• Hello & Welcome!

    My name is Corina Nielsen and I am so happy you stopped by. I provide custom photography services in San Diego, Ca., mainly specializing in newborn portraiture and I also run a separate graphic design business helping photographers define their business identity. You can see samples of all my work right here on my blog... both of my photography and design portfolio's are located right in the above menu! Please take a look and if you are interested in either booking a session or getting on my design wait list, you can use the contact form to get in touch! I look forward to talking with you soon!

More Newborn Prop Upcycling- { San Diego Newborn Photographer }

Last year when I first posted my newborn up cycled hat tutorial, I had NO idea how helpful it would be to so many photographers.  At the time, I knew I hadn’t seen any other tutorials specifically on upcycled newborn props which was the exact reason why I made one!  It makes me happy to know that it has been pinned on Pinterest so much and shared amongst photographers & crafters around the world.  Last night I actually did a search on Google for “upcycled newborn hat tutorial” and guess who shows up FIRST and SECOND????  Not sure if this changes depending on where you live, but it was cool to see on my end either way:)

I have been eager to do more tutorials and last week when I visited Good Will and came back with a bunch of “new” sweaters and shirts, I figured it was a great time to work on some new things and share!  Using about 6 different Good Will purchases, each under $5, I was able to make at least 15 hats, 6 headbands, a 6 bracelets, 4 sets of leg warmers, and 3 mini layering blankets… I’m planning on sharing a few tutorials in the next couple of weeks, but for now, here is a quick little post on dividing up your sweaters and getting the most props you can!

Start with a large washed and sanitized sweater.  This is what I keep in mind while browsing Good Will/2nd hand stores: #1 color, #2 unique and interesting patterns/stitching, #3 a good stretchy knit/fabric, and #4 items I know I can get at least 3 props out of.  Obviously, when you spend $4 on a piece and can get one item out of it, you have already scored, BUT why not get the most bang for your buck right?  Was stoked when I found this oversized soft purple sweater!

Lay out your item and think about how you can divide things up and maximize your end results.  Think about different shaped hats you could get, if you want to do leg warmers, headbands, etc.  For this particular sweater, I knew the cuff on the sleeves was stretchy enough to make hats so I made 2 different ones… one with a long tail and then one I could make with little ears.  I saved the top part of the 2nd sleeve for the leg warmers!  Then, because the back of the sweater was SO pretty, I knew it would make the perfect little mini  blanket, this is actually what I cut out first from the sweater.  Just made it as rectangle and straight as possible!  To prevent some of the unraveling, I did a very tight straight stitch with the sewing machine on the edges. Sometimes I will actually do a zig zag stitch to give the ends a bit more depth and fun OR you can also add some coordinating lace trim or ribbon to really finish off the edges!  For the “sleeve”hats, you can refer to my first tutorial :)

Next,  I worked on the leg warmers.  I ended up making 2 sets because so I would have a more plain pair and then a pair with some lace (but then I forgot to add the lace while I was sewing the edges, but you get the idea).  Again, this is the sleeve portion of the sweater… I cut it along the seam to flatten the whole sleeve out, then I cut rectangles out approximately 4″x5″ (the size will GREATLY depend on the stretch of your material though).

Since both edges were raw for me, I stitched BOTH the top and bottoms.  You can use a straight stitch or for some fun and depth, use a zig zag stitch on one or both edges.  This is also the time where you would want to add any trim, lace, etc. to the edge.  Just pin that to the top/bottom of the rectangle and sew the edge/s.

Fold the piece in half with RIGHT sides facing and do a straight stitch along the long side.  Turn it inside out and viola… instant leg warmer!

When I looked at what I had left of the sweater, I saw I still had both front panels so I just put them on top of each other and used one of my templates to create another hat.  The tail on my template wasn’t quite long enough on the template I used, so I just extended it.  NOTE: the 2nd image below is the hat I made with one of the sleeves… noticed I didn’t have an image to illustrate how I cut it!

Don’t forget about the buttons or other special trims and notions on your piece!  You don’t necessarily have to reuse it on the items you immediately make BUT save them to adorn another prop you make:) Love these little crystal buttons on my sweater!  These will be used for a headband for sure at some point!

Last but not least… I was also able to make a little matching headband and bracelet set:) I used a small piece of the sweater collar for the bracelet and then used one of the sides of the front area where the buttons (no idea if there is an actual name for it lol) were for the headband.

Headband was cut to about 13″ and the bracelet was cut to 5″.  Again, the length you cut items to will depend on the individual piece and the “stretch” it has to it!  I didn’t sew either edges of these, but I think for my own use (not selling) they will work just fine.

So, let’s recap everything I was able to make from a $5 sweater from Good Will….

  •  2 sets of leg warmers (one plain and one was supposed to have lace trim which is not shown)
  • 3 hats (2 from the sleeves and one from the front panels of the sweater)
  • 1 mini blanket
  • 1 headband
  • 1 bracelet

And the pieces in action…

headband, bracelet, & mini blanket (layered with an additional scarf I had)

Hat #3

Leg Warmers & Headband

I probably could have come up with another few items, but was eager to get to the other sweaters and shirts I had bought that day.  Namely, pant sets…  If you are up for another tutorial, go ahead and let me know on this post!  I’d be happy to share the basic tutorial and the template I created!  Here is a little preview:

Enjoy and happy upcycling!

Belle Hess - January 16, 2013 - 9:14 am

would LOVE to see the pants tutorial!

ChristyB - January 16, 2013 - 9:17 am

Love these! Please share more tutorials!

Sarah - January 16, 2013 - 9:20 am

Ahh! You amaze me more everyday. I would LOVE to see the pant tutorial.

amanda Webb - January 16, 2013 - 9:23 am

Could you make a downloadable size template for the hat and pants. Pretty please <3

erica - January 16, 2013 - 9:25 am

Pants tut please!

Amanda - January 16, 2013 - 9:30 am

This is awesome!! I would love to see the pants! Thanks sooo much!!

Melissa A. Jolivette - January 16, 2013 - 9:40 am

Totally AWESOME!!!! Love the tutorial! I’m excited to see a tutorial for the pants.

JANENE - January 16, 2013 - 9:41 am

Thank you so much! I would love to see the tutorial for pants also!!

Lindsey Walker - January 16, 2013 - 9:45 am

Yes please share on the pants! Love this & I’m making a trip to Goodwill tonight!!

Gina - January 16, 2013 - 9:48 am

Would love a tutorial for the pants….. Please, please, please

leah - January 16, 2013 - 9:54 am

I love your tutorials! I’d love to see the pants one too :)

kalajo - January 16, 2013 - 9:54 am

yes please on the pants tutorial! used your hat tutorial over the summer, loved it!

Ashleigh - January 16, 2013 - 10:00 am

Pants please!!!

Corne Lourens - January 16, 2013 - 10:11 am

Thank you so much for sharing! Do appreciate it so much!

Kelly Crane - January 16, 2013 - 10:13 am

Love these tutorials! Really helps!

Adrienne - January 16, 2013 - 10:16 am

Corina, this is so great! I have a stack of old sweaters that I was planning to take to Goodwill. Now I’m going to look through them again to see if any can be upcycled. I would really love to see the pants tutorial! I am desperately in need of items for baby boys. How about a diaper cover tutorial, too? LOL

Dena - January 16, 2013 - 10:54 am

Fantastic! I’m curious if you use a special needle or thread to sew with that stretchy fabric.

Sharli - January 16, 2013 - 11:05 am

Love the tutorial… WOuld love to see the one for the pants.

Kristin - January 16, 2013 - 11:22 am

I would LOVE to see the pants tutorial….AMAZING!

Darcy - January 16, 2013 - 11:39 am

Thank you so much for sharing. I would love to see how to make the little pants. The grey/yellow set you made is adorable!

Cathy - January 16, 2013 - 12:23 pm

Adorable with a capital A ! Cannot wait for the pant tutorial !!!!

Elizabeth Mullins - January 16, 2013 - 1:04 pm

Would love to see a pants tutorial!!

Robyn - January 16, 2013 - 3:28 pm

Do you have to ask – always happy to see more :)

Kam Murnion - January 16, 2013 - 5:48 pm

would love to see your pants tutorial!! I think this is fantastic making something new out of old!!

Kim - January 16, 2013 - 8:05 pm

Like everyone else, I would LOVE the pant tutorial. And maybe the little lace flower (from the headband). So simple and sweet. Just pure perfection!

Farrahn E - January 16, 2013 - 10:00 pm

I SO love your tutorials! Finding you was surely a blessing. Love my logo + everything I’ve learned from you. You’re truly a light in this business! :)

jane - January 17, 2013 - 5:39 pm

YES !!!! to more prop tutorials and template’s – thank you for sharing :-)

Sarina - January 17, 2013 - 6:00 pm

Love it!! You’re awesome and brave to take the scissors to a DKNY sweater (my fav). Thank you for sharing and inspiring, Corina. :)

Kalynne - January 17, 2013 - 9:38 pm

I’d love to see the baby pants tutorial! Love your creativity! :)

angela - January 17, 2013 - 10:14 pm

(chanting) Pants! Pants! Pants! ;)

Holly Landers - January 18, 2013 - 7:03 am

I would love to see the pants as well :)

April - January 18, 2013 - 9:17 pm

Please share the pant tutorial! This is just so darling!

Claire - January 18, 2013 - 10:24 pm

I’d LLLOOOOVVVEEEEE the pants tutorial xox

Shanna-Kaye Fancher - January 21, 2013 - 7:42 am

Love it!! and YES to more tutorials :)

Kelcie - January 21, 2013 - 8:06 pm

Yes!!! I can’t wait for the pants tutorial!! I’d also love to see one for the hats with little ears….So cute!! Thanks so much! I can’t wait to get started :)

Heather - February 5, 2013 - 11:48 am

Great tutorial. I’d love to see the pants set.

Connie Perkins - February 8, 2013 - 2:26 pm

I would love the next tutorial! I love to see how the pant set is done!

cathy - February 13, 2013 - 6:19 am

I would love to see the new pant tutorial .I have a pile of sweaters waiting to be repurposed ! Super cute images.

Britneye Ladner - February 13, 2013 - 2:24 pm

Please do the pants tutorial

Karen Kulin - March 6, 2013 - 11:59 pm

I am so excited to start upcycling now!! Please do share a tutorial on how you did your pants. I was Googling how to do them when I found this post. I love what you’ve done with hats and headbands. Must learn to make those flowers, too. They are so cute!

Aimee Taylor - March 10, 2013 - 9:58 am

Would love the pants tutorial! Just started making my own props and found some gorgeous sweaters to work with! Patterns would be so very helpful as I am a not real good at sewing ;)

Kenna Fox - March 19, 2013 - 10:48 pm

Thank you so much! I am a homeschooling mom of five trying to learn all I can on my own about child photography. With little to no extra income, I have started trying to figure out all the ways I can make my own props and do things creatively. Your help has been invaluable and encouraging. How wonderful to find someone willing to share their thoughts and expertise freely!

miriam lee - April 30, 2013 - 3:08 pm


Kathy - May 4, 2013 - 3:58 pm

Would love to see a tutorial on the pants set. Thank you

Amilli8 - June 17, 2013 - 4:53 pm

YOU ARE AMAZING!!! I haven’t been this excited in YEARS!!!!

Jennifer - July 10, 2013 - 8:42 am

I would love to see the pants tutorial! Thanks

Krystal - August 30, 2013 - 5:29 pm

Please share the tutorial :O)

kathy - August 31, 2013 - 8:18 pm

Hi Corina…thank you so much for sharing. I would love to get your pattern for hats and pants/leggings, if you have where I can download…or email. I am so excited to see what I can make…(just purchased some sweaters from yard sale for this purpose and so excited to find your tutorials) have a wonderful week!

michelle - September 2, 2013 - 1:17 pm

I knew it!! I had been keeping an eye on an upcycle page on facebook this lady creates gorgeous items and theyre not cheap (!) I’m thinking it just looks like a sleeve! And low and behold it is!! What an awesome idea, although that was such a nice top I don’t know if I could of cut it up personally! ! thank you!!!

Cindy Patrick - October 1, 2013 - 6:12 pm

these are adorable. Thanks for sharing

Crystal McWhirter - October 8, 2013 - 4:29 pm

Yes please share!

Sarah - October 28, 2013 - 9:38 am

LOVE LOVE LOVE these tutorials!!!! I am a bargain shopper and am always looking for new fresh ideas and takes on upcycled props! Please share the pants tutorial! And I’d just like to add that I have found most photogs are eager and willing to share tips and secrets to other photogs but I always want to make sure they are aware of how much it’s appreciated! With this being such a competitive field it’s not easy giving away something you’ve worked hard to figure out on your own. SO THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Chinyere - December 25, 2013 - 11:55 pm

I love this tutorial! Yes please share mire.

deborah - August 7, 2014 - 8:15 am

May I make a suggestion I would of used those beautiful buttons as a accent on the headband ect.. perhaps in the middle of a flower.. Thank you for your Blogs everybody.. your the greatest!

Mary Woodward - February 19, 2015 - 10:23 pm

I would love any tutorials. …just about to try my first diy and scared to death! Btw, anyone in NY wanna come raid my stuff? I have 30, thirty three gallon bags of clothes thay I was going to sell or donate! Now I have another purpose for them!

Ashley Stephens - March 13, 2015 - 7:39 pm

Love what you have done. I went to goodwill this week and I’m ready to do some up cycling! Please send me your tutorials.

[...] Upcycled Newborn Hats, Bracelet, & Mini-Blanket Props [...]

Xenia - April 25, 2015 - 11:41 am

yes please. Would love tutorial for sky newborn up cycling.

Jennifer - July 1, 2015 - 8:02 am

Thank you so much for all of your upcycled tutorials! They are AWESOME! I can’t wait to try some out. How smart are you!?!!!

Shenna Smith - December 4, 2015 - 12:27 pm

I would love the tutorials!

Lori Moore - September 20, 2016 - 9:56 am

Love this can you include me in your tutorials! Am finding this so helpful!

Penny Pienaar - April 28, 2017 - 1:01 am

Hi Love your tutorial, is there a pattern please to download to make them on your website.
Penny (Cape Town, South Africa)

Deb - October 7, 2017 - 2:15 pm

Please send me your pant tutorial and other patterns you are willing to share : )
thanks !

diane - November 8, 2017 - 11:32 pm

love this great idea!!!!!

Tracy weckerly - January 31, 2018 - 4:45 am

I’m seeing lots of requests for patterns and tutorials but not where they were answered. Did you post?

Dawn - September 13, 2018 - 6:59 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this Idea! I LOVE THEM!!! I will be doing some very soon for my Newborn shoots. I’m just getting started in the business and this idea with the sweater will help me allot with newborn sets. I have bought some and they are so expensive, this will save so many photographers allot of money. So again thank you for sharing this. Adorable sets ????

Theresa & Joel: San Diego Maternity & Newborn Photographer

Words can’t even express how much I absolutely ADORE this recent maternity session!  Holy beautiful mommy & daddy to be… each shot was like magic.  I could have directed them to do anything and it would have looked amazing.

So looking forward to meeting their little bundle later this month!  Such a special couple and I know there little one will be equally gorgeous!  Congratulations guys, looking forward to seeing you again soon:)