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Old Sweater into Short Sleeve Dress (peasant style)


During the summer, the sun was coming up around 5:30 am…….now it waits until 7 am or so.  And I used to have some great evening sunlight to work with until about 8-ish…… I have to hurry and use up the last drizzle of light before 6-ish.


And that means, yep, seasons are changing, days are shortening, and the weather is cooling down.


And our wardrobes are warming up.


I was looking through my pile of sweaters the other day and realized an old sweater I had, was just too short on my long torso. 

So it was time to chop her up.



And re-gift her to my littlest one.

( Inspiration for the dress found here.)





An old sweater into a new dress?  Very satisfying.

(there’s something about using what you have to create something useful…..ahhh!)





No hemming involved……I just used the original sweater bottom (for the dress) and cuffs (for the sleeves).





And because sweaters are stretchy……they make such comfy clothing for babies/kids.




And in case you’re wondering where I got the tights……they’re from Old Navy (this season).  Don’t they have the cutest bum?




Would you like to make your own sweater dress?



For a standard sweater dress with long sleeves, check out this tutorial here.



Please Note:  Because everyone will be using different sized sweaters and will be making dresses of all different sizes, I will be giving directions in very general terms.


To begin, you want to use a thin sweater.  Nothing with a ton of bulk or it will be too hard to sew the neckline.  And it helps if the sweater is knit together pretty tightly……just makes things easier.  If you don’t have one to spare, check out the local thrift shop.  There are always treasures there.


The sweater I used was an old Gap sweater……nice and soft and not worn out at all. (just too short for me)



To create your dress, you will need a dress to pattern it after.  (It doesn’t have to be a peasant style dress……but finding an A line shaped dress would work best.)  Lay your dress on top, lining up the bottom of the dress with the bottom of the sweater, so then you don’t have to hem the finished dress.


Then cut the top of the sweater off, right at the neckline (not the shoulders) of the dress on top.  (Be sure to add a 1/4 inch at the top for a seam allowance.)  Then, starting at the bottom, cut up at an angle….staying about a half inch away from the edge of the dress (for a seam allowance).  Keep cutting up in a straight line, until you reach the top of the sweater section you are working with.


Then cut the other side in the same way.  (Be sure to not have too much of an angle or else the bottom of the dress with be pointy at the bottom sides, after you sew the front and back pieces together.)


Now, you want to cut off the top corners at an angle.  (Try and make this line about 3/4 of the length of the arm hole opening, where the sleeve meets the bodice on the dress you are working with.  Unless you are patterning after a peasant style dress, then you will know the exact length to use.)


Now, for the sleeves, use the cuff of the sweater arms.  Cut each cuff off about a 1/2 inch longer than the length of the slant that you just made in the last step.


Then cut some of the width of the cuff off, so that it is just enough to go around the arm.  Leave the fold along the other edge intact.


Next, cut off a bit of the inner corner of the sleeve just a bit, so that sleeve will tilt upward a bit and be more fitted on the shoulders.  The slant should be the same length as the slant on the dress bodice.  Cut the other cuff the same way for the other sleeve.


Now, with right sides together, sew each slant of the sleeve to the slant of the bodice front and bodice back.  Here’s a view from the “wrong” side of the dress, all opened up.


Next, you can use bias tape to finish off the neck line or try to use another part of your sweater.  The neckline of my sweater was pretty thin so I removed it from the sweater to use for my neckline.


Whatever you decide to use, sew the right side of the strip of fabric to the wrong side of the dress.  Match the upper raw edges.  Start in the back and leave a tail, sew all the way around (using a 1/4 inch seam allowance) and leave another tail……


Then match those two tails up, with right sides together, and sew them together…….making sure that you have determined how long to leave each piece before sewing together.


Then attach the strip the rest of the way to the neckline of the dress.


Next, turn the dress right side out and then grab the other edge of the strip from the inside of the dress, and fold it towards the outside of the dress.  Cut a piece of cord elastic and place it right under the strip of fabric before folding it over.  Leave a tail of elastic in the back as you sew……then sew all the way around the neckline, tucking the elastic under the flap of the strip of fabric.  Be sure to not sew over the elastic and keep the strip of fabric nice and even and snug.  (Increasing your stitch length will help keep the sweater from stretching out so much as you sew…….but it’s okay if it’s stretches out a little bit because you’ll be cinching it in with the elastic.)


Sew all the way around, leaving a 2 inch hole where the elastic ends will poke out.   Tie the ends in a knot, after you determine how cinched in the neckline needs to be.


Sew it closed.


Now iron/steam the neckline flat…….don’t skip this step.


Then, turn the dress inside out and line up the sleeves and sides of the dress.  Now, sew along both sides other dress, starting up at the end of the sleeves, working your way to the bottom of the dress.


Turn the dress right side out and press each side seam flat……..don’t skip this step either.



Now, for the little bow…….I cut a strip of the sweater scraps and then folded in the long edges.


Then folded in the two ends……..then sewed the ends down, right at the center.

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Then I cut another little strip (with the edges folded under) and placed it across the center of the bow section.  Then I pinched the center of the bow, giving it its shape……then hand sewed the ends of the strip at the back.

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Now, hand stitch the bow right to the front of the dress (from the back of the bow).


And you’re done.






Ashley Johnston

Administrator at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with the craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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