Sunday, April 24, 2011

Adult Sweater to toddler boy's sweater vest tutorial

This is my first tutorial, so I'm nervous it won't be perfectly clear, but I will try my best! I recommend you read through the whole thing before starting so that you can see how all the pieces fit together.

I don't have a picture of my husband's sweater before I cut it up, but this is the final product.

First of all, I started with an existing sweater to make the pattern. But you can do the same with any shirt that fits your toddler well. Trace the bottom, sides, and armholes. Eyeball a V where you want the neck to be. You might want to draw in a curved neckline for the faux shirt and collar just for reference. Now trace another V inside that, because the neck ribbing will be added on, as well as a small piece of "shirt" that the collar will attach to. You can kind of see it in the picture. The top shoulder line needs to be fairly short. There are some better pictures of this further down where I sew together the front and back pieces.

You will end up with a pattern piece like below. You might want to measure your V and make sure both sides are equal. I went back and adjusted this pattern piece after I took the picture.

Next you'll need to go all the way around your pattern with your desired seam allowance. I usually use 1/2 inch. You won't need to add a seam allowance to the bottom though if you use the existing bottom of your adult sweater.

Place it on the adult sweater. Put it flush with the bottom of the sweater.

Take a deep breath, and cut into your adult sweater!

Next you'll want to create the pattern for the back pieces. Now for an older child, you might want to make it one piece so that it can slip over their head, but I really like being able to snap it up the back. Trace the back of your shirt. Draw a line down the center. Now you'll want to add two inches to the side of that line to account for overlap and seam.

Cut out your piece, including a seam allowance. You'll notice that the shoulder on the back is wider than on the front. That is because the front will have the neck ribbing and also the small bit of fabric that the collar attaches to.

Cut out your two back pieces. Mine is not flush with the bottom because I just wanted to add some length to the orginal pattern. I did the same with the front.

Now trace a pattern for your sleeve, and make sure to add a seam allowance to all sides except the top because you will cut that on a fold.

Now you have a little portion of "shirt" that goes between the neck of the sweater and the collar.

This is the shape that you will need. You need the bottom to match up with the V of the sweater and then curve the neckline. I kind of ran out of paper but you can see where the V would be.

This shows you how it should fit with the sweater. Notice that I added a seam allowance all the way around. The length of the V on both parts should match up (with seam allowance and everything) . Sorry I don't have clearer instructions for this step, so just eyeball it.

Cut out two sleeves with the top edge on the fold.

And cut out one of the little V things.

Okay, and this is where I get out of order a bit, but I can't switch the pictures around very easily at all with blogger, so I'll just explain as best as possible. To make the collar, I just traced my existing collar, but you can't do that. So you'll need to wait to make a pattern until after you've sewn together the V and the front sweater, and after you've sewn the front to the back pieces. Measure the length of the neckline. Divide that in half. Subtract two inches (to account for the snap placket). That is the length of one side of the collar. For the shape, you can eyeball it or you can try tracing an existing collar. Add seam allowance and cut out four pieces.

K, for the cuffs you'll need to first open up the sleeves and measure the length of the straight end.

Take that length and cut out four rectangles of that length and 2 inches wide. Do not add any sort of seam allowance. Round the corners on two of the corners like shown in the picture.

The final thing you will need is ribbing for the collar and armholes. I cut off the ribbing on the sleeves and collar of the sweater. If your sweater doesn't have this, then you will need to buy some ribbing in a coordinating color. Just ask at the fabric store and they will direct you to it. I don't know the exact lengths you will need, but making them 1.5" wide will work well. With the ribbing that I used, it wasn't quite wide enough, so I used smaller seam allowances on those portions and it worked out well.

Take a length of ribbing, fold it in half, and pin it along the neckline as shown below. Pin it along the right side of the fabric (the front of the fabric).

My section of ribbing wasn't long enough, but the nice thing about ribbing is that it stretches, which helps the collar lay nicely after sewn, so make sure the piece you use is stretched out a bit while pinned. Now take the V piece and adjust the pins to sandwich the ribbing between it and the sweater.

The final portion will look like this:

Sew it with your desired seam allowance. When sewing knits, I use a larger stitch length. Like I mentioned, I actually used a smaller seam allowance here and it worked great. If you use a larger seam allowance, trim your seams afterwards. Clip the seam at the V (If you've never clipped seams, it just helps the curves lay flatter. Don't actually cut through the thread!).

Use a coordinating thread to topstitch. This will help the collar lay nicely and look more finished.

K, I think I accidentally deleted the picture that was supposed to go here, but you'll need to match up the pieces of the front and back at the shoulders. Sew together. Topstitch. Oh, and remember that whole right side to right side thing? Don't forget it. I ended up sewing the back pieces on backwards! Oh well, it's not too noticeable.

Lay out the front and back pieces and stretch out some folded ribbing along the seam.

Lay your arm piece on top (remember, right sides to right sides of fabric, and sandwich the ribbing). Match the middle of the sleeve with the shoulder seam.

Pin. Sew.

Clip the seams. Topstitch.

Now the cuffs. Pin them together and sew along the curved edge fron pin to pin. See where I've pinned in the picture.

This next picture isn't very clear, but you will pin the right side of one of the cuff pieces to the right side of the sleeve. You should have some room on either end, enough for a seam. Fold the ends in and secure them with a pin, as shown below.

After sewing, fold the other side over, fold the bottom edge and all side edges under, and pin.

Sew along all three unsewn edges.

After sewing both cuffs, pin together the sides of the sweater and the sleeve, right sides together.

After sewing, clip seam allowances and curves likes seen below. This will give the seam more freedom of movement.

You can see how the cuffs aren't continuous in this next picture. I liked doing it this way because it gives a little more freedom of movement.

Match together the collar pieces, and sew along the long curved edge.

Clip seams and corners, turn, topstitch.

Pin the pieces to the neckline.

Fold under the edges of the sweater and stitch to the collar. Topstitch the collar down.

You are almost done! Next is the snap placket in the back. You could also use it for buttons. Sew the ends each back in 1". Sew them in place. (My camera ran out of batteries here, but I think I have enough pictures for you to figure it out).

Add snaps. I hate installing snaps. I just bought some Dritz snap pliers for installing several types of snaps. They have terrible reviews, but I wanted an easier solution than hammering. Well, the first pair I made were super poor quality and when I squeezed them together they were made so incorrectly that it was completely impossible to use them. I thought I couldn't bring them back since they were opened, but it turns out I could have. Grr. Anyway, I bought new ones, and before I picked them I squeezed them all in their packages to make sure they lined up! They worked all right. A few kept going in wrong and so I wasted several snaps, but it all worked out eventually.

And here is the finished product! Very cute. The only thing it's missing is a little tie! I might try to make just the knot part and sew it on.

And for proof of how cute it was on my son, here are some pictures.

Hope this tutorial was clear enough, and let me know if you have any questions!

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