Save a Shrunken Sweater in 4 Easy Steps

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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.

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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.

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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].

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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.

triangledone4) 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.

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Now that you’ve done all that, it’s time to admire the finished product!shirtdone

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Ho-Ho-How to Make a Tree Skirt for Less Than $5

Seeing as it is only 2 days until Christmas, I am feeling rather festive today – in the Christmas spirit full-force! So, to keep the spirit going, today’s post is a tutorial on how you can make a tree skirt for your fabulous Christmas tree for less than $5 and just a couple of hours of your time.

My husband and I got our tree (and by got, I mean CUT DOWN!!! That’s been on my bucket list forever!) pretty early this year. But unfortunately, we have not had a tree skirt – that is, until today! The materials that I ordered were sitting in a box in the corner for a week or so. I woke up this morning and decided that today was the day. I was going to make a tree skirt for our tiny, awesome tree. The following tutorial is for a basic tree skirt, and it assumes that you have access – or even better, you own! – a sewing machine with thread in the color of your choosing. Here’s what you will need:

  • Material: I got 2 yards of 72″ red crafting felt and I had plenty leftover for other crafting needs ($2.50/yd x 2 = $5.00)
  • Scissors (free)
  • Sewing pins (if you need to buy them, they’re under $1.00 for a bunch)
  • Permanent marker (most likely free)

Now, you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll:

1) Draw out the tree skirt. First, lay the fabric out flat on the floor. Then, you have two choices. If you’re pretty artistic, you can draw out the shape of your tree skirt onto the fabric. Or, you can do what I did and use an old tree skirt as a stencil.

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Use a permanent marker for this so that you are able to see the outline better when it comes time to cut the shape out. Keep in mind that you should allot an extra inch or so in all directions when drawing your outline because you will lose some of that when making a hem with the sewing machine.

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2) Cut out your tree skirt. Next, using a good, sharp pair of scissors, cut along your shape until you have your tree skirt outline. This is the part where you can start to see your tree skirt really come to life. Don’t worry if you can see some of the marker outline – this will go away once you hem it!

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3) Pin the hems along the outside edges of your tree skirt. Get the pins out and within easy reach because you’re going to need a bunch of ’em! This is where your eye for detail comes in handy. Decide where you want to make the hem along the outside edge of your tree skirt and start pinning away. If your outline is a bit uneven – as mine was – then this is your chance to correct that. If you have to pin a little bit more on one side of the skirt, then go for it. Do what looks right to you.

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4) Sew the hems! And the bliss that comes with the actual sewing begins! Or maybe it’s only considered bliss by crazy crafty geeks like me… Either way, the time has come to get your hands dirty. Sew along the outer hem, removing the pins as you go, trying to keep the skirt as steady as possible. Using a thread color that is very similar to the skirt material is a great idea here, as you can hide mistakes easier. Once the hem is complete, cut the loose threads because they could get in the way later.

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Now, go ahead and start pinning the inner edges, just as you did the outer edges. Again, overcompensate for mistakes here if you need to.

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Once pinned, sew the inner hem just like you did the outer hem, making sure to cut any loose threads away.

5) Cut away any extra fabric along hemlines. You’re almost there! Now take the scissors and cut away any extra fabric that remains along the hemlines. This will eliminate bulk and give the tree skirt a more finished look.

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Once the extra fabric has been trimmed off, take a minute to admire your hems. It’s okay to feel proud!

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6) Set your tree skirt up and enjoy! Stand back, ooh and aah, whatever you want – this is your time to enjoy the finished product. If you want to go one step further, you can decorate your tree skirt with anything you want. The sky is the limit! I chose to add a simple burlap “N” to mine, using some super glue. If you can think it up, you can do it!

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