DIY Cardigan Sweater from a Pullover Sweater

I have a new reason to start looking around the thrift stores (Like I really needed a reason – I would go any day just for the joy of it).

Nevertheless, the new thing I’m going to keep my eyes open for is some cheap cute pullover sweaters. Not because I love pullovers, but because I love cardigans! Thanks to Pinterest, I found a simple and easy method to easily convert pullover sweaters (which seem to be much more plentiful in the thrift stores) into a cardigan sweater.

a cardigan sweater made from a pullover sweater

I gave this a try this weekend with the only old pullover I could find at our house which was actually a man’s sweater! I figured I could go for the “boyfriend sweater” look and have a soft comfy cardigan I could throw on to run errands or something. It worked so well that I’m anxious to try it on a woman’s pullover too.

What makes this project easy is a great little product called Heat’n Bond which is an iron-on adhesive tape that fuses fabric together and allows you to make a hem to easily finish an edge. Heat’n Bond can be found at most fabric stores (or you can click on the link above to buy the product on Amazon). I used the Super Heat’n Bond in the 3/4″ width because I already had some of that in my sewing supply stash.

sweater 2

Ready to give it a try? Here’s how:

How To Make a Cardigan from a Pullover

Step 1 – Find and Mark the Center of Your Sweater

The first thing you will need to do is find the center of your sweater and draw a line. I folded my sweater in half very carefully and then marked the top of the fold and the bottom of the fold with pins. Then I opened the sweater back up again and using my yardstick, drew a line with a pencil between the top pin and the bottom pin.

Step 2 – Cut the Sweater Open

Using a scissors, cut along the pencil line to open up the front of the sweater. (Hey, it’s looking more like a cardigan already!)

Step 3 – Use the Heat’n Bond to Finish the Cut Edges

Now that the sweater is cut open, you will need to finish the edges. This is where the Heat’n Bond works its magic. Working on your ironing board, lay the Heat’n Bond strip on the wrong side of the sweater along the edge you want to finish and cut it to size. Follow the package directions for which side of the Heat & Bond should be against the fabric.

Next you will fold the edge over so that the Heat’n Bond is between the layers. Using an iron, press the edge so that the Heat & Bond will fuse the fold down. (*Note – my Heat’n Bond package said to use the “silk” setting on my iron, which is a very low heat setting. That didn’t seem to be doing much so I turned my iron up a little hotter with no adverse effects).

Step 4 – Finish with sewing as necessary

Now that the rough edge you cut open is finished nicely with the Heat’n Bond, all you need to do is finish up with a little sewing as necessary. Use a needle and thread in a matching color to the sweater and take a few stitches by hand to tack down the ribbed edge at the neck of the sweater. I also followed the instructions I found on Pinterest and used my sewing machine to sew the front edges too (but don’t use the machine to sew over the top neck edge – just tack that by hand. I also lined it up with the 3/4″ line on my machine.) This gives it a little more of a finished look on the front side of the sweater.

If you don’t have a sewing machine, you could probably skip that step as the Heat’n Bond will already hold it quite securely.


Now that abandoned sweater from Hungry Son has a whole new lease on life. It’s mine now!

This whole project took me about a half an hour and cost me absolutely nothing because I had everything around the house already. Woo hoo!

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  1. I need to do this to a chenille sweater which has a looser bulkier knit than the instructions show. Can I iron the heat tape on before cutting the sweater?

    1. I believe the heat tape needs to be in between two layers of material. So I don’t think that would work before you do the cutting.

  2. So glad I found this! Thank you! My father asked if I could make his favorite pullover into a cardigan. (His age makes it hard to ‘climb into’ the pullover). He wants buttons down the front and I am going to use the Heat n Bond tape to face the buttonhholes then hand stitch around the cut for stability. Thanks again for the easy directions and great pictures.

    1. I hope your Dad enjoys his “new” cardigan Malia! This is a good reminder too that this project works for men as well as for women.

  3. They turned out beautifully! I get many compliments when I wear one. Now, I’ve become a pullover “JUNKIE” and I’m lovin’ it. Yhanks again

  4. I love this! I just bought 3 pullovers from JCPenney with the thought in mind, “these are going to be cardigans”. I’ve been trying to figure out the front edges. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Now I know how to finish the front edges.