Cardigan Refashion (Tutorial)

First off, I want to thank each of you for your very kind words on my post yesterday. You are all gems. I was a little nervous to get so personal on my blog, since I tend to keep things pretty light around here, but all hesitation was gone as soon as I saw your sweet comments. Thank you, thank you.

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For some reason, I’m not a huge fan of long sleeved cardigans. I can’t really pinpoint why, but I just don’t love them. My polka dot cardigan is the only long sleeved cardigan I currently own, and as much as I love it, I sometimes wish the sleeves were 3/4 length. Maybe I’ll alter that one at some point too.
I got this leopard print cardigan out of Kayla’s Goodwill pile back a few months ago, and although I loved the print, it had those blasted long sleeves. Especially with a cardigan like this, the busy print is a little less overwhelming with a shorter sleeve, I think.
Altering the sleeves took about 10 minutes total, and was so easy:

 Step 1. Try on your sweater and fold up the sleeve to the desired length. On most cardigans there is a several-inch ribbed trim on the wrist band, which you’re going to want to keep. So fold up to your desired length while taking into account the few inches of ribbed section you will keep. 

Step 2. Carefully remove the sweater, keeping your fold in place. Pin the fold in place, then carefully sew around the arm hole, directly below the ribbed section.  (This is a little bit tricky because you have to keep those 3 or 4 inches of sleeve at the bottom out of the way, so go slowly).

Step 3. Cut off the extra fabric and zigzag or serge around the raw edge. 

Step 4: Repeat on the second arm.

And that’s it! Much better, and much less overwhelming.


  1. Ahhh so excited you posted this! Could that cardigan be any cuter??

  2. Melody says:

    I feel the same way about busy prints with long sleeves. I just thrifted a long sleeve shirt with flowers all over, I was just going to roll the sleeves up but maybe I'll try this instead..? Thanks!

  3. Saskia says:

    I like 3/4 sleeves as well. Because I can't sew, I usually just push up my sleeves. Less elegant, I know. When I do finally learn to sew, I'll have to follow your instructions!

  4. Loving the leopard! Have you still been watching The New Girl? I can't hear the word cardigan anymore without cracking up inside.

  5. Faith says:

    Love it! I never think of altering sleeves! I have a busy print cardigan that I think needs this. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

  6. Ashlee :) says:

    So cute! You find such good things in your goodwill piles lol! Love the new header ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Meg says:

    Love this outfit!
    Thanks for the tutorial!

  8. absolutely love it!! i want an animal print cardigan now!!

  9. Britty says:

    So cute! I've always wanted an animal print cardigan (I need a friend like Kayla!), and the refashion is so easy. I really don't like long sleeved sweaters (and can get away with three-quarters all year because it's warm where I live), and this inspires me to try it! (and i LOVE the new banner ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. You're so right! It's much less busy with the shorter sleeves. Crazy how such a simple thing can make such a difference!

  11. Kelly says:

    wow that makes such a huge difference! I would never have thought about altering the sleeves but I love this!

  12. i had never thought of this, but you are totally right! 3/4 length is so much more comfortable than long-sleeve! love the cheetah print ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. brittany. says:

    I am so excited about this post! I am EXACTLY the same way when it comes to sleeve preference on cardigans. I always end up pushing up my sleeves which creates a weird sag and looseness in the ribbed section meant for the wrists. I am definitely altering some of my cardigans now.

    xoxo. -brittany

  14. Cerise says:

    Great tutorial! I'm going to have to give that a try.

  15. Janssen says:

    I have done this to a couple of sweaters in the past and really liked it.

    Now to figure out if I can make this work on my sweaters with REALLY tight cuffs. I'm not sure I could get them past my wrists!

  16. Love this tutorial! I am totally copying it with a red cardi I have that is a little big so the sleeves are too loose/too long. I can't wait to see how it comes out!!!

  17. Oh and those orange jeans are to DIE for!!!

  18. I came across this post through Pinterest, and just now gave it a try. I had a purple cardi with awkward long sleeves… and now it's a much nicer 3/4s. Woo hoo! Thanks!!

  19. Abbey says:

    This is a great tutorial. I also prefer 3/4 sleeves on my cardigans. Did you hand-stitch the around the arm hole? Or were you able to somehow sew this with your machine? I'm definitely going to give this a try. It opens up a world of possibilities!

  20. Abbey:

    I did use the sewing machine to sew around the arm hole. Most machine's have a section that comes off so that you can sew smallish holes (and the arm hole stretches around that smaller section), or you can leave your shirt right side out and just sew along the inside edge of the sleeve where you've pinned up your hem.

    Good luck!

  21. Great tip… I will b updating a few of my cardigans

  22. Great tip… I will b updating a few of my cardigans

  23. Any suggestions on lengthening cardigans? I'm not a 3/4 sleeve person, although I can do it if necessary, but I'm definitely not a 'ending at the waist' person. My cardies, sweaters, shirts ALL have to end around bum level

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