Affordable Winter Layers: DIY Wool Sweater Pants

Wool layers are an essential part of our outdoor gear. However, wool can be extreamIy expensive! That is one reason I started making wool pants when my kids were in forest preschool and am still making them 7 years later!

We love using wool pants under rain pants. In the winter my kids often wear a thinner pair of wool base layers (our faves are from Reima and Polarn y Pyret) and then these recycled wool pants over top.

I use wool sweaters from the thrift store to make affordable wool base layers. By using the arms for the leg pieces, you minimize the amount of sewing you have to do! We also use small woman’s wool sweaters as top layers. If they are too big you can felt them by washing in warm water.

Here is what you will need to make your own Wool Pants!

  • wool sweater – If your children are older like mine (8 and almost 12) then you will need large or extra-large sweaters. In the video, I will show you how I add pieces to make them long enough. If your children are young you can use smaller sweaters. Thick sweaters make great super warm layers. Thinner merino or cashmere sweaters make great midweight or base layers. We like one of each for optimal flexibility!
  • needle and thread – I hand sew these, but you can use a machine if you think it can handle the thick knit. I find it pretty quick to sew them up by hand. Don’t worry about how it looks. The stitches will be on the inside and the pants will likely be hidden under rainpants!
  • length of elastic long enough to go around your child’s waist (plus an inch or two extra)
  • scissors

Where to find sweaters

I always check the sweater sections in our local thrift stores for wool or cashmere sweaters! 100% wool is best. A bit of polyester or rayon is ok. Look for cashmere or fine merino if your child is sensitive. Don’t forget you can layer the wool over synthetic or other base layers to keep it from being itchy or scratchy. Really high-quality wool is not scratchy! If you are vegan, thick Polartec type fleece or polyester will work as well but may not be quite as warm.


I hand wash our wool pants. However, because they are wool they are naturally antibacterial and order resistant. I only wash them a few times a season. I wash them with wool wash or a gentle detergent in cool water. Let them soak a bit if really dirty and work on any stains by rubbing. When finished squeeze out as much water as you can. Lay on a towel and roll it up. Press down on the towel with your feet or knees to get even more water out. Hang or lay flat to dry.

Part 1: How to make wool sweater pants

Part 2: How to make wool sweater pants

I hope these videos help you make your own affordable wool pants.

You can find out more about how to get outside with your children and our curriculums Wild Math, Wild Reading, and writing units check out discoverwildlearning.com.