So I shrunk the sweater I wore in my engagement session. Oops! BUT I made it even prettier by using the material from an old cardigan that I had laying around and adding a few different embellishments. These details allowed me to “widen” the sweater so that it would actually fit me again!
Note: I always keep old sweaters and cardigans if I think that they’re something that I could use in the future for crafts and sewing. It’s just something I’ve always done. If you don’t do this, start. You never know when an old gem might come in handy!
Read on to find out how to fix a shrunken sweater in 4 easy steps:
1) Grab Your Shrunken Sweater and Another Old Shirt of Your Choosing.
On the left is my shrunken sweater and on the right is an old cardigan with ruffled trim. You can choose any old shirt you like, depending on the embellishment you want and the look you’re going for.
Note: Turn both shirts inside out, since that’s how you’ll need to sew.
2) Cut Along the Seams of Each Shirt Then Start Pinning.
First order of business is cutting the old shirt you chose so that you can maximize the material that you’ll be able to use from it. Your best bet is to cut along the seam so that everything looks neat. Make sure to keep the back piece intact, as it will give you the most material. Next, cut the trim off of the old shirt. The picture on the right below are the ruffle trim of my old cardigan.
Now it’s time to cut the shrunken sweater. Since the sweater doesn’t fit no matter how much you suck it in, the only realistic option is to add some extra fabric to the side seams of the sweater. To do this, you need to cut along the side seams, all the way up to the armpit.
Then take the back piece material from the old shirt and cut it into two rectangles, of the same size. You will have to use your best judgement for this, as there are so many variables (some shirts shrink more than others, etc.). Once you have cut along the seams of the shrunken sweater, take the rectangles and line one of the edges up against one of the bottom edges of the sweater side seam [see bottom left picture below].
Note: My post assumes that you have basic sewing knowledge (aka you know what things are and you can work a sewing machine). If you have no idea what you’re doing or if you just need a refresher, check out this Dwell on Joy post on sewing machine basics and this Simply Modern Mom post on sewing tool basics. I frequently refer to these both.
Start pinning along the edges, but you will have to begin to pin the fabric unevenly as you move toward the armpit of the sweater because you have to create triangles where the seams meet at the armpit [see bottom right picture below].
3) Sew Triangles to Sweater.
Bust out that sewing machine, it’s time to get sewing!
Sew along the pinned edges, making sure that the triangle tips will end up in the armpit when it all comes together. Once you’ve sewed a one side of one of your rectangles to the sweater, take a look at the seam you made. Inspect it. This is your chance to make sure the machine is working correctly and nothing is out of place with the thread [see middle picture below].
Do the same thing you just did – pinning and sewing – with the other side of the already-sewn rectangle to the other edge on that side of the sweater. When done, all of your seams should meet at the armpit and one triangle addition will be complete!
Follow the same steps to complete the triangle on the other side of the sweater.
4) Pin and Sew the Trim on Sleeves and Bottom Hem.
Next, take the leftover embellishment or trim (or, in my case, ruffles) and cut to the size you will need to become the trim around the sleeves of the sweater and, if you have enough, the bottom hem of the sweater. Pin the edges of the trim to the edges of the sweater sleeves and bottom hem, making sure everything is still inside out. When completed, go ahead and admire those hems… I can wait.
Now that you’ve done all that, it’s time to admire the finished product!