I made sweater dresses for the girls since I didn’t have a lot of cold weather dresses for them. I really liked how quickly these went together, since you don’t have to finish any edges- they’re all salvaged from the original garment! Here’s the three I made. Please ignore the unfinished floor, and the lower quality pictures- I couldn’t get them to stand still! And the first one looks big because it was supposed to be for one of the twins, but she decided after it was made that she didn’t want it, she wanted the one I made for her little sister. It was a battle I decided not to fight. They’re only 16 months apart, so the sizes they wear aren’t that different, right? Okay- wrong for this garment. I’ll try to persuade them to wear different ones next time! For size reference, my girls are in size 2T and 3T.
The first dress (pink) is based on the peasant sweater dress up-cycle I saw here at Make It and Love It. Hers (brown) is definitely better picture quality and better fit! This was my least favorite of the three dresses I made as far as how it turned out for me, but it’s still cute and warm.
My sweater was either a medium or large, I think… and it didn’t have any fold over seam to re-use. So I combined it with making a tube for elastic on the top- a method I’ve used before (and maybe someday will get those projects up). I cut a strip of fabric longer than the top of the dress pieces add up to be. I finish sew one edge, then sew the other raw edge onto the top neckline of the dress and sleeve pieces- I start in the middle of the back so that’s where the seam will be when I’m done. Leave a bit un-sewn on the end so you can sew the strip together. Once you’ve sewn all the way around, sew the two ends of the strip together. Then sew the edge you finished earlier down onto the dress to make a tube. leave a bit of a hole at the end so you can thread your elastic. I pin and try on for size before I sew the elastic and stitch the hole closed.
Note that sweater fabric is much lumpy bunchier than others, so the peasant style top of each sleeve and dress body piece shouldn’t have as much extra length as you’d have for a lighter weight fabric. I had to cut portions out from the sleeve and body of the dress after I’d sewn on the tube and it got to be a bit of a mess.
The second dress (purple) is loosely based on the one here at Smashed Peas and Carrots. Hers (striped) makes the neckline smaller in the back and has some cute leg warmers form the cut off sleeves.
This was either a size small or medium sweater. I wanted to save the collar of the sweater since it had nice details. I made the neckline a bit smaller by taking it in above the shoulders. I didn’t want to loose the decorative sleeve cuff portion either, so I cut off the decorative part, shortened the rest of the sleeve from the cuff end, and sewed the cuff back on. I took in the sleeve from the underside up to the armpit and then down the sweater sides to make it thinner- just like sewing the back to the front on the white sweater dress below.
The last dress (white) I figured out a way to do myself. This was a size medium sweater.
I cut the basic A-line dress shape but left the collar and a bit below it uncut.
Sleeves were cut from the original sleeves to utilize the bottom cuff. at the top, it’s tapered almost to a point, like the vintage look t-shirts. In the first pic, it was too wide at the top. The second pic is what my final sleeve looked like when I cut it out.
I cut the seam on each side of the collar to free the back from the front. Ignore the tag- it is not the back any longer, it’s now the front. I sewed the sleeve to the front from the widest point to the top- again like the assembly of those vintage t-shirts where the color block sleeve goes up over the shoulder and meets the neckline. The sleeve here stops short since we’re salvaging the collar for the finished edge. The first pic shows how it goes together. the second pic shows the front side sewn and laying the sweater on for the seam between the back and the sleeve. the extra collar I saved on the back got chopped off here. I matched up the collar and sewed from the collar down the sleeve. DON’T sew around the corner of the sleeve like I started to do or you’ll have to pick the seam back out.
Once both sleeves are sewn on, you can lay it flat inside out and it will look like this:
Now just sew the seam from the cuff to the armpit and down the sides of the dress. You can take it in as needed- mine was taken in a lot since I didn’t like the shape once I was done.
On each of these, I draped/tried on my girls to figure out roughly how much needed to be taken in. I re-draped sleeves after I cut them to make sure they were reasonably close in length. I think that’s the trickiest part since it’s the hardest part to take in if you’re too long. except for the purple dress, I would have to take seams apart to make the sleeves shorter. Mine ended up generously long, but it was close enough that I didn’t want to take them apart to fix them. It may be easier to just plan for 3/4 length sleeves.
I sewed all of this with a slight zig zag stitch to allow for some stretch. Then I (large) zig zag stitched the inside seams that were raw sweater since I don’t have a serge machine.
I made an embellishments to dress up the sweaters since they were all plain colored- a bow or a T-shirt flower. See the post here for more on the t-shirt flowers. I stitched them instead of glueing for this application, since they’ll be washed a lot more and I prefer sewing to glueing. I think it took as long or longer to do the embellishments as it did to make the dresses!