In Sewing, Thrifting, Tips & techniques

This weekend I was decluttering my studio closet and came upon my stash of cashmere sweaters. I’ve been collecting (hoarding) them for years. Whenever I see them at thrift stores I buy them if I like the color, no matter what the size or style, although the bigger the better! You can never have too much cashmere, can you?

Over the years I’ve made and sold various types of cashmere scarves made from sweaters in my etsy shop. And my cashmere bunny tutorial continues to receive a huge amount of hits, despite being 8 years old. As I looked at my bin full of super soft sweater scraps, I wondered, what else could I make with this beautiful material?


upcycled Linden1

 (Here’s me, trying to get a photo on a cold cloudy day. Quick, take the picture before my nose turns red!)

One of my very first blog posts 9 years ago was about sewing sweaters out of sweaters. What goes around comes around, for sure! The Linden sweatshirt pattern by Grainline Studio has been widely popular and posted frequently on Instagram. Most of my scraps are smallish, but I was hopeful that I could creatively piece a few sweaters together to make my own Linden top.


upcycled Linden2


I had a nice large sweater of my husband’s that I rescued out of the Goodwill pile. It was a grey thick ribbed cashmere sweater with some pretty serious moth issues. I was able to cut the front and back of the top strategically around the holes. For the sleeves, I rifled through my other stash of felted wool sweaters. I found a fine gauge mustard colored Benetton lambswool sweater that was the perfect accent. Because of the raglan sleeve style, I wasn’t able to cut a full length long sleeves, so I settled for ¾ length.

I love how it turned out! I used the waist ribbing from the mustard sweater as the neck binding. I used the sleeve ribbing from the grey sweater on the sleeves. I would’ve preferred to have a bottom hem or a grey band, but I couldn’t make it work with what I had. As it was, I had to piece 3 scraps to make the mustard band. But it’s wearable! Easy, comfy and the first of many, I’m sure.


upcycled raglan2

Do you remember my knit top sewing frenzy from last spring? One of my favorites was the Greenstyle Centerfield Raglan. So while I was combing through my cashmere, I made a little stack of green, black and ivory scraps to make a cashmere version. Again, because of the raglan sleeve pattern (really long, compared to a set-in sleeve, because it goes over the shoulder to the neckline) I had to add a sleeve cuff to get the length I wanted and a band at the bottom.


upcycled raglan1

Not the best shot…but I wanted you to be able to see the side/back! Love the color blocking. And I had to piece the band, half green (from the original neckline) and half black.

Have I inspired you to try sewing new sweaters from old? Here are some suggestions:


1) Make a muslin first with a similar, but not precious, fabric or sew with a pattern you’ve used before.

2) Wash and dry your cashmere to make it soft and pre-shrunk. You’ll want to use a fine gauge knit (like most cashmere sweaters seem to be) so that it’s drapey and not too heavy or stiff.

3) If you have a looser knit (like my grey rib was), serge or zigzag the edges after cutting but before sewing. I’ve found (the hard way) that if you finish your seam allowances together, the bulk can make your seams ripply.

4) Press your seams with steam, using a press cloth.

5) If you’re hemming and you have a walking foot, this is a good time to use it!

As I mentioned, I have been gathering cashmere sweaters for years! If you can’t find cashmere, you can use sweaters of other content. I recommend merino wool, lambswool, etc, because you can steam away sewing imperfections. :) Be sure to check for moth holes and wear, especially at the elbows! You don’t want to spend time making a new top only to have it not last. You can also supplement with purchased knits. For example, you may have enough fabric from a sweater to make the body of a top, but not the sleeves. You can buy a jersey or fleece in a coordinating color.

Next I’d love to make a cardigan, so I’m on the hunt for a pattern. Or I may try to make one up myself!

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Showing 5 comments
  • Debby

    Love the look of the “new” sweaters. I find it really rewarding to create something new out of older pieces of clothing! Sweaters and men’s shirts and jeans and flannel shirts – all hold so many possibilities!

  • Jan

    OMG! I love these sweaters sooooo much!!!! What a cool idea, and they turned out great! And you, mademoiselle, are just as cool – adorable pics!! I really want to try this!

    I have my Betz White upcycled cashmere scarf on right now, as I often do in the winter no matter where I am. It is absolutely my favorite item I’ve ever owned. It’s part warmth, part comfort, part happy, part dear friend.

    • Betz White

      Thanks, Jannie!!! Glad you are enjoying your scarf still!

  • Shirley Elliott

    Both sweaters are just awesome but my favorite is the gray and mustard. I just cannot believe how wonderful these turned out. This is the first time I have been tempted to try making a garment from some of my felted wool. What an inspiration! Thanks for all the helpful hints.

    • Betz White

      Thanks, Shirley! Felted wool is great too, as long as the garment you’re making doesn’t need a lot of stretch. I’m going to have to come up with some more creative piecing though to use up my scraps!

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