Tutorial: How to Make a Cardigan from an Old Shirt - Sew My Place
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Tutorial: How to Make a Cardigan from an Old Shirt

Do you have a shirt in your closet that you don’t really wear anymore? It’s a little too snug, or too big, or too short, or too…something. Whatever the case may be, you haven’t worn that shirt in months, or even years.

But just can’t seem to throw that shirt away. You love the color or the style. Or you have a lot of fond memories attached to it. (It was the shirt you were wearing when you got some great news.) Putting the shirt in the donation box or trash bin is just out of the question. It’s just a shame you can’t wear that old favorite anymore.

What if I told you there was a way for you to still wear that favorite shirt of yours? All you have to do is turn it into a cardigan.

Here’s how you do it.


What You Will Need

  • An old shirt or sweater
  • Your sewing machine
  • Tailors chalk or a fabric marker (something that will come out in the wash)
  • Measuring tape or a yard stick
  • Scissors
  • Sewing pins
  • An iron
  • A matching button (optional)


Here’s What You Do

  1.  First, choose a shirt. It can be a sweater, a t-shirt or a blouse. It can have long sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves. Almost any pull-over shirt will work with this sewing project.
  2. Lay the shirt face up on a flat surface. You want to sort of spread it out so that the body of the shirt is totally flat.
  3. Lay your measuring tape across the bottom of the shirt, and make a mark at the halfway point. For example, if your shirt is 16 inches wide across the bottom, make a mark at the 8 inch point.
  4. Lay your measuring tape across the top of the shirt, and make a mark at the halfway point.
  5. Lay the measuring tape so that it lies vertically down the front of the shirt. Line the measuring tape up to the marks you made at the top and bottom.
  6. Using your fabric marker or tailor’s chalk, draw a line from the top to the bottom of the shirt.
  7. Using your scissors, cut along the line you just drew.
  8. Now you are going to hem the opening on the right side. Fold the raw edge in about ¼ to ½ inch, and use pins to hold it in place. If the shirt is safe to iron, use the iron to press the crease.
  9. Use your sewing machine to sew the hem.
  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 on the left side opening.

And that’s pretty much it. For all intents and purposes, your cardigan is now done. Wasn’t that easy?

But what if you want to dress your cardigan up a bit? Adding a button is a quick and easy way to do that.


Adding a Button to Your Cardigan

  • Add a decorative button. It’s decorative because it’s not really meant to be closed, so there will be no button hole for the button to fit through. Just make a mark where you think a button would be on a cardigan like the one you just made and sew the button onto that spot.
  • Add a real button. If the cardigan is big enough to wear closed, you can add a real button to do just that. Simply sew a button on one side, and create a corresponding button hole on the other side. Try adding the button on or near the collar of the cardigan. A cardigan that’s buttoned at the top and flows open to the bottom looks great with any outfit.


Wearing Your Cardigan

Cardigans were made for layers. You can wear them over other shirts, or over dresses, to add a touch more style to your outfit. Cardigans can also help you stay warm during the cooler months.

Here are some tips for wearing your cardigan.

  • If you made your cardigan from a shirt that was already a bit snug, trying to wear it over a shirt with sleeves will probably leave you feeling closed-in and confined. Instead, try wearing the cardigan over a sleeveless shirt, like a tank top.
  • Do you stop wearing your tank tops when the weather turns chilly? If so, wearing a cardigan over those tank tops will allow you to wear them all year round.
  • You’re going out for the day but don’t want to lug around a coat, jacket or sweater. But you want to have something just in case it gets a little chilly. Well take a long-sleeved cardigan with you. The great thing about cardigans made from old shirts is that most of them can be folded small enough to fit into a purse or bag.


Want to give new life to an old shirt? In just a few simple steps, you can turn that old favorite into a fashionable new addition to your wardrobe.

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