How to upcycle a sweater using two thrift store finds and making a perfect vintage-style cardigan refashion.
Have you ever stumbled upon a thrift store sweater that was the perfect color and the perfect price but definitely not the perfect fit?
I did. I found this knit pullover that was exactly my size and in the color I was looking for, but its design was awful.
I could have left it behind but I am so glad I didn’t. With the help of another not to so perfect thrift store find I was able to refashion this sweater into a cute cardigan with a definite vintage twist.
Thrift Store Transformations
This was the original jumper that I worked with. The color was a lovely beige, I kinda liked the open knit pattern and the V-shaped neckline is the one I prefer.
I did not like the shape at all though. It hung terribly on my body and did nothing positive for my figure.
Enter a second thrift store find that caught my eye at the same time. This time I really liked the lace looking material and the color, but the style was so outdated that it really didn’t work for me.
But I did see potential for this top.
What if I combined them?
So I got to work
Related Reading: Upcycle Sweater into Pillows
How to Upcycle a Sweater into a Cardigan Refashion
My upcycled sweater project turned out to be so easy. It only involved some basic sewing and the only sewing tools I used were a pair of sewing scissors and my sewing machine.
I had so much fun turning this basic knit sweater into a ‘new’ cardigan.
Step 1. Change the shape of the vest.
The first step in my sweater refashion was to cut off all the hems from the bottom and the center front (saving the buttons of course!) so it would fit better. Those bulked-up hems really made the little top look outdated and out of style.
The beauty of this knit fabric is that the edges do not fray. So I could pretty much leave them as they were.
It was still pretty shapeless so I sewed a couple of tailor seams in the back and took the sides in a bit to give it a waist.
I used a small zig-zag stitch when sewing those seams to make sure the fabric still had some stretch.
These two alterations were so easy and didn’t take more than 10 minutes, but it gave that shapeless vest some instant figure.
You can see the changes I made to the back that used to hang straight down. I repurposed the ribbon from the second top for an added little detail.
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Step 2. Turn Boring and Plain into Cute Couture
Now that I had altered the style of the sweater by cutting off all the seams I was left with a lot of raw edges. I decided to use the ivory top to cover up all those unsightly bits.
I basically cut up the little white sweater and used it for bits.
I cut the bodice and the sleeves into strips and turned them into ruffles. I simply sewed those ruffles underneath to left and right front panels with a straight stitch.
The pretty lace collar I repurposed as a collar on the cardigan too. My little upcycled cardigan refashion looked so much better already.
All that was left to do was add a few pretty accents. I liked the classic, vintage look my cardigan now had, so I decided to amplify that style by adding even more vintage touches.
I rummaged through my flea market stash and found this old, somewhat rusted vintage cameo brooch among my pretties. I figured it was perfect to use as a closing.
I also wanted to add a little something something extra. A custom brooch seemed like the perfect fit.
I fashioned my vintage lace brooch from some mini crochet doilies and used an old earring as the center.
Here is another look of my new revamped little vest. I really like how this one turned out.
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I think I have been bitten by this upcycling bug, and I’ll be on the lookout for more thrift store clothes the upcycle and refashion into something pretty.
I hope you like my refashion tutorial and are now as inspired and motivated as I am to start doing more upcycled clothing projects and turn old clothes from the charity shop into new and improved clothes.
I know that my head is swirling with refashion ideas now…
Marianne Songbird is the founder of Songbird, where she hopes to inspire everyone to create a home they love, one DIY project at a time. She shares anything from craft ideas to home decor inspiration and from DIY projects to decorating hacks. Originally from the Netherlands Marianne and her husband Lex are currently renovating a 250-year-old farmhouse in Germany.