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How to Upcycle a Cardigan

Learn how to upcycle an adult cardigan into the perfect baby or toddler cardigan. Reuse the hem and buttons for a quick sewing project!

I really love cardigans on babies and kids. I just love them. They look so dapper and so cute and so little.

I don’t love constructing a cardigan all from scratch unless it’s for something special. I don’t want to deal with buttonholes and sewing on buttons.

Upcycling a cardigan has more steps than a basic tee upcycle or even a cap sleeve tee upcycle, but it’s still pretty simple!

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

what is upcycling?

Upcycling is to reuse material to create something better than the original. I usually use this to describe when I’m sewing adult clothing into clothing for children or I’m sewing clothing into an accessory or house item.

Upcycling saves time, saves money, saves the environment, and saves memories.

Save time by reusing details from the original shirt. Save money by using something you already have.

Save the environment by keeping t-shirts out of the landfill. Save memories by reusing a favorite adult t-shirt for your toddler or child.

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

My mom donated this cardigan specifically to upcycle it. When I first saw it, I knew it would be an adorable little cardigan for my daughter. I’ve been saving it for awhile to cut it up. She finally grew enough to make it worth it.

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

How to UPcycle a Cardigan

Supplies

Instructions

1. Draw in seam allowances and hem allowances on the pattern.

2. Cut the cardigan along the side seams and up through the sleeves.

3. Fold the front of the cardigan on the center front (button placket) and line up the pattern along the fold. Line up the neckline of the pattern with the neckline of the cardigan.

*Make sure you check where you are cutting along the bottom. Don’t cut through a button or a buttonhole, but cut about an inch above or below to give some room for seam allowance.

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

4. Do the same for the back. You might have to play with the neckline a little bit to get it to fit.

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

5. Use the sleeve or sleeve band to cut the sleeves. I used the ribbing of the sleeves. I curved the ribbing and cut the sleeve band on a curve. (You can see in the second picture the curved sleeve band: one side is straight and one side is curved.)

6. Then I sewed it on just like a regular sleeve.

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

7. Cut off the ribbing including the button placket.

8. How wide your pattern is will determine how long the ribbing should be. I like my ribbing to be 75-85% shorter than the circumference to pull it in and make it look good. I ended up using the entire front section of the ribbing for this baby cardigan. I just sewed it together at the back and matched that center back seam to the center back of the cardigan. I also lined up the button plackets on the front.

9. Construct the cardigan as the pattern instructs.

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

Find the big list of all the upcycling tutorials I’ve created!

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

These two siblings can’t love each other any more. And everything they’re wearing is upcycled. Yay, for #upcycledkid! Share any upcycle inspired projects for your children with the hashtag #upcycledkid!

How to Upcycle: Baby Cap Sleeve Cardigan // DIY Sew

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Adorable. I have a love hate relationship with bananas and dandelions. Every time my kids have either they end up staining white clothes. Thank goodness for upcycling. 🙂
I tried upcycling an old shirt today and added a remnant to make a new shirt. And somehow I made it completely too small for me! What a good day.