sources, and it’s just so much fun!

    • I know right?! Fun, inexpensive and sustainable – what’s not to love 🙂

  2. Gorgeous little remake, it is such a treasure to reuse fabric and as you say sometimes some of the little details are done for you. x

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