We love the look and creativity of handmade, but that doesn’t mean we never buy off the rack. There are so many great deals and styles, and since we have yet to figure out how to jam several more hours into a day, the speed of retail shopping is always appealing. The main drawback: no individuality. I’m just waiting to show up in People magazine’s “Who Wore it Best” column… probably not on the winning side. Thanks to some fun new products from our friends at Dritz®, we found a fast and easy way to customize an off-the-rack cardigan with decorative elastics and fasteners.
Sometimes it’s the littlest things that add just the right finishing touch. For this upcycling project, you'll start with a plain, lightweight cardigan. Remove the top button and stitch the buttonhole closed. Then add a stripe of Dritz decorative elastic around the collar and cuffs. It’s very easy to stitch in place with a simple zig zag – the small stitch and matching thread disappears into the knit of the sweater so there’s virtually no show-through on the back.
We used both the new Dritz Braided Elastic as well as two different colors of their new ¼" Metallic Elastic. Not only is it a clever embellishment, it acts as a “sweater saver.” We’ve all seen how the neckline of a lightweight sweater can stretch out with use; used as a flat trim, the Dritz elastic acts as a bit of a stabilizer for the ribbing and can help it keep its shape.
Our thanks for our friends at Dritz for sponsoring this project! We're always excited when we get to give you a sneak peek at products that will be coming soon online and in-store. We'll be sure to keep you posted with news of their full availability early this Fall.
The top button on each sweater has been replaced with one of the new Dritz decorative fasteners. The peach sweater has a flirty little flower snap. What we loved about this option were the two different looks this decorative snap allows. When closed, the front of the collar overlaps, featuring the braided elastic. When open, often the best way to wear a cardigan, the pretty snap is revealed.
The other two sweaters feature two new Dritz Hook and Eye closures. The pale green sweater has a larger fastener in a shiny nickel with a braided rope finish. It’s like a little bit of jewelry right along your neckline.
The white sweater showcases the tiny Dritz Rhinestone Hook and Eye. This closure is designed so that just the rhinestone is visible, which means the sweater can be hooked closed at the top with the rest of the buttons left open. This is a great casual style as well as an option when wearing the sweater over the shoulders with the arms hanging loose.
To keep up-to-date on all the latest tools and notions that can make your sewing easier and more creative, we invite you to visit the Dritz website or blog; or follow them on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
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When purchasing a cardigan for this project, we recommend a lightweight sweater knit with wide ribbing (1”+) at the collar and cuffs and buttons all the way down the front. Our sample sweaters came from Old Navy.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Satin Stitch foot; optional, but a clear view foot is very helpful when stitching the braided elastic in place
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown are for embellishing ONE cardigan
- ONE card of Dritz Decorative Elastic; we used ½” braided elastic in white with black and gray zig zags, and ¼” metallic elastic in sweet pink and silver on white
- ONE Dritz Decorative Fastener; we used a flower blossom metal sew-on snap in white, a braided hook and eye in nickel, and a rhinestone hook and eye in black
- ONE purchased cardigan sweater; as mentioned above, we recommend a lightweight sweater knit with 1”+ wide ribbing at the collar and cuffs and buttons all the way down the front
- All-purpose thread to match sweater, elastic, and fastener
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Remove the top button from the ribbed neckline of the sweater.
- Thread a hand sewing needle with thread to best match the sweater and whip stitch the buttonhole closed.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
NOTE: The majority of the steps shown below are of the peach sweater with the flower snap; the basic construction is the same for all three sweaters. Following the main set of instructions, we show details on how we positioned and secured the two different Dritz hook and eye fasteners.
Add the elastic to the collar
- Unwind the full one-yard length of Dritz Decorative Elastic from the card.
- Center the elastic on the neckline ribbing and pin in place, shaping the elastic to match the curve. Leave 1" of elastic at both the head and tail.
NOTE: For this application, the elastic is not stretched; it is simply pinned in place like trim. However, it's more than just trim. We’ve all seen how the neckline of a lightweight sweater can stretch out with use; the Dritz elastic acts as a bit of a stabilizer for the ribbing and is likely to help it keep its shape.
- Continue pinning around the entire collar. Remember to leave that extra 1” free at both the head and the tail. You can slightly steam the elastic to help it curve to the shape of the collar.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the elastic in the top and to best match the sweater in the bobbin.
- Set-up the machine for a narrow zigzag. We used 2.0 mm in width and 2.0 mm in length. We attached the Janome Satin Stitch foot, which is see-through and has a handy guide arrow at the front. This type of foot is optional, but helpful.
- Stitch along one edge of the elastic, removing pins as you go.
- Stitch along the remaining side of the elastic.
- With the small width and length of the zig zag and the matching thread, the stitching disappears into the knit. Below is a view from the back after the elastic was stitched in place. You can hardly see it!
- Fold the free ends of the elastic around to the wrong side of the ribbed neckline. Find the hand sewing needle and make sure it is still threaded with thread to best match the sweater. Hand stitch each end in place along the sides as well as across the end. We used a whip stitch again.
- This fold-over should cover the buttonhole and any marks left by the removal of the button.
- Find the Dritz flower blossom metal sew-on snap.
- Re-thread the hand sewing needle with thread to best match the snap.
- Position the lower half of the snap fastener so it is centered on the elastic above the placket, which is basically in place of the sweater’s original button. Hand sew in place, working your way around the inner petals of the flower with a double loop of thread.
- Position the upper half of the snap fastener on the inside of the neckline ribbing – where the original buttonhole is hidden. Hand stitch this half in place in the same manner as above.
- When the snap is fastened, it will be hidden between the layers, giving a smooth, overlapped finish on the outside.
- When open, as is often done with the top button of a sweater, the decorative Dritz snap is revealed as a pretty embellishment along the neckline.
Add the elastic to the cuff
- To apply elastic trim to the cuffs, use a seam ripper to open up the seam 1¼” - 1½”.
- Place the elastic on the ribbing of the cuff. Ours sat ¼” up from the bottom edge of the cuff.
NOTE: We liked the look of our elastic near the bottom of the cuff. You can, of course, choose to position yours wherever you’d like, simply remember that the higher up on the cuff it is, the more you’ll need to open the seam.
- Leaving about ¼” free at the head and the tail, pin the elastic around the cuff.
- The machine should still be threaded with thread to best match the elastic in the top and to best match the sweater in the bobbin.
- Using the same narrow zig zag, stitch each edge in place.
- Turn the cuff wrong side out.
- Match the edges of the elastic and pin in place.
- Re-stitch the sweater's seam, using a straight stitch and following the existing seam allowance.
- Turn right side out and steam to flatten.
Narrow Dritz metallic elastic with the large Dritz decorative hook and eye
- Our pale green sweater sample is embellished with Dritz ¼" metallic elastic in silver on white. The neckline is fastened with a large Dritz decorative hook and eye in nickel with a braided finish.
- The steps are the same for adding the elastic, first positioning and pinning it around the neckline and then around cuff.
- Because the metallic elastic is slightly thicker than the braided elastic, a standard foot was used rather than the Satin Stitch foot.
- The Dritz decorative hook and eye was hand sewn in place using a silver gray thread to match the color of the metal. There are ribbed lines that give the hook and eye its braided look, and when whip stitched in place, these ribs hide the hand sewing.
- To find the correct position for the faster, overlap the button/buttonhole placket and position the hook & eye so that it is centered.
- Hand sew each side in place.
Narrow Dritz metallic elastic with the small Dritz rhinestone hook and eye
- Our little white sweater is embellished with ¼" metallic elastic in sweet pink. The neckline is fastened with a small Dritz rhinestone hook and eye.
- As above, the steps are the same for adding the elastic, and we again used a standard presser foot with the slightly thicker elastic.
- The Dritz rhinestone hook and eye is designed so that the hook and eye are hidden and only the rhinestone shows. This made it a perfect choice for a fastener when a sweater is only fastened at the top, common when pairing a sweater with a matching shell or when wearing it over the shoulders. It means the very top of the neckline lays closed side-to-side rather than overlapped.
- The Dritz hook and eye is hand sewn to the inside of the sweater neckline centered on the elastic and positioned so the rhinestone hangs just beyond the ribbing.
- The loop side is sewn to the inside of the sweater even with the edge of the ribbing.
We received compensation from Dritz for this project, and some of the materials featured here or used in this project were provided free of charge by Dritz. All opinions are our own.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler