sweatshirt refashion {add colored cuffs and prettify the neckline}

Is it sweatshirt weather yet in your neck of the woods? We just had our first {tiny} snowfall, so the sweaters and sweatshirts are coming out – I love it! I don’t actually have many sweatshirts – they always seem bulky and unflattering, so I haven’t bought one in years. Until a few weeks ago, that is. I was at the thrift store looking at the rows and rows of plain sweatshirts, thinking how comfy they looked, and I decided to see if I could pretty one up a bit.

I started with a large men’s sweatshirt ($4) and made a few modifications. I took the sweatshirt in along the sides and sleeves to get a more flattering fit, then chopped off the old cuffs and added new colored ones cut from an old tee. I also lowered the neckline (I hate tight necklines!) and added matching ribbing around the neck. Keep reading to see the “before” and get the full tutorial.

Here’s how it looked when I brought it home from the thrift store, just your standard old sweatshirt:

First I turned it inside out and tried it on to see how much I wanted to take in on the sides and sleeves. As you can see from the bottom photo below I didn’t have to take it in a ton – just enough to give it a more flattering feminine shape.

Next I grabbed some light blue knit cut from an old tee. For each cuff I started with a square, which I then folded in half and sewed up longways to make a tube. I folded the tube in half with the seam inside, as you can see on the right below. You can make the cuff as long or as short as you’d like – it just needs to be big enough to fit around your wrist comfortbly.

The first photo below shows the cuff above the end of my sleeve (which has been cut to the correct length). In the second photo I’ve slid the cuff over the end of the sleeve, matching all the raw edges. I sewed around the cuff and sleeve, and the third photo shows the cuff attached.

I lowered the neckline to give the sweatshirt a bit more of a feminine look. When cutting a new neckline I generally find a plate that has the curve I’m looking for and trace that on the shirt so I know my cut will be even. I also cut a long narrow strip of the blue knit and pressed it in half lengthwise.

I pinned the long strip of knit (it acts like ribbing) to the raw edge of the new neckline, pulling on the knit as I pinned (check this post for a more detailed explanation). When I got to the center front, I overlapped the two tails of ribbing, curving them up and off the shirt. Then I sewed a straight stitch all the way around, cut off the excess knit, folded the ribbing up and pressed the seam allowance down to finish the neckline. (Note: if the neckline needs to stretch to fit over your head, you either need to sew on the ribbing using a slight zig zag stitch, or stretch BOTH the ribbing and the sweatshirt as you sew a straight stitch, so you’ll end up with a little stretch in the neckline).

Three simple steps, and now I have a more feminime sweatshirt to cozy up in this winter.

Linking to some of these parties:

Monday: Skip to My Lou | Brassy Apple | Craft-o-Maniac

Tuesday: Tip Junkie | Ladybug Blessings | Sugar Bee Crafts | The Blackberry Vine | Hope Studios | Funky Polkadot Giraffe | Not JUST a Housewife | Homework Today’s Assignment: Be Inspired | Shwin and Shwin

Wednesday: Handy Man, Crafty Woman | Southern Lovely | Sew Much Ado | SNAP | Someday Crafts | The NY Melrose Family | Printabelle

Thursday: Somewhat Simple | House of Hepworths | Momnivore’s Dilemma | The Shabby Creek Cottage | Yesterday on Tuesday | Fireflies and Jellybeans | The Taylor House

Friday: Chic on a Shoestring Decorating | The Shabby Nest | Stuff and Nonsense | Naptime Crafters | It’s a Hodgepodge Life | At The Picket Fence | 504 Main | Blissful Bucket List

Weekend: Tatertots and Jello | Family Ever After


  1. 2

    Kate says

    You’ve made that sweatshirt so attractive. From the photo the new cuffs look like the cuffs from a l.s. shirt showing – nice idea; and I like the idea of lowering the neckline and overlapping the ribbing – very clever. And I’m totally amazed at how much better the sweatshirt looked by taking it in. You’re given me a great idea – thank you so much.

  2. 4

    Jo Tapasa says

    I love your simplicity and eye for reinvention! I can’t wait for my machine to get back from the repair shop…oh, wait…I have to get it there, first! I love following your creative adventures! My five daughters and I appreciate your style!

  3. 5

    alexandra says

    This is Allie Smith. I am dying at the cleverness of your blog! I love how your brilliance shines through in every stage of your life! What wonderful ideas you have! Your kids are adorable, too. I love getting a glimpse of your life while also getting wonderful ideas for my own! I am glad to see you are doing so well!

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