Do you love the idea of DIY projects but are afraid to start? Here’s a super-fast, no-sew project for the nervous refashionista. We’ll create a customized cardi from a second hand pullover, incorporating flattering design elements.
If you’re in need of the tools for the craft I have some promotional codes for Target here.
- felted crewneck or collared pullover sweater
- sharp scissors
- measuring tape
- Kilt pin, available at fabric stores
The sweater must be tightly “fulled” (also called felted) so the cut edges won’t ravel. If your sweater isn’t felted, here’s how to do it.
Start with a wool sweater that’s at least two sizes too big.
One-hundred percent wool is best, but blends with at least 80-90% wool are also good. Pure cashmere does not felt well. Pure merino can shrink up to 50%. A lovely blend is merino/cashmere/angora 60/20/20.
Machine-wash sweater in hot water/cold rinse. Check halfway through for size and felting. The fabric is felted enough when a tiny scissors-cut on a hidden seam leaves an edge that doesn’t ravel—scratch with your fingernail to test. If the fabric isn’t felted enough, wash it again or dry it on high. (This process is inexact, and you may end up with a sweater that’s too small. If so, think “hotpads” or “dog bed.”)
Also, if you’re going to be felting very many sweaters, get a filter for the end of your washing machine hose to capture lint.
Dry the sweater flat. When it’s dry, put it on a person or lay flat on a large surface. Midge the Mannequin is standing in for me.
Step 1: Cut Front
My sweater has a clear central pattern to follow, but you can also find the center with a measuring tape: measure across the front, underarm to underarm, and mark the center with a pin. Do the same on the bottom hem.
Following your central pattern (as I did), or using your pins as guides, carefully cut straight up the middle front. If your cut edges are ragged, you can neaten them up later.
The sweater will now look like this (put a cami on, Midge!):
Step 2: Cut Neckline
This step makes the finished piece look neater. If you’re using a collared sweater, this step will remove the collar.
Trim away neckband, staying close to the seam that attaches the neckband to the sweater. If you want a wider neck opening, trim away more, being careful to be even all the way around.
Here’s the finished neckline:
You could also cut a wide v-neck, like this:
Step 3: Cut Hemline
This process is similar to shaping the neckline. You’re going to remove any banding or ribbing at the bottom, and shorten the sweater if you want. You can even take off several inches and make this into a cropped look.
Just make sure you cut evenly all around. Either carefully freehand it as I did, or use your measuring tape and pins to measure up 1”, 2”, 3” or whatever amount you’d like to remove. I recommend shortening a little at first and increasing it as you go, trying on the sweater after each increment.
Design note: Hems that end three inches above or below the widest point of the hips are generally the most flattering.
Next, trim the corners of the front opening to make a rounded edge. You can freehand this, or cut around a teacup or other small circular item.
I removed the hem binding, and about 1” more all around.
Step 4: Trim Cuffs
I like sleeves that are the same length as, or shorter than, the sweater’s hem. I took off about an inch of the cuffs here.
Removing the cuffs also makes the entire design consistent, since now all the ribbing has been removed from the sweater.
Design note: Three-quarter length sleeves are flattering because they elongate the line of the arm.
Step 5: Get Closure!
I love that the easiest way to close this sweater is also the most versatile. Using an oversized safety pin called a kilt pin, you can close the sweater at the neck, bust, under-bust, or lower, depending on what you’re wearing under it. You can find kilt pins at fabric stores. Walmart has some very inexpensive ones.
This way of pinning is my favorite:
Design note: by nipping under the bust, you can create emphasis where the torso is slimmest on many women. This would also be cute belted.
photos by B.Behan, all rights reserved. If you like cute vintage clothes and altered vintage clothing, please check out my collection at Chronologie Vintage
Thanks to Imogen at Inside Out Style for sharing many of these design elements.