Upcycled Poncho

I own an oversize sweater dress by Theory circa 2007 from my days working at Neiman Marcus. I thought it was absolutely the greatest purchase ever–it has a boatneck neckline and leg-of-mutton sleeves, plus the colors are so perfect. I was sure it had not yet gone out of style and I wore it well into my pregnancy when I snagged it on a fence or something and ripped the back of one of the arms.

img_1874My initial thought for it was it would make a great wool overnight diaper, but then I realized it was a cotton-blend and probably not suitable to that purpose. Plus she started on solid foods, we decided to pass on cloth diapers, but I saved the sweater just in case.

I took Biddi on her morning constitutional a few days ago and saw an adorable knit poncho at Anthropologie that reminded me of the sweater, so I dug it out of the winter storage bin.

I spent some time looking at ponchos–a great one from Kate Spade in addition to the ones at Anthro. After examining the fit, construction and scale of them, I felt like I knew how it should lay on Biddi.

So I jumped in and started cutting, lest this sweater become the start of a hoard of ripped clothing awaiting rebirth in a crafting bin somewhere.

Upcycling in Progress

So first, I cut the sleeves about an inch beyond the armhole and stitch immediately so the knit does not begin to fray or unravel.

Next, I decided on the finished length, cut and hem it exactly as the armholes were finished. For the length, I thought 21″ from the shoulder was about right. The length is mid-calf on her right now, and will probably be knee length next winter.

Finally, cut the side seam. If there is no side seam, create one by cutting. Turn twice and stitch immediately, exactly as the armhole and hem so that the knit doesn’t unravel.

The topstitching made a kind of tulip-wave on the arms and hem. I like the look, but steaming and pressing it flat would make a different look to it. I will probably do that after washing it a few times, when I start to get bored with the wavy look. The black and grey stripes are a little wide for the scale of a toddler, but I think I made it large enough that she will grow into it over the next few years. The studs in the picture above are just some buttons I already owned, but I haven’t attached them yet.

The last thing I did was close the neck opening. I closed it about 4 inches on each side, but for another style of sweater that would be too much. This neckline was open almost all the way to the shoulders.

img_1881So here is the final poncho. I like the look and I love that one of my favorite garments gets to live on for a few more years!


And since I was left with two sleeves, I tightened up the forearm portion to create leg warmers; they will probably fit her better next winter, but I am not going to trim them down and toss all that great fabric quite yet. I also sewed the mutton sleeve sections to each other and made a tube skirt that she loves!


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