How to Make Pumpkins From Sweaters or Long Sleeved Tees

How to turn old sweaters into fluffy pumpkins that are a budget friendly way to add Fall decor to your home! Read on for the tutorial.

Many of you have asked for a tutorial for my Sweater Pumpkins. They are oh-so-cute and soft and fun to make!

Make sure you check out my updated tutorial for DIY pumpkins made from sweater sleeves

I only had a sleeve left from a sweater to create the white pumpkin above so this tutorial is for a small pumpkin. But... I was feeling kind of badly.  I'm a new blogger after all, and didn't want to disappoint you.... so I decided that one little pumpkin just wasn't good enough. I love my followers and want you to stick around {smiley face} and so I also made the big orange pumpkin from a tee and I'm giving you that tutorial as well!

How to make sweater pumpkins

Update: My photography skills have improved dramatically since I first wrote this post over 6 years ago! You can head here to see some prettier pictures...but then return here for the tutorial!

This post may contain affiliate links, which are always products I personally recommend! My full  disclosure policy is available here.

Supplies needed

  • sweaters or shirts in your choice of colors Tip: children's sweaters or Ladies S are your best choice unless you want a HUGE pumpkin!
  • Tip: look for a sweater with texture - cables, ribs, or some other raised feature - check your local Goodwill (that's where all my sweaters came from)
  • dried beans (I used these ones - they were the cheapest and they're nice and small)
  • fiberfill stuffing
  • rubber bands
  • strong quilting thread 
  • upholstery needle (or other large, thick, long needle)
  • various embellishments for the stem area ( wired jute, felt, ribbon, silk leaves, tulle, sticks, etc)

Instructions for the white sweater pumpkin

This is what I started with. A sweater minus one sleeve and its body (those are already pumpkins!)

If you want to make a large pumpkin with your sweater, cut your sweater straight across the body just under the armpits (see pic below for orange pumpkin).

If you want to  make a small pumpkin, cut the sleeve off at the armpit, straight across.

Turn your piece inside out and wrap a rubber band tightly around one end.

Turn it back the right way so the rubber band is on the inside.

Add some dried beans. You are not filling the pumpkin, just giving it some stability so it sits nicely and doesn't fall over.

For the small pumpkin, I added 2/3 cup.

Sorry for the terrible pic! Trying to stuff a narrow sleeve and take a pic with the other hand is, um, not easy!

You get the idea. Fill it with some fiberfill. Work it around so it is smooth and as plump as you'd like it.

I decided I wanted this pumpkin to have a long, funky stem so this is as full as I stuffed it.

I could have stuffed it much more and had a tall, skinny pumpkin. Hey, there's no "wrong" shape for a pumpkin...have you looked at them lately? ALL shapes and sizes :)

Tie the pumpkin off with another rubber band, as tightly as possible.

Make a stem using wired jute. Start wrapping it around the rubber band at the base, and continue to wrap, pulling as tightly as possible.

Once I got close to the top, I decided to clip my sweater because I wanted the tip of my stem to be narrower.

I could have left it as is; my pumpkin stem would just have been the same size all the way up.

Wrap all the way to the tip, pulling tightly. Then cut the jute and secure with a dot of hot glue. Careful, I always burn my fingers!!  You will be able to bend the stem at the tip to give it a cute curve.

At this point, you can stop. It's cute. Add a leaf or two for embellishments, some curled wire and call it a day.

If you want to learn how to add segments to your pumpkin, read on.

Ok, this part was really hard to photograph, and I hope I explain it well. If you don't get it, send me a comment and I'll try to do a better job.

Get a long, double strand of thick thread and knot the end. Push the needle up through the bottom of the pumpkin and come out at the top at the base of the stem somewhere. It's helpful to use a thimble or something flat to push the needle up and all the way through.

You can see my thread that is coming out at the top right at the base of the stem. Ignore the dried glue on my thumb - ick!

The next step is to repeat what you just did.....wrap the thread back around the pumpkin from top to bottom, put the needle through the base and bring it up at the stem again, but in a different section.

As you pull the thread tightly, the whole pumpkin with scrunch up and the segments will naturally form.

Here I'm showing about how much room I leave between segments. I left the thread loose so you could better visualize the process.

Repeat this step all the way around the pumpkin, up and around, up and around, pulling nice and tight until you are done and then tie your thread off well.

This is what the bottom of the pumpkin looks like with the 5 segments I gave it.

Adorable little "bum," isn't it?

Total aside - I'm Canadian...we say "bum", not "butt." It sounds much better, doesn't it?

You can see how the pumpkin is shorter and squatter than before I sewed the segments.

Whatever way you decide to go, it's adorable and sure to make a charming display in your home!

Yay, you made a pumpkin! Do you love it? Send me a pic, I'd love to ooh and aah over your creation!

I promised you a bonus tutorial, and here it is....with a slight variation on tying it off and the stem.  Enjoy :)

How to make a t-shirt pumpkin

 (works with sweaters too!)

This is what I started with.  A ladies Old Navy cotton shirt, very wrinkly too, haha (this one's been sitting at the bottom of my drawer since last fall!).

Yes, this is the same shirt....just better lighting.

To start, cut the shirt straight across, from armpit to armpit.

The following steps are shown first, and explained in better detail below the pictures.
Turn the shirt inside out and secure one end tightly with a rubber band (see white pumpkin tutorial for picture)

Turn it back the right way, add some beans and fill with stuffing until it's plump and full, see Step 1 above. This one took a lot more beans and a LOT more fiberfill!!

As per Step 2 above, thread a needle with strong thread and hand sew around the top. It doesn't have to be perfect. You can prick your fingers a few times like I did, ouch!  The idea is to just get all the way around to where you started. I started my thread on the inside and ended it on the inside (see Step 3).  Then you just pull tightly (not too tight that you break the thread though...that did happen to me the first time.. doh) and tie off with well. 

You should be left with a small hole (that's where the stem will go) and a whole bunch of adorable gathers.

Now, at this point you can be done with the body of your pumpkin, just add a stem and embellies and call it quits.  I rolled some brown felt into a tight roll and hot glued it into my hole, then added some fabric leaves and ribbons. You could add a stick stem, the sky's really the limit here.

To take it one step further, because I'm anal a detailed person, make segments by following the directions I gave for the white pumpkin at the top of this page.  This extra step really took this pumpkin over the top in my almost looks real :) And it's nice and squishy!

Here they are, displayed together in my  little green wagon that I recently revamped. I think it's a charming display.

Enjoy making your pumpkins and proudly displaying them in your home. You can find all my Fall DIY and crafts here.

bringing beauty to the ordinary,

This blog's content is for entertainment purposes only and is not professional advice. By reading this blog and attempting to recreate any content shared on it, you assume all responsibility for any injuries or damages incurred. Read my full disclaimer  here.


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  1. Thank you for this excellent tutorial. I might have to try a pumpkin or two. Yes, bum does sound better than butt. Here in the Southern US we say "hiney"! I am afraid I am still coveting your cute wagon.

    Did you know you are a "no reply" commenter? Thank you for commenting on my ship's basin.

    1. Hey Donna, thanks for the email is up :) Sit your hiney/bum down and make some pumpkins already!!

  2. What a great project! Thanks for linking up to DIY Sunday showcase!

  3. These are adorable!! I love the wired jute stems! Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial, I pinned it and can't wait to give it a try!

    Kim @ {enjoy the view}

    1. Thanks for the pin! I hope you try them and come back and shar

  4. These are so cute!!!! Love them!

  5. These are awesome Cindy! Thanks for the fab tutorial... and thanks for sharing it at Work it Wednesday this week. Pinned!!
    ~Krista from the happy housie

  6. Im trying these tonight....years ago I bought a bunch of the plastic trick or treat pumpkins (I was going to light them & hang in a tree but never did). I'm going to try to use these in conjunction with your instructions.

  7. Just wanted to let you know that you were featured on my blog! Thanks so much for sharing at The Scoop!...hugs...Debbie

  8. Such cute pumpkins! I've never tried a pumpkin before, but I think I can handle a got at it with your tutorial. BTW, was the segmenting more difficult to do on the larger pumpkin? Did you have to blindly feed your needle up through the pumpkin? Am I even asking the right question in the right way????? :)

    I'm from the Midwest. My parents never allowed us to use the word "butt" though most others we knew did use the word. We were taught to use the word "bottom". I taught my children the same. About 2 years ago, I heard my 6 yr. old grandson use the word "butt" and nearly came up out of my chair. I asked my daughter where in the world he heard that word and why wasn't she doing anything about it. She could not answer me, whereupon I told him and his 4 yr. old brother that the correct term was either "bottom" or "bum". They chose "bum" and I'm happy to report that the now 8,6, and since added 3 yr.old happily use the word "bum".

  9. Hi, love the usage of left over material! Sweet pumpkins!

  10. This is so cute and such a fun way to repurpose an old sweater! I featured it tonight at the Project Inspire{d} link party!

  11. Your projects are so great, love them, so cute also. When I saw them I had to look into your post some more. Great ideas.
    Your blog is a very happy fun place. I'll be back.

    1. What a wonderful comment to read tonight! Thank you :) You are welcome back ANY time!!

  12. "Sew" Cute! Thinking about making a bunch of little ones for my Girl Scout Troop.

    1. LOL, you are 'sew' funny! I love the idea of making them for your Girl Scout Troop...and I'm sure the girls will love tiny little pumpkins! Great idea!


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