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Refashions,  Sewing Tips,  Sweater Refashions

How to Shorten a Sweater (without a Serger!)

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Short roomy sweaters are a huge trend this fall.

Luckily for us thrifty fashionistas, this is an incredibly easy trend to refashion! Today you’re going to learn how to shorten a sweater!

When I found this men’s XL sweater on the $1 clearance rack at the thrift store, I fell in love with its potential!

how to shorten a sweater before
Great color, but not exactly on trend…

You’re looking at a soft & lovely (but too long) merino wool sweater.

I love merino wool! Unlike normal wool, it’s suuuuper soft. It’s also durable, washable, breathable, and doesn’t wrinkle easily (perfect for travel). A good merino sweater will last a long time and is a great wardrobe investment.

Turnbury label
Fancy!

I was unfamiliar with the Turnbury brand, so I looked it up. You guys…these sweaters sell for around $80! What a steal!

But how do you shorten a sweater without a serger?

That’s right friends! A humble sewing machine is all you need to shorten a sweater. No expensive additional machine required!

You’re probably thinking, “There’s no way that’ll work!”

But you’re wrong! Read on!

Step 1: Mark where you want your sweater to end.

sweater with pin mark where I'm about to cut
Riiiight about here.

Keep in mind you’re going to be removing that bottom band and adding it to the new bottom of your sweater.

Step 2: Make two cuts!

First, I made a dotted line with tailors chalk.

marking cut line with tailors chalk
Measure & mark!

Then I made my cuts!

cutting bottom off sweater
Chop & chop!

You’ll want to leave a little sweater fabric attached to the waistband as that’s what you’re going to sew the rest of the sweater to.

Step 3: Pin the bottom and top together.

pinning bottom band to top of sweater
Reunited and it feels so gooo-ood!

Make sure the right sides are facing each other when you do this, and that you align the side seams.

I like to do this type of pinning on my ironing board, as it makes it easier to handle the fabric.

Step 4: Sew the two pieces together.

You’ll only need a straight stitch for this part. And don’t worry! We’ll tackle that raw edge next!

straight stitch setting on screen
Just a plain old straight stitch!
sewing top and bottom of sweater together
Whirrrrr!

Try to sew as close to the bottom band as possible.

Step 5: If necessary, trim the fabric between the top and bottom a little more.

cutting fabric
Snnnnip!

You’ll want to make sure these are exactly even for the next step.

Step 6: Overlock (or Zigzag) that raw edge!

A lot of sewing machines come with an overlocking stitch.

overlock stitch on sewing machine screen
It looks like this!

If yours does, make sure to swap out your sewing machine foot to the overlocking foot.

overlocking foot
This is what my overlocking foot looks like.

Make sure to consult your manual on how this stitch works for your machine, then stitch along the edge. It takes a lot longer than a serger would, but it gets the job done.

overlocking raw edge
Lock it down!

This is what that edge will look like when you’re done:

overlocked sweater edge
Nice!

If your machine doesn’t have an overlock stitch, just use a zigzag stitch along the edge.

It won’t be quite as effective as an overlocking stitch, but it’ll suffice.

Step 7: Press it all down!

For your final trick, you’ll want to press your new seam down.

pressing seam with iron
It’s a most pressing issue.

That’s it! Now you have a perfect fall sweater in a length that’s on-trend!

how to shorten a sweater after
Noice!

I styled my sweater with distressed jeans, some casual open-toed TOMS, a ’90s mask necklace, and green chandelier earrings.

refashionista in cropped sweater
TA-DA!
refashionista in cozy sweater self-hug
So cozy!

Meet my new Wigsona, Tracy!

refashionista in red wig
She spends a fortune on those highlights, you guys.

She works in HR (she likes the job security), has two kids (who are very active in theatre), and makes the BEST chocolate chip cookies for their bake sales.

refashionista in cropped sweater
She won’t give up her recipe though.
refashionista in sweater refashion
She also makes hand-poured candles for her friends and family. They aren’t very good, but she enjoys it, so it’s okay.

Tracy enjoyed an afternoon at Hazelwood Brewing Company with friends. They have a great socially distant setup with spaced out outdoor tables and masks worn everywhere except when you’re at your table.

refashionista with friends
Tracy enjoys quality time with her friends.

I really think this sweater is much improved and I can’t wait to shorten a few more I have laying around!

Pssst…Here’s how to shorten a sweater that doesn’t have a ribbed band like the one featured here. Shorten them all! Muahahaha!

Cheers!

refashionista how to shorten a sweater before and after
Yield: 1 Trendy Short Sweater

How To Shorten a Sweater (without a Serger!)

how to shorten a sweater without a serger

Learn how to shorten a too-long sweater! Short roomy sweaters are a huge trend this fall. Luckily this is an incredibly easy trend to refashion from thrift store sweaters. Learn this simple alteration technique with the Refashionis

Active Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour

Materials

  • 1 Roomy sweater
  • Thread matching sweater color

Tools

  • Sewing Machine
  • Sewing Shears

Instructions

    1. Mark where you want your sweater to end. Keep in mind you’re going to be removing that bottom band and adding it to the new bottom of your sweater.
    2. Make two cuts across the bottom of your sweater. You’ll want to leave a little sweater fabric attached to the waistband as that’s what you’re going to sew the rest of the sweater to.
    3. Pin the bottom and top together. Make sure the right sides are facing each other when you do this, and that you align the side seams. I like to do this type of pinning on my ironing board, as it makes it easier to handle the fabric.
    4. Sew the two pieces together. You’ll only need a straight stitch for this part.
    5. Trim the fabric between the top and bottom a little more so they match up.
    6. Overlock (or Zigzag) that raw edge. If your sewing machine has an overlock stitch, make sure to consult your manual as you'll need to swap out your sewing machine foot. If you don't have an overlock stitch on your sewing machine, a Zigzag stitch along the edge will suffice.P
    7. Press your new seam down with an iron.
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