We have all seen the perfectly adorable, oversized knit sweater on babies all over Instagram. They are very popular, and with good reason – SO CUTE! You can find several options on various boutique sites, ranging from $20-50. I found this one on Amazon, and it’s great! It has held up pretty well, machine washing when needed, and laying flat to dry. But still, I want a thousand baby sweaters, without breaking the bank! Here is my solution: An upcycled baby sweater from a thrifted adult sweater. A $5 Goodwill sweater can easily be sized down to fit your mini, with just some basic sewing skills. Minimal cuts and seams are used, making this a fast & easy project, with adorable results!
1. Picking a Sweater to Upcycle:
Choosing an adult sweater to upcycle for your baby is the first step. I went to my local thrift store, and searched through the men’s, women’s, and children’s section, and hunted out several sweaters that would do just fine!
Features to look for: The neckline is normal. Not a flowy cowl neck, or a mock-turtleneck. Something basic, that can easily be sized to fit. I did find one with a slight V-neck, and that still worked out great!
The pattern isn’t overwhelming. Some sweaters could have stripes or patterns that won’t look nearly as good when it’s made to fit your tiny human. Keep this in mind!
You can envision it as a tiny sweater. A lot of adult sweaters are cute and great! But not all of them would look right on your little person. Puffy sleeves, too much stretch, a unique neckline or bow or ties…all would look a little funny sized down, and would make the project less simple. Straightforward, knit sweaters are what you are aiming for!
2. Making Your Cuts:
This part might have you nervous if you haven’t undertaken a sewing project before. But don’t sweat it! There are just a few cuts to make, and if it all goes terribly, it was just a $5 sweater- grab another and try again!
Lay out a long-sleeve shirt or sweater that fits your baby well…lay it on top of the adult sweater to use as a size guide. You want to line the back of the collars up, at the top of the sweater. It’s easier to recreate a hem at the bottom, than it is to remake a neckline, so we will keep the original neckline, adjusting for size with our cuts.
- I left my neckline alone for this particular sweater, so I’ll show you how to adjust the sizing on a different sweater. If the big neckline is protruding and you need to size it down, simply cut alongside the shoulder seam, from neckline to the top of the shoulder. Be sure to leave enough room for seam allowance.
- Fold the sleeves of your tiny sweater in, so they aren’t in the way. Cut the big sweater up the side seams, allowing an extra half inch or so of space to account for the seam allowance.
- Pick up your little sweater, and re-lay it so the sleeves line up, matching them up at the wrist cuffs. Cut along the sleeve seam (which is on the underside), and then up the armpit to shoulder, again leaving space for seam allowance.
- Lay your sweater back at that neckline again, and cut along the hem line. This time you want to leave enough extra space at the bottom for the hem. We will just do a simple fold-over hem, so leave about an inch of space.
Now you should be able to lay out your pieces and see your upcycled baby sweater taking shape!
3. Stitching the Seams:
Thread your sewing machine with matching spool and bobbin. (Don’t know how? Youtube is your friend!) Then onto sewing your seams! Depending on the stretch and knit of your sweater, you might need to use a knit stitch vs a straight stitch. Regardless, my project came out neater when I lengthened the stitch on my machine. This might be the case for you too! Take some of the extra sweater fabric and practice, to see what adjustments you need to make.
- If you had to cut down the neckline, then start with pinning & stitching the shoulder seams. Line them up, right sides together, and sew!
- Next pin and sew the sleeves to the bodice at the armhole. Sometimes this is tricky to line up properly, but play around with it!
- Fold over your sweater, right sides together, and pin all the way down the side. You will sew each side, starting at the sleeve’s cuff, pivoting at the armpit, and finishing to the bottom of the hem.
- The last seam is the hem! Now is when you will want to stop and try the sweater on your Little, so you can be sure of the length. I ended up cutting of an extra inch, because it would just be way too long on Jackson! Fold up the bottom of the hem a 1/2 inch, towards the inside of the sweater. You can iron here if necessary. Then fold up one more 1/2 inch, hiding the raw edge inside the fold. Pin well, and sew all the way around the bottom of the sweater.
Now be sure that the sweater fits well. If anything is too big, simply stitch in another seam however much you need to. Once the fit is perfect, I would recommend taking a zig-zag stich along every seam allowance, so that the sweater won’t fray or unravel through wear & wash.
Upcycled Baby Sweater!
There you have it! You’ve got an upcycled baby sweater that only cost you a few bucks! Plus you got to be creative, and make this sweater to fit your tiny human perfectly. Your little babe is Fall photoshoot ready in their cute knit sweater – granted, they may send a glob of drool down the front, right as you snap the only smiling shot – like my silly kiddo did!
Happy Sewing Friends!