How to Make a Vest from an Old Pullover Sweater

comments (4) November 2nd, 2012     

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leethal Lee Meredith, contributor
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Add edge embellishments to your vest if you want to prevent curling edges.
A little embroidery adds a lot to a simple, solid-color vest.
By carefully taking the sleeves off your sweater, youre left with finished vest sleeve edges.
Add edge embellishments to your vest if you want to prevent curling edges.

Add edge embellishments to your vest if you want to prevent curling edges.

Photo: Pete Bejarano
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Now that spring is here, it's time to reconstruct some winter sweaters into cute new vests-simply take off the sleeves to make your vest, then add whatever embellishments you want! If you have an oversized wool sweater, you could wash it to felt/shrink it, then cut the sleeves off since they won't unravel, but I'm going to show you how to take the sleeves of a nonfelted sweater to leave a finished edge for your vest. I like using cotton (or cotton blend) sweaters, since they'll be better for spring or summer wear, but you could use a sweater of any fiber content for this project.

You'll need:

  • V-neck pullover sweater with sleeve/shoulder seams shaped like a vest (not raglan style)
  • Seam ripper and scissors
  • Whatever embellishment materials and tools you want

To turn your pullover into a vest, all you really need to do is take off the sleeves, but then you can use your favorite forms of embellishment to personalize it-crochet, embroidery with yarn or floss, machine- or hand-sewing, appliqué... Be creative!

  Start with a V-neck pullover with shoulder seams that will make a good vest shape.

First, figure out what kind of seams you're dealing with. Most mass-produced sweaters have crocheted seams, which are the easiest to take out. If you are unlucky and your sweater has serged seams, you won't be able to take the sleeve off and have a finished edge because the edge has already been cut. Serged seams look like they have thread wrapped around them, and you can see that the knit pieces are cut inside the thread. If this is the case, and you still want to use the sweater, you can just cut the sleeve off, then either sew or crochet around the edge to prevent it from unraveling. The third type of seam you might have is a sewn seam-if your sweater's label says "hand knit," then you might have sewn seams. If this is the case, you'll need to use your seam ripper to carefully cut the yarn/thread and take the pieces apart.

  This is what a crocheted seam looks like-you can see a small crochet chain on one side of the seam.

To take apart a crocheted seam, you basically just need to cut the chain at the end and find the right place to pull so it all comes undone. I find the easiest way to do this is usually to get my seam ripper under a chain loop at the end and break it.

  You should break a loop as close to the end of the chain as possible, which is usually on one side of the armpit or the shoulder.

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posted in: wearable, recycle, shirt, sweater, top, embellish, vest

Comments (4)

Erniepaul writes: I was wanting a new sweater vest, but in a button-up cardigan. I was thinking I could just remove the sleeves, but I wasn't sure. I was glad to discover your post showing me just how to do it. It took me less than an hour to remove the sleeves and reinforce the body seams. Now I see all full-sleeve sweaters as potential vests!
Posted: 1:34 am on April 6th
ojosdelaluna writes: soooo cute!
Posted: 6:11 pm on May 30th
Sweet_Dee writes: Good ideas!
Posted: 7:08 pm on April 10th
theemptynest writes: Great job...love the red stripe pockets!
Posted: 7:06 am on April 7th
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