This is a super simple tutorial showing how to make fabric pumpkins or use a sweater to make “sweater pumpkins.” It’s even possible to sew these pumpkins without a sewing machine if you want! It’s a great way to use up scrap fabric or make use of a sweater that you don’t wear. This method is the same as my tutorial How To Knit a Pumpkin, but instead of knitting the tube that makes the pumpkin shape, it’s made from fabric instead.
I’m using a thrifted sweater that I don’t wear anymore in the perfect orange color to make the “sweater pumpkins” and I love the squishy quintessential bumpy shape that the sweater fabric creates. Using a cotton fabric works well, but will give a slightly different look since woven fabrics don’t have as much give or stretch. A jersey fabric would also work really well since the stretch in the fabric helps to form the pumpkin’s shape.
Making scrunchies are also a great way to use up leftover fabric so check out my tutorial How to Sew a Scrunchie to learn how I make them!
Some Things You’ll Need
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- Fabric – I’m using linen gingham fabric and a thrifted sweater in my examples
- Needle and thread, sewing machine, and/or serger
- Fiber fill stuffing or scrap fabric to stuff your pumpkin
- Tapestry needle or large eye needle
- Crochet hook – this is optional and I use one for making the pumpkin stem
Let’s Get Started!
I’m going to show how to make both a sweater pumpkin and a fabric pumpkin. They use pretty much the same method but with some different things to keep in mind when making them.
Cut out your fabric
The sleeves of a sweater are great for pumpkin making since they’re already sewn into a tube! You simply cut out a rectangle from the sleeve the size that you want it. Remember that some space will be taken up by the seam allowance, or the space between your stitches and the raw edge of fabric, so make sure to account for that and cut your piece a little bigger.
The shorter the rectangle, the shorter the final pumpkin will be and vice versa, but you may need to experiment to find a size that you like. The overall size of the pumpkin will be smaller though since sleeves on a sweater are typically a narrow width.
If you’re using the sleeves of a sweater and the sides are already sewn, then you can skip the next step and move on to closing up the end.
To make a bigger pumpkin, cut out a section from the body of the sweater. The good thing about this project is that you can just eyeball it and the lines don’t have to be perfectly straight! I cut out the entire back of the sweater and folded that piece in half to make two medium sized pumpkins.
Sew the sides closed
I used my serger to close up the sides of my rectangles (since I cut on the fold I only had one side to sew) or you can use a sewing machine.
A sewing machine (or serger) will get the best results, but I have made these before without a machine and instead hand stitched up the side. I recommend using a tapestry needle and yarn because it will be easier to sew through the sweater fabric. Make sure to keep your stitches close together to prevent holes or the stuffing from sticking out.
Close up one end
With right sides of the fabric together sew with a tapestry and yarn long stitches all around the end leaving a tail. Leave yourself some room between the stitching and the raw edge – I left about a 1/2″ seam allowance.
Pull on the yarn tails to cinch closed and tie a knot to secure.
Stuff the pumpkin
It’s time to stuff and give your pumpkin some shape! You can use either fiber fill or even scrap fabric to fill your pumpkin. Both will work fine, but I prefer the fluffiness that the fiber fills gives. The scrap fabric was a little dense and I needed quite a bit to get my pumpkin to the fullness that I wanted.
Turn right side out and stuff your pumpkin leaving some space at the top to make it easier to close. You can add more in later before the pumpkin is closed up!
Close up the End
Take your tapestry needle again and thread it with yarn. Like in the previous step, make long stitches all the way around until you reach the beginning. Before closing, add any more stuffing (or take some out if you need) to get the pumpkin nice and round.
Pull tight to cinch up the hole and pull the yarn around through a few stitch at the top to secure.
Form The Pumpkin Shape
Now it’s time to give your pumpkin it’s quintessential bumpy shape 🙂
With a long length of yarn (I always make it longer than I think) on your tapestry needle, poke the needle though the hole on one side through the middle of the pumpkin and out the other. Leave a tail at one end to tie up later.
Next, pull the yarn down along the side of the pumpkin and back into the other end pulling taut to make an indent in the side. The tighter you pull the more defined the groove is. Repeat this step, spacing the bumps out, until you like the shape. I usually do this about 6 or 7 times depending on the size of the pumpkin.
Once you’re done with your shaping, tie a tight knot with the leftover yarn tail – you may need to put the needle through the middle again to meet the tail. Trim the threads and move on to the next step – adding a stem to your pumpkin.
Make the Pumpkin Stem
For the stem of my pumpkin, I like to make a crocheted chain (YouTube video tutorial here) to form a small loop with yarn or twine (like in the photo above). You could also knit a small length of I-cord or even braid 3 strands of yarn together. An even simpler stem could be made by forming a loop with one or several strands of yarn and tying a knot to hold them together. Make sure to leave tails long enough to tie together at the other end.
I found this super chunky felted wool yarn in my stash that was perfect for a pumpkin stem! (see photos above)
I’ve also used vintage wooden spools (passed down from my Grandma) to make a stem! Using cinnamon sticks or actual sticks can also work and can either be glued in the center or simply stuck through the middle. So depending on the look you want for you pumpkin, get creative and make it your own!
And you’re done with your sweater pumpkin!
If you want to make a pumpkin out of a woven fabric, like cotton or linen, the general process is the same as with knit or sweater fabric but with just a few different things to keep in mind. Keep reading to find out!
I decided to experiment with this pumpkin and I cut the height of my rectangle a little longer to see if i could get a taller pumpkin. The piece I cut ended up 16″ tall by 10″ wide and I folded it in half.
For the small green gingham pumpkin, I cut a piece of fabric 4.5″ tall by 10″ (also folded in half). This green gingham fabric was leftover from an elastic waistband two tiered skirt I made and I love how it looks in pumpkin form. 🙂
Like with the sweater pumpkin, sew up the sides of the tube with right sides together. Then gather one end of the tube with long stitches, but you will need to use a traditional sewing needle (vs. a tapestry needle) and regular thread (instead of yarn).
Turn right side out and stuff with fiber fill. Make sure to leave enough space at the top to sew the second set of gathering stitches. Close up the top and knot to secure.
Then following the same steps as the sweater pumpkin, shape the sides with yarn or string of your choice! For a rustic look, I used a twine for the red gingham version. When forming the bumpy sides of the pumpkin, it took a little more time to get a shape I wanted, since the fabric has less give than the knit sweater version. If you pull too tightly it just squashes the shape, but if you don’t pull tight enough then it has less of a pumpkin shape. Experiment a little to get it looking how you want!
A wooden spool for a stem would be a cute option for the gingham fabric version. I ended up crocheting a stem with really chunky yarn which ended up looking like a braid – which I love!
And that’s it – now go make more! It’s hard to make just one 🙂 I look forward to making these every year and they’re great to give as gifts as well!
Thanks for following along and hope I was able to give you some pumpkin inspiration!