tired turtleneck transformed

Too much alliteration? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Anywho, check out my latest refashion:

finished zip cardigan

Many years ago, I went through an inexplicable turtleneck-loving stage, which ended suddenly and with even less explanation.  These days I can’t stand wearing turtlenecks, but I hate being cold even more.

The obvious solution is to turn those turtlenecks into something wearable, something I can layer to keep me warm!

materials needed

step one: gather supplies
Besides your sewing machine and basic sewing supplies, you will need three things:

1. the turtleneck. One you’re not wearing, or that you’re willing to experiment on. Any kind will do, in any weight fabric. Mine is a medium weight, short-sleeved ribbed turtleneck.

2. the trim. I used 2″ wide trim I made myself using a bias tape maker, although it is cut on the crosswise. Bias-cut trim would have probably worked better. If you want a solid color, save yourself some steps and buy a package of extra wide, double-fold bias tape.

3. the zipper. If you want this to function as a true cardigan, you’ll need a separating zipper. I plan on wearing mine at least half zipped all the time, so I don’t care about that.

For the best effect, you’ll want the zipper to reach all the way from end to end. Mine was 23″ and a bit too short, so measure carefully!

chalk line before you cut

step two: mark & cut
Decide where you want the split in your cardi, and mark that line with chalk. I decided for asymmetry, and therefore drew my chalk line a little bit off center. After cutting on this line, I ran a wide zig zag stitch along the raw edges, to prevent the knit from unraveling.

The zig zag was probably not essential because of the rib knit, but with a looser knit it would be critical. Use a serger if you have one (that is not in your closet under other stuff, like mine is).

pin and stitch fabric trim

step three: pin & stitch trim
Pin your bias tape to the front of the cardigan, matching the raw edges, with right sides together (as seen on the right above). Stitch in the first fold using a slightly long straight stitch (as seen on the left above).

use stitch witchery to make it stay without sewing

step four: fold & press trim
Fold your bias tape to the wrong side of the cardi, enclosing the raw edge. Normally, you would stitch in the ditch from the right side, taking care that your stitch catches the folded edge of the bias tape on the wrong side.

But, I didn’t want any stitches showing.  So I cut a skinny strip of stitch witchery, and pinned it inside the fold (see above).

Then, I pressed the trim with a hot steamy iron, taking care not to iron over the pins, even though I used heat-resistant glass head pins. You can very easily leave an impression of the pins in your fabric if you iron over them, even the super-skinny ones. Just take them out as you go, just like when you sew!


pin zipper on top of trim

step five: attach zipper
As a nod to the exposed zipper trend, I decided I wanted the zipper on top of my fabric trim, rather than tucked behind it.

I pinned the zipper tape to the very barest edge of the finished trim, and stitched it down with the tiniest seam allowance I could manage. I decided to use gold topstitching thread, because why not?

use topstitching thread to add contrasting color

Done! A perfect layer for October days that range from the high 40s to the low 70s (seriously, that’s what the weather’s been like around here!).

Obviously this works on any top, not just a turtleneck. But then you wouldn’t get the cool effect at the collar!

You could cut your cardi down the center, or at an angle. If you are super fancy, why not try a curve (in which case you would definitely need trim cut on the bias)?

Try this with any weight turtleneck, anything from a t-shirt to a thick, heavy sweater. Have fun with the color combinations, and look out for zippers with crazy prints on the zipper tape (or stitch them on yourself!).

Send me pictures of the ones you make!




3 thoughts on “tired turtleneck transformed

  1. I truly dislike turtle neck sweaters… got one over three years ago never wore it…I live in Florida. This is a great idea after doing this I’m loving my sweater. The pop of color brings your blue to life.

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