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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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{DIY Tutorial} When Your Husband Ruins His Clothes, Make Them Yours!

The last time I posted a clothing DIY tutorial, it was because The Candyman had ruined one of my favorite shirts. The Candyman, if he’s anything, is totally a guy when it comes to certain things. He never puts the dishes away in the same place twice. Clothes will lay strewn over and around his hamper, but hardly ever IN his hamper.  There is a halo of crumbs and food stuffs around the leather chair he sits in to watch TV. Like I said, totally a guy, right?  This guy status also applies when it comes to reading the care labels on the clothes he washes. This happened to include a wool sweater he had that he washed (on hot, I’m gonna guess) as well as dried in the dryer. It didn’t turn directly into felt, but shrunk way beyond wearing.

I came across the sweater last week, sitting in the closet, gathering dust and I took it out to give to Goodwill or something. The color was so pretty that I thought it might be a good candidate for a project.

And besides, I wanted a new sweater.

before after

So I would say that this DIY tutorial is rated, on a difficulty level of 1 to 5 with 5 being the hardest, at about a 3. You definitely need a sewing machine.

Here’s what I did:

cut up center3

Because the sweater had a center placket with buttons, I simply cut the width of the placket up the length of the sweater. Basically, I just followed the cable pattern along the sweater.

cut sweater

So now you’ve got some raw edges to deal with. You want to finish those off and turn them to the inside. You can edge-finish with bias tape, ribbon, lace, seam binding – all sorts of goodies. I had a hard time deciding:


You’ll want to choose one that is weight appropriate for your sweater. This is a pretty thick wool, so I choose the brown, vintage velvet ribbon.


You’ll want to measure two equal lengths of the ribbon, one for each side of the sweater. Pin and sew the ribbon on. I did what’s called “stitching in the ditch” with my ribbon. This means I sewed on the very, very edge of the ribbon (“the ditch,” if you will) to keep it pretty-pretty.

Fold the ribbon over to the inside of the sweater and press. My ribbon got a little crinkly after I turned and I pressed it, but it totally looks cute, me thinks. Once the whole thing was done, it actually smoothed out a lot.

The next step is to stitch the opposite side of the ribbon down to the sweater. I did that using  a whip stitch. Grab up a few threads of the sweater, but don't go all the way through the sweater with your needle. You don't want to see your stitches on the fashion side of your sweater.

Next, you need to make the sweater fit your bod. This isn’t as hard as it seems. Once you get the general fit, you’ll want to measure one side and mimic the measurements on the other. You can use a sweater you already have as a guide, if you’d like. Don’t forget to include the sleeves in this reduction step!

I machine basted the seam first, checked it for fit and then sewed a permanent seam. There will be a little bulk on the sides at this step, but don’t worry. We’re about to fix that.

seam finishing.

If you’re Ms. Fancypants and have a serger, you could probably use that. I think sergers are The Devil and have a theory on how they’re the demise of fine sewing, but that’s a rant for another day.

Now, since I’d cut away part of the middle front of my sweater and taken up the sides, that means there’s still going to be more fabric in the back than in the front. To fix that, I made a dart up the back.

Here’s a basic tutorial on how to sew a dart, though her methods are NOT couture (yes, yes, I'm a fucking sewing snob) and go against how I feel about people teaching shit on the internet, it's not too terrible a tutorial.

dart1 dart2

After I sewed the dart, I cut it open (this is not what one normally does with a dart, but the material is so bulky, I had to) and pressed the dart open. I finished the raw edges like I did the seams and whip stitched the edges down to the sweater, just to keep them flat. You can skip that whip stitch step if you aren’t an anal retentive freak.

Now at this point, I could stop. I’ve got a basic cardigan with no closures, my seams are finished and it looks cute. But I’ve still got some left-overs I feel I should do something with. Remember the placket and center cable I cut out of the front?


I decided to use these scraps as a front closure. I dug through The Button Bag because those faux leather things weren’t going to cut it. It’s been like 800 years since I dug through The Button Bag and who knew I had a whole other bag inside The Button Bag with all sort of vintage goodies! All so much cuter than that brown one, right?



I cut the top button and button-hole of the placket off so that the top edges would already be finished. The two other edges that weren’t? I simply did a fast whip-stitch over them using matching thread. And you totally can't even tell! It blends right into the heather gray of the sweater and looks totally professional.

I changed out the button, lined everything up at my waistline and sewed the plackets on by hand. You could do it by machine, but it would stretch out the area and probably make it look like shit. I’m just sayin’.


So taking pictures of myself is NOT a personal strength as you can tell by the above shots. However, I am SO HAPPY with this sweater, I can’t stand it. I’m totally long-waisted and most waist closures end up under my boobs. The fact that this fits right at my waist and is long enough all over (even got to double fold the sleeves up for a cute cuff!) makes me want to do the happy dance across town. I did do the happy dance across the studio, but I’m not sure that  counts. Does it?

The stand up collar looks great with my hair up and I added some fun dangly earrings that matched the metal of the vintage button. CA-YOOT!

So, too much for your average tutorial, or do you think you could do it? Do you like? I’m definitely going to be stealing more of The Candyman’s ruined sweaters. Yeah, there's more than just the one.

I'd love your feedback!

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Reader Comments (42)

So jealous! I think my Young Man has that exact sweater. He loves it, and I would love to steal it and make it my own just as you did. Alas, I lack the sewing skills.

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterindependent clause

This is a brilliant idea, and I am jealous of your mad sewing skills.

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Good job! An excellent example of "recycle and reuse" and a beautiful sweater to boot.

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMom

HOTT!!!! But there is no way I could do it. Learned to sew, made the requisite middle school sweat pants, OWN a sewing machine even! But I have a terrible time with the bobbin thread. That is the awesomest sweater ever. I would love to have you make me clothes.

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

SO CUTE! Love it. You have inspired me to contemplate making one of my current baggy sweaters a little more figure-conscious -- I have never been confident working with wool knits, but the procedure for the zigzag seam finishing technique is gold!

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Hella cute! You're so talented :)

January 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNatosha


January 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterflo

Too cool! Wish The Boy wore nice clothes. Think you could make a chic garment out of a grease-stained Texas Rangers T-shirt?

January 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCris of Kiss My Tulle

Love it. Thanks for sharing.


October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Claire

Wow, I have the skills but lack the ideas. Thanks so much, I love it. Now all I have to do is find a great sweater. I will be shopping the thrift stores soon.

October 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

cant wait to try this out! great step by step tutorial! thanks

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlaura

Fantastic ! Great job and very nice cardingan at the end. It's give me the courage to do the same with my old loved red cardigan from the 90's witch is to large for the 21th century's fashion.

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFrédériqueac

Just saw this on pinterest.....brilliant. Absolutely brilliant!

March 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. Allyn

Was loving the post til I got to the bad words!! Were they really necessary and yes I am a "Bad Word Snob"!!!!

April 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJo

Cursing here on The Thirty-Something Bride is always necessary. Always has been, always will be.

April 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterLouise

Just found and LOVE ur refashioned sweater! I am do'n this soon! Thanks for the idea!

May 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSally Simpson

Ahhh, to find a like-minded sewing snob, wonderful. Love the results of this project!

May 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertess

$1 Thrift store here I come to the men's section.........yes, I said $1. Everything in there is $1 and in perfect shape. they only sell good stuff with no stains and some even has the original price on it! kc in ky

November 9, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkc in ky

That is sooo freeaakin cute. I am going to do that. Thank God my husband is tall. ;)

November 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Brown

Oh -yes! A longish sweater with leggings??? I will do this...

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMotoLZ

I have some things I'd like to redesign and seeing your sweater idea has me motivated to move on it.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlice

I love it I have a few of my BF's polo sweaters that he thought I threw out but I have been saving them For something like this! It may not turn out as cute but I'm going to give it a try! Love yours btw :-D

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnida Brumlow

I think you are fabulous and very glad to have stumbled your delightful blog. I am inspired. thanks a bunch!

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpamela_crowley@msn.com

I found you through pinterest. You are an awesome designer! I love this sweater! As soon as the holidays are over, out come all the sweaters that haven't been worn! I can't wait to start!

December 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSANDI

Your clever and skillful presentation is a breath of fresh air. Fantastic details! Spectacular repurposing as well as an inspiration for me to go thrift shopping. Thank u for your lovely efforts!

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

nicely done m'dear, very nicely done , great use of what you have to start with, and looks quite original rather than a re make...thank you for sharing

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNorma

wonderful! I love taking stuff and making it into other stuff..lol especially clothing, especially wool! I get thrift sweaters, shrink them in the machine and either make kids sweaters, bags, pillows, stuffed toys, coasters etc..I cant stop tho!! lol I DO have a job but would rather be upcycling..great job, well explained too. Now Ill try some unshrunk sweaters and tees...:)

March 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

Magnificent job! Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous design.

April 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTania

This is the best tutorial in ages, thank you for coming up with an idea that no matter what size you are you can play about with your husbands jumpers. It's explained clearly too!!! Thank you so much.

April 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Hello Louise,

Thanks for the great tutorial. Very clear your step by step instructions complete with photos. I'm really inspired by this as an beginner in sewing and a fashion lover. I also like to create stuff a lot, but it never has gone any further than my mind mostly, so now I have completely translated your instructions in this tutorial in Dutch, my own language, yes I am from the Netherlands, but I almost never look on Dutch tutorials on sewing, there isn't far as much choice as in English, logically I know, but..... I most confess I did allready post it on the internet in my Blogger: De Naaiverdieping. Is this okay by you? I have written your link adress by every part you did created. It seems fair to me, to give you your own glory, by everyone who sees your piece of art and loves it! This is also my kickoff in online (active and especially social) blogging on the internet, so hello world of sewing, tutorials, sharing and..... enjoying all the information I get out of it. Now it is the case for me, to actually work this tutorial of yours out for real. I have a blue sweater that fits the example picture showed in the tutorial, so........... when I successfully finish this project, have finished, excuse my language, have to keep practicing, I will, so when I have finished this project and the result is wurth showing to the outside world, I hope I hope I hope! Than I will take pictures of it and post it in a comment by this tutorial of yours. Good idea? Or......??????
With greetings from the Netherlands,

May 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTally83

This is a totally awesome, and, more importantly, totally understandable tutorial!! I'm positive I could do this, too. Thank you!

August 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOdumberry

I'm so happy to see what a fantastic job you did and you will be forever grateful to have whip stitched those sides of the cut dart. Even though it's been run through the wash there is no certainty in my mind that it wouldn't unravel. Great Job!

August 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer P

I think this is fantastic, I am so impressed. I wonder if I can do this?

August 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMag

LOVE the sweater! maybe I'll try it

November 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Great tutorial! Just the inspiration I needed today. And I loved your humorous approach.

November 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

I love the refashioned sweater. The tutorial was great ... except for the language.

November 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

Beside the fact that this is adorable and I am so going to goodwill to find me a sweater! You're tutorial was amazeballs! Love the "language" and you simply cracked me up! Bravo! I'll definitely tune in for more of your rhetoric! Tah tah!

December 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTeri

u know how to connect to ur man . U Go Girl

February 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

I love what you did with the sweater, and so simple! I have the perfect thrift store find to do this with. Thank you for sharing.

June 12, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie

Single, but there is always Goodwill. I will definitely give this a go. Thanks!

June 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEtta

Single, but there is always Goodwill. I will definitely give this a go. Thanks!

June 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterEtta

So incredibly cute sweater. Glad I found it. It makes me want to re-do all mine. Thank you for the tutorial, really great idea.

August 11, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane S

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