wear it this weekend: nautical cardi refashion

Although September is well under way, around here it’s still a little warm for long sleeves and jackets. It’s the perfect weather for layers, like a nice lightweight cardigan.

nautical inspired t-shirt refashion

You can make this cute nautical style cardigan from a t-shirt, and wear it this weekend! This tutorial is very easily adapted to different weight shirts and different colors.

Why not make two or three? This only took about two hours, which practically counts as instant gratification!

supplies needed for this refashion

gather materials
I used a short sleeved, navy blue t-shirt for this refashion. I wanted a traditional nautical look, plus it’s still too hot for something heavier. But this tutorial works just as well with a sweater, or with a long-sleeved shirt.

You’ll also need 1.25 yards of white grosgrain ribbon (I used 5/8″ wide), 1.25 yards double fold bias tape, and eight 1″ gold buttons.

I recommend using a blunt nosed needle made especially for knits in your sewing machine. A regular sharp needle can snag the fibers in a knit, leading to skipped stitches and other frustrations. Sewing is supposed to be fun!

t-shirt cut down the middle to make a cardi

step one: cut
Cut your shirt in half right down the center front, to turn your shirt into a cardigan. You may want to mark the line first with chalk, to make sure it is perfectly straight.

If you’re making this cardi out of a sweater, run a zig zag stitch down either side of the chalk line before you cut it…it will prevent your sweater from unraveling before you get to the next step!

grosgrain ribbon

step two: apply ribbon detail
Cut your grosgrain ribbon into eight 5″ lengths, one for each button. If you use thinner ribbon and smaller buttons, you might want more than four on each side. It’s all up to you!

To make the plackets, Fold the raw ends of the ribbon towards each other, making a point in the center, so the ribbon forms a little arrow shape.

measure and mark where ribbon should be

Measure and mark on your cardigan where you’d like the ribbon and buttons to appear. Make sure they are evenly spaced, and that the left and right sides of your cardigan match.

Baste the raw edge of the ribbon plackets to the raw edge of the center front of the cardigan.

use bias tape to cover the raw edge

step three: finish the raw edges
Use bias tape to enclose the raw edges of the shirt and ribbon. Narrower tape would work just as well, but might be harder to sew on. Leave a half inch of bias tape at each end.

If you’re doing this refashion with a sweater, you can leave it at that. If the shirt or sweater you’re using is very bulky, you might not want to fold under the edge again (in that case, I would sew all the way around the ribbon in step two above, rather than just baste the raw edge).

fold under and stitch

Otherwise, hide the bias tape by folding under the edge and pressing and stitching it down, 3/8″ from the folded edge. Make sure your ribbons are folded out of the way, so you don’t stitch over them (as seen on the left side of the cardigan above). Tuck the ends of the bias tape under this fold to hide the raw edge.

Then you can sew down the ribbon along the edge of the arrow shape, using matching thread (as seen on the right side of the cardigan above). Make sure to leave your needle down in the fabric when you turn those sharp corners!

gold button detail

step four: sew on the buttons
Use chalk to mark exactly where you want each button to be sewn on (I chose closer to the inner edge than to the pointed end of the ribbon), and then sew them on by hand.

Done! Enjoy your new adorable cardigan, a perfect transition piece from summer to fall!

Obviously you can choose any color shirt, ribbon, and buttons. This would look adorable with a red shirt instead of navy! How about a white lightweight sweater with navy ribbons and silver buttons?

Or you could forgo the traditional red/navy/white nautical look and try something more modern.

As always, I’d love to see pictures of the ones you make!




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