DIY: Cold Shoulder Sweater

DIY Tutorial Cold Shoulder SweaterWhat’s a gal with a shopping ban to do when she spies something she’d love to try and buy? Obviously, one thing would be to walk away and really think about whether she needs it or not, as of course she has a capsule wardrobe to consider. The other thing would be to DIY that shiz, which I decided to do.

I mentioned in a previous post that I had fallen in love with the Rebecca Minkoff cold shoulder top that Sheree from Posh Classy Mom wore in this post. Being on a shopping ban means I can’t buy anything until May (when I start planning my winter capsule), but I really wanted to give this trend a go – so went about thinking how I could achieve this look with something I already owned.

I have this old Esprit sweater I bought for $5 from Rozelle Markets months ago which I am a bit “meeeeeh” about (one of those instances when I bought something because it was cheap, rather than really considering if I liked it and needed it), but thought would be the perfect candidate for a refashion:

It’s a slouchy fit, fine knit sweater with the shoulder seam actually extending past the shoulder, making it perfect for a simple refashion by opening up the shoulders. If you’re interested in trying this project out, I’d recommend using a sweater with a similar shoulder seam, or find one in your local opshop or thrift store.

You’ll need:

  • An old or thrifted sweater
  • Seam picker
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Fabric scissors
  • Thread the same colour as the sweater
  • Needle (for hand sewing)
  • Sewing machine (optional)

Step 1.

Using your seam picker, unpick one of the shoulder seams from the neckband seam of the sweater to the top of the armhole.

Step 2.

Mark 1 inch away from the neckband seam with a pin.

Do the same on the other side, ie place a pin 1 inch away from the top of the armhole.

Step 3.

Cut a semi-circle or semi-oval shape from one pin to the other. Keep the cut-off so that you can use it as a guide.

Step 4.

Repeat Step 3 for the other side of the shoulder seam, using the cut out shape as a guide. You may find that the shape you create in this step is slightly different to the one you made in Step 3.

Step 5.

Starting at one of the pins, remove it from the sweater and fold the fabric in 1/2 inch, following the shape you cut out until you get to the other pin (it may help if you pin along to keep the fabric down). From there, fold the fabric in another 1/2 inch, making sure you tuck in all the raw ends securely. Pin the tucked in fabric as you go around to the other side (of course, remove any pins you put in previously if you had done so).

Step 6.

Using your threaded needle (with thread the same colour as your sweater), stitch the folded hem all around. I used a simple hemming stitch/whipstitch as I was very lucky the thread was the exact same shade as the sweater so you can’t see the stitching, but you could do a backstitch or slipstitch, or even use your sewing machine.

Here’s a progress shot with one shoulder done and the other shoulder intact.

Step 7.

Repeat steps 2-6 for the other shoulder seam. Use the guides you cut out in steps 3 and 4 to help you maintain a similar shape on the other side.

Aaaaand that’s it!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out – I think I was very lucky to have the kind of sweater that worked perfectly with the method I outlined above.

This trend is great for these transition seasons as the open shoulders keep you cool when the sun’s still out, but the sleeves are great for when the weather turns. As it’s still fairly warm in Sydney, I styled the cold shoulder/cut out shoulder with denim shorts and lace up booties from my autumn capsule. This was purely to show you the final result of my project – I’m still deciding whether or not to include it in my winter capsule, although I’m pretty tempted.

Total time to do the project: 15-20 minutes (or longer, if you were watching CSI Cyber and yelling at the ridiculousness of the storyline)
Total cost to do the project: $0

Of course, if DIY isn’t your thing, below are some shoppable options for less than $100. (In the spirit of minimalism and intentional shopping, consider if you would realistically wear this jumper, if you would wear it more than 7 times, and if it’s something that you could wear in multiple ways to get the most out of it.)

Hope this inspires you to refashion or DIY a trend from something you already own rather than buy! Would you consider doing this with one of your old sweaters? If you do, share it with me by dropping me an email, leaving a link to the project in the comment below (if you decide to blog about it!), or tag me ( on Instagram showing me your project!

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