Cardiganize an Old Pullover

Craft & Design Home Yarncraft


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
Tailor’s chalk
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.
ch chain
dc double crochet
sl st slip stitch
st(s) stitch(es)
Download the Crochet Cardigan Pattern PDF
(Right click to save the PDF to your desktop. See directions on downloading PDFs.)


Upcardigan Step1
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.
Upcardigan Step2
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.
Upcardigan Step3
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.
Upcardigan Step4
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.
Upcardigan Step5
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.
Upcardigan Step6
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.
Upcardigan Step7
Your sweater has been cardiganized and is ready to wear!
About the Author:
Author Lpermann
Linda Permann is a crafter and crochet designer who blogs at For more ideas on how to revamp your wardrobe with crochet, check out her book, Crochet Adorned (Potter Craft, 2009).

16 thoughts on “Cardiganize an Old Pullover

  1. Sandy Lewis says:

    Pure genius! I have several old pullovers that I would LOVE to make into cardigans. I imagine I could also use this to add an inch or two to an existing cardigan. Thank you so much!

  2. iHanna says:

    I love cardigans, they are so much to wear than sweaters. Thanks for this project, I’ll keep it in mind when I go through my wardrobe for spring cleaning!

  3. JillWarner says:

    This is a great idea. And, crocheting this small amount won’t be hard. I’m sad to think about all of the old sweaters I have gotten rid of in the past…but I’m excited to now have a way to save them! Thank you Linda!

  4. WaterPixie says:

    Fantastic! And I wish I had a cute striped sweater. Yours is so charming with the colorful buttons. Time to go thru my closet and see what needs a facelift!

  5. Leslie says:

    This is such a cute & clever idea! I can’t wait to find an old pullover to “recreate” into something I will love. Such fun! I’m so glad you shared.

  6. Judi says:

    How very clever of you to use the blanket stitch to anchor the banding!! I just added banding to a long boiled wool coat and I actually hand sewed the chain stitching on before I crocheted the banding. it turned It beautifully, but I wish I had seen this first. Good on you!

  7. Carola says:

    Bellissima idea !!!! Anche per un maglione che non entra più e che non vuoi dare via !!!

  8. Les trouvailles de la semaine #54 - Le blog thread&needles says:

    […] par One pearl button | 2 – Embellissement de chaussettes, par Alisa Burke | 3 – Récup de pull en gilet, par Linda Permann | 4 – Edredon customisé, par Kojo Designs |  5 – Récup de baleine […]

  9. Giulia Bluesherry says:

    Your idea is so simple but in its ease it’s brilliant! I always thought that one day I’ll have to give away my tons of pullover but now I can give them new life, thank you for sharing this trick!

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