Sew The Best Sweatshirt Makeovers
By Mary Mulari, guest blogger and friend of Sewing With Nancy
The book The Best Sweatshirt Makeovers is jammed full of great ways to make sweatshirts extraordinary. Today, in Nancy’s blog, I’d like to share even more ideas. It’s time to mix it up and combine sweatshirt alterations and decorations in new ways. Page numbers are included for easy reference.
Sweatshirts for All Seasons Cardigan Vest
In the Sweatshirts for All Seasons section of the book, you’ll find 13 ways to turn a pullover sweatshirt into an open-up-the-front cardigan. The basic technique is on page 71.
My first decision about the sweatshirt was to make the 1-1/2″ neck ribbing narrower. The steps for this are found on page 108.
Notice that the bottom ribbing of the sweatshirt has been removed and a fabric facing adds a hidden and neat hem treatment. After changing both the neckline and hem of the sweatshirt, you can add the placket opening.
After sewing 1/4″ wide strips of Ultrasuede over the placket to form button loops, I couldn’t resist adding a strip of plaid rickrack to the side of the placket—the colors coordinated perfectly with the placket fabric.
Try the sweatshirt on to determine the amount to turn under on the sweatshirt armholes, especially at the top of the shoulder. Pin the hems and sew around with a narrow zigzag stitch to secure.
The final decorative detail is the pocket. The appliqué design was chosen from page 82 and stitched on a larger piece of fabric. I debated adding the appliqué to the back center neck area on the sweatshirt but a front pocket won out when my sister said, “Everyone wants to have a pocket on a sweatshirt.” I added lightweight fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the pocket so it’s more durable.
Zipper Appeal Sweatshirt
You’ll see a plain version of this inside-out sweatshirt on page 34 of the book. It took some years to “marinate,” and then I added some extras. The bottom ribbing was removed, and I used the sleeve hem technique on page 35 to hem the sweatshirt bottom.
The dragonfly machine appliqué, from my “Appliques for Sweatshirts” embroidery CD, has proven to be a popular design. (Of course, isn’t any insect that eats mosquitoes a good idea?) I planned to position the design a bit off-center, but it still needed something more. The addition turned out to be a narrow strip of the sweatshirt bottom ribbing extending beyond the appliqué fabric.
Calico Country Sweatshirt
Here’s a new version of the sweatshirt that only looks like a layered garment. Portions of a shirt are sewn to the sweatshirt neck, sleeves, and hem. See pages 102–104 for the steps to take.
I found that the width of the shirt bottom was narrower than the sweatshirt so I cut the shirt back section in the middle and added an extra piece of shirt fabric. If I had sewn in a wider piece of fabric, I could have folded in the edges to form a pleat.
The sleeve and bottom hems are turned under and stitched in place with two rows of stitching for a ready-to-wear look. I also find that hems tend to lie flatter with two rows of stitching. This can also be achieved with a twin needle.
The subtle trim on the sweatshirt front is a branch formed with slimline tucks (page 109). I drew the branch free hand and sewed the short branch extensions first and then the longer lines of the branch. You’ll need a pair of small, sharp scissors to cut the tucks open.
Crossover Neck Sweatshirt
The side opening features four contrasting, unique buttons.
After studying this shirt for an upgrade, I decided to add a large floral appliqué (page 51) along with a stem and leaves cut from the leftover bottom ribbing. Then, to continue a tone-on-tone theme for all the decorations, I changed the buttons. What do you think of the changes?
Kids’ 1-2-3 Cardigan
This is no longer a plain navy sweatshirt. The placket and tabs add center front interest and rows of decorative machine stitching with variegated #30 cotton thread create stripes. This is a great opportunity to select some unique stitch patterns on your sewing machine. The actual closures are sew-in snaps with buttons sewn to the tab tops. Instructions for these sweatshirt changes are found on page 54. The appliquéd numbers are printed in reverse on page 64, so they will be facing the right direction when traced on paper-backed fusible web.
Girls’ Zipped Up Sweatshirt
Make it easy to slide a sweatshirt onto a squirming toddler by adding a zipper to the neckline. You’ll see the boys’ version of this alteration on page 61. To add a feminine touch, I sewed eyelet lace to the zipper before sewing the zipper to the sweatshirt neckline.
The bottom ribbing was removed from the sweatshirt and a facing added to the bottom. A narrow portion of the facing is exposed on the right side of the shirt. Instead of sewing an appliqué (page 66) in the traditional way, I cut the leaf portion from Ultrasuede and made it into a pocket. I chose the colors of red, orange, and pink as a contemporary combination that would never have crossed my mind in the 1990s, when I began working on designer sweatshirts. It’s good to be open to change!
Restyling, revising, and repurposing are trending terms. Nancy and I decided to revisit some of our favorite transformations.
Stripes in Motion
A sweatshirt is an ideal palette for expression. Start with a collection of 2-1/2″ fabric strips. With creative stitching, turning, and pleating we’ll show you how to convert a pullover into a cardigan that has visual motion. We call this sweatshirt makeover Stripes in Motion, a segment we recorded in 2010 that still stands the test of time.
Serge and Twist Sweatshirt
Not all sweatshirts, when restyled, end up as shirts! Take a bolder stance and remove the sleeves of a sweatshirt to create an upcycled vest. The Serge and Twist Makeover features 1″ strips cut from the sleeve fabric with serging along the edges. The idea of serging and then twisting the strips before topstitching to the vest front make for subtle, yet crafty embellishment.
Pink Blossom Cardigan
Adapt one of my techniques to repurpose a pullover into a cardigan. Then, add a colorful blossom and a graceful vine with leaves to the sweatshirt front. It’s a simple addition with great impact and one of our favorite sweatshirt makeovers.
Orient Expression Sweatshirt
Now it’s time for an asymmetrical styling of a sweatshirt. We call it the Orient Expression Sweatshirt. Start with a typical sweatshirt and remove the original neckline and hemline. Throwing tradition out the window, use the bottom ribbing to transform the shape of the neckline ribbing. Curious as to how it all comes together? The solution is—watch online.
Denim Do-Over Sweatshirt
Make a casual sweatshirt even better with the addition of another favorite fabric—denim. Bias strips cut from old jeans to trim the neckline, sleeves, and the centers of the floral appliqués. A sweatshirt and a beloved pair of worn jeans are all you need to create this Denim Do-Over Sweatshirt!
We hope you’ve enjoyed taking a journey through a few of the Sewing With Nancy archives, highlighting our favorite sweatshirt makeovers. As always, I enjoyed being on Sewing With Nancy to showcase how to upcycle, transform, and repurpose cozy sweats!
A Collection of Five Books in One—The Best Sweatshirt Makeovers book
Add plackets, zippers, simple appliqués, and so much more. This collection of five books in one boasts 56 sweatshirt transformations for adults and kids. As an added bonus, the book also features a Sweatshirt Gallery with over a dozen designs chock-full of even more fresh ideas! Full-color photos and illustrations accompany step-by-step instructions and full-size pattern pieces. Soft cover, 116 pages. Only $19.99.
The details of these 2017 sweatshirts appeal and inspire you to try some sweatshirt makeovers of your own. The book offers 56 transformations along with many pages of appliqué designs and a gallery of additional sweatshirts created after the original five books in this compilation were written and presented on Sewing With Nancy.
Watch Best Sweatshirt Makeovers (Part One and Part Two) on Sewing With Nancy online.
For a chance to win a copy of the The Best Sweatshirt Makeovers book from Nancy’s Notions, leave a comment below telling us which sweatshirt makeover you’ll try first.
Team Nancy Zieman
Nancy Zieman Productions, LLC.