How to… flip the sleeves on a baggy sweater

Beautiful chocolate cashmere sweater with Banana R. label, thrifted at Chicago’s best Salvy for $.90. Special mister declared it too girly for him. I’m cuter than shapeless brown, so I declared it too frumpy for me. However, the lovely cashmere and dark color were gorgeous and worth salvaging. So I decided to alter the heck out of it until I liked the way it fit. Once I had it pinned, I was confused about what to do with the sleeves, since the shoulders were too broad for me. It was my mister who came up with the solution — flip the sleeves so the kimono style contrasts with the fitted bodice.

sweater After

Here I am, wearing the Before, inside out.


But before you flip it inside out and pin it up, carefully cut the shoulder seam holding on the sleeves.

sweater 2-cut shoulder seam

Then carefully cut off the ribbed cuffs.

sweater cuff

Now put on the sweater body inside out and pin it up to fit as you like. I started with my waist measurement and pretty much drew straight lines up to the sleeve line and down to the bottom. I wanted a snug fit. Baste your chalk lines, try the thing back on and then sew. Serge, or use a long narrow zig zag so you don’t pucker the stretch knit. Worst case, slide a strip of newspaper under the seam to prevent the fabric from stretching, the tear it right off after sewing.

sweater sew bodice

**With sweaters, try to sew before cutting any fabric; the knit is less likely to unravel. Once you like the fit, trim away the seam allowance. Finish the edges as you like; I did a wider zig zag close to the original allowance.

Grab ahold of one excised sleeve. Matching the existing seams and right sides facing each other, pin the skinny end of the sleeve to the armhole. Gently stretch the sleeve to fit if necessary. Baste, fit and sew it. Trim the allowances as above.

sweater sew sleeve in

Trim the bottom edge of the sleeve , fold or roll it under, and sew as unobtrusively as you can to hem it fast. I made facings from the bits I chopped off while tightening the bodice — trimmed off the existing seam and sliced each bit down the middle so I had a 1-1.5″ strip. Guess you could also use pretty ribbon or something to face the edges.

sweater make facing

Two strips faced the side seams, and the cut off edges became a facing for the flat edge that nearly covers my hand.

sweater finished facing

Oi! Cute cashmere with the kind of sass that’ll go anywhere.

sweater after sides

Still thinking about scooping out the neck… someday.

  1. I love what you did with this sweater, great job!!

  2. very nifty! Great way to change it up and make it fashionable!

    • Lana
    • January 31st, 2012

    Thank you for giving me confidence. I got a pair of cashmere “sweatpants” that need some care. The elastic is dead and they are huge but really good quality cashmere. Thank you!!

  1. February 17th, 2008

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