Flip your sweater to the wrong side. Match the bottom edge of the wrong side of the sweater to the right side of the binding. Start pinning a couple inches from one of the side seams. Let the end of the binding go past the side seam by about 3/8″. This will help us later when we seam the ends of the binding together.
Keep pinning around the bottom, up the front edge, around the neckline, and back down the second edge. As you pin the binding, stretch the binding only just slightly. Don’t stretch the sweater unless you dig that warped sweater look.
Finish pinning at the side seam where you started. If you have extra fabric, cut it off so there’s 3/8″ past the side seam.
Sewing the binding
Sew the short ends of the binding together with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
Next, sew the binding all the way around the sweater with a 3/8″ seam allowance.
If you’re using sueded knit, it is not going to press worth beans. No worries. We’ll get through it. If you are using a rib knit, fold and press the raw edge of the knit towards the right side.
Finishing the binding
Turn the sweater back to the right side. Now flip your folded binding so that it covers the stitching line on the sweater. This will wrap edges.
If you’re a fan of those binding clips that quilters use, this would be the place to use them. Your goal is to keep the binding width as consistent as you can as you flip it to the right side.
Working from the right side, stitch down the binding close to the folded edge. If you don’t have those clips, use your fingers to fold a few inches, and stitch. Stop, fold a few more inches and keep going all the way around the sweater. Do not pin the suede because it can damage the fabric!
Adding a button and loop
Cut a piece of 3″ from the extra binding. If you didn’t have extra binding, cut a 2″x3″ piece of the binding fabric.
Fold it in half lengthwise and stitch down the side with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Use your loop turner to turn it inside out.
Bring the raw ends of the loop next to each other to make a loop shape. Place the loop under the right side of the right front edge at the top of the center front portion you cut away. Stitch the loop in place on the edge of the binding. Also stitch along the line you topstitched earlier on the binding to make the loop extra secure.
Sew on a decorative button on the left front. You might want to slip it into the loop to double check the placement.
At this point, you could call it a day with your refashioned sweater. But let’s jazz it up a little bit more with that leftover fabric.
Embellish your refashioned sweater with some easy embroidered circles
Cut circles from the leftover sweater knit. They don’t have to be perfect!
Pin the circles on one shoulder in a way that looks good to you. I’m pinning mine on my right shoulder since my violin playing involves my left, but either is good.
To finish up, thread some embroidery floss through an embroidery needle and secure the circles with a big X in the middle of each circle. I knotted my thread at the beginning and finish of each X. That’s probably overkill, but I personally like knots vs. big stitches of thread on the wrong side.
And that’s it! You’ve got a quick easy bolero and you gave some new life to an old cast off sweater. Wear it out!
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.