Cobalt Sweater to Cardigan Refashion

Take your refashioning skills to new heights by transforming a plain thrifted sweater into a sophisticated fall cardigan. Featuring a luxe velvet placket, this refashioning project is ideal for the thrifty sewist who wants to practice creating buttonholes and sewing buttons. This easy sewing project also teaches how to create a ruffled hem-effect using elastic to differentiate your design from a traditional cardigan silhouette. Last winter’s sweater becomes a gorgeous fall cardigan with this fun sewing project!

Skill Level: Easy

Finished Size: Varies according to sweater size

Seam Allowances: 1/2”


  • Sweater (thrift or find an old sweater in your wardrobe)
  • Small piece of velvet fabric for front button placket/band
  • Small piece of woven fusible interfacing
  • 5 buttons, 3/4” diameter
  • 1/2 – 1 yard of elastic, 1”-wide


  1. Locate the center front of your sweater and cut.

  2. Measure the front cut edge of your sweater, making sure it is not stretched.

  3. Cut two rectangles of velvet fabric the length of your sweater front, plus 1” by 4” wide. For example, the front of my sweater was 16”, so I cut two rectangles 17” x 4”.

  4. Cut and fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the front band pieces (velvet pieces), then lightly press in half widthwise, wrong sides together.

  5. Pin one sweater front to one side of the front band pieces (velvet pieces), right sides together. The band (velvet pieces) will overextend past the sweater 1/2” on both the top and the bottom.

  6. Stitch the sweater to the band/placket and then repeat for the other front and band/placket.
  7. Press the band and sweater seam allowances towards the band, and then press the seam allowance of the unsewn band’s side to the wrong side.

  8. At the top and bottom of the band, fold in half right sides together and pin.

  9. Starting exactly at the sweater starting point, and with the allowances folded towards the band, stitch to the fold. Repeat for both the top and bottom of the band.

  10. Trim seam allowance to 1/4”.

  11. Flip band right side out and use blunt scissors or a point turner to sharpen the point.

  12. Working from the wrong side of the sweater, pin the pressed band’s edge to cover the seam allowance.

  13. Stitch 1/4” away from the band/sweater seam, making sure to catch the band on the wrong side.

  14. Repeat entire process for other front sweater edge and band.

  15. Space buttonhole placement evenly on one band, and always make sure to test stitch out a buttonhole on a scrap piece of fabric!

  16. Stitch and cut all buttonholes, and then mark button placement on other band.

  17. Hand or machine sew buttons onto band.

  18. You can leave the cardigan as is, or you can stitch on some elastic to the hem to cinch it in! Since this sweater has a side slit along the side seam, I’m just going to be elasticating the fronts for a unique silhouette.

  19. Cut the elastic smaller than the hem.
  20. Working from the wrong side of the sweater band, center the elastic within the hem band of the center and using a wide zig-zag stitch, sew the elastic to the sweater. Make sure to stretch JUST the elastic as you sew to create a “ruffled” edge effect.


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