As you spring clean your closet, set aside old sweaters to turn into fun DIYs for your pets.
These two projects can be completed quickly and are as cute as they are functional.
Easy: Felted Dog Toy
Supplies: an old 100% wool sweater, scissors, and a washer and dryer
This piece-of-cake DIY can be knocked out in an afternoon. Plus, you can make a handful of felted balls at once. Start by cutting your sweaters into large chunks, like the front, the back, and the sleeves. Trim off any ribbing or hems (they don’t felt well) and set them aside. Toss the chunks in the washer on the hottest setting with the least amount of water—you want the pieces to knock into each other and the sides of the machine instead of floating. Then, toss them all in the dryer on high heat.
Once they’re dry, cut each piece into a single long strip. Start at one corner and trim in a spiral pattern—remember those kindergarten cutting skills!—until you have one long strand. Now, grab one of the ribbing pieces you set aside earlier and crumple it into a ball. This is the center of your felted ball. Holding onto the scrap, wind the long strip around the piece until it’s a little bit bigger than a tennis ball. Weave the end of the strip through the wrapped ball to seal it. (Optional: If you have a needle and thread, you can stitch the tail down rather than weaving it through.)
Stuff the sweater ball into the toe of an old sock, and tie the sock into a tight knot. You want the ball secure without wiggle room. Repeat the felting process with the yarn-stuffed sock—wash it on hot, then run it through the dryer on high heat. To shrink them down as much as possible, leave them in the dryer with a couple of loads of regular laundry. After a few runs, untie the sock, pull out the felted ball, and start a game of fetch in the backyard!
As with anything, supervise your dog while playing. If it starts to come apart, stuff it back in a sock and repeat the felting process.
Challenging: Sweater Bed
Supplies: an old sweater, a pillow or pillow insert, a pencil, needle and thread
Best for small dogs or cats, this sweater bed project requires high school Home Ec sewing skills. Start by flipping an old sweater inside out. Set the pillow form on top of the sweater, aligning it against one side and the top. Trace the other two sides of the pillow, leaving wiggle room for seams. Trim off the excess sweater fabric. Bonus points for setting it aside to make the felt ball above!
Neatly trim off the remaining sleeve and stitch the armhole closed as close to the edge as possible. If the sweater has a large neck, like a turtleneck or cowl, trim that, too, and stitch closed. If it’s a plain neck, you can skip the trimming and just stitch it closed. Flip the sweater right-side-out and stuff the pillow insert into the sweater. Using a hidden stitch, close the bottom of the sweater around the pillow.
Toss on the floor for your dog or cat to take a cozy snooze!
Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.