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How to Upcycle a Sweater

Combine ready-to-wear knits into fresh looks

Threads Issue #212, Dec. 2020/Jan. 2021
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Something old becomes something new when you combine three preworn sweaters into one. Pattern: Jalie 2795.

There are many reasons to repurpose clothing into new designs. It saves money. It reduces waste and saves the planet. And it is a lot of fun. When you start looking at a thrift store as a fabric source, you’ll see that it is a treasure chest of colors, textures, and patterns.

I love to remake preworn sweaters, and especially to combine multiple knit garments into a single, one-of-a-kind piece. Most sweaters contain at least two textures, and often more. Plain stockinette, ribbing, and other decorative knit patterns offer a range of interesting fabrics that can be repurposed in unexpected ways. Look at the knit’s wrong side, too, to find surface patterns that coordinate with the right side.

Unless a sweater is extralarge, you are unlikely to have enough fabric to make an entire garment from it. Instead, look for other sweaters that match or coordinate to combine…

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