Not only is this one of my favorite projects, it's also my entry for Fireflies and Jellybeans' Iron Crafter: Sweaters contest. This was the perfect opportunity for me to custom make and upcycle my own sweater dress, because I have several problems with the ones in stores. They're never warm enough for winter, and usually have short sleeves and thin material. It never seems worth the money to me. I've always thought about making one from a man's shirt, but couldn't find a tutorial I liked. Now I've finally made my own!
1.Start with a sweater that's too big for you. It's easiest if you pick one that doesn't have defined shoulders, but with seams running diagonally from the underarms instead.
This one's an Old Navy men's XXL that I got from Goodwill for $3. I'm about 5'9", so I really needed the XXL in order to get it long enough, and it's still a pretty short dress. It's really the length you're going for with the extra sizes, but I was able to use the excess from the arms and sides to make the cowl neck, so a little extra width's not bad, either.
2. Turn it inside out and lay it flat on the ground. You may be able to combine these next steps (similar to the t-shirt refit tutorial), but I sized the arms and the body separately.
3. Pick a sweater you already own that fits you well, and lay it over the big sweater, lining up the shoulders and the top edge of the arms. Pin down along the bottom edge of the arm.
6. Try it on! Mine fit really weirdly at this point, because there was so much excess fabric still inside. It was almost hard to turn it right side out. But I was still able to see that it probably would fit the way I wanted once I cut that excess out.
7. Trim the excess away, leaving a small seam allowance. Go ahead and try it on again. Does it fit? If it's still too big, you can take more in.
8. Finish the inside edges. There are a lot of ways to do this- I went ahead and zigzag stitched as close to the edge as I could. Here's a pic- I know it's not pretty, but it'll do the job.
Essentially, you're done right now! If your sweater has a busy pattern, you might not even want to embellish it. But if you have a lot of excess fabric like I did (or your sweater's a boring gray, like mine is!), then consider what you might want to add. A belt is one easy, fashionable solution, but here's what I opted to do.
9. Roll up the sleeves and add buttons to the cuffs. The sleeves were unbelievable long on the sweater, but I didn't want to trim them and have to worry about finishing the edges nicely. So I rolled them up, folled the edge over, and sewed two button to each.
10. Make a cowl neck. Mine's just a little one, but if you have loads of extra fabric, you could make it as big as you want.
Use the extra fabric to make a tube (sew the rectangle closed with right sides together, leaving the ends open, and turn right side out).
I hand sewed the circle closed, tucking the raw edges inside, and then hand sewed it to the dress neckline. Let's look at another after pic!
That's it! Pair with thick tights, and you can keep wearing dresses all winter long.
UPDATE: My sweater dress was chosen as a finalist for the Iron Crafter competition! Please head on over to vote by clicking the button below!