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Mara'sMommy 01-18-2012 09:51 PM

Sewing upcycled woolies
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Hey ladies,

I am a very very beginner sewer. I've started experimenting with making upcycled woolies from sweaters that I bought at goodwill. What's the best type of stitching and best thread for this? Also, is there a better stitch to use on the waist band so it doesn't look so... Weird? I'll post a picture of my first pair, please don't laugh!! It's a bad picture, I'm sorry.

Mara'sMommy 01-19-2012 12:01 PM


Rdesonia 01-20-2012 08:32 AM

Re: Sewing upcycled woolies
I haven't made any but the ones I've seen had the bottom band of the sweater as the waistband and the legs were the arms. I've read others say they pre-sew before they cut so they don't have unraveling issues.
Where are all the upcycling mamas?

One Little Window 01-20-2012 01:01 PM

Re: Sewing upcycled woolies
I've never really had unraveling issues. Although I do machine wash - usually in cold or warm depending on if I want any felting before hand.

I use really boring poly thread from walmart for everything. mostly because I'm lazy and sew basically everything with white, black or tan - that way I don't have to redo bobbins...

I do zigzag stitching for everything so that it'll stretch with the knit. But I sort of made that up, so I don't know if anyone else does that at all. I think they look great for a first pair. My first pair - well, let's just say one of the legs was inside out, among other things... :)

AniMommy 01-20-2012 02:59 PM

Re: Sewing upcycled woolies
I sew knits with the "lightening bolt" stitch. The machine stitich indicator looks different than the regular zig-zag but similar. when you actually use it to sew it looks straight. It's designed to be used on stretch knits. It's really hard to rip out if you make a mistake, fyi. I use straight stitch a lot too, but stretch it VERY slightly as I sew.

I buy what ever all purpuse thread that matches. Don't buy the cheap stuff in the bins, it will break, you will curse and be dissapointed.

For the waistband: First I buy knit elastic; it can be cut lengthwise. So if you buy the 2" width you can cut it half and have two 1" pieces. I think it is usually sold as pajama elastic. It has a uniform surface, not ribbed.

Anyway on to technique: Usually I will make a separate cased waistband (fabric folded in half with elastic running thru it)and sew it on. I like to use scraps from the rest of the sweater. I have used the ribbed edge of the sweater but it doesn't need to be. I like wide waistbands, usually 2.5" but use 1" elastic, but it's really all about personal taste.

The general formula for making a cased waistband is to double the desired finished width and add seam allowance to both sides. So if you want a finished width of 2 in, you need to cut 5 in (2+2 plus .5 + .5 for the seam allowence).

Another way I have made the waistband uses turtleneck or cowl neck sweaters. I really like this style because you end up getting long use before the kiddo grows out of it. I'll take a turtleneck and cut off the neck at the neck seam. I sew the entire collar to the top of the diaper. It can be folded over or unfolded. The cover doesn't fall off and it's almost no finishing. See the cover in the picture.

Mara'sMommy 01-20-2012 09:23 PM

Ok so there's my mistake- I was using the wrong type of stitch. I was using good thread though!

And for the waistband, I don't know why i didn't think to make it separate and then sew that on afterwards. I just folded it down and made a casing, put the elastic in and closed it up. It looks weird. I'm going to cut it off and make a separate waistband. Thanks for the tips!

AniMommy 01-20-2012 10:28 PM

Re: Sewing upcycled woolies
well, let me clarify. I take the casing and sew one raw edge to the raw edge of waist. Sew the front and back together. Then I take the elastic and sew it together so that it forms a loop. Usually I butt the edges together on a scrap of fabric and sew it all together.

Then I take the diaper and the elastic. I put the elastic inside the casing and fold it over covering all the raw edges by about .25 in. Pin it together. The elastic is free in the casing. Usually, I will run some straight stitching in a verticle seam line. This keeps the elestic from rolling and twisting. Then, I topstitch the waist seam from the front side.

I suppose you could sew the casing with elastic on afterwards, but I think it would add a lot of bulk and not be very clean. I would buy a basic elastic waist band pants toddler commerical pattern to see how to do it.

AniMommy 01-21-2012 10:32 AM

Re: Sewing upcycled woolies
I've rethought my last post. Yes I think that you can definitely sew the casing with elastic inside and then sew it onto the pants top.

To make sure it fits nicely, mark the casing in quarters and the waist in quarters. (This means fold the band in half, mark the halfs. Then mark the half way point between each of those points.)

Match the quarter marks up, pin and sew.

TheGreenBee 01-23-2012 09:24 AM


Originally Posted by AniMommy
I sew knits with the "lightening bolt" stitch. The machine stitich indicator looks different than the regular zig-zag but similar. when you actually use it to sew it looks straight. It's designed to be used on stretch knits.

Do you sew on a Viking? I've never heard of any other brand with that stitch. I call is a Z stitch. It is a TRUE satin stitch. I think Viking calls it an appliqué stitch.

Really, I can spell. It's my phone that can'tSent from my iPhone using DS Forum

AniMommy 01-23-2012 01:22 PM

Re: Sewing upcycled woolies
I have a babylock, but it's the same model as a brother. I have seen it on other brother machines.

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