The key to a good upcycle in my mind is being able to use a lot of the existing structure of the original item such as buttons, hems etc… otherwise it’s really just sewing a new item with previously used fabric.  I have had this old cardigan hanging in my closet for years.  I think I bought it at Forever 21 once upon a time, wore it to death for a season, and then felt juvenile wearing it so it never left the hanger.

My son has been in desperate need of sweaters so I thought that this would be a good excuse to upcycle (or should it be called downcycle if you make a smaller version of something) it into a cardi for my little guy.  The key was to leave all of the hard stuff in tact like buttonholes, buttons, hem, and neckline.  I used a sweater that fit him to get the basic idea of sizing of each piece.  Once I figured out how to cut it out it took a minimal amount of time to put it all back together.

Here is a pic of the pieces once I cut them all:

As far as sewing it up here are the instructions (sorry I didn’t take pictures, but I think it’s simple enough that you probably don’t need them):

1- Sew fronts to back at shoulder seam.
2- Open front and back pieces flat and sew on the sleeves.
3- Starting at the wrist, sew up sides from wrist to underarm to hem (without waistband).
4- Fold back about 1/2 inch on both front ends of waistband.  Keeping them folded, attach the top of the waistband to the bottom of the main cardigan.
5- Now sew the front edges of the waistband to the edge of the buttonband.
6- Turn up and hem the buttonband to be flush with the waistband.

And here is the end result.  A very quick and satisfying project.

And the photoshoot is over :(


  1. Ack! So adorable!! I’m about to do a closet overhaul – I’ll definitely keep this in mine while I’m purging…lots of little bodies in my brood to sew for!!

  2. I find I’m a great up(down)-cycler with my daughter but not my son. I love this fabric on him. I think I’ll keep an eye out in my stash for more things I can use for him. I think it’s great what you did for your son.

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