Old Sweater into Short Sleeve Dress (peasant style)


During the summer, the sun was coming up around 5:30 am…….now it waits until 7 am or so.  And I used to have some great evening sunlight to work with until about 8-ish……..now I have to hurry and use up the last drizzle of light before 6-ish.


And that means, yep, seasons are changing, days are shortening, and the weather is cooling down.


And our wardrobes are warming up.


I was looking through my pile of sweaters the other day and realized an old sweater I had, was just too short on my long torso. 

So it was time to chop her up.



And re-gift her to my littlest one.

( Inspiration for the dress found here.)





An old sweater into a new dress?  Very satisfying.

(there’s something about using what you have to create something useful…..ahhh!)





No hemming involved……I just used the original sweater bottom (for the dress) and cuffs (for the sleeves).





And because sweaters are stretchy……they make such comfy clothing for babies/kids.




And in case you’re wondering where I got the tights……they’re from Old Navy (this season).  Don’t they have the cutest bum?




Would you like to make your own sweater dress?



For a standard sweater dress with long sleeves, check out this tutorial here.



Please Note:  Because everyone will be using different sized sweaters and will be making dresses of all different sizes, I will be giving directions in very general terms.


To begin, you want to use a thin sweater.  Nothing with a ton of bulk or it will be too hard to sew the neckline.  And it helps if the sweater is knit together pretty tightly……just makes things easier.  If you don’t have one to spare, check out the local thrift shop.  There are always treasures there.


The sweater I used was an old Gap sweater……nice and soft and not worn out at all. (just too short for me)



To create your dress, you will need a dress to pattern it after.  (It doesn’t have to be a peasant style dress……but finding an A line shaped dress would work best.)  Lay your dress on top, lining up the bottom of the dress with the bottom of the sweater, so then you don’t have to hem the finished dress.


Then cut the top of the sweater off, right at the neckline (not the shoulders) of the dress on top.  (Be sure to add a 1/4 inch at the top for a seam allowance.)  Then, starting at the bottom, cut up at an angle….staying about a half inch away from the edge of the dress (for a seam allowance).  Keep cutting up in a straight line, until you reach the top of the sweater section you are working with.


Then cut the other side in the same way.  (Be sure to not have too much of an angle or else the bottom of the dress with be pointy at the bottom sides, after you sew the front and back pieces together.)


Now, you want to cut off the top corners at an angle.  (Try and make this line about 3/4 of the length of the arm hole opening, where the sleeve meets the bodice on the dress you are working with.  Unless you are patterning after a peasant style dress, then you will know the exact length to use.)


Now, for the sleeves, use the cuff of the sweater arms.  Cut each cuff off about a 1/2 inch longer than the length of the slant that you just made in the last step.


Then cut some of the width of the cuff off, so that it is just enough to go around the arm.  Leave the fold along the other edge intact.


Next, cut off a bit of the inner corner of the sleeve just a bit, so that sleeve will tilt upward a bit and be more fitted on the shoulders.  The slant should be the same length as the slant on the dress bodice.  Cut the other cuff the same way for the other sleeve.


Now, with right sides together, sew each slant of the sleeve to the slant of the bodice front and bodice back.  Here’s a view from the “wrong” side of the dress, all opened up.


Next, you can use bias tape to finish off the neck line or try to use another part of your sweater.  The neckline of my sweater was pretty thin so I removed it from the sweater to use for my neckline.


Whatever you decide to use, sew the right side of the strip of fabric to the wrong side of the dress.  Match the upper raw edges.  Start in the back and leave a tail, sew all the way around (using a 1/4 inch seam allowance) and leave another tail……


Then match those two tails up, with right sides together, and sew them together…….making sure that you have determined how long to leave each piece before sewing together.


Then attach the strip the rest of the way to the neckline of the dress.


Next, turn the dress right side out and then grab the other edge of the strip from the inside of the dress, and fold it towards the outside of the dress.  Cut a piece of cord elastic and place it right under the strip of fabric before folding it over.  Leave a tail of elastic in the back as you sew……then sew all the way around the neckline, tucking the elastic under the flap of the strip of fabric.  Be sure to not sew over the elastic and keep the strip of fabric nice and even and snug.  (Increasing your stitch length will help keep the sweater from stretching out so much as you sew…….but it’s okay if it’s stretches out a little bit because you’ll be cinching it in with the elastic.)


Sew all the way around, leaving a 2 inch hole where the elastic ends will poke out.   Tie the ends in a knot, after you determine how cinched in the neckline needs to be.


Sew it closed.


Now iron/steam the neckline flat…….don’t skip this step.


Then, turn the dress inside out and line up the sleeves and sides of the dress.  Now, sew along both sides other dress, starting up at the end of the sleeves, working your way to the bottom of the dress.


Turn the dress right side out and press each side seam flat……..don’t skip this step either.



Now, for the little bow…….I cut a strip of the sweater scraps and then folded in the long edges.


Then folded in the two ends……..then sewed the ends down, right at the center.



Then I cut another little strip (with the edges folded under) and placed it across the center of the bow section.  Then I pinched the center of the bow, giving it its shape……then hand sewed the ends of the strip at the back.



Now, hand stitch the bow right to the front of the dress (from the back of the bow).


And you’re done.






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Filed under Baby, Children, Clothing, Featured, Re-purposing, Sewing


103 Responses to “Old Sweater into Short Sleeve Dress (peasant style)”
  1. 1
    Janny says:

    This is adorable! I absolutely love it! What a great idea- adding this to my “to do” list

  2. 2

    LOVE THIS! You have an amazing way of seeing a vision! This dress is so adorable – and cozy – for the winter. I might have to go dig thru my old sweaters. :)

  3. 3
    Allison A says:

    I love this. I’m totally gonna make one of these!

  4. 4
    Paula W. says:

    You are very talented – this dress is adorable and so is the little girl wearing it! Thanks for sharing. Your projects are always so creative.

  5. 5

    how cute :) Love it !!!

  6. 6
    Kati says:

    Love Love Love this dress!!! Man..another thing to add to my “I must make this” list!! :)

  7. 7
    Emily says:

    Love it! (and those tights) :)

  8. 8
    HW says:

    So cute! Wish I had a little girl to make one for.

  9. 9
    Emily says:

    Wonderful! I may hit the thrift store for this one! I’m one of those hot blooded can’t wear a sweater people;)

  10. 10
    Kristen says:

    That is too adorable!

  11. 11
    Anshu says:

    Very cute! You make everything look so simple!

  12. 12
    Shannon says:

    I am in LOVE with this dress! Now I wish I wouldn’t thrown out so many of the sweaters that didn’t fit “just right”! Oh well, I guess goodwill isn’t too far! :) Good job, as usual!

  13. 13
    Elise says:

    I just recently found your blog and I’m LOVING your projects. Thanks so much for the inspiration. I think I’ve got a sweater or two in my pile of old clothes that I can use to make this for my 17-month-old.

  14. 14

    Holy canoles, that is UNREAL! That dress seriously looks like you paid a ton for it. I can’t believe you did that yourself! That is amazing!

  15. 15

    You make it look SO easy! Mine would be puckery and lopsided!

  16. 16

    Seriously the cutest dress ever. Love it! I’m definitely going to make one for my little one!

  17. 17
    Mindy says:

    OMG love this!

  18. 18
    kate says:

    Brilliant! I love sweater dresses- they look nice and no ironing. I can’t wait to try this!

  19. 19
    Kristi says:

    This is great. Thank you so much for posting the tutorial for it. I am just hoping that I didn’t get rid of the perfect sweater when I went through clothes this summer.

  20. 20
    Jennifer says:

    I have been wanting to make a sweater dress for my baby for a while. They are so cute…but kind of expensive. I am making this today!

  21. 21
    Kate says:

    So adorable!! I just saw a similar one at Janie and Jack that had a little flower instead of a bow, I might need to make one of those!

  22. 22
    KathyH says:

    love that! It doesn’t look like a sweater badly cut down as some of them do. It looks like a beautiful boutique dress now! How clever!!!

  23. 23
    Dakota says:

    that our baby girls are the sameish age/size it seems. .Mine is 8months old in a few days and fits 6 to 9 mo sizes. So by comparison,they look about the same size. :D anywho greeaat tute. Ive seen things like this at target/gap/oldnavy but dont see the point when I can make it myself! Ty ty ty!

  24. 24
    Erin C says:

    Oh My Goodness! I love love love this! Sweater dresses are my favorite. My little girl always has at least one in her closet. When she grows out of one it must be replaced by another. This is a smart way to keep her stylish and save a little money.

  25. 25
    Lindsay says:

    Love! I need to do this with some of my old sweaters!

  26. 26
    Melanie says:

    You never cease to amaze me…I would never think of such a thing…but it is amazing…now I want to go look in my closet for an older sweater just to do this…and I don’t even have a baby girl right now…LOL…Thanks for all your ingenious ideas.

  27. 27
    Danielle says:

    Love this! I always give my clothes away, so next time I have a clean out, I’ll be looking at what I can transform. Great Job!!

  28. 28
    By Nicole says:

    LoVE! I have an extra sweater laying around for my baby girl!

  29. 29
    katie s says:

    Oh my heavens, I have the perfect pink sweater for this! No I just need the courage to do it!

  30. 30
    Selina says:

    What a fantastic idea! Gorgeous dress too.

  31. 31
    Shirley says:

    This is adorable! But of course anything you put on your sweet little girl is going to be great :)

  32. 32
    Stephanie says:

    OMG! I totally have that same exact sweater, but in a green color!! And I have the same exact problem with it… so maybe my little niece would love a sweater dress for Christmas?!?! Thanks for the inspiration!

  33. 33
    Kristin says:

    Gah! I totally had a sweater that would have been perfect for this, but I gave it away last season. I guess I’ll just have to go “shopping” :)

  34. 34
    Kristina Noall says:

    I love that. Not too complicated, cute, and free!

    Could I make a request? It really helped me when you used to include a “you will need:” list at the beginning of each tutorial. Is there any way you could do that again, at least on ones where there are a fair amount of supplies needed? Thanks so much!

  35. 35
    Silvana says:

    wuawwww!!.. 10!!!…

    Any ideas for the kids at Halloween? Ghosts, Costume…

    Thanks so much!

  36. 36
    Kat says:

    This is really cute!! Ive pinned this tut to my sewing board and cant wait to make one for my daughter!! Thanks for sharing :)

  37. 37
    Wendy says:

    I think your dress is prettier than the inspiration one. You make thing look so easy!!!!

  38. 38
    Maggie says:

    I just LOVE this little dress. And your model is so stinkin adorable! I dropped everything I was doing yesterday and made a pink one for my 8-week-old. Today I have big plans to make another one… or two… and maybe some leggings from your earlier post to match! Ah! Too much fun! Thanks, Ashley!

  39. 39
    Sabik says:

    Thank You!It looks so cute! I’ll recykle my old sweaters and sew dresses for my Amelie:-)

  40. 40
    dina says:

    very beautiful dress i love it so much thank u

  41. 41
    Breea says:

    Even though I should be working on Halloween costumes, I will be making this for church this week.

  42. 42
    sarah says:

    Hmmm, I could see some potential for grown up girls and large men’s sweaters… :-)

  43. 43
    Anonymous says:

    oh my gosh, that is so cute, and looks so easy to do (and I am a new sewer) you inspire me!

  44. 44
    Kerry says:

    I just found your website and think I am in love! I think your “re-gifting” ideas are amazing. Especially these days where buying new is such a hardship on so many. And thank you for your easy step-by-step tutorials. I am an average sewer that often does not use store bought patterns, so I appreciate your pictures very much!

    Keep the ideas coming!

  45. 45
    Lisa says:

    Gosh, this is just adorable & so is your little girl!! Seems so long ago since mine was that age – just dropped her off to college this past August. Don’t blink! They grow up so fast!!

    Life Full of Laughter

  46. 46
    Gine says:

    Hy Ashley,
    today I made two of your tutorials – the leggins and the dress. I love both by now and I know I have to look at my clothes, what I don’t need anymore ;-)
    You can watch the leggins and the dress on my blog – I’m looking forward to see you there!!!

  47. 47
    Gigi says:

    This is such an ingenious idea! I pinned your blog post to pinterest. http://pinterest.com/pin/300716419/ Hope you don’t mind. I love reading your blog!

  48. 48
    marie says:

    lovely!! very creative way and nice outcome…i’m loving it!!

  49. 49
    Lydia Story says:

    Wow you are incredible! It is amazing how you look at a shirt and create such darling little clothes!!!

  50. 50

    Oh my… both the dress and the baby are so CUTE!!!

  51. 51
    Jodie says:

    Your little dress is awesome and clever! She looks precious in it to. Thanks for sharing!

  52. 52
  53. 53
    Dakota says:

    I tried it. Epic fail lol. And maybe used a waaayy too bulkycableknit. Oops. Heehee. Try 2 coming up soon.

  54. 54

    Girl, you are so talented! i so wish I had your ingenuity and sewing talents! You are truly an inspiration. ;-)

  55. 55
    Vana says:

    You make it look so darn easy!!!!!!!! I have the sewing machine but don’t dare to try anything.

  56. 56
    Rachel Hipps says:

    Aw, your little girl is so cute!!

  57. 57
    jamie says:

    this is the cutest thing ive ever seen!!!

  58. 58
    Holly says:

    THANK YOU!! A little girl at church was wearing an adorable sweater dress and I was tempted to start knitting one up for my little one, but I’m totally doing this instead!!

  59. 59
    Dovile says:

    I’m very inspired with your Blog and this tutorial ! And your pictures are very clear !

    I’m planing to make the little dress for my sister’s girl.
    Thank you !

  60. 60
    Rebecca says:

    Last year I made one of these with gap sweaters that cost me .99 cents! Its easily one of my favorite outfits for my almost two year old.

  61. 61
    Daisy says:

    I made two of these for my daughter – one as a trial and one for family picture day! It actually worked! I have to say the neckline was the hardest part. Then the bow didn’t make it through the washer well, but I have scraps to make another one that will attach/detach for washing. Any hints here?
    Here’s the trial dress:http:[email protected]/sets/72157627816942393/
    Nothing does justice to actually seeing it on my cutie. Anyway, Thanks for the inspiration!

  62. 62
    Cassie Hale says:

    You made my day with this post!!! I can no longer knit/crochet due to severe carpal tunnel syndrome, and boy do I miss knits! So, this is the most perfect tutorial for me–especially when I’m missing the needles. I just love your website, and I fully agree that knits are great for little ones : ).

  63. 63
    E. F. says:

    looks like with what is leftover of the sweater you can use to make yourself a longsleeve shrugg….

  64. 64
    Marie says:

    I just made a little lilac sweater into a dress for a friend of mine who is expecting a baby girl. I knitted some pants, and a hat, but the dress (which will eventually be a shirt) just made the outfit – thank you!!

  65. 65
    Judy says:

    You are INGENIOUS!!

  66. 66
  67. 67

    Ok, I’m just starting to sew…but I think I can actually make this for my 2 year old!!! Without a trip to the fabric store! Hooray!

    Thanks for sharing!

  68. 68
    S. says:

    What a lovely dress and beautiful baby!

  69. 69
    Theresa M says:

    Beautiful baby!! Wonderful idea and a really cute dress. Thanks for sharing! I wish I had a baby girl to sew for, but I have 2 wonderful grandsons. However, I do have a friend who is expecting her first baby and she know it’s a girl. Guess who’s getting sweater dresses???? :)

  70. 70
    Hannah says:

    I made this last week for my baby girl! It turned out amazingly cute! (Except for the fact that I forgot the elastic cord in the neck, but it didn’t turn out that bad) Thank you for the idea! I will be doing a post on my blog tomorrow about the dress I made. Check it out! http://www.forcraftinesssake.blogspot.com

  71. 71

    I want to make my upcoming grandson baby an outfit from an old sweater…..like stretchy little bottoms and sweater…..could I possibly do this and make it come out well????

  72. 72
    Geraldine says:

    Beautiful! I’m learning so much from you! So many pieces coming up from the back of my mind (hehe…that have been lying at the back of my wardrobe! LOL) that I’m gonna start cutting up for my three little girls and baby boy now! ;) Ready, get set, SEW!

  73. 73
    Shay says:

    This is awesome and so cute. I am getting inspired to start sewing since I have a girl and Iove seeing her in little dresses. I am going to start repurposing some old stuff of mine for her. I came across this post and loved it and my mom who is like a size 12 in kids bought herself a sweater size 22 and gave it to me and it doesnt fit me either so I know what I am going to do with it now!!!!! :)

  74. 74
    Joy says:

    it’s a very very nice. Today I made my sweater refashion baby dress. Very cute ^^
    Thank u
    from Mongolia

  75. 75
    Reyna says:

    The sweater -dress is adorable!
    I just wanted to say this has to be one of the BEST, understandable tutorials I have ever seen!
    Thank You!

  76. 76
    Lynn says:

    so cute…going up to look for some old sweaters now…

  77. 77
  78. 78

    I just like the helpful info you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again right here regularly. I’m rather sure I will be told a
    lot of new stuff proper right here! Good luck for the following!

  79. 79
    Izzati says:

    You make things look so easy to do!

  80. 80
    louise says:

    Thank you so much. I’ve made mine yesterday it looks great. I also used the leftovers to make a little headband and added the bow to that :-)

  81. 81

    Thanks so much for sharing! You make it look SO easy! Brilliant!

  82. 82
    Daisy says:

    This is adorable! I absolutely love it! What a great idea- thank you for sharing!

  83. 83
    katie says:

    Magnificent. Absolutely brilliant!. This is the cutest thing ive ever seen!!!

  84. 84
    Logan says:

    It’s high time I told you what an awesome idea this is and what a great tutorial. I’ve made a half dozen different sweater dresses now and this is what got me started. Thanks.