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Alter Sweater To Cardigan

For over a year, I've had a pretty knit top that a friend gave me. The fabric was so soft, it was one of my favorite colors, and it fit everywhere EXCEPT the neckline, which was so low and stretchy that I could never wear it and nothing looked good worn underneath it. Finally, the same friend said, "Why not make it into a cardigan?" Well, why not?


Approximate Time: 30 minutes, including gathering supplies and threading the sewing machine.


  • seam binding (hem tape), or similar item
  • thread to match


This is so simple, almost anyone can do it quickly and with good results. If you don't have a sewing machine, just use a strip of narrow iron-on fusible web before folding the edge over.


But, if you have a sewing machine, thread it up with a fairly closely matching thread that will resemble the other thread your top is made with. Look through your sewing stash to find seam binding or hem tape (looks like a thin polyester ribbon) or something similar, you could use bias binding, hemming lace, grosgrain ribbon, almost anything, but I used an old package of 'Wrights Soft and Easy Seam Binding (hem tape) because it is thin and doesn't add bulk to the seam.


Cut your garment from the center front of the neckline to the center bottom of the hem. Pin the hem tape to the outside of your garment with the edge aligned with the cut edge. Have your hem tape long enough to fold it under about half an inch at either end.

With your sewing machine set at about 9 stitches per inch (and making sure you have a nice even thread tension so your seams will look nice from both sides) sew near the edge of the hem tape that's furthest away from the cut.


Press the hem-taped edge to the inside, rolling the fold over just enough so that the tape doesn't show from the outside. Measure the distance from the turn to just inside the far side of the hem tape and flip your garment back over so that you're sewing on the outside. (It helps to have a little magnetic gadget like mine to keep the distance even, but you can simply put a piece of masking tape on your sewing machine to mark the distance.)


I used a 'walking foot' to keep the stretchy fabric moving along evenly, but if you're careful you can probably use any generic presser foot because your hem tape is stabilizing the underside of your fabric. Stitch from end to end, taking a small back-stitch at either end to keep it from coming undone. Do the other side the same way and you're done!

If you like, you can add a small decorative button at the top edge and a loop on the other side, or sew on 'frog' closures, or sew a length of ribbon to either side to tie, but I didn't. Think of this as being done similarly to how we once made fleece sweatshirts into jackets by cutting down the front, just done on more upscale fabrics. Now that I've done mine, I'm going to start looking for really nice pullover knit tops and sweaters at thrift shops and making them into cardigans. Until the fashion world goes back to more modest necklines, I'll keep 'recycling' them. :^)


By Mary from Mtn. Pine, AR

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January 25, 20110 found this helpful

What a beautiful job. Thanks for the idea and photos.

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October 17, 20140 found this helpful

I find a lot of v-neck jumpers are too low for me. ( They show off what I haven't got!). This looks superb!
Marg from England.

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March 20, 20150 found this helpful

I love the look. I did the same thing with a sweat shirt.

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