So Here's My Life

The things we make,
the food we eat and
the shenanigans in between.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Easy Upcycled Sweater Vest Tutorial

Did you know that upcycling is one of my favorite things to do? You didn't? Well, now you do. I get a great amount of satisfaction in converting an unwanted article of clothing into something new and different. It's just so much fun. I've had this sweater in the back of my closet for a while, begging to be changed into something else. It needed to be upcycled. Rest assured, I never actually wore this sweater until after I upcycled it. (I heard those sighs of relief. Yeah.) This hand-knit sweater from Norway was truly a diamond in the rough with its Fair Isle pattern, beautifully crafted buttons, and amazing fold-over collar, but it was hard to appreciate it's beauty. So, I gave this sweater a small make-over and turned it into a sweet sweater vest. When I wear it now, I pretend I live in Maine...because, somehow, Maine seems exotic to a person who has lived in the desert for most of her life. And in my mind, people in Maine wear sweater vests like this. Don't be offended.

Easy Upcycled Sweater Vest Tutorial - click through and learn how to make one.

A couple of years ago, I bought several clothing articles from a second hand store. It was one of those sales where you stuff as many items into a bag as possible and only pay 25 cents per bag. It was awesome. I found this awesome red sweater at that sale too. When I first found it, I was like, "'s...loud," and then I put it back and continued sifting through the clothing piles. But, I couldn't get that sweater out of my head. Sure, it was loud, and even a bit eccentric, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I actually liked this sweater. Not as it was, but I knew it had potential. So, I stuffed it in my bag, purchased it and brought it home. Little did I know, that at that time, I was pregnant with our second kid. (Pregnancy is not kind to me, and I have a very limited amount of creativity during this time. The only desire I have during these moments is to lay face down the couch with a trash can nearby, for puking, until my due date arrives.) A few days later, I found out I was pregnant. All plans to revamp this sweater were forgotten about until recently, when I switched out my seasonal clothes and came across this sweater. After casually considering my options for a month or two, I finally decided this eccentric sweater would be so much more awesome and a lot less crazy if it didn't have those frumpy, baggy sleeves. So, I got rid of them and now it's an awesome sweater vest and, currently, my favorite thing to wear. (I try not to wear it everyday because people might start to think that I don't wash my clothes.) ;)

Upcycle a frumpy sweater like this into something better - click through and see how
Before the upcycle

Before I start, let me just tell you, I am not a sewing expert in any way, shape, or form. I know how to work a sewing machine (uhh...mostly...or I can read the manual) and I can sew a straight line, but that's about it. This is an easy project, so don't get intimated if your seamstress skills are lacking. If I can do this project, you can too, provided that you can work a sewing least a little bit. :)

Ok. Project time.

Serge the sleeves before trimming

serge close up - upcycle a sweater
A closer look at the serged sleeve. Hard to see due to the fact that the thread is also red.

Start out by serging the top and bottom portion of the sleeves in a straight line, just above the armpit (pictured above) to prevent the sweater from unraveling once it's trimmed. Repeat the serge on the opposite sleeve, as well.

trim the sleeves of the sweater - upcycle a sweater

Once you have serged both sleeves, cut off both the sleeves below the serged line. (Side note: I recommend saving the sleeves to upcycle into something else - like maybe these awesome leg warmer/mock boot socks)

Mark the top of the sweater - upcycle a sweater!

Once the sleeves have been cut off, decide where you would like the top of the vest to end on your shoulder, and mark it.

Draw a path to make the arm cutouts - how to upcycle a sweater

Draw a rounded path on the top portion of the sleeve from the top of the marked shoulder to the bottom near the armpit.

serge along the arm cut out path - how to upcycle a sweater

Serge along the outside of the drawn path on the top portion of the sleeve only. Trim away the top part of the sleeve (after the top has been serged). Using the path made from the top part of the sleeve that has been cut away, trace the sleeve path onto the bottom half of the sleeve, serge, and then trim. (Be sure to connect the serge lines from the top portion to the bottom portion.)

fold the sweater in half to trace the arm cutouts - upcycle a sweater

Once the top and bottom of the first side of the sweater have been serged and trimmed, fold the sweater in half and trace the sleeve path onto the top portion of the opposite side of the sweater. Serge the top portion of the sleeve, cut away the excess, retraced the path onto the bottom portion of the sleeve, serge, and trim again. 

how to upcycle a sweater!

pin and sew the raw edges - upcycle a sweater!

Turn the sweater inside out, pin the raw edges, and sew a straight stitch along the edges. Trim the excess thread, turn inside out, and wear! 

How to Upcycle a Sweater - Click through and learn how

Easy way to upcycle a sweater into a vest - click through and learn how

I'm so pleased with how this turned out and it allows me to indulge in my Maine fantasy. Did you know I live on the coast and have a boat dock at the edge of my yard? I like to wear this sweater vest while I sit on the dock, sip the cappuccino in my mug, and watch the fishing boats off in the distance. Well, maybe not, but I can always pretend. (This sweater vest makes it all possible.)

easy upcycled sweater vest tutorial - click through and see how easy it is.

And look - the collar is still just as awesome as it was before. 

how to upcycle a sweater into a vest - click through and learn how

If it gets really cold, I can wear the sweater like this. Will you still be my friend if I wear it like this? ;) Go and make a vest for yourself now!


Kim said...

Way to turn a granny sweater into a really cute vest! I think I'll have to brush up my sewing skills and hit the Goodwill.
I found you through the Hit Me with Your Best Shot link party. :)

Unknown said...

Yes, I could see you sitting and watching the boats go by :) great tute! Pinning :)

Emily Thompson said...

this makes SUCH a great vest!! LOVE LOVE!!! Thanks so much for linking up to the Create Link Inspire party! I've features this today at the sewing features and spread the word all around my social media. Would love if you could share as well ;o) EMily