how to save a cashmere sweater

I was gifted a black cashmere sweater many winters ago, and I have never worn it. It’s a damn shame, too, because I’m cryophobic and I need a winter wardrobe well-stocked with warm sweaters.

But it was an awkward shape – it had a very high crew neck, and ribbing across the hem and at the cuffs – all things that look terrible on me. So, it sat in my closet, unworn, for at least 3 winters. Then I decided to get out my scissors!

cut off the ribbed cuffs

I figured this was a zero-risk refashion: I wasn’t wearing the sweater anyway, so if I totally botched it, I haven’t really lost anything, right? So I started snipping. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to get rid of the ribbing.

I cut off the ribbed cuffs and hem, and snipped a slightly lower, scooped neckline. I stitched a zig zag along where I planned to cut before I did the cutting, so the sweater wouldn’t unravel on me, and also to make sure my cuts were even.


new scoop neck sketched out and pinned knit trim for my sweater refashion a165space


I wanted to make my final product slightly more interesting than a plain black sweater, so I thought I’d add some kind of edging around the new neckline, cuffs, and hem. I had a vague vision of a gray border with purple piping trim. I used cotton jersey for both trims, and thick cotton yarn for the piping.

Making your own custom piping is actually pretty easy, you just need bias-cut fabric (or stretchy knit, like I used), some yarn with a bit of body for the piping, and your trusty zipper foot.

using your zipper foot to make piping custom made piping a165space


Since I did absolutely no planning or sketching before I started this project (not the best approach ever, I’ll admit), the rest of this refashion was a bit of experimentation.

First I applied the piping about 2″ away from the neckline, and then tried a few different techniques to fill in with the gray cotton jersey. Eventually I came up with this slightly gathered look, which was not my original (admittedly very vague) vision, but that I am mostly happy with.

I echoed the look with a narrower, straight edge on the cuffs and hem.


the new necklinethe new cuffs and hem a165space


The new neckline looks much better on me, and in general this sweater has become something I’d like to actually wear, rather than something that just takes up space in my closet. I may add a flower or something to the neckline; maybe not.

What do you think? Let me know if you try a similar refashion! Don’t let your sweaters sit in your closet unworn and lonely, cut them up and make them wearable again!


4 thoughts on “how to save a cashmere sweater

  1. I have several (4 or 5) relatively new, raw silk (my favorite fabric) jackets that I’ve worn once or twice but can’t bring myself to give away because the colors are gorgeous, they look sooooo rich, and I love them! Your blog on refashioning a cashmere sweater has emboldened me and I’m planning to cut one up and experiment. Will let you know how they turn out, but if you have any advice please send them my way. I can’t wait!


  2. Lynne, I would love to see what you do with your jackets! My only advice is to spend a tiny bit of time thinking about what you’d like the end result to be, but realize that vision is only a guideline…be flexible and have fun with it!

  3. I would like to discuss with you an item I have in mind for someone we both know who has a birthday coming up.

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