Creativity · Fun · Memoir · Sewing

Shetland Wool Sweater Upcycle

Upcycling my own clothes is not something I have a lot of experience with. As a theatrical costume stitcher in my early 20s, I certainly had to alter an array of garments, so the concept is not entirely alien to me. It’s hard not to be inspired by the wonderfully creative upcycling ideas I’ve seen on the internet. I really love the idea of being able to transform my wardrobe whenever I want to or to fix an imperfection in a creative way to save a beloved garment.

Back in early spring I discovered this neat find at a local thrift store: A 100% Shetland wool sweater made in the UK.


When I tried it on at the shop, I sadly discovered some unraveling holes. Plus, the fit wasn’t perfect. The neck was a little tight and stifling and the shoulders were baggy and overly squarish. Unflattering, to say the least.

But. There were some details that I found really charming, like the sweater’s happy colors and lovely fair isle pattern. When I looked at the price tag and saw that it was only a few bucks, I decided to make the purchase and take it home. It would be an upcycling venture.


Inspired by this simple online tutorial, I decided that my new sweater wanted to be a cute cardigan. Something cozy that I could wear over a dress or with jeans.

So, I got out my trusty scissors and seam ripper.


I started by picking and “unzipping” the stitches at the collar to remove it, and I cut off the bottom ribbing of the sweater, which was riddled with holes.


Next, I serged the raw edge of the bottom of the sweater with my overlock machine to keep it from unraveling.


Then, I cut up along a center column of stitches to create my cardigan front opening and serged these edges, too.


I trimmed a bit of excess fabric at the sides and underarm seams, so that the fit wasn’t so baggy. And I finished the whole thing by sewing up the sides and sewing a roll hem along all the serged edges. Finally, a lovely antique wooden button and a crocheted loop were added for the closure.

Voila, my favorite cardigan.


It’s not perfect, but, you know, I love it. I’ve been wearing it all spring. It’s been perfect for foggy mornings and breezy SF Bay Area evenings. And so, I deem this a successful upcycling attempt!

2 thoughts on “Shetland Wool Sweater Upcycle

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