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Nice & Simple

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Maynooth, Kildare, Ireland
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Turn a humungous sweater into a fitted wrap-style cardigan with a kimono collar in an afternoon (food and tantrum breaks included)

I found this sweater at SVDP in Maynooth, Kildare and loved it for its ellies, but it was just too big so I bought it for my husband. It was too big for him as well, so it got stashed in a closet as I couldn't bear to get rid of it. I decided last night that damn it, I was going to find a way to wear it. So I made a few plans and sketches and came up with this.

I am not completely happy with the finished result, but I wanted to share it on here as inspiration for others to perform some sweater surgery of his or her own.

I used single crochet to finish edges on this sweater, but that of course isn't a must -- if you don't crochet, you can finish the edges with bias tape or use your overlocker.

It's important to note that though I've been sewing for eleven years, I consider myself a beginner and thusly you'll find a lot of cut corners and "good enough" attitude throughout these instructions.



  1. Step 1 1

    Find your sweater! The sweater I used had a large ribbed cuff at the bottom, which I cut off and turned into the kimono collar. If you can't find a sweater with that feature, that's fine -- you can create the collar with a strip cut from another sweater, or from fabric of a similar weight.

    I would advise not to use a sweater with any sentimental value. In the past I've tried to get creative with articles of clothing that are dear to me and I've regretted it.

  2. Step 2 2

    The sweater I used was long enough for me to take the 3" cuff off of the bottom and still have an appropriate length for wearing. If yours doesn't, or if you'd like to leave the cuff on, just cut a strip from another sweater or fabric. To determine the length, measure from the centre of your sweater, up and around the neck, and back again. The width should be about 3", with perhaps a bit extra for seam allowance.

  3. Step 3 3

    Cut your sweater up the middle. It might be hard to determine the exact centre of the sweater, esp. if it changes in width (i.e. if it tapers). I was lucky enough to have a grain that ran in the exact centre that I could follow. If you don't, measure at intervals from the bottom up and mark the centre line with pins, then cut.

  4. Step 4 4

    Cut off the stupid turtle neck.

  5. Step 5 5

    Become enraged at the cat for repeatedly attacking the project and blame the tantrum on low blood sugar. Make anchovies, bean sprouts and cheese on naan bread for lunch.

  6. Step 6 6

    At this point I put the sweater on and folded the edges of the cut down like this, to plan where I'd been attaching the kimono collar, and I pinned them in place. As you can see, I have no idea what to do with my face when a camera is pointed at me, regardless of the circumstances.

  7. Step 7 7

    Here's the sweater after having the pinned parts cut off. It's already (kind of) starting to look like a real cardigan!

  8. Step 8 8

    Now, turn the sweater inside-out; take the strip of fabric that'll be your collar and pin it, centred exactly, to the neckline, right sides together. Create a taper at each end of the collar by slanting the strip at each end towards the centre of the sweater, as the photo hopefully illustrates.

  9. Step 9 9

    Here's another photo of the kimono collar pinned in place, prior to sewing.

  10. Step 10 10

    Sew! I used a regular straight stitch, and then trimmed off the excess fabric at the seam and zigzagged to finish it. This is NOT a pretty seam, but you can't see it (at least while the sweater's being worn). Here's the collar after sewing.


  11. Step 11 11

    Another photo of the collar after sewing. Be warned; at this point, if you are blessed with limited sewing skills like mine, the the front lapels of your sweater may look very, very wrong.

  12. Step 12 12

    But don't worry! Hem each of them. I chose to finish them with a single crochet stitch. You can leave them as is after hemming if you like. If you want a wrap cardigan, you'll have to add a means of fastening them -- hook and eye, crocheted button loops and buttons, trouser closures. I'll talk more about that later.

  13. Step 13 13

    Now, find your favourite cardigan -- the one that fits you the very best. Lay your project sweater down flat, with the lapels overlapped but still in their natural state (not stretched at all). Lay your favourite sweater over the project sweater, matching the necklines and arms as best you can.

  14. Step 14 14

    Using your favourite cardigan as a guide, trim down the project sweater. I left more on the sweater than I should have, and as a result was left with some bulkiness around the upper arms and shoulder area. At this point I also cut the arms of the sweater down to 3/4 length. Turn the sweater inside out and sew the side seams, starting at the bottom and finishing at the end of each arm.

  15. Step 15 15

    We're getting there!

  16. Step 16 16

    This next part is optional. Take some wide bias tape and pin it, right sides together, to the raw bottom edge of the cardigan.

    If you'd prefer to skip this, just hem the raw edge.

  17. Step 17 17

    Sew the bias tape to the sweater, pivoting at the corners as per the photo so you can just flip it over to the wrong side. The photo also illustrates a mistake I made; I folded the end of the bias tape to the wrong side, so when I flipped it over the raw edge of the tape was exposed.

    Once you flip it over, iron it in place if you like and stitch it to reinforce.

  18. Step 18 18

    This photo doesn't really show you anything but my boobs, but I included it to (vaguely) show the interior button. When I finished each lapel with single crochet, I added a button loop to each spot where the collar ended. One of the sides of the collar ended up being longer than the other, so I chose that one as the side that wraps OVER the other side.

    Before placing the buttons, I put on the cardigan and stretched the lapels to a comfortable overlap. I then marked where the under-lapel's corner was with a safety pin, and did the same for the over-lapel. I then sewed the interior button in the first marked spot, and the exterior button in the second.

  19. Step 19 19

    Here's the finished product. I made the sleeves even shorter. There is some buckling in the lapels, I think due to my very tight single crochet trim; next time I attempt this I'll probably finish them with bias tape as I did for the hem.

    Please, PLEASE, give me tips on how to lend clarity to this guide. As you can probably tell, I winged this project big time and went on just a few scribbled notes and doodles. The spots where my instructions are vague are due to that fact, along with my aforementioned non-mad sewing skillz.

Have you made this project? Add your Version
And you're done!



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