Get Threads magazine!

Give a Gift

How to Sew a Sweater Using Knitted Fabrics

A sewing machine and some hand stitches can make a sweater, too.
Some sweater knit fabric and a scarf I was willing to repurpose were the perfect materials for my project.
Use a tapestry needle to hand-sew the two fabrics together.
A sewing machine and some hand stitches can make a sweater, too.

A sewing machine and some hand stitches can make a sweater, too.

Although I know how to knit, I don't practice it much and have never really progressed beyond the basics. When it comes to knitting, I basically admire and appreciate what others can do. However, I love the coziness and comfort of sweaters, and I fell in love recently with a sweater from the Etro Spring 2014 Collection that I saw on This sweater is loosely knit with a basic stockinette stitch, but it would still take me awhile to knit one with a similar feel and get it to fit just right. So I decided to stick to what I do best and sew a sweater instead of knitting it.

I had a piece of wool sweater knit I used a couple of years ago to create a dress for an article called "Material Mix", which appeared in Threads #164 (January/February 2013). My inspiration sweater, however, has stripes of different colors, so I needed more than one fabric. I remembered a scarf I knitted awhile back from a wool tape yarn that hadn't turned out as planned. It was too narrow and way too long, but its variegated colors blended perfectly with the sweater knit. And the primitive knitting skills I used to create the scarf had created just the texture I was looking for. The Etro sweater has some sheer sections as well and, although I toyed with the idea of using a sheer woven fabric cut on the bias to mimic that effect, I eventually settled on just using the sweater knit fabric and the scarf.

  Here is the sweater knit fabric and a scarf I was willing to repurpose were the perfect materials for my project.

1 | 2 | 3 > View all

Comments (21)

cheryl_a_l_b cheryl_a_l_b writes: Island Peach, thanks for the warning to ravel while the yardage is intact. I hope I would have thought of that, but then, maybe I wouldn't have!
Cheese Sandwich, your project reminds me of one I made for my son when he was very young. It was inspired by a Liz Claiborne ad featuring kids' cardigan sweaters bound in a woven. I found a salt and pepper tweedy wool knit adult sweater at a thrift shop and cut it like ordinary yardage into a child's cardigan. For the fabric bands, I used a lightweight woven cotton plaid that picked up some of the colours of the knit. The band was about 1-1/4" wide, and extended from the neckline, down the front, and around the hem; it was also used at the sleeve hem. I cut two layers, one for a facing, and enclosed the cut edges with it. The knit extended the full width of the binding for body. I finished the cardigan with a button closure. That was one of my favourites among the clothes I've made for my kids.
Posted: 5:08 am on February 15th

sbb7623 sbb7623 writes: I am getting ready to make my daughter this giant scarf she wanted (out of a purchased knitted throw) and I need just needed to validate my idea. I remembered reading this article in the magazine. It's 11:30 pm ... here I go ... lol
Posted: 11:26 pm on December 18th

cheese_sandwich cheese_sandwich writes: I cut up an adult's sweater and made a jumper dress for my daughter. It was much easier than I had anticipated and am looking forward to using knit fabrics again. I might even go to the charity shop and see if I can find a nice scarf to trim the next one with!
Posted: 12:59 pm on December 11th

MaryRay MaryRay writes: Thanks for the tips. I actually stabilized the shoulders on this sweater with a strip of narrow (1/8") grosgrain ribbon. But, stay tape, clear elastic, or the selvage from a woven fabric works, too.
Posted: 9:57 am on December 6th

user-1109916 user-1109916 writes: A fun creative idea! Thanks for sharing Mary. Another thought, watch antique and thrift stores for pieces of crochet or old knitted items. I found a lovely crochet piece that had come off the edge of a circular table cloth. It cam easily be added to the bottom of a sweater knit like this, or stitched down the front of a cardigan type sweater. It forms a lovely ruffle.i also removed the rib knitted band from a sweater that had damage in the body. It's awaiting an inspired piece of fabric. Cold, cold here in CO today, but creative ideas get the blood pumping! Thanks so much to all of you !
Posted: 12:27 pm on December 5th

islandpeach islandpeach writes: I love to knit and I like sewing with knit fabrics almost as much although it can be a bit tricky. I highly recommend a "roller" foot. That's not a walking foot but one with a little textured cylinder that pulls the fabric along without catching the stitches. Sometimes it helps to put a tear away stabilizer on the underside to keep the feed dogs from catching. Another issue is too much stretch in the shoulder seams. In ready made garments you'll often see them reinforced with transparent elastic but you can also use a little strip of self-fabric added to that seam. It will have some give but also control the amount of stretch. Unravelling to re-knit a ribbed edge is brilliant but I think you would want to do that before cutting into the fabric so you'll have reasonable lengths of yarn and not bitty bits.
Posted: 10:39 pm on December 4th

MaryRay MaryRay writes: Thanks for all of your comments. I really love this sweater, too. I'm glad you've been inspired! I like hearing about what you're considering as well.

I like your idea of raveling the sweater knit and actually knitting a band to it. And, you mentioned stay stitching before cutting the neckline -- very important.
Posted: 10:04 am on December 4th

kmm207 kmm207 writes: This is the inspiration I needed to sew with knits. Does (or would) a walking foot help contain any stretching of the fabric? Great article, instructions and beautiful sweater! I love the combination of store-bought knit fabric and the hand-made product.
Posted: 9:29 am on December 4th

JillTurner JillTurner writes: This article gives me some inspiration to try this out. I also do not knit anything like sweaters it's too big a project for my skills. This project idea is just perfect to add to my Things to try file.

Posted: 9:20 am on December 4th

joi joi writes: What a nice idea and great results! Love this sweater.
Posted: 5:42 am on December 4th

joi joi writes: What a nice idea and great results! Love this sweater.
Posted: 5:42 am on December 4th

Ojolly Ojolly writes: Just wanted to say how lovely this is! Pretty textures and colors!! I've been sewing only sweater knits for more than a year now. I'm so glad to see others enjoying these amazing fabrics.
Posted: 12:46 am on December 4th

lhamo55 lhamo55 writes: Great idea. For more experienced knitters, this could be a nice way to use use luxury yarns that would be too expensive to use in knitting an entire sweater.
Posted: 9:08 pm on December 3rd

Juney Juney writes: I love this idea, as I enjoy sewing and serging knits its my favourite fabric to work with, I can't wait to make one myself. Juney
Posted: 9:00 pm on December 3rd

cheryl_a_l_b cheryl_a_l_b writes: Love the sweater! The neckline finish is perfect.
I purchased a bulky cable-knit sweaterknit fabric that I plan to sew into a sweaterdress. My knitting skills seem similar to yours, very basic, but I thought I'd try raveling some of the yarn from the fabric to knit a ribbed hem and neckline. Haven't tried it yet, but I think it will work as long as I ravel rather than cut the lower edge, and preserve the knit loops to line up on a circular knitting needle. For the neckline, since I won't be able to ravel it and achieve a rounded shape, I guess I can cut and staystitch it, then handsew a separately knitted ribbing to finish it. Does this sound as though it will work?
Posted: 8:21 pm on December 3rd

chelosunny chelosunny writes: I love the color. I plan to shop my home first now that I have been inspired. I agree more articles like this one. Thx
Posted: 8:12 pm on December 3rd

wicked_stitcher wicked_stitcher writes: i found a lovely panel of all wool rust garter micro stitch knit. it proved just enough to make an asymmetrical boho Tilton sweater top. while i didn't combo it w/any other fabs, i did use a cayenne serged stitch to join the seams, left to view at the front and raglan sleeve lines. i didn't hem, but merely used the serger to finish the pocket, collar, hem and sleeves! gawjus
Posted: 7:41 pm on December 3rd

grd1604 grd1604 writes: I LOVE this! What a beautiful job. And so much faster than knitting! Recently a friend asked me to do something with all the sweaters her mom knitted. I cut them up and sewed them into an Afghan that she loves to wrap up in. She drapes the Afghan over her mom's chair which sits next to a photo of them both in younger days. So much nicer than sweaters sitting in a drawer.
Posted: 6:55 pm on December 3rd

Sewing2enjoying Sewing2enjoying writes: This is exactly the type of idea I love to see! I absolutely adore it when I can re-use fabric or clothing items that are wonderful but maybe too large or too small. Thank you so very much! I love it!
Posted: 6:07 pm on December 3rd

Dressin Dressin writes: Just yesterday I was trying to come up with ideas to use up some knit fabric in my stash. You have given me a starting point to think outside the norm. thanks for the inspiration!
Posted: 5:38 pm on December 3rd

StarrBlack StarrBlack writes: This is a fantastic application. Imagine just how much I love it considering this is in a colour I really don't like! Beautiful job, superb idea.
Posted: 5:23 pm on December 3rd

Log in or create a free account to post a comment.