Monday, August 31, 2009

Plain-Jane Sweater Make-Over

I don't usually feel wistful about the days before children. I love getting to spend time with them each day. I love watching them grow up. I love teaching them about cooking and reading and sharing. But I do sometimes miss the care-free feeling I had before my life of responsibility. Especially when it comes to money and clothes. Or money for clothes, to be more specific. I used to shop. I used to be a pretty cute dresser. I actually used to buy things at Anthropologie at full price! *Sigh*

Whenever my mom comes to visit, she always has a suitcase full of goodies for everyone. This time, she brought me the remains of a coral-colored sweater. It originally had a cute faux shirt underneath that was too low-cut for her taste, so she bought two, snipped and pinned, and gave me the extras. I was instructed to "make it look like something from Anthropologie." Did I achieve my goal? I think it looks pretty cute!

  • 1 sweater
  • coordinating fabric--I had probably 1/8 of a yard and that worked just fine; I have lots left over
  • thread to coordinate with your sweater and fabric
  • needle
  • sewing machine (optional)
  • enough buttons to replace the ones on the sweater, if you choose to replace them
  • Wash, dry, and iron your fabric. Wash, dry, and iron your sweater too if it isn't already clean.
  • Cut out a small piece of fabric, 1 x 1/2", and fold it in half so that it is now a small square. Position your frayed flower where you want it on your sweater, and place your fabric square in the same spot on the inside of the sweater. This will help your flower be more stable.

    Thread your needle and tie a knot on one end. Starting inside the sweater, sew your flower on. Make sure you are sewing all 3 layers--the flower, the sweater, and the little square--together, and make sure your stitches aren't showing on the front of the flower. You can stop whenever you feel like your flower is stable enough. Finish off your stitches with a knot and trim your thread.

  • Snip any buttons that you want to replace off your sweater. Sew on the new buttons. It should be pretty obvious where the old buttons were, but if not, check your button positions with the coordinating button holes before attaching them.

  • To figure out how big you want your cuff ruffles to be, measure the opening on your sleeve and double it, then add 2 more inches. That is your length measurement. However wide you want the ruffles to be (mine are 2 inches), add 2 more inches. That is your width measurement. If you are like me and think it might look cool to have the open end frayed, you only need to add 1 inch. We'll see in a few weeks how good an idea that is! Here's an example of ruffle measurements: my sleeve opening is 9" total. 9 x 2 = 18 and 18 + 2 = 20. I need to cut two strips of fabric that are 20" long. I want ruffles that are 2 " wide. 2 + 1 (raw edge) = 3. My strips need to be 3" wide. If I wanted a hemmed edge, they would need to be 4" wide.
  • Hem as many of the edges of your fabric strips as you want by folding over the raw edge 1/2", pressing it with an iron, folding it over another 1/2", and pressing it again. Sew the fold to create a nice hem.
  • Gather each strip by following the same steps as you used to make the frayed flower. Stop after you pull the thread to bunch up the fabric.
  • An easy way to make sure your ruffle is evenly bunched AND the right length is to pin both ends the finished distance apart on the couch or ironing board and then spread out the gathers evenly. This way, neither end is moving; you're just pushing the ruffles back and forth over the same few inches. You want your finished ruffle to be the same length as your entire sleeve opening.

  • When you have your ruffles spaced out and the correct length, press the fabric gently with an iron to help it hold its shape.
  • Carefully pin the ruffle onto the opening of your sleeve. I lined up the seam on my ruffle hem with the seam on my sleeve cuff and pinned it there, all the way around the sleeve opening.
  • Sew the ruffle onto the sleeve. If you are lucky you have a sewing machine that will let you do this. If you don't have a machine, or if you can't figure out how to make the sleeve fit on your machine, just sew it on by hand. It won't take very long! Once the ruffle is sewn on, you can remove the thread you used to gather it.
  • Gather, press, pin, and sew the other ruffle onto your sweater.


  1. Cute idea! Even though I have no kids, I find making/remaking my own clothes a lot more satisfying. :+)

  2. That is super cute. I haven't been brave enough to modify a shirt, blouse, sweater yet. Thanks for inspiring me

  3. so cute! great job. and i totally understand about not being able to buy clothes at anthropologie anymore now that we have kiddos... i've got four. check out my blog when you get a chance, too.

  4. are your sleves full length? Not like 3/4 length sleves? I haven't done any remakes with sweaters.... I'll have to go dig around. I love it when our mama's encourage us to be creative!