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Altering a Knit Sweater

grammytalktalk | Posted in General Discussion on

I have received a beautiful knit sweater that is at least 6″ too long.  Does anyone have experience with cutting off the ribbed edge, shortening the sweater, and reattaching the ribbing.  Would really appreciate some advice.  Thanks.  Grammy Talk Talk.


  1. woodruff | | #1

    I have a fine cashmere cardigan that was once too long, and I shortened it successfully. In my case, I just did a turned-under hem, because I hated the ribbing: It drew in the bottom of the sweater and made me look as though I was carrying my lunch or something down there!First I measured how long I wanted the finished length to be, added an inch for the hem, and marked that as the cutting line. As I recall, I used my Chakoner chalk marker, the best wheel type because it marks very smoothly on many textures.Since I did not have a serger back then, I used my trusty Bernina 930e to zigzag along the cutting line, making the stitches not too dense, so as to retain the sweater's flexibility. These days, of course, I'd use my serger, because it leaves the cut edge very stretchable.I carefully cut off the excess below the zigzagged line. Then, since I wanted a dressier, turned-under hem, I unraveled the cut-off yarn and after I had steamed it to to relax the kinks, I used it to hand catch-stitch the turned up hem in place. The catch stitch is invisible from the right side, and it provides enough elasticity so that the hem is quite smooth and stretchy. Reattaching the ribbed bottom is trickier, though. If the sweater is something like a hand knit of thick yarn, it would indeed be possible to hand-graft the ribbing back on. You would carefully thread mark two cutting lines by hand, one where you want the smooth part to end, and the other just above the ribbing. For this, your thread has to catch every single stitch. The idea then would be to use a bit of unraveled yarn to hand-graft the ribbing part back on, stitch by stitch. This is tedious, but it is something we hand-knitters sometimes do. However, if your sweater is quite lightweight, it might be possible to use the cutting technique i described for my sweater and then reattach the ribbing by machine, stitching right sides together, just as if you were using a regular sewing pattern like Kwik Sew that called for ribbing at the bottom. If the sweater is light enough, that seam at the bottom might not be too thick or ridgy. I guess it's a judgment call for you: It would be much easier just to hem the sweater up without the ribbing. If you want to keep the ribbing, then the question of the sweater's weight is important, in terms of rejoining it.

  2. joanfitzu | | #2

    is it a hand knit sweater or machine made? if it is hand knit i can tell you how.

    1. grammytalktalk | | #3

      I received it as a gift.  It is cashmere, but I believe probably machine made.   Grammy Talk Talk.

      1. dressed2atee | | #4

        I shortened sweater sleeves with a serger and they turned out great.  I use "wooly nylon" thread.

  3. Teaf5 | | #5

    Is it possible to post a photo of the sweater?Is the ribbing sewn on, or is it part of the body of the sweater? The sewn-on ribbing is much easier to alter, as it is usually self-edged and won't ravel much. But if the ribbing is an extension of the body, you'll need a few extra steps.The basic approach is to run a line of zigzagging in a matching thread (using a very light pressure foot tension to prevent stretching) on either side of a cutting line. This means two rows at the top of the ribbing and two rows at the bottom of the main section. Before committing to this, though, you'll want to check that the width of the new section is the same as the old one. If not, the reattached ribbing might require alteration of the upper part, a much more complicated process.Finally, the trend lately has been toward longer sweaters, and especially in a wonderful cashmere, the longer line can be slimming rather than bulky. And many long sweaters are being shown belted. Even if you're accustomed to a high-hip length sweater, you might want to try the longer style with a narrow pant or skirt and play with the modern proportions that might look really nice and not require any alterations at all.

    1. grammytalktalk | | #6

      Sorry, I cant send a picture, but this sounds very helpful.  Will give it a lot of thought.  The sweater does not have  a ribbing edge, but rather is top to bottom straight ribbing.  Thanks a lot.   Grammy Talk Talk

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