How-To: Refashioned Sweater Shrug

Craft & Design

I was shopping for some warm layers recently, and I got tangled up in a tiny dressing room with bad lighting. I accidentally put a loose and draping cardigan sweater on upside down. The funny thing was that it actually looked pretty cute. I was immediately inspired to stop looking for something new, and head home to cut up all my old sweaters and put them on upside down. With a sharp pair of scissors, you can take any sweater and transform it into a totally new shrug. For this tutorial, I used three different sweaters to demonstrate the versatility. The steps are the same, but the results are each one of a kind.



Pullover sweater
Sharp scissors


The sweaters in this project all have different fiber contents. The gray sweater is 100% cashmere, the pink sweater is a blend of angora and rayon, while the blue sweater is almost all cotton with a tiny bit of silk in the mix. I chose these pieces because their knit is very fine, and I knew that if I cut them, they would curl up into a nice rolled edge.
If you choose a sweater that has a loose knit that comes unraveled when you cut it, if it is wool, you can prep it by felting it lightly. Hand wash the sweater in hot soapy water. Agitate it for at least 5 minutes in water as hot as you can stand to touch. Rinse the sweater in cold water. The object is to make it just felted enough that the edges won’t unravel when it is cut. Lay the sweater flat to dry. (For more felting information and recycled sweater projects, check out my book, Feltique!)
Step 1: Play with the neckline of the sweater. For the pink shrug, I left the V-neck intact, and for the turquoise shrug, the tie around the neck became a tied waistband. But with the gray sweater, I cut away the crew-neck collar. When cutting a piece of clothing like this, less is always more. You can always cut more away to shape the piece during a second fitting.
Step 2: Cut straight down the center of the front of the sweater.
Step 3: Put the sweater on upside down! Meaning: The waistline of the sweater becomes the new neckline of the shrug. The old neckline becomes the bottom edge of the back.

12 thoughts on “How-To: Refashioned Sweater Shrug

  1. Connie says:

    What a cool idea! Lucky you put that other top on upside down. You never know what inspiration will come when you look at things from a different perspective.
    Great job!

  2. Amber says:

    This is pure genius!!! I have done all kinds of sweater repurposing projects and have never once thought to turn the thing upside down. I am sooo hitting my closet with scissors ASAP.
    Thank You!

  3. Barbarah says:

    First, if you cut anything that’s knit without reinforced stitching it will unravel. So if it’s a sweater, you had better stitch where you’re cutting first.

  4. Brookelynn says:

    I have been wearing several pieces of cut knit fabric as scarves and shrugs for ages. I created them exactly as I have shown in this tutorial. There has not been a single snag or run. And none of my projects have ever unraveled either. One reason could be because I choose donor sweaters that are tightly knit. The long cut edge that forms the back of the shrug tends to just curl up, as shown in the photo of the grey sweater above. If I want to cut a sweater that is more loosely knit, I just felt it first. Felting a sweater that is wool, or wool blended with other natural fibers, will cause the fabric of the sweater to bind to itself. Then it can be cut without any fear!

  5. Zaz says:

    poor sweaters, except for the one on the right that’s unwearable because so huge.

  6. MadScientistK says:

    Plenty of knit fabrics don’t really ravel when you cut them, otherwise t-shirt surgery would be a lot more difficult! It’s true that many sweater knits are nice ravel-y stockinette stitch, but a surprising number of fine-gauge sweaters are interlock knit just like t-shirts. Some stitch patterns, like ribs, resist raveling better than stockinette. And, of course, some fibers resist raveling – I like to recycle yarn from sweaters and some are very hard to unravel even when they aren’t felted.

  7. Amy Zim says:

    Oh My, use this model again. Wow Amazing. Sweet!
    PS The girls took surfing lessons in Busua, Ghana!

  8. Gill says:

    wow i just loved this when i saw it, i did the blue styled one this morning, but i added a button which i fashioned out of the waste from the neck (the bit around the ribbing) ijust tied it in knots until it was large enough and attached it a couple in inches below my shoulder, then for the buttonhole/loop i cut about 4inches of ribbing that also came from my neck offcuts and attached that to the corner and it looks stunning, like a really posh expensive shrug..thanks for your idea!

  9. Jo B says:

    what a neat idea. I didn’t have any sweaters/tops I wanted to cut right now, but I just put my cardigan on upside down to see if I liked the look and it’s super-cute!
    I might wear upside down cardigans all winter :)

  10. cindi says:

    Stinkin’ adorable! I gotta try it right now! (ok maybe in the morning) But, I have to try it. Thanks for the easy to understand and clear instructions.

  11. Sadia Komal says:

    Wow nice refashioned

  12. Cardigans And Shrugs | Home says:

    […] How-To: Refashioned Sweater Shrug – With a sharp pair of scissors, you can take any sweater and transform it into a totally new shrug. For this tutorial, I used three different sweaters to demonstrate the versatility. The steps are the same, but the results are each one of a kind. […]

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