Recycled Sweater Critter Ornaments

Download the Pattern (PDF)

Cozy up your Christmas tree with warm-and-fuzzy animal ornaments created from old sweaters and foam balls. Don't have sweaters to cut up? Try local thrift stores.

Completion time – 1-2 hours each

Designer – Kathleen George

Materials

STYROFOAM Brand Foam
  • Balls: three 3"; one 1-1/2"
Other Materials
  • Recycled knitted sweaters: blue; yellow; pink
  • Felt: blue; green; yellow; orange; tan; pink
  • Coordinating grosgrain ribbons: blue; yellow; pink
  • Black half-round beads: two 7mm; four 5mm
  • Craft wire, 2" length

Tools

  • Serrated knife
  • Candle stub or paraffin
  • Fine-line black permanent marker
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Compass or circle template, 5"
  • Wooden skewer
  • Putty knife, 1"
  • Scissors
  • Sewing needle and coordinating threads: blue;
  • yellow; pink
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Craft knife with new blade
  • Low-temp glue gun and glue sticks
  • Thick, white craft glue

Instructions

Fish -

  • 1. Cut 6"-8" from end of blue recycled sweater sleeve to cover
    foam ball body. Length depends on stretch in knit; cut long
    and trim excess later.
  • 2. Hand sew running stitch around sleeve, 2"-3" from cuff;
    pull threads tightly to gather and knot ends.
  • 3. Use pencil to poke hole into front of 3" ball. Push ball
    into sleeve so back side is snug against gathered area.
  • 4. Pull knitted fabric up tightly around ball and use skewer
    to poke excess fabric into hole; spot glue to secure. Trim
    excess fabric as needed so fabric edges will fit smoothly into hole.
  • 5. Cut two Side Fin 1 pattern pieces from blue sweater, noting
    pleasing design. Spread glue onto fabric edges to prevent raveling.
    Hand gather straight fin edges slightly and glue to sides of body.
  • 6. Cut two Side Fin 3 pieces from green felt. Cut two Side Fin
    2 pieces and all remaining fish patterns from blue felt. In
    addition, cut two 1/2" circle from blue felt and two 3/8"
    circles from green felt for eyes.
  • 7. Use craft knife to cut small slits at top and bottom of
    body, through sweater into foam. Dab glue onto slits and use
    dull side of craft knife or skewer to push straight edges of
    top and bottom fins into slits.
  • 8. Refer to photo to glue on remaining fins, eye pieces and
    mouth. Glue 7mm black beads to felt eyes.
  • 9. Tie blue ribbon into bow and glue under mouth. Cut 8"
    ribbon length and join ends; apply glue and push ends into
    slit at top of body for hanger.

    Chicken -

  • 1. Cut 6"-8" circle from pleasing area of yellow recycled
    sweater. Size depends on stretch in knit and how far you plan
    to stretch fabric; cut long and trim excess later.
  • 2. Mark center front and back of 3" foam ball. Use putty knife
    to make 1/2"-deep slit in ball between those two marks. This
    will be bottom of body. Wrap knitted fabric around body and
    tuck edges into slit to secure; trim excess.
  • 3. Wax serrated knife with candle stub or paraffin and cut
    thin slice from back of 1-1/2" foam ball for head; set aside.
  • 4. Poke small hole in flat side of head and fill with glue.
    Cut small circle from yellow sweater fabric, place ball round
    side down in center and bring ends around to flat side. Use
    skewer to push fabric edges into hole. Glue flat side of head
    to front of body.
  • 5. Cut two Wing 1 pattern pieces from yellow sweater, noting
    pleasing design. Spread glue onto fabric edges to prevent
    raveling. Glue wings to sides of chicken. Cut two Wing 2
    pieces from yellow felt; glue on top of sweater wings.
  • 6. Cut 1/2" x 1" piece from yellow sweater ribbing for comb;
    apply glue to edges to prevent raveling. Gather slightly along
    bottom long edge to make half-circle shape. Use craft knife to
    cut small slit in top of head, through sweater into foam. Dab
    glue onto slit and use dull side of craft knife or skewer to
    push fabric into slit.
  • 7. Cut 5" circle from yellow sweater. Unravel top and sides to
    create feathery look. Cut tail pattern from folded tan felt. Glue sweater
    tail to back of body. Glue felt tail to back of sweater tail.
  • 8. Cut beak from orange felt; use iron to press firmly in
    half. Glue folded edge to front of head. Glue 5mm eyes in place.
    Cut two 1/2" circles from yellow felt for cheeks and glue in place.
  • 9. Tie yellow ribbon into bow and glue to neck. Cut small slit
    in chicken's back. Cut 8" ribbon length and join ends; apply
    glue and push ends into slit at top of body for hanger.

    Pig -

  • 1. For legs, cut four 1" x 2-1/2" strips from ribbed area of
    pink sweater. Spread white glue across center back of each
    strip and roll into tight tubes. Apply extra glue along outer
    edges and pin to secure until dry.
  • 2. For snout, cut 1" x 3" ribbed strip and roll in same way as
    legs. When dry, trim to 1/2" long. Cut small circle from pink
    sweater to cover end of snout and glue in place. Spread glue
    onto circle edges to prevent raveling. Trim as needed. Cut two
    tiny circles from pink felt and glue to snout for nostrils; set aside.
  • 3. For tail, cut 1" x 2" ribbed strip. Place wire length in
    center, apply glue and fold ribbing in half over wire; pin to
    secure. When dry, trim ribbing so tail is thin; apply glue to
    edge to prevent raveling. When dry, wind tail around pencil to curl.
  • 4. To cover foam ball body, use pink sweater and follow
    Chicken, Steps 1 and 2.
  • 5. Glue legs to bottom of body and snout to front; pin until
    dry. Make tiny slit at back of pig, apply glue to end of tail
    and push into slit.
  • 6. Cut patterns as indicated. Cut tiny slits at top of head,
    apply glue to slits and use skewer to push straight edges of
    ears into slits, cupping felt slightly.
  • 7. Cut two 1/2" circles from pink felt for cheeks; glue in
    place. Glue 5mm eyes in place.
  • 8. Tie pink ribbon into bow and glue under snout. Cut small
    slit in pig's back. Cut 8" ribbon length and join ends; apply
    glue and push ends into slit at top of body for hanger.