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Recycled Wool Sweater Beads

By: Rebecca E. Parsons

Use an old wool sweater to create this fantastic recycled craft idea! Recycled Wool Sweater Beads from Rebecca Parsons look great as part of a necklace.

Recycled Wool Sweater Beads


  • An old wool sweater
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue
  • Cotton swabs on a plastic stick (important that they be plastic with a hole through the middle)
  • Wooden chopstick
  • Embroidery floss
  • Clear beading thread
  • Gold thread if desired
  • Beading needle (sharp)
  • Assorted beads
  • Bowl for water


  1. To felt, I washed the sweater in hot water and dried it on high in the dryer.
  2. I cut the sleeve off of the sweater. Following the stripe patterns, I cut strips of the felt.
  3. I then cut the strips into 1″ and 1-1/2″ sections.
  4. For the long beads, I lightly applied fabric glue to the inside of the felt piece.
  5. I quickly rolled the 1-1/2″ felt pieces around a inexpensive plastic cotton swab. I do this for 3 reasons: it gives stability to the bead, allows me to have something to run the wire or thread through, and gives me something to hold on to as I later apply small beads to the felt bead.
  6. I secured them with embroidery floss in a coordinating color. I wrapped and tied the embroidery floss around the beads tightly while the glue dries.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  7. I squeezed them tightly to make sure the glue was well integrated in the fibers.
  8. For larger beads, I rolled damp 1″ felt piece around a bamboo chopstick.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  9. I allowed them to dry like this overnight so they wold form the round shape.
  10. For the felt ball beads, I took the trimmings and odd bits and placed them in a bowl of water.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  11. This is the messy fun part: I squeezed a dime size dollop of glue into my palm and put some of the damp (not dripping wet) felt bit in my palm and coated them.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  12. I then rolled my palms together in a circular movement squeezing to compress the fibers and shape them into a ball. You can use more glue if you want. Experiment until you find what works for you. It took me a few minutes to create a well-compressed and round bead. So be patient.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  13. Then I let them dry overnight.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  14. To my great joy, the beads held together through the night. I could now decorate them.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  15. I used clear beading thread to sew the long ends of the large beads from the bamboo chopstick together. I also ran the needle through some seed beads while I was stitching the ends together.
  16. I then wrapped gold thread around the long beads because I thought they needed something to make them shine. I wrapped it around the seed beads randomly. I tied and trimmed the ends of the thread leaving the ends of the thread and floss to add texture.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
  17. I also left some of the beads wrapped with floss to make some contrast.

    Recycled Wool Sweater Beads
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