A Tale of Two Sweaters

comments (3) January 23rd, 2009     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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I trimmed and embellished one of my sweaters with fabric salvaged from a second sweater.
The original cardigan is nice—but drab.
The other sweater has seen better days, but the ruffle trim is useful.
I trimmed and embellished one of my sweaters with fabric salvaged from a second sweater.

I trimmed and embellished one of my sweaters with fabric salvaged from a second sweater.

Photo: Mary Ray

I love the idea of restyling garments, but I don’t do it as much as I’d like to. But I was inspired to rescue my dark green Merino cardigan from the doldrums when I fell in love with a sweater worn by a participant in a workshop I taught last week. It was purchased from one of my favorite specialty stores (whose name shall remain anonymous, but it sounds like the name given to the study of humanity). The sweater had these great floating appliqué leaves embellished with machine satin stitching and a snap closure—the perfect solution for reviving a tired garment.

I combined two sweaters for this project, each similarly knitted from fine wool yarn. It’s not surprising that both are shades of green. It’s my favorite color, so I have a lot of it in my wardrobe. I took apart the light green pullover, separating the ribbing from the sleeves and the ruffle from the neckline. I opened the seams on the two ribbing sections and pressed them flat. I cut each in half horizontally and connected these four pieces to create a piece long enough to attach to the bottom of the dark green cardigan, which I shortened about 6 inches. I sewed the ruffle to the neckline of the cardigan, removed the buttons, and hand-stitched the buttonholes closed. Then I made the leaves, hand-stitched them to the cardigan, and sewed snaps to the inside of the front edges of the sweater. You probably can’t duplicate this sweater exactly from tops in your closet that are in need of a makeover, but the appliqués are easy to make and add to any garment. Use an old sweater, as I did, or cut them out of lightweight fabric—knit or woven.


The original cardigan is nice—but drab.


The other sweater has seen better days, but the ruffle trim is useful.


I removed the ribbed cuffs, cut them in half, and sewed them to the bottom of my "new" sweater.

To make the appliqués, you will also need:

  • Some lightweight fusible knit interfacing
  • Stabilizer, like that used for machine embroidery
  • Thread for the satin stitching
  • A ball-point machine needle if you’re sewing on a sweater knit


Make a pattern and cut out each motif from fabric for the top and a backing. (The backing can be a contrast. I used the section I cut off of the darker sweater.) Cut each shape from interfacing and stabilizer. Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the top section. Place the stabilizer between the top and the backing.


Stitch the layers together around the outer edges of each shape and trim close to the stitching.


Machine-satin-stitch around the outer edges. To make a leaf, satin-stitch through the center, and narrow the width of the zigzag as you come to the end of each vein.


Snaps take the place of buttons on my new sweater.

posted in: trendy, embroidery, yarn, green, thread, sweater

Comments (3)

JenniferStern writes: Hi Mary,

I love what you did to that cardigan. The leaves are great, but the restyled hem and and neckline really make it hip! Thanks for a great project!
Posted: 7:52 am on January 26th
popoagie writes: How inspiring!
Posted: 9:02 pm on January 25th
elkwoodstudio writes: Once again you have given me inspiration..love it
Posted: 8:59 am on January 24th
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