Here’s the perfect project for that pile of shrunken sweaters you have lying around! Turn one into a cardigan for your little girl! This is a quick project that can be done start to finish during nap time. Ready? The first thing that I did was throw my already too small sweater into my washing machine to further tighten up the fibers – I don’t have a lot of experience with felting wool/natural fibers, but you can read the Cottage Mama’s “sew basics” discussion about felting wool if you’re interested in learning more. I used one of the girl’s good-fitting sweaters as a sizing guide for my sweater refashion. What we’re going to be doing is cutting down the main body of the sweater to child size, turning the front into an open cardigan, then reattaching appropriate-sized arms, and finishing the bottom with a ruffle. I used a 1/4″ seam allowance throughout, but you can adjust your cutting and sewing to use whatever seam allowance you’re most comfortable with.
Turn both sweaters inside out and fold then in half. Push the arms of the child sizing guide sweater to the inside and stack the two sweaters on top of one another. Cut around the guide sweater (you will not cut along the folded edge).
Spread the sweater back out and cut a straight line up the center front of the sweater. With right sides together, sew the side front to back and trim the seam allowances. With the sweater turned right side out now, turn each edge of the center front under about 5/8″ and pin. (I didn’t actually sew these edges down until I secured the ruffle on the bottom, so hang on a bit).
Next we’re going to refashion the sleeves. Lay your sizing guide sweater on top of the sweater you’re working with and cut your new sleeves to size (factoring in for seam allowances). I cut from the middle of the sleeve and then had to finish the sleeve hems, so choose where you want to cut depending on the sizing and how you want to finish the ends of the sleeves. Now, turn the sleeve right side out and pin it to the sweater armhole, right sides together (matching seams and the center top). Stitch.
Now finish the hem of the sleeve. You could turn the end under and stitch or reatttach the end of the old sleeve, which is what I did. Before reattaching the end of the sleeve, I made it smaller around so that the cuff would be tapered in a bit – does that make sense?
Now . . . to finish the bottom of the sweater. Cut the bottom off of your old sweater remnant and cut up the center of the front. Sew a gathering stitch along the length of the strip (on the cut side). Pull the bobbin thread to gather the ruffle until it is the same length as the bottom edge of the sweater. Pin the ruffle to the sweater base, right sides together and matching cut “raw” edges. Also, match the side seams and distribute the gathers evenly. Stitch the ruffle to the sweater. Trim seam allowances. Now, stitch down each side of the center front to finish the edges. I stitched about 1/2″ in on each side.
Now, to finish the sweater, you just need the closures. I had intended to add buttons and buttonholes up the center of the sweater, but, on a whim, I switched to a little snap placket on the front. My girls have been really difficult to dress lately and refuse to stand still to have their sweaters or jackets buttoned all the way up. I thought this might be a cute option since we leave the fronts hanging open anyway!
You just cut a little felt piece and add two male snaps. Then hot glue some flowers of your choice on the front.
Add two female snaps to the top, center corners of the cardigan and snap your flower closure on! Done!
So, did you finish quick enough to have a cup of coffee before the kids are up from naps??