Cooler mornings are starting to set in here in Colorado, which means I’m starting to think more about refashioned sweaters. I’ve got several ideas rattling around in my brain, and today I’m starting with this refashioned sweater shrug tutorial.
All you need for this easy sweater refashion is an old sweater, a couple yards of trim (sew your own adventure choices below!) and about 30 minutes. Off we go!
Table of Contents
Refashioned sweater shrug supplies
Tips on picking a sweater for this shrug tutorial
Before we get into chopping up your sweater to make it better, let’s chat about what kind of sweater will be best for this shrug tutorial.
Find one that fits you in the shoulders! Shrugs have an annoying tendency to fall off your shoulders. We’re adding a button to help, but if you have one that’s already falling off your shoulders, it’s going to be not super fun to wear. It’s also good for that sweater to fit you reasonable well in the bust. If it feels a little tight in the bust, this project can help add a little space to make the sweater wearable again.
I found this sweater that something accidentally shrunk. Crazy enough it fits me perfectly in the shoulders, and the length is just right for a DIY bolero shrug thingy.
Even if you don’t have a sweater that’s magically the right length, do spend time finding a sweater that’s right in the shoulders. Everything else is fixable! Now it’s sweater transformation time!
Cutting the sweater
To get ready to cut the sweater, first fold the side seams and shoulder seams together. This will help you find your center front line. And also nobody likes a crooked front edge! I actually pinned my side seams together. This mohair/wool blend is quite thick, so the pins kept everything secure.
Cut along that front fold with your scissors. When you get to the neckline, round the edges in about 1/2″ or so. That’ll make the binding easier later.
My sweater is a good length for that cropped jacket length that is that classic bolero length. If yours is not, cut away the bottom part of the body a few inches below the armhole. You can use a ruler and chalk to mark that line and cut away. Shrugs look great when they stop at mid-back to give you an idea.
Now we need to give the front edges some shape. With the side seams and shoulder seams still together, draw a nice curve with chalk from the middle of the center front down towards the hem on the front. Cut away below that line. Don’t throw away the extra sweater knit. We’ll save it for a little extra touch later!
To finish up the cutting, grab your contrast knit fabric. I’m using a sueded knit. Sueded knits look really nice with heavier sweater knits. Other choices are ribbing. You could cut ribbing from rib knit yardage, or keep it in the refashion camp by cutting up a rib knit sweater.
I’m always on the look out for good rib knits when I’m thrifting because it’s often so much easier to find just the right color at my local thrift store vs. at a fabric store!
Whatever your choice, cut 2″ strips so that the stretch goes the length of your strip. You need about 2 yards in length, maybe a little less, maybe a little more depending on the sweater you’re using. It’s totally okay to cut a couple strips and seam them together to get the right length!
Now on to sewing our refashioned sweater.
Pinning the binding
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.