$5 Goodwill Challenge: Upcycled Sweater Throw Pillow and Sweater Candle Holders/Vases


After watching the different seasonal $5 Goodwill Challenge hosted by Hilary of My So-Called home for the past year, I have finally had the time to participate! I joined in for the  Christmas 2017 edition of this challenge – which basically asks you to find an item, or items for $5 or less at Goodwill or a thrift shop to create a festive home this season. I had no idea what to expect when I went to my local Goodwill, once there, as usual, I was met with higher than average thrift store prices, and I had a super hard time finding anything that was 50%. The color of the week was orange, and it was Friday, my store begins removing items marked with the discounted color price tag on Sunday.  

So I eventually settled on a decent looking pillow form and a white cable knit sweater, and created a cozy throw pillow and candle holders, perfect for the cooler months!

Sweater Candle Holders/Vases

Materials Needed:

  • An old sweater, any size (those with different knitted patterns or designs will really make your finished vases look great)
  • Various glass containers
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue sticks and glue gun


  • The first thing you need to do is cut the sleeves off the sweaters at the shoulder line.
  • Then just simply slide a sleeve over the opening of your candle holder, with the cuff at the top of the jar.
  • Trim the excess sweater off the bottom of the candle holder, making sure to leave about 1 to 1 ½ inches of fabric, we will trim this up even more in the next step.
  • Turn over the glass jar/holder so that the bottom is face up while pinching the extra fabric together into the shape of a four leaf clover; trim across both sides of the extra fabric. After this, the material should look like triangles and should lie flatly on the bottom of the candle holder
  • Carefully glue each flap to the bottom of the glass, one at a time. Make sure to line up the seams so there are no bumps in the fabric.
  • If you want to give the sweater a relaxed slouchy look don’t glue the top of the holder. But if you want to hold the sweater firmly in place, make sure to add a couple of dots of glue to the rim of the glass.
  • You can use a real candle if you have chosen a glass candle holder, or because you don’t really see it anyway drop a flameless tealight into the candle holder, the glow and flickering look identical to a real candle through the sweater!

Sweater Throw Pillow

Materials Needed:

  • An old sweater, any size, but make sure it is large enough to accommodate the size pillow form you are using (I really wanted a chunky cable knit sweater for my pillow)
  • Lightweight Fusible interfacing
  • Two scrap pieces of fabric: (1)- 17-inch square to stabilize the sweater front of the pillow* & (2)17×13** to create the envelope style back panels of the pillow.
  • 1 pillow insert (16-inch square)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread, scissors, pins, needles, colored pencil or chalk, ruler or measuring tape


*If you are using a stabilizing interfacing like this you will not have to line the back of the sweater with a scrap piece of fabric like I did. Because all I had on hand was interfacing designed to be used with appliques I had to line mine with scrap fabric.  No matter what kind you use, It is important not to skip the stabilizer, because of the stretchiness to the sweater, it can be very difficult to get a straight seam!  DON’T SKIP THE STABILIZER!

**I used a 17×22 inch piece of fabric I cut in half to form the envelope style back of the pillow, when I make this pillow cover again in the future I will increase the long edge to 26 inches long, to create an envelope with a better overlap.

Prepare Materials

  • Machine wash the sweater in warm water and dry in the dryer on a normal setting. I wanted to shrink my sweater a little and make the knit tighter, so I washed my sweater in hot water.
  • Because my pillow form was second hand I ran it through the dryer on the hottest setting for about a half of an hour to kill any pests that could have potentially traveled with it (although it was super clean and looked new, I feel like this is a step worth doing).

Create the Sweater Front Panel

  • Measure to find the dimensions of the pillow form; add 1 inch to each for seam allowances. Use these measurements to cut a pillow front out of the sweater, play around with placement if your sweater has a decorative knit to find the most appealing lay of the pattern. Once you’ve lined up your pillow to your sweater, use a fabric marker to draw the shape of the pillow onto the sweater to mark where you will cut.
  • Cut 1 piece of lightweight fusible interfacing the same size as your cut sweater pieces.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fuse the interfacing onto the wrong side of the cut sweater,  if you are using double-sided adhesive interfacing like I did, fuse the 17-inch scrap stabilizing fabric to the back of the sweater pillow front. Regardless of what interfacing you use, by doing this important step, your knit sweater will not stretch or move when you sew it with the sewing machine.  It keeps the exact shape you cut it as.  The difference this step makes is huge!

Hem the back panels

  • Lay the fabric wrong side up on your ironing board.
  • Go to the short side of the outside edge of one of the panels and fold over 1/4 inch of the fabric. Press this down with your iron.
  • Now fold again by another 1/4 inch and press again.
  • Sew the hem down about a 1/8 inch from the inside edge. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitches. Do this on both back panels.

Put your pillow together, inside out!

  • Take your top sweater panel and lay it flat right side up. Then, take one of the back panels and place it wrong side up at the edge of the main panel. Once your edges are aligned, pin it to the main panel. Now lay the second panel down and pin it in place too. Make sure to put extra pins in where the two back panels overlap – you don’t want them to shift! The two back panels will overlap 3-5 inches, this creates your envelope back to slide your pillow form in!
  • Sew all around the edges, backstitching at the beginning and end.

Clip the Corners and Turn Right Side Out

  • Once the cover is all sewn up, press it well while it’s still wrong side out.
  • Now you’ll want to trim the corners!  Snip the corners in the seam allowance to reduce some bulk in the corners of the pillow cover. This will give you nice sharp corners when you turn the pillow cover right side out.
  • Now flip the cover right side out. Use a crochet hook, chopstick or a similar blunt but pointed object to poke out the corners as well as you can.


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