How to Make Fingerless Gloves from Sweaters

Fingerless Gloves from Sweater Sleeves
Who doesn't love a pair of cashmere gloves? Determined to use up-cycled cashmere, I created this no-knit pattern using sweater sleeves. I scoured thrift stores for buttery smooth wools that could be machine felted and turned into gloves. I found that fitted smaller sweaters (even larger children's sweaters and small women's sweaters) worked best for my sized hands, but you'll want to find the size that works for you. Remember--your hands and wrists are significantly smaller then the average sweater sleeve but the sweater will shrink when felted. Cut up the rest of the sweater to be re-fashioned into an up-cycled patchwork scarf, Craft Fair Shawl, or other future creation.

Skill Level
Moderate. Basic sewing stitches but just a few tricky spots in attaching the binding. With patience and basic sewing skills, you can do it!

Materials List
  • Sweater sleeves--preferable cashmere, wool, or 100% natural wool fibers for best felting.
  • About 1/2 yard of fabric--you'll use the fabric to make the binding.
  • Any materials you want to use for embellishment--I used pink embroidery thread to make a small arrow on the underside of each forearm. Fabric patches are cute too.
  • Thread (I like Button & Carpet thread because it's heavy duty). This thread should correspond with the colors of your fabric.
  • Needle
  • Yarn needle
  • Yarn (Can match the color of your wool or could be contrasting, it's up to you.)
  • Straight Pins
  • Fabric Scissors 
  • Fabric Pencil (optional)
  • Sewing Machine (It makes the binding easier but you could definitely do it by hand.)
Note: Before you begin you'll want to machine felt your sweater. This is simple--toss it in the washing machine with soap and a load of towels or with other wools to be felted. You'll want to have other fabrics (like towels) in the washing machine to provide extra agitation--some folks like to use tennis balls. Machine dry. Repeat as needed to get the desired effect--the more you wash & dry the tighter the wool fibers will felt and the more it will shrink. Wash and iron the fabric you'll use for binding.

Step 1: Cut. Trim off approximately 9 inches from the bottom of the sweater sleeve including the original cuff. (Feel free to make this measurement shorter or longer depending on if you want a "wristlet" or "opera length" glove. This 9 inch size will typically end in the middle of your forearm.) The cuff will be worn at the top of the gloves (closest to your elbow) and the raw edge will be trimmed with a binding and worn over your fingers. You will only sew the binding to the raw edge, the finished edge will be left untouched.

Step 2: Measure & Cut. You'll want to measure the raw opening (where your fingers will emerge) and then add 1-2 inches to this measurement. Trim two, 2 inch wide strips of your fabric on the bias (on a diagonal to get the ultimate stretch) according to the length of your measurement. My measurement was about 4.25 inches (times two for the diameter, or 8.5 inches around) so I cut two strips of fabric at 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. We'll use this binding similar to quilt binding.

Step 3: Stitch. Turn the wool inside out. Fold your binding in half lengthwise and line the long raw edges up with the raw edge of the wool. Be certain the two smaller raw edges (the widths) of the fabric binding overlap and leave these edges unpinned for now. (See photo below.)

Now, here's the only tricky part--unfold the fabric where the shorter raw edges come together (the widths). Then, pinch the two edges together and make a mark where the excess fabric aligns--this will be your stitch line. Pin those edges and stitch using a 1/2 inch border. You can stitch by hand or with the machine. (See photos below.) Now, when the binding has been stitched together and you have one continuous circular fabric, refold and pin into place.

Step 4: Stitch. Now that you have the binding connected into one circular piece, you can stitch the fabric in a straight line about 1/4 inch below the top edges. I used a hand-stitched, straight-stitch but you could use your sewing machine if you prefer. Don't worry too much if your stitches are not perfectly straight--you'll never see them again once you move on to the next step!

Step 5: Fold & Stitch. Now, turn the glove back to right side out. You'll want to fold the stitched binding over the raw edge and on to the right side of the wool. You should have a finished (folded) edge showing on the right side of the wool. Pin into place. Using a thread and needle attach the binding to the wool with a blind stitch. Repeat steps 3-5 on second glove until both bindings are sewn in place.

Step 6: Measure & Cut. Put the glove on your hand and measure where your thumb will ultimately emerge. You'll want to use a fabric pencil or just a straight pin to measure the top and bottom of your thumb joint--where your thumb meets the palm of your hand. Once you have this measurement on your wool, you can remove the glove and cut an opening. I tend to use the existing side seam in the sweater for the thumb hole. This means the seam can just be cut open according to my measurement but the sturdy seams remain in place.

Step 7: Stitch. Cut an arm's length of yarn and thread through your yarn needle. Use a whip stitch to bind the thumb hole so it will not fray. If you need to use a second piece of yarn, don't fret. Just tie off the yarn with a 2-3 inch tail and start again. You can hide that tail under the next few stitches and then just cut off the excess so the tail does not show. To hide your final yarn tail, just tie a knot, thread the tail under the other yarn stitches and trim.

Step 8: Embellish. I used to add various fabric patches to my fingerless gloves--I liked the contrast of patterns and colors against the wool. Sometimes I would leave them without embellishment depending on the pattern I used in the binding and my winter coat. This time, I just added a simple arrow with embroidery thread on the underside of the forearm. A little hidden detail to add an extra touch.

Step 9: ENJOY! I wear my gloves so much that I usually make a new pair every year. Why not? If they get soiled I hand wash them with mild detergent and cold water and then lay them flat to dry. I wouldn't machine wash the finished gloves as they will further felt and the wool will continue to shrink rendering the binding too big. Spot cleaning or hand washing should do the trick. Now, make a simple patchwork scarf out of the rest of the sweater! Or be inspired by my Craft Fair Shawl.

(Please note: All of my tutorials and projects are intended for readers' personal use only. Not intended for resale, retail, wholesale, or any other form of reproduction. All images and text copyright Katrina Rodabaugh. Thank you.)