How to Make Your Own Cardigan & Mini Dress From Old Men's Clothes

by Recreateful
12 Materials
4 Hours

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how to make your own cardigan and mini dress from men's clothes. I got a men's top and large pajama pants from the thrift store, and decided to turn them into something new! To see how I did this, keep reading!

Tools and materials:

  • Long-sleeve top
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Oversized pajama pants
  • Dress that fits
  • Paper
  • Marker
  • Zipper
  • Zipper foot
Thrifted clothes for the DIYs

Make your own cardigan

Cropping the top

1. Cut the top

Crop the top to your desired length.

Cutting the top down the middle

Next, cut right through the front middle.

Cutting out the neckline

Also, cut out the neckline bias tape.

Cutting out the seams

Cut out every existing seam of the top to separate it. 

Tip: At this stage, you can trace these basic pattern pieces for future use.

Pinching and sewing the bodice

2. Pinch and sew

Pinch in two strips of the front panel, straight across, and sew an overlock stitch along it. 

Overlocking to create exposed seams

Go over the same seams four times to get this exposed seam effect.

Folding and sewing the sleeves

Fold the sleeves in half and sew along the edge four times with a zigzag stitch; after that, you can start reassembling the top.

Cutting off the excess fabric

3. Assemble the cardigan

Before you reattach the back to the front along the shoulder seam, you may notice that the front piece is a little smaller and won't entirely line up, as shown above. In this case, cut out the excess from the back piece. 

Attaching the sleeves to the bodice

Attach the sleeves by spreading the bodice part open and pinning the edges with the wrong sides touching. Again, sew four rows of zigzag stitches across that entire seam.

Trimming the excess fabric

Fold the sleeve over and align the side seams. Sew four zig-zag stitches around this edge. I have some excess fabric along the sides, so I'm just going to cut that out first.

How to make your own cardigan

This is what the DIY cardigan looks like so far. I think it's cute!

Hemming the DIY cardigan

4. Hem

Hem the bottom and all the outside edges, including the neckline, the front area, and then all around the bottom area. Again, sew four times with a zigzag stitch. 

Creating loops for the cardigan closure

5. Create the cardigan closure

Let’s do the loops! For the closure of the DIY cardigan, take the surplus fabric that you cut off the top earlier and create 20 little rectangles measuring 6cm x 2.5cm (2.36” x 0.98”).

Then, zigzag stitch four times around the long edges of the rectangles.

Sewing the closure loops

All that is left to do now is to basically sew them into a loop by sewing along this edge, right sides together. Flip them right sides out, and then you’ll have one loop without any raw edges showing.

Attaching the loops to the cardigan

Attach them to the front of the cardigan and distribute them equally along the front.

Feeding the elastic through the loops

Feed some elastic through, and this thrift flip is done!

Adjusting the sleeves

So, now that the top is finished and I tried it on, I actually realized that I want the top to fit a little more snug. I quickly sewed a basting stitch along that area, making the sleeves and armpit tighter. Next, I cut along that seam and tried it on.

DIY cardigan

Make your own cardigan top

The DIY cardigan is all done! I can wear it closed like this as a sexy top or take out the elastic and wear it open as a cardigan.

Make your own mini dress

Cutting open the pajama pants

1. Cut the pants open

These oversized men's pajama bottoms are really nice and soft, and I want to create a mini dress from them. So, start by taking them apart; you can use scissors instead of a seam ripper.

Tracing the pattern from an existing dress

2. Trace the pattern

Trace a dress you already own onto paper. You may need to make amendments to the pattern.

Cutting out the mini dress pattern

3. Cut out the pattern

Once you have your pattern, cut out the pieces and sew to assemble. 

Sewing the mini dress

The pieces are pretty much all attached together. I just have one slight issue - the back panel somehow turned out much smaller than the other pieces. To amend this, I cut the panel in half and put some more fabric in between.

Hemming the mini dress

4. Hem

Once the skirts are attached to the tops, go ahead and hem the bottom and top of both pieces. Do this with a single fold. 

Adding a zipper to the dress

5. Insert a zipper

I also realized because I cut out the top pieces not with the stretch (but sideways), they are actually not stretchy enough to fit over my shoulders. I’ll have to insert an exposed zipper to the side (luckily, I have enough zippers to choose from).

Inserting the zipper

Insert the zipper by sewing the one side of each dress piece to either side of the zipper (with a zipper foot). 

Sewing the side seams

6. Finish the mini dress

Close off the side seams of the dress. Then, create straps.

Taking in the DIY mini dres

The dress is nearly finished; I tried it on and realized it's a little bit too big. So, I took it in along the front seams. I opted for the middle seams rather than the side seams because I already fitted the zipper.

Let's just skip to the final results!

DIY mini dress

Make your own cardigan and mini dress

The DIY mini dress is complete. Sure, there were a few obstacles along the way, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. I love the style and fit. 

Now you can make your own cardigan and DIY mini dress from upcycled men’s clothes! What do you think of these transformations?

Suggested materials:
  • Long-sleeve top
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
See all materials

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