It seems that distressed fabrics are having their thing. I’m always slow to jump on things fashion trends, but once in a while, it’s kind of fun to just experiment and see if you might possibly like something. Refashions are one of my favorite ways to experiment with fashion. Your investment in the project is low, so if it’s a total flop, no love is lost. And if you really like the end result, you may just gain some fuel in your creative tank for future projects. With that in mind, I set out to make this distressed sweatshirt refashion.
Distressed Sweatshirt Refashion
My questionable morning style sense
In the mornings, I am always cold. I don’t like wearing kimonos (not warm enough, giant sleeves that get caught in my breakfast), and a jacket is not necessarily how I want to start the day. For years, I’ve always grabbed a white very oversized sweatshirt hoodie. It went through all of my pregnancies from week 0-40 and back again and all that postpartum time too. By the end it was really gross. In its stained and shredded state, I donated it and started wearing my husband’s hoodies.
At some point, my husband started complaining about his hoodies being left all over the house. To remedy this, I recently went thrifting to find some kind of sweatshirting to make a version of Ottobre’s “Hideaway Hoodie” (Ottobre 2-2017-8)
Oatmeal and salmon
No I don’t eat salmon in my oatmeal. That strikes me as odd, and not something I’d want to eat in my morning hoodie wearing session. But thrifting did yield me a pair of oatmeal colored heavy french terry sweatpants as well as a salmony pink xxl french terry sweatshirt. I instantly loved the salmon, but the oatmeal was too boring for me despite it being nice fabric.
To remedy the situation, I dyed the sweatpants with Rit DyeMore Kentucky sky. Because I wanted a little more depth, I added 1/2 capful Rit DyeMore in Daffodil yellow to the dye pot in a couple of places. I did not agitate the yellow once I added it; instead I let it spread out in the pot naturally. What I ended up with was a fabric that was sky blue in places and a bright springy green in others.
So what does all this have to do with distressed fabric? Well, while I liked both of the colors after I dyed the sweatpants, it wasn’t obvious how they would go together. They’re nearly on opposite sides of the color wheel and I had no middle tone that could pull them together. I thought and thought until someone in Sew Much Talent popped up with a simple t-shirt made in distressed jersey.
The wheels started spinning in my head, and I thought I could connect them together if I slashed both colors and backed them with the opposite color. The brand Generation Love has several distressed sweatshirts that are worth checking out.
This sweatshirt pattern is very long–it’s nearly knee length on me. Unlike some of the sweatshirt dresses that are out there (Victory Patterns’ Lola comes to mind), it’s not super boxy and has some good shaping with princess seams in the front that end in deep, cozy inseam pockets.
Because of the length, I had to do a lot of creative piecing with the pattern. One of the things that I love about refashioning is how it forces you to use every scrap available. So it was with this refashion. There’s seams in weird places that would never be there on a garment made from yardage. It’s a look that’s either crazy cool or just crazy. In the end, I had about a 6″x6″ square left from both fabrics.
For most of my colorblocked projects, I will sketch out possibilities before I start cutting into fabric. It’s kind of amazing how many different looks you can get by just moving colors around a bit. For this one, I just kind of made decisions as I went along based on the limited yardage I had available. I really like how some parts of it turned out. The bi-color hood is a favorite, and I used the right and the wrong sides of the both french terry colors for a subtle difference in places.
Underlining and slashing
To achieve my distressed look, all of the sleeve pieces and the front pieces are underlined. The green/blue is underlined with a salmon colored stretch lace (refashioned from a top). For the salmon french terry, I used a seafoam quilted ponte leftover from another project I’ve not yet blogged.
Before I underlined everything, I used my rotary cutter to make horizontal slashes at random on the pieces. I pulled at them *gently* to open them up a bit. French terry has very little recovery, so it distresses really easily.
For this one, I didn’t use my serger. Of late, I’ve been using my regular sewing machine to sew seams on heavier knits like this, and then using my coverstitch to topstitch. The coverstitch adds to the casual look and it does a nice job of flattening down these heavy seams in a nice professional looking way.
Welcome Colorado Spring!
Our weather has been, and is very fickle in Spring. One day it’s 70, the next, there’s snow. This has been a perfect sweatshirt for this time of year. The day I took these pictures, it was about 45 and brazenly sunny.
Taking risks in sewing
I won’t be slashing up my fabrics anytime soon, but it was good to do something out of the ordinary for this project. Sometimes I think it’s too easy to get stuck doing the same thing, making the same kind of garments the same way. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you’re tired or your sewjo is gone, but there’s days that it’s good to push yourself to try something new. If for no other reason, try something new so that you can have an opinion about it.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your sewing?
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.
4 thoughts on “Distressed Sweatshirt Refashion”
I think the distressing looks cool! I got through just that part of your latest video (I have to watch them in short chunks, which is why I don’t spend much time following SewTube, sadly), and thought it was a neat effect. So it’s good to get a little more detail. You’re inspiring me to dig into my refashion bin and see what I can come up with!
Thanks Becky! This one was a departure with the slashing! I find myself in a similar situation with videos which is ironic! Yes, absolutely dig into the bin and see what you can come up with! I have 2 candidates for refashion redemption I’d like to take on in the next couple months!
This is sooo cool! I love that you’ve used the waistband of the pants as the lower edge of sweater. The colours look great. I used to do tonnes of refashioning but I got sidetracked by making activewear lols
Thanks Laura! I love how refashioning makes you look at what you have and use it to the fullest. It’s not something that I do every time that I sew, but it’s good to put into the mix to get you thinking creatively! Activewear sewing takes serious commitment to good construction and fit!