By Linda Permann
Whether you want to add a little breathing room to a too-small sweater or spruce up your clothing for another season, just add crochet! A simple cut with your scissors, some embroidery, and 2 crocheted button bands later, you’ll be ready to wear your “new” cardigan. I used this technique to revamp one of my favorite striped sweaters, but it would also be a great way to make kids’ clothing last longer, or personalize thrift store finds and hand me downs.
Old sweater see note below
Ruler or measuring tape and straightedge
Large embroidery needle
Worsted weight yarn I used Berocco Comfort, 50% Super Fine Nylon, 50% Super Fine Acrylic in # 9713 Dusk. Necessary yardage will vary based on the size of your sweater, but one skein of this yarn should be more than enough for most sizes.
Eight 1″-1.25″ diameter buttons
Size G-6 (4.00 mm) crochet hook
Note: Sweaters that have felted slightly or have tiny stitches are good matches for this project. Check the seams: if they are machine sewn, then it’s likely your sweater will not unravel after you cut it. Stay away from really lacy or hand-knit sweaters. If you’re concerned that your sweater will come unraveled, sew a line of zigzag stitching on either side of the drawn line BEFORE you cut the sweater. After cutting the sweater, fold each zigzag seam under by about ½” and sew it in place with a straight stitch, then follow the remaining steps as usual.
dc double crochet
sl st slip stitch
Download the Crochet Cardigan Pattern PDF
(Right click to save the PDF to your desktop. See directions on downloading PDFs.)
Step 1: Lay out your sweater on a flat surface. Measure the width of the sweater, divide this number in half, and mark the center of the sweater. With tailor’s chalk and a straightedge, draw a line down the center of the sweater. Take a deep breath and cut the front of the sweater open.
Step 2: With a length of yarn, blanket-stitch along both front edges of the sweater. Tie a knot in the end of your yarn and thread it through the left corner edge of the sweater, from back to front. Position the needle perpendicular to the cut edge about ½” away from where you first came through the sweater fabric, and ½” in from the fabric edge. Insert the needle in and out of the sweater as shown above, ensuring that the needle comes through over the loop of yarn along the bottom edge of the sweater. Pull the yarn through. Stitch across both edges in this manner, leaving a long tail at both ends of the sweater to weave in later.
Step 3: With the right side of the sweater facing you, join your yarn with a slip stitch in the first blanket stitch of the left front of the sweater (the side where the buttons will be sewn, that is, the left front when you are wearing the sweater). Chain 3 and work one double crochet in this first stitch. Evenly double-crochet across the entire edge, making 2 or 3 double crochets in each blanket stitch. Ensure that you work an even number of stitches that are a multiple of 4 (I made 80 double-crochet stitches). Work 3 more rows of double crochet, one row of slipstitches, and fasten off.
Step 4: With the right side of the sweater facing you, join your yarn with a slipstitch in the first blanket stitch on the right front (as in Step 3). Evenly work 2 rows of double crochet, working the same total number of stitches per row as you worked for the left front.
Next is the buttonhole row. Plug in your own numbers to get the right number of stitches for your sweater.
Divide the number of stitches by the number of buttons (B): 80 /8 = 10.
Subtract the number of skipped stitches per buttonhole (2, if you’re using 1″ buttons) from this number to get the number of stitches between buttonholes (X): 10- 2 =8.
Divide X by 2 to get the number of stitches before the first and after the last buttonhole (Y): 8 /2 = 4.
For my sweater, there were 8 stitches between each buttonhole, and 4 stitches before the first and after the last buttonhole. Work Row 3 below using your numbers, and be sure to check that your buttons fit through the first buttonhole before crocheting the entire row.
Row 3 (RS) Turn, ch 3, dc in next (Y minus 1) dc, *ch 2, skip 2 dc (buttonhole made), dc in next X dc; repeat from * (B minus 2) times more, ch 2, skip 2 dc, dc in last Y sts.
Row 4 Turn, ch 3, dc in each dc, and ch across.
Step 5: Next, work a row of shells as follows to complete the buttonhole band.
Row 5 (RS) Turn, sk first dc, 4 dc in next dc, sk next dc, sl st in next dc, *sk next dc, 4 dc in next dc, sk next dc, sl st in next dc; repeat from * across. Fasten off.
Step 6: Arrange your buttons along the button band, directly across from each buttonhole, and sew them in place. I separated a few strands from the twist of my yarn to use as thread.
Weave in all of the ends.
Your sweater has been cardiganized and is ready to wear!
About the Author:
Linda Permann is a crafter and crochet designer who blogs at lindamade.com. For more ideas on how to revamp your wardrobe with crochet, check out her book, Crochet Adorned (Potter Craft, 2009).