make your own: hot water bottle cover.

December 5, 2022

Needed: One small hot water bottle and a moth-eaten sweater ready to lend itself to new uses, plus roughly two minutes of time.

A few weeks ago I bought myself a hot water bottle from local shop, Salter House. My kids have become so taken with it, I decided I’d give them each their own for Christmas, in the smaller size. An adult-sized sweater cuff and sleeve is perfect for covering the .5 liter size, so I was able to quickly make two covers with a sweater of James’s that was attacked by moths this summer.

Simplest instructions below:


1 cashmere or otherwise soft adult-sized sweater ready for upcycling

1 .5 liter hot water bottle


Needle and thread (sewing machine very much not required)


+ Insert water bottle through the cuff of the sweater. Tug into place so the seams line up along the sides, or wherever you’d like them to.

+ Cut a straight line along the sleeve at the bottom of the bottle, leaving enough for just a small seam allowance. The cover will fit best if snug and stretched a bit over the bottle, so don’t be tempted to leave too much extra room.

+ Remove the bottle from the cuff, turn inside out, and sew along the cut edge. There are many ways to be exacting here in terms of stitch length and type and watching out for puckering, but I just set my machine to zig-zag stitch and zipped the the sleeve through a few times. If you’re without a sewing machine, the bottom can easily be sewn together with a simple whipstitch in hardly any more time.

+ Once sewn, turn the cover right-side out again. Slide the water bottle in through the cuff and tug the cover into place.

+ In the case of this sweater, the moth holes were mostly up by the neck so the sleeves were intact, but if you have any holes on the cuff or sleeve that need mending, you can try a bit of felting or embroidery for a sweetly visible repair.

That’s it. One small gift, sorted.

For the curious:

This is the new sewing machine I bought earlier this fall. So many refurbished and used options on eBay!

This is the sweater of James’s that met an early, mothy demise. If you don’t have a sweater ready for upcycling in your stash, check with your local Buy Nothing Group! (I recently gave two other sweaters that were eaten alongside this one to a neighbor making cashmere lingerie!)

Where possible, this post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

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  • Reply b December 5, 2022 at 11:53 am

    very tempted to re-enter the nostalgic space of hot water bottle ownership with the lack of heating in my apt after reading this.
    unsolicited sweater-sewing tip:
    sew the seam (and double down just to be safe) *before* cutting the sweater, to narrow down the possibility of rogue unravelling
    i learned this tip recently while watching a DIY tutorial for how to crop a knit sweater [ ]

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 5, 2022 at 1:18 pm

      Fantastic! Thanks!

  • Reply Elizabeth December 6, 2022 at 4:41 am

    I gave my bottle away after reading an article about hot water bottle burn injuries: they do happen and they can be horrific. Otherwise, the cover is beautiful, a lovely idea.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 6, 2022 at 11:13 am

      will try our best to avoid!


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