Simple DIY: Cable Knit Throw Pillows Out of Old Sweaters
It’s that time of year again. The time when all things warm and cozy start to find their way into your daydreams and post-workday relaxation. This article will show you how to create a perfectly cozy throw pillow (or two, actually) out of a favorite, thrifted, or otherwise acquired cable knit sweater.
In under an hour, you’ll be snuggling up with your favorite book and beverage. Let’s get started.
DIY Level: Beginner
- Two (2) old throw pillows or pillow forms (I found these two at a local thrift store; one was brand-new)
- Two (2) cable knit sweaters, large enough to fit over pillow forms
- Matching thread, sewing machine, scissors, pins
I picked up a couple of verrrrrry vintage throw pillows at a thrift store for cheap. After thoroughly laundering them, I cut them open to retrieve the pillow forms inside.
Because, as I soon discovered, the pillow forms weren’t actually forms but rather polyfil stuffing in the shape of forms, I quickly sewed light cotton covers for them. If you find yourself in this position, wrap the polyfil in a white cotton scrap of fabric and pin the edges.
Sew along the pins. This will help the polyfil retain its shape as you work with it to make your own cable knit (sweater) throw pillows.
Turn the sweater inside-out.
Slide your pillow form inside the inside-out sweater.
If your sweater cable knit is uniform (as in, it doesn’t have a “center” or is symmetrical from a certain point), slide the pillow form right next to one of the sweater’s side seams. Give yourself enough room at the bottom of the sweater to cover the pillow form, then mark where the top seam needs to be with a pin.
Rotate your sweater 90 degrees and pin where the other side seam will need to be.
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Pull the pillow form out and flatten the top and bottom layers of the sweater. Pin the “lines” for your two new seams, the top and the side. You don’t need to worry about the bottom seam at this point; it will stay open for now.
Taking care not to pull your sweater at all, sew your seams with a straight stitch.
Directly outside the straight-stitch seam, sew a wide zigzag seam all along your freshly sewn top and side seams. This will help the sweater avoid unraveling over time.
You can see the two seams here on the sweater.
Cut about 1” outside your zigzag stitching on both seams.
Take the corner on your new seams.
Fold the corner so that the two seams touch each other. You’re going to sew a short seam perpendicular to the existing seam, about 2” down from the corner (designated by the dotted red line in the photo).
Sew the short perpendicular seam. Repeat for the other corner along the seam that will be the top of your pillow.
What those perpendicular seams do is create this type of corner for the pillow; it looks a little more professional and finished. You could choose to omit this step, if you don’t mind right-angle corners poking up from your pillow.
Flipping your sweater right-side out, slide it over your pillow form.
Smooth the sweater over both sides of your pillow form.
You can hand-stitch the bottom seam if you want by folding the “raw” ends (they’re actually finished, because it’s the bottom of the sweater, but we’re calling them “raw” here) in and sewing. Or you can machine-stitch it, which is what I opted to do for this one. I folded and pinched the two ends in from each side seam, about 2”.
It’ll look something like this. Pin in place.
Sew about 1/2″ to 1” away from the matched-up raw edges to finish up the bottom seam. You can double-stitch, to make sure the seam holds better.
This method won’t look as finished as a hidden hand-sewn seam.
But when you set the pillow upright, the seam is easy to tuck underneath.
If you have a sweater that has a center focal point and/or a v-neck, you’ll have to fudge the original layout a bit before it’s ready to pin with the pillow form inside. Let’s go through those steps. This sweater has a v-neck.
Lay the sweater out on a flat surface, v-neck side facing up. Cut off a sleeve on the outer part of the sleeve/shoulder seam. Your goal is to maintain a straight line up the side of the sweater rather than follow the sleeve/shoulder seam line.
Cut along the sleeve seam to open up the sleeve.
Tuck the flattened sleeve inside the v-neck, taking care to maintain a wide enough overlap between the sleeve’s raw edges and the v-neck line.
Pin the flattened sleeve to the v-neck. Be sure to avoid stretching either component at all. Also, do not catch the back side of the sweater in your pinning. You only want to pin the flattened sleeve and the v-neck itself, nothing more.
You don’t need to worry about pinning the upper neck area; just pin the front of the v-neck.
Sew, in a place that is logical and minimally noticeable, the flattened sleeve piece to the v-neck. Again, take care not to stretch either component in any way; doing so will result in a stretched-out, lumpy-looking cable knit throw pillow.
Your modified v-neck will look something like this.
Turn the sweater inside-out and slide the pillow form in. This time, however, you’ll need to be sure to center the pillow form inside the sweater, so you’ll be pinning for three seams (two sides and the top).
Pin the seams, and sew the sweater in the same way as already described. (Remove the pillow form. Sew the seams, first straight-stitch then zigzag.)
Cut the sweater along your newly sewn seams, about an inch away from (outside) the zigzag stitch. As described previously, turn the sweater right-side out and slide the pillow form inside, then stitch up the bottom seam, either by machine or hand.
Viola! Two cozy cable knit sweater throw pillows.
I love the v-neck detail on the front pillow especially.
These pillows are surprisingly easy to make; don’t be intimidated by the idea of working with a sweater while sewing. If you’re careful to not stretch it weird and you seal off the seams with zigzag stitching, you’ll be just fine.
Happy Fall, and happy DIYing.