How to Turn a Sweater Into a Cardigan

Written by lana m. ulrich
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How to Turn a Sweater Into a Cardigan
Making a cardigan from a sweater is simple to do. (buttons image by studio vision 1 from

Changing or altering clothing you already own is a great means by which to easily adapt a particular style or trend without spending a lot of money acquiring new pieces. For instance, take an old or rarely worn sweater; using some scissors, thread, and buttons, modify it to create a brand-new cardigan-- or a button-up sweater. A cardigan is a classic piece that can be dressed up or down, and a perfect cover-up for chilly spring or summer evenings.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Sweater
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Thimble
  • Buttons
  • Sewing Machine

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  1. 1

    Lay the sweater onto an ironing board or other hard surface with the front of it facing you. If it is wrinkly, smooth or iron it out to eliminate folds.

  2. 2

    Measure across the sweater's midriff with the measuring tape. Divide the width in half, and using a pencil or needle, mark the halfway point. Measure the sweater again lengthwise from the halfway point. Mark the length of the straight line with a pencil.

  3. 3

    Cut lengthwise completely along the line to cut the sweater in half and cause it to "open up." It should mimic a robe or open shirt. If you find that the sweater is too long, consider cutting off a bottom section of the sweater to shorten it.

  4. 4

    Measure one to two inches from the left-hand side of the sweater, and mark the placement of the sweater's buttons. The type of button does not matter; choose any that match your personal preference.

  5. 5

    Thread the needle, and double-knot it at the far end to ensure faster sewing and a more secure first stitch. Sew the buttons onto the sweater. Use a thimble to protect your fingers from needle pricks.

  6. 6

    Fold the sweater over, and mark where the buttons meet the opposite flap. Cut slits in the fabric to allow the buttons to peep through. Sew around the slits to reduce the risk of fraying.

  7. 7

    Try on the finished cardigan to make sure that it fits properly, and make appropriate adjustments if it does not- for example, if the buttons are not properly aligned.

Tips and warnings

  • Consider embellishing your cardigan by sewing on pieces of decorative fabric to the bottom of the sweater or along the sweater's front. Use a sewing machine for faster alterations. Add a brooch or other ornamental jewellery for a more polished look.

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