Cute and Easy Ways to Upcycle Old Sweaters

The DIY Designer
by The DIY Designer
13 Materials
30 Minutes

In this DIY, I’m going to show you lots of different ways to upcycle a sweatshirt.

Grab yourself some sweaters from your local thrift store or take some that are sitting around in your closet. Let’s get going with these transformations!

Tools and materials:

  • Sweaters
  • Scissors
  • Chain
  • Tube top
  • Sewing machine
  • Elastic
  • Sweatshirt
  • Pins
  • Trim
  • Fabric glue
  • D-ring tape
  • Ribbon
  • Black elastic
Cropped shrug bolero

1. Cropped shrug bolero 

Cutting the sweater

1. Cut the sweater

Instead of cutting with the shirt folded in half, fold it the other way so that you're cutting your fronts at the same time and your backs at the same time.

That allows you to slope the back and have it a little longer than the front.

Shredding the bottom

2. Shred

Use your fingers to shred the bottom.

Weaving the chain

3. Weave the chain

Weave some chain through the braiding in the front.


4. Cut the bottom of the top

Use the bottom half that you cut off to create the top. Place a tube top on the sweater as a guide and then cut around it.

Sew the side seams closed. 

Adding elastic

5. Add elastic

Fray the top part of it so that it will match the top part, and add some elastic, so it stays up.

Completed Cropped shrug bolero sweater

You can wear these pieces together as one matching sweater set, or you can separate them.

Sweatshirt-sweater mashup

2. Sweatshirt-sweater mashup

Cutting the sweatshirt

1. Cut the sweatshirt

Cut off the sleeves of the sweatshirt while keeping the seam line intact.

Cutting the sleeves

2. Cut the sleeves

Cut the sleeves off the sweater.

Also, cut off the ribbing at the bottom to use later.


3. Pin the sleeves to the sweatshirt

Pin the sleeves in, maintaining one row of the knitted detail on the sweater.

Taking sweatshirt in

4. Take the sweatshirt in

The sleeves were a little too small for the sweatshirt, so I turned the sweatshirt inside out and took it in by about 1.5 inches to remove some bulk.

Sewing the sleeves

5. Sew the sleeves

Sew the sleeves on.

Cutting the sweatshirt

6. Cut the sweatshirt

Crop the sweater above the pocket.

Attaching the knit ribbing

7. Attach the knit ribbing

Flip the knit ribbing piece inside out and upside down.

Then pin it all the way around to the sweater and stitch it down.

Completed sweatshirt-sweater mashup

Here we have the ribbed bottom and the sleeves of the sweater, and everything else is the sweatshirt. I added a few little details to finish off the piece.

3. Sweater dress

Gluing lace onto sweater

1. Glue lace onto sweater

Take an oversized sweater that's almost long enough to be a dress and find a cool trim to add as an extension, turning it into a dress.

Lay your trim down, apply fabric glue to the solid parts of your lace trim and glue it onto the sweater. 

Completed sweater dress

The detail on the bottom takes it from looking like I'm wearing a sweater as a dress to looking like I'm wearing a sweater dress. I love the detail. I think it's beautiful.

4. Lace-up top


1. Cut the sweater

Cut your sweater not quite in half.

Make sure that the top section is long enough to be a top, but that there's enough fabric on the bottom section that you'll be able to turn it into a bra top as well. Detach the sleeves.

Attaching D-ring tape

2. Attach D-ring tape

Take some D-ring tape and add some fabric glue in a nice thin line right to the edge of the D-ring.

Then, take the binding, the center front of your sweater, line it up, and use your fingers to press it into place.

Make sure that everything is lying flat. Glue it all the way up to the neckline.

Adding lace

3. Add lace

Lace the top up.

Completed lace-up top

Here is the finished look!

5. Puff sleeve top 


1. Cut the material

Cut the remaining material in half widthways and sew up the sides.

Making the neckline

2. Make the neckline

To make a sweetheart neck, take some elastic center front, stretch it as far as it will go, and then stitch it down.

Creating puff sleeves

3. Create the puff sleeves

To create the puff sleeves, add elastic to the cuff so you can push it up over your elbow, and it will stay.

Adding elastic

4. Add elastic to the sleeves

In the shoulder part, fold it over and create a casing.

Then feed the elastic through it and tighten the elastic on the shoulders so that it will gather on the shoulders.

Then, stitch them down so they can’t move.

Attaching the sleeves

5. Attach the sleeves

Attach the sleeves to the underarm.

Completed puff sleeve top

I adore the sweetheart neckline and the puffy sleeves.

6. Bra top


1. Hem 

Hem the remaining material.

Making the straps

2. Make the straps

Take some black elastic and pin them at the front.

Then put the top on, make the straps as tight as you want, pin them in the back and stitch them down.

Completed bra top

This bra top is really fun and a great layering piece.

Upcycle sweatshirts

There we have a whole bunch of different ways that you can transform sweaters.

I hope I’ve inspired you to give these methods a try, I’ve definitely inspired myself to keep looking for more creative ways to upcycle sweaters.

Which upcycle is your favorite? Let me know in the comments down below.

Suggested materials:
  • Sweaters
  • Scissors
  • Chain
See all materials

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