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Altering readymade sweater

KnittinK | Posted in Knitting and Crochet on

Has anyone shortened and fitted sleeves on a store-bought sweater?  DH has a never-been-worn ski sweater that I LOVE – fits in the body but sleeves for a gorilla!  I have never attempted something like this and I don’t want to ruin it.


  1. Jean | | #1

    I  just  did one this Christmas that came out OK. I was careful to note that the seams were NOT cut and sew. (Although I think you  could do that kind too, if you are comfortable with that method.)  I carefully unpicked the seam and unraveled the yarn for the couple of inches that I wanted to shorten it. This is rather tedious, because the sweater sleeves had been knitted from the bottom up so at the end of each row, the yarn forms a knot that has to be laboriously released before it ends up a really bad tangle. Patience helps a lot here. LOL .  Anyway after that is done  you can reknit or as in my case, put on a decorative crochet border with the yarn you have salvaged and sew up  your seam.

    If it's a cut and sew and has a ribbed cuff, you can cut the cuffs off (leaving yourself several extra rows so you don't have to worry about dropping a stitch), put these on DP or circular N's, do  the same thing  up the sleeve a bit and use an unravelled length of yarn to graft the two rows back together.  (Kitchener stitch--it won't be easy working in the round, but can be done.) I'd be more inclined to try this on very bulky yarn though.

    Good luck.

    1. Indigo | | #3

      dear jean, if this is not a bulk knit, you can easily just cut out the seams as your would for a garment, serge along the edges, and zig-zag a new seam a new seam wherever you wish. I have done this many times. anna

    2. rjf | | #4

      I'm with you on this one.  Maybe serging would be okay but I think handknitting would leave the sweater softer and it would hang better.  The woman who runs our knitting group often does this kind of thing.  It's amazing how she blithely snips and ravels and never loses a stitch.  She buys sweaters from the Good Will Shop and redoes them for herself and her daughter and you really would never know they've been tampered with.  Her advice is to make a skein of the unravelled yarn and wash it before reknitting.  It's fun to watch the metamorphis.     rjf

      1. kjp | | #5

        I am in the process of shortening sleeves on a beautiful aran wool ski sweater that my mom knit many years ago for my brother.  She must have thought he was a very skinny gorilla.  The body fits me (too tight on him) & the sleeves would fit someone 7 ft. tall!  :)  This is my first attempt & its challenging because of the cables & pattern detail, but in a couple evenings I have one sleeve cuff beautifully done to fit me!  Much easier than reknitting the whole sweater.  I was very apprehensive - the first snip was hard - but it's really quite easy (even with undoing the knot at the end of each row).  Good luck!  karin

        1. Jean | | #6

          Good for you!! And you end up with a wonderful, wearable heirloom sweater. :-)

  2. joress | | #2

    Just last night I was reading in an old serger book that you could cut off the cuff (leave about a half inch to work with), cut the sleeves shorter (again, that half inch), then serge the cuff onto the sleeve (hence the need for a half-inch margin). The book had a whole section on using a serger for alterations of sweaters because, as they said, great sweaters in the men's department are often made better and sold for less. That is, taper the sleeves, shorten the bottom (similar to this sleeve explanation--remove any patch pockets first), taper the body, etc.

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