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Upcycled Sweater Dress

So my collection of sweaters that I’ve been hoarding from local thrift stores was getting a little bit out of hand, and with the confidence of my Quilted Sweater Baby Blanket under my belt, I decided to tackle something that I could wear.

I am extremely fortunate to have an overlock machine. I had to sew a lot of years before I felt I could justify this machine. Now that I have it, I absolutely love it. Doing this project without one of these is not impossible. You could use a straight stitch on a sewing machine and just do a double or triple row of stitches. In the  The photo on right on the bottom is what the top of an overlock stitch looks like — 3 rows of straight stitches. The top two rows of stitches in the photo on right show the underside of an overlock stitch looks like.

I don’t normally wear a ton of black or white, but I have been wearing a lot of grey lately. Mostly grey T-shirts, which makes me look a bit like a auto mechanic I suspect, but fashion and style have never been my strong suit. When I was going through the boxes of felted sweaters though, what was jumping out at me were all the black, grey and white sweaters, so that’s what I decided to go with. I had a beautiful cable-knit winter-white turtleneck sweater that had some moth holes in the sleeves. I decided this would be the “trunk” of the design. I really had no pre-conceived ideas about what this was going to end up looking like and took each section as it came. I will say that having this old dress form that was my sisters back when she was a sweater designed made it so much easier to work on.

First I removed the turtleneck. It is my personal opinion that nobody over the age of 40 should be wearing a turtleneck — too much risk for Muffin Top Chicken Neck. Nobody wants to see that, but that’s just my personal opinion.

I pieced a few pieces of turtlenecks and sweater pieces to combine this open collar.

I don’t know if this sweater would have fit me before I felted it, as I purchased it at the local Goodwill thrift store, but it certainly was a little snug after being felted in the washing machine. I decided the best way to expand it was to add panels under the arms.

Since I didn’t have one piece of sweater long enough to make it the final length that I wanted, I added an additional length of some white sweater from the original sweater, but I used some of the turtleneck rib on one side and the arm cable on the other side.

Then I had to piece together some sweaters to form some length on the bottom front. Rather than have straight up-and-down strips, I decided to add some pieces cut a bit on the diagonal for interest and to give it a slight flare.

Then I got to work on the sleeves. I had these soft beautiful black sleeves from a sweater, but usual, once they’d been felted they’d never fit over my arms, and were also too short. More inserts would be required to expand the sleeve.

Now that I knew generally what the sleeves were going to look like, I could finish up the back. I didn’t want to make it exactly like the front.

And then I’d needed to lengthen the sleeves. First I added some of the winter white ribbed sweater as a modified cuff, and then I added a slightly flared lower cuff from an old ski sweater of mine. I purposely made this cuff come to a slight point.

But I still didn’t think it was long enough, even though I planned on wearing it with boots and leggings. I added some more length with smaller, shorter sweater pieces.

While I was in Austin recently I found these great embroidery patterns by a local company called Sublime Stitching. When I got home I checked out their website, and ordered these adorable sewing labels. Check out their really unique embroidery patterns and other stuff. I thought this project deserved this special label.

I finished the bottom by finishing the bottom with my overlock machine, but you could use pinking shears or a zigzag stitch too. Then I pressed a 1-inch hem and used my regular sewing machine and a blind hem stitch. I was so thrilled with how it turned out that I wore it today when we packed all the kids in the car and headed up to Millbrook, New York for the day.

Finished Sweater Front

Finished Sweater Back

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  1. You are SO talented! This is cute and stylin! I want one!!!

  2. Oh, I love this so much Aimee… obsessed. And the labels are fantastic!

  3. You are so CRAFTY, Crafty Farm Girl! Since I live in Texas, I do not own many sweaters. However, I do have loads of tshirts. hmmmm….

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