How to turn a cardigan into a cropped cardigan

I’m a huge fan of cropped cardigans. Like, HUGE! hehe. I just think they’re such a useful thing to have in your wardrobe, especially when you’re pregnant. I love that can completely change the look of an outfit, and i love cropped ones because they sit so nicely above your baby bump! Wearing a normal cardigan can be kind of awkward when you’re pregnant, and a lot of maternity ones, just look, kind of odd (you know?!). The other thing i like is that they’re not as hot as normal cardigans, so you can wear them in summer… and when you’re nursing (maybe over¬†one of these!)

That’s why a cropped cardigan is the perfect solution!

Even better, you can make one from an old or thrifted cardigan. Lets do it!


What you’ll need:

  • An old cardigan. I’m using one that I love, but that has holes in the sleeves – so is pretty much useless to me now

What to do:

1) Try on your cardigan and figure out how long you want the sleeves to be and how long you want the cardigan to be.

2) Lay out your cardigan. If you’d like to crop the sleeves too, then cut off the hem of the sleeves, and then cut the sleeves to be as short as you’d like, less the width of the hem plus seam allowance. I wanted to use the ribbed edge of my cardigan to avoid hemming, so I cut off 2″ + 1/2″ (seam allowance) for the ribbing. That’s a total of 2.5″. For the main part of the sleeve I cut the sleeve to be 4″ from under arm to raw edge (including 1/2″ seam allowance). So that means my sleeves ended up being 5.5″ long from underarm to hem. Perfect for just above my elbows!

3) Turn the sleeve hems inside out, and place them over the sleeves, matching the side seams, and raw edges. Pin and then sew using either a zig zag stitch on your regular machine, or a serger/overlocker. I did one sleeve using a serger and one using a zig zag to show you that you can do both. (and don’t forget, I used a 1/2″ seam allowance). You may need to stretch to get the pieces to match, but that’s okay!

4) Now you’ll need to try on your cardigan and figure out how long you want it to be. I wanted my cardigan to be 15″ long from shoulder to hem, and I wanted to use the ribbed bottom edge of the cardigan again. So I cut 4.5″ off the bottom to use as the hem (that’s 4″ finished hem plus 1/2″ seam allowance), and then I cut the cardigan across the width 11.5″ down from the shoulder (that’s 11″ finished length plus 1/2″ seam allowance)

5) Once again, turn the hem the wrong way round and pin it to the main cardigan, making sure that the seams match up. Then sew using either a serger or zig zag stitch on your machine.

6) And lastly (this is a totally optional step), if like me you are obsessed with topstitching, you can either use a double needle or a zig zag stitch to top stitch the new seams you made on your cardigan to keep them nice and flat.

And you’re done!!!!

Wasn’t that easy? And so useful!!! I love a cropped cardigan for maternity wear!

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  1. JP says

    Hey Meg! I cropped the sleeves on a sweater using the zigzag stitch as you demonstrated. But when I topstitched with a zigzag, it made the seam less stretchy: by that I mean the new seam was suddenly tight around my arm, when without topstitching it had fit quite smoothly with some comfortable stretch. Any thoughts on why this happened? Should I have used a wider zigzag, or not sewn right on top of the seam, etc?

    • says

      Oooo that is weird. Hmmm, I have only used this method twice, so I’m not sure exactly what could have gone wrong. It sounds like it was the topstitching that did it. Maybe a wider zig zag would prevent it, or perhaps omitting the topstitch all together would help?

      • JP says

        Oh, I wound up figuring it out. It was because I was topstitching directly on top of the original seam, which vastly reduced how much the fabric would stretch. If I topstitched slightly away from it the stretch was fine. I did find that if I topstitched 1/4″ away, it looked a bit uglier but would definitely keep the flapping fabric on the inside down. 1/8″ looked prettier, but kept the seams less flat.

  2. Mandie says

    You can also use elastic thread for the top stitch since you have already reinforced with the overlock or zig zag on the inside