Refashion / Sewing

Zip up + Wool Sweater–> Cardigan Zip Up

It’s time to accept that winter is coming. And in celebration of the wonderful shoulder season, I decided to search out some wool sweaters to refashion. I got lucky at value village and found several cashmere and merino wool sweaters, including this one:


Monkey arms!

As you can see, the sleeves were too short. Generally, I like my sweaters looser fitting. I had a cardigan refashion in mind but wasn’t sure if I wanted to do fabric with a button placket as I had done in my previous cardigan refashion.

My friend (and AMAZING hula hoop instructor, Kelly Janes- check out her website here) and I were having a crafting/sewing day and she kindly let me steal an item from her to-refashion bin. I found this fleecy zebra print zip up.


So much zebra!!

I thought I could add the already installed zipper to the wool sweater, and that this would be so much faster and easier than my previous fabric/buttons/buttonhole method.  Well, it should have been, but there were errors. Many errors!


Chop time. I kind of measured.

Next I took the zipper plus a small panel of fabric.


These shears are in their element. Zebra on Zebra!

The zipper was longer than the length of the sweater, which I thought was no big deal because I had shortened zippers before and it was simple. But somehow, after I sewed the zebra+zipper to the sweater, I ended up with this:


I think it was partially due to the stretch in the zebra fabric, and perhaps lack of measuring??…oof! I should have planned how I was going to finish the zebra fabric at the top but I didn’t. I cut the fabric prematurely so I didn’t have much to work with. I tried to seam rip but the zebra fabric was too fragile and was coming apart. I tried to remedy the problem by cutting the zipper shorter and folding over the zebra fabric to re-finish it. It still doesn’t look fantabulous (you’ll see!).

Kelly had a brilliant idea of transplanting the zebra sleeves onto the sleeves of the wool sweater to bring it all together.



I measured the sleeve diameter of the wool sweater and matched that measurement with the zebra sleeves in hopes that it would be a smooth transition between the two fabrics.


Making a new seam

I screwed up sewing the sleeves together the first time but won’t go into details of my fail (as you can see, there’s some funky stuff going on at the wool sleeve’s edge below).

I turned the zebra sleeve inside out and put it on the wool sleeve (below). Right side zebra to right side wool.


Whoa there is a lot of pattern going on here!!

I tried to match up the seam, which I have to say was quite good.


Not bad eh?

Annnnnnnd here’s the final product


Yessss- the sleeves are more than long enough. I can even pull them over my hands :).

The zebra fabric at the top is slightly curly and looks semi-unfinished. I don’t think there’s a way to fix this error. I’ll have to embrace it (for now).


There’s another error (can you spot it?). In summary, I had one sleeve turned the wrong way (cuff where the other edge should have been), and then had to cut the cuff because I was damaging the fabric by seam ripping. I finished the raw edge with metallic silver thread but it doesn’t look as good as the other sleeve. The edges of the cuffs look different- I might cut the other one (SIGH…but it looks so crisp in it’s natural state!) and finish it with silver thread for consistency. Two equally curly/messy looking edges?! Haha. Ah well.

BEFORE                                                                                             AFTER

IMG_3169 IMG_3170 IMG_3193

Overall, I’m fairly satisfied with how it turned out.


5 thoughts on “Zip up + Wool Sweater–> Cardigan Zip Up

  1. So cute! Great combination – so much more fun together then they were apart! I think the unfinished edges are fine, but if it’s super bothering you, could could always try some bias tape – maybe in a funky colour? Or you could make your own bias tape out of spare fabric of even more of the zebra print?


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