I don’t upcycle clothes as much as I used to – there was a time when my friends used to joke that all my daughter’s outfits were made from tablecloths and her dad’s old shirts – but sometimes I see something in my size that I know is all wrong for me and all right for my daughter, and a refashion just seems necessary. Such was the case with this fox sweater. As soon as she caught sight of it at the thrift store my daughter said “Make this a kitty dress for me, Mom!” It makes me happy when she wants me to sew for her, even though it appears she is unable to distinguish between fairly common animal species 😉
Turning an adult sweater into a little girl’s dress is SO EASY you’ll end up doing it all the time once you start.
Even if you’re not quite as cheap as I am, it’s still pretty fun to make something new for three bucks.
Keep reading for a rundown on the process.
Since this was such a quick sew, I didn’t stop to take photos along the way, but here are some photos borrowed from another post in case you want the how-to. These photos are showing how to make a smaller shirt from a bigger one, but it’s the exact same process for making a dress from a sweater. There are just a few differences to make a dress, not a shirt, and those are noted in the directions below.
1. Find a long sleeve tee that fits your child well, and place it on top of your adult size sweater, smoothing out all wrinkles. Place the shirt as high up on the sweater as you can (different from what’s shown above). Fold the sleeve in, then cut around the child’s tee, adding about an inch for seam allowance and wiggle room. For the side seams, angle out slightly and cut all the way down to the bottom of the sweater (again, slightly different than what’s shown above – see photo below). The only place you DO NOT need to add seam allowance is along the neckline 2. Fold your top pieces in half and even them up to make sure both sides are the same. 3. Place the sleeve of your kid’s tee on top of the adult sweater sleeve, matching up the hems of each sleeve. Cut up the arm, again adding about an inch for seam allowance. The top of your sleeve piece will have a slight S-curve (which you can see on your kid tee if you smooth the sleeve out).
For reference, here is what it looks like if you’re cutting out a dress, not a shirt (dots show cut lines):
Once your pieces are cut out, here’s how you put them together:
4. Place front and back right sides together and sew along the shoulders. 5. Open shirt up at shoulders and lay right side up on a table. Take one sleeve and place it right side down on the shirt, matching the middle of the sleeve with the shoulder seam. 6. Pin the sleeve to the shirt, then carefully sew together. Repeat with other sleeve. 7. Place shirt right sides together and sew up the arm and down the side. Your shirt is now assembled and just needs a neck band attached.
8. You’ll need to cut the front neckine a little lower than the back neckline. Make sure it will fit over your child’s head, and lower the neckline a little more if needed. Measure around the neckline (this one was about 16 inches around). Subtract 3 inches to get the length for your neckband. Cut a strip of knit from your adult sweater that is that long and 2 inches wide. (The neckline must stretch along the length.) 9. Sew the ends of your strip together, then fold in half lengthwise and press to get a circle as shown. 10. Pin the neckband to your neckline, raw edges meeting. The neckband will be a little shorter than the neckline, so you’ll need to stretch it slightly as you sew. (See this post for more info). 11. Iron the neckband using steam to get it to lay flat.
And that’s it! It might seem like a lot of steps, but once you’ve done it a time or two it’s not hard to finish in well under an hour.