Snowman/Reindeer/Elf Christmas Hats…..made from old sweaters

For many weeks, we’ve been planning on going on a mock “Polar Express” train ride.  You know how the book goes……… the bell, the hot chocolate, the train conductor, the Christmas carols, etc.  But most important, arriving at the North Pole and meeting Santa.  Whoooo-wheeee, my kiddos have been excited.  And well, so have I! :)


And since we’d be walking around in chilly weather, I decided to make Elli, Connor, and Chloe some Christmas hats for the occasion.  And my favorite thing to use for making hats?  Old sweaters! 





I don’t know what it is about cutting up old sweaters.  I think it’s the different textures and colors and the cozy nature of those old cast-offs.  And well, the process of turning old into new…….is satisfying.  Here are a few re-purposed sweater projects that have turned out pretty fun (and have sometimes surprised me!!):





(Leggings, hats, peasant dress, sling purse, long sleeve dress)




 But I really love how these hats turned out this time.  Ooooooh, and the fact that they’re Christmas themed made them extra fun!  All ready for our magical train ride:




Elli’s little elf hat was a combo of fabrics and was the quickest of the 3 hat designs.  Oh, she loves it!!





The reindeer was made with mostly one color of old sweater, with a few pieces of fleece fabrics for the other features.  Oh my…….Connor was so excited to be Rudolph!





And lastly, the snowman was made with a sweater and a bit of knit for the little hat on top.  It turned out even better than I imagined.  Yay!!  Oh wow, I could eat this little snowman right up! :)





Oh, and just to show you a little glimpse of real life, sometimes our 21 month old doesn’t really enjoy having her picture taken.  But her big sister loves to try to happy her up…..




But, well, it doesn’t always work.  Look familiar to anyone?!?!  Ha……poor baby girl!



But even after a mini melt down…….Connor and Elli can normally cheer that little Chloe right back up.  Whew!




Anyway, if you’re curious how the train ride to the “North Pole” went, you should have been following along with my little Insagram account.  I’ve been having fun over there……and love how easy it is to chat about the regular ol’ every day stuff. 



Anyway, I know there’s not much time before Christmas arrives (yay!!)…..but there’s still plenty of cold weather left.  And even if don’t want to make a Christmas themed hat, maybe this will spark a similar idea.


Would you like to see the process??


Okay, let’s get started.


The basic concept of these hat shapes, is explained in more detail over at my sweater hat tutorial.  But I’ll still show you how to make little alterations for these Christmas themed hats.


First up?  The little elf hat.


You could make these out of one large sweater piece but I couldn’t find the colors I needed in the sweater section of the thrift store.  Darn.  So I used the bottom band of a green sweater for the base of the hat and a red/white striped knit shirt for the upper portion of the hat.  Knit stretches really well and was a good match for the sweater.  I measured and cut the 2 green band pieces large enough to fit Elli’s head and then used that width as a guide as I cut the top sections of the hat. 


Then, sew the top sections to each green band piece, with right sides together, and then iron it open.  Also be sure to use a zig-zag stitch so that the hat will still stretch across the forehead.  Now you have a “front” and “back” hat piece to work with.


Place the two pieces together, with right sides together, and sew up and down the 2 sides……using a zig-zag stitch again.  Then turn right side out, poke out the tip of the hat, and press flat.  (Using steam will help shrink some of the stretched out sweater back into place, if it pulled a bit while sewing.)


Now, cut out a circle piece from the sweater and sew all the way around (a 1/4 inch from edge), using a basting stitch so that you can gather in the circle to make the pom-pom.  (Need help with gathering and the basting stitch?) The size of circle that you cut out will determine how large your pom-pom is.  My circle was about 5 inches across.


Now, pull the top string, which will gather in the circle.  Then shove it full of batting and hand stitch the opening of the circle closed.  Next, hand stitch the pom-pom right to the tip of the hat.  Now, cut out a rectangle of scrap knit fabric that looks like it’s a good size for the bow.  Then pinch the middle of the rectangle, wrap some thread tightly around the center to keep it cinched in.  Then hand stitch the bow right to the front of the hat.


And that’s it!




Now……the reindeer.

I created the main hat shape, just like the sweater hat shape here.  After that’s all sewn together, it’s time for the other reindeer features.  For the ears, cut a strip of the sweater that’s about an inch wide and 6-7 inches long.  Then, open up the strip and curve it around in half, keeping the one side flat on the table.


Then, slide this under the sewing machine needle and zig-zag the two edges together, creating a little ear shape.  Repeat again, so that you can have 2 ears.  Set aside.


To make the antlers, cut out a basic antler shape out of fleece and then another rectangle piece that is slightly bigger than your antler shape.


Then, sew the antler down to the rectangle piece, sewing nice and close to the outer edge of the antler shape.  But be sure to leave an opening right at the end.  Then shove batting into the antler, through that opening. Using the eraser end of a pencil helps shove the batting into tight spaces.  Then trim around the antler shape, removing the extra fleece.  Repeat and make one more antler.


 Now, lay your hat flat and place the antlers and ears where you think they look good, then slide pins in to mark your place.


Now, you could have sewn these pieces in before sewing your hat but after making my main hat shape, I usually have to alter the shape just a bit.  And this is due to the thickness and stretchiness of different sweaters.  My hat shape is usually different from hat to the other.  SO, I made the hat first and then unpicked where I wanted the antlers and ears to go.


If you do it my way as well, pin the antlers and the ears to the front side of the hat, right sides together, and match up the raw edges.  Then sew each one in place and then sew the hat closed again.


Next, cut out a half circle out of another color of fleece(for the reindeer’s snout) and pin to the center lower front of the hat.  Then zig-zag around the outer edge.


Next, make a little red ball (just like the pom-pom from the elf hat above) and hand stitch it right above the snout section, overlapping just a bit.


Then sew some buttons on for eyeballs…..and your little reindeer is all done!=.



And lastly…….the snowman.

There are probably a few ways to do this but here’s what worked best for me.  I cut the basic hat shape out of 2 different colors.  The white is from the old sweater but the green dots is some knit fabric that I had. 


Then I sewed the 2 pieces together to create a “front” and “back” piece for the hat.  Iron flat.  (Use steam as well.)  Then sew the front and back pieces together, with right sides together.  Be sure and use a zig-zag stitch so that the hat will still be able to stretch.  Turn right side out and press flat.


Then, cut out a long strip if you want to create the chin strap (be sure to include enough for seam allowance).  Mine was about 3.5 inches wide and 15 inches long.  Also, cut out 4 pieces for the ear covers…..that are a stretched-out half circle shapes.  (The size of ear flaps will depend on your hat size….but make them long enough to cover past the ears.)


Then place two of the half circles together (with right sides together) and sew along the curved edge.  Turn right side out and press flat with hot iron.


Next, attach both half circle to the sides of the hat, centering along the side seams of the hat.  Line up the straight edge of the ear flap right below the bottom edge of the top fabric color.  Zig-zag each flap in place, right along the top.


Then, make a tube out of the long strip of fabric and then cut into two strips. Then sew one end of one of the strips to the back bottom edge of one of the ear flaps.  Repeat with other strip and ear flap.


Next, you’ll need a strip of fabric that is wide enough to create the little fold-over brim of the hat (mine was about 4 inches wide).  Also, it should be long enough to fit perfectly around the hat (plus a little extra for seam allowance).  Sew into a tube and then slide over the base of the hat, with the right sides facing each other.  Place the seam of the tube along the back of the hat.  And then line up the top edge of this circle strip of fabric along the seam of the hat where the 2 colors meet.  Sew along the top edge, using a zig-zag stitch.


Then fold this fabric upwards.


And then tuck the top edge under…….creating your little fold-over hat brim look.


Iron flat.  (Use steam.)


Then tack little sections along the top of the brim, by hand-stitching it in place.



Okay, the main section of the snowman hat is complete.


For the carrot nose, I cut a circle out of felt and then trimmed it down to about a 1/3 of the circle, which was all I needed.  Then I folded this pie shape in half, and sewed along the 2 long edges that meet.  Then I turned it right side out, stuffed with some batting, then hand stitched the carrot to the front of the hat.




Then sew on some buttons.


And then make a pom-pom out of knit (because it doesn’t fray), just like the Santa Hat Chair Covers.  And then attach velcro to ends of each strip.    (You may have to adjust the length of the strips too.)


And that’s it!



Now your little hats are ready to keep some heads warm!









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29 Responses to “Snowman/Reindeer/Elf Christmas Hats…..made from old sweaters”
  1. 1
    Rachel says:

    Holy cow – those hats are too cute!! Oh and Chloe’s little sad face – she’s still just so darn cute when she’s crying! It looks like you guys had a blast on that train ride.

  2. 2
    Dee says:

    wow!! those are adorable!!! i love your posts, i follow you on facebook and i am always inspired by your creativity and dedication to make things for your kiddos and family!!!!
    you are awesome!!! definitely developed your talents well :D

  3. 3
    Becca says:

    Those are do darn cute – especially the snowman. This is so dangerous. My kids have so many hats (my oldest’s fave right now is an R2D2 fleece one I made last year). Now I’m tempted to make more…

  4. 4
    Brenda says:

    We did the North Pole Train last year!! SO much fun!! The hats are adorable…but tell me…are you a little sick of the all the jiggling from the bells they got?… :)

  5. 5
    Stella Marie says:

    Hands down the cutest “sweater hats” I have seen! Great step by step tutorial too. I will definitely have to hit up Goodwill for some sweaters and give these a try :-)

  6. 6
    Vanessa says:

    Hi, Ashley

    These hats are too cute! You are so creative. Have a Merry Christmas!



  7. 7
    Anonymous says:

    Hey Ashley,

    I love to see repurposed projects. The hats are adorable and so are your children. Have a wonderful holiday!


  8. 8
    lisa says:

    Awww! These are adorable! I love them!

    Maybe my next craft to do after the holidays…

  9. 9
    Kristina Noall says:

    How many times do I have to say “you’re a genius”?

  10. 10
    Jenn says:

    So, so, so super cute! I’m definitely going to be making at least one of these! I’ve been pinning the heck out of your posts the last few days!

  11. 11
    Emily says:

    These are adorable. Such a darling upcycle!

  12. 12
    Ellie says:

    Cute! Cute! Cute!

  13. 13
    Hannah B says:

    I love the crying baby picture! It is so real life. :) I was trying to take a picture of my 18 mos old in front of the Christmas tree… they don’t make a camera fast enough. OR at Thanksgiving when my little man & his 2 cousins a little older and a little younger than him all matched. So of course, we set them on the couch for a picture. Smiles? Are you kidding?! :) We had two crying and one not sure what to do! But I’m pretty sure I’m going to smile every time I see that picture.

    Anyway, thanks for the real life shots! I love them!

  14. 14
    meital says:

    you are just amazing!!!

  15. 15
    Dawn says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE these ideas, and great way to recycle old sweaters! I’ll have to get started on these before next Christmas for my nieces and nephews. What a fun idea!

  16. 16
    jbsews says:

    I am catching up on some reading and got to this post. This is the CUTEST set of hats! And your instructions are fabulous. I am saving this for ideas for my kids and great-nieces. :-) thanks!

  17. 17
    Kathryn says:

    Super cute and super thrifty. : )

  18. 18
    zineb says:

    wow!! those are adorable!!!

  19. 19

    I just wanted to say how HAPPY I am right now, almost in tears, I finally found you again, my other computer crashed, I have spent countless hours on your blog and used numerous tutorials, you are the biggest inspiration. I don’t know how you do what you do but I am truly grateful, your time, dedication and help is truly, sincerely appreciated. I am glad to see your move went well, I too have moved since the last time I visited your blog. It has been very difficult since I have had to leave behind some of my children and my 2 grandchildren. However I know this is where God wants me to be so I am waiting to see what he has in store. I plan on spending many more countless hours on here now that I have found you again.
    Take Care and God Bless

  20. 20
    Mila says:

    all brilliant – just!!! thank you

  21. 21
    anastasia says:

    great hats and tutorial too!thanks for sharing!

  22. 22
    MammaNene says:

    Hi Ashley!
    I’ve featured your clever refashion on a Sweater Refashion Roundup on my blog!
    I’m following you – because I like what you create…
    Hugs from Italy,
    MammaNene @