Here are some ways to make a cardigan sweater smaller:
- Cut away the hem of the cardigan4.
- Turn the cardigan inside out and lay it flat on a level surface. Fold it in half vertically so that the two sides match up. Pin the two sides together, leaving a seam allowance of about 1/2 inch. Sew along the pinned line, then cut off the excess fabric.
- Try on the cardigan and mark where you want it to be smaller with pins. Take off the cardigan and sew along the pinned line, then cut off the excess fabric5.
- Wash the cardigan on a hot cycle in the washing machine, then dry it on high heat. This can work on wool, cashmere, angora, and mohair sweaters6.
- Boil the cardigan in a pot of water for 5 minutes, then iron it while it’s still damp.
Preparing the Sweater
Checking the Sweater’s Fabric and Construction
Before you begin the process of making your cardigan sweater smaller, it is important to check the fabric and construction of the garment. Different fabrics and construction methods may require different techniques for shrinking and altering the sweater.
Start by checking the care label for any specific instructions on how to handle the sweater. Some fabrics may not respond well to certain methods of shrinking, and it is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damaging the sweater.
Next, examine the construction of the sweater. Look for any seams or stitches that may need to be altered in order to make the sweater smaller. Take note of any areas that may require special attention, such as the shoulders or sleeves, as these areas may need to be adjusted separately.
Washing the Sweater
Before you can begin the process of shrinking and altering your sweater, it is important to wash it. This will help remove any dirt or debris from the fabric, and make it easier for the sweater to shrink evenly.
Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a mild detergent. Place the sweater in the water and gently agitate it to ensure that the soap is distributed evenly. Allow the sweater to soak for about 15 minutes, then carefully rinse it with cool water.
Be sure to handle the sweater gently during this process to avoid stretching or distorting the fabric. Avoid wringing or twisting the sweater, as this can also stretch the fabric. Instead, gently press out excess water by squeezing the sweater between your hands.
Drying the Sweater
Once you have washed the sweater, you will need to dry it before you can begin the process of shrinking and altering it. The best method for drying will depend on the specific fabric and construction of the sweater.
For natural fibers like wool or cashmere, it is best to lay the sweater flat on a clean towel or drying rack. Gently reshape the sweater to its original size, being careful not to stretch or distort the fabric. Allow the sweater to air dry, away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
For synthetic fibers or blends, you may be able to use a clothes dryer to speed up the drying process. However, it is important to check the care label and manufacturer’s recommendations before using this method. If you do choose to use a dryer, select a low or delicate heat setting to minimize the risk of damage to the sweater.
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Shrinking the Sweater with Heat
Using a Clothes Dryer
If you need to shrink your cardigan sweater, using a clothes dryer can be an effective method. However, it is important to proceed with caution, as excessive heat can damage the fabric and construction of the sweater.
Start by placing the sweater in the dryer on a low or delicate heat setting. Add a few clean, dry towels to the dryer to help absorb excess moisture during the shrinking process.
Allow the sweater to tumble in the dryer for about 10 minutes, then check on its progress. If the sweater has not shrunk enough, continue tumbling it in the dryer in 5-minute intervals until you achieve the desired size.
Using an Iron
Another method for shrinking your cardigan sweater is to use an iron. This method can be particularly effective for natural fibers like wool or cashmere.
To start, fill the iron with water and set it to the steam setting. Lay the sweater flat on an ironing board or other heat-resistant surface. Place a damp cloth or press cloth over the sweater to protect the fabric from direct contact with the iron.
Gently press the iron onto the sweater, applying steam to the areas that need to be shrunk. Move the iron in a circular motion to evenly distribute the heat and steam. Be careful not to press too hard or hold the iron in one spot for too long, as this can damage the fabric.
If you do not have access to an iron, you can still use steam to shrink your cardigan sweater. This method is particularly useful for synthetic fibers or blends.
To apply steam to the sweater, fill a kettle or pot with water and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, hold the sweater above the steam, being careful not to let it come into direct contact with the water. Steam the areas that need to be shrunk for a few minutes, then remove the sweater from the steam.
As the sweater cools, it will shrink slightly. Gently stretch and reshape the sweater to its desired size, then allow it to air dry.
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Reshaping the Sweater
Blocking the Sweater
After shrinking your cardigan sweater, you may find that it has lost its desired shape. In order to restore the sweater’s shape, you can use a process called blocking.
To block a sweater, you will need a clean towel or blocking mat, rustproof pins, and a spray bottle filled with water.
Start by laying the sweater flat on the towel or blocking mat. Gently stretch and reshape the sweater to its desired size, keeping in mind any areas that may need additional attention, such as the shoulders or sleeves.
Once you are happy with the shape, use the rustproof pins to secure the sweater in place. Place the pins at regular intervals along the edges of the sweater, being careful not to stretch or pull the fabric.
Finally, mist the sweater with water from the spray bottle. Allow the sweater to air dry completely before removing the pins. This process will help set the sweater in its new shape, ensuring that it retains its smaller size.
Using a Sewing Machine
If your cardigan sweater requires more extensive alterations, such as taking in the sides or shortening the sleeves, you may need to use a sewing machine.
Before you begin, familiarize yourself with the basics of using a sewing machine. Make sure you have the necessary tools, such as thread, a needle, and scissors, as well as any additional materials required for the specific alterations you are making.
To alter the sides of the sweater, start by turning the sweater inside out. Use pins to mark the areas that need to be taken in, then sew along the marked lines. Trim any excess fabric, and finish the raw edges with a zigzag stitch or serger.
To shorten the sleeves, turn the sweater inside out and use pins to mark the new desired length. Sew along the marked lines, then trim any excess fabric. Finish the raw edges with a zigzag stitch or serger.
Hand Sewing Techniques
If you prefer to make alterations to your cardigan sweater by hand, there are several hand sewing techniques that you can use.
To take in the sides of the sweater, start by turning the sweater inside out. Use a threaded needle and make small, evenly spaced stitches along the areas that need to be taken in. Knot the thread securely at the end, then trim any excess fabric.
To shorten the sleeves, turn the sweater inside out and fold the sleeves up to the desired length. Use a threaded needle and make small, evenly spaced stitches along the fold, securing the new length in place. Knot the thread securely at the end, then trim any excess fabric.
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Making Adjustments to the Sweater
Taking in the Sides
If your cardigan sweater is too loose around the sides, you may want to take it in to achieve a more fitted look.
To take in the sides, start by turning the sweater inside out. Use pins to mark the areas that need to be taken in, ensuring that you maintain a symmetrical shape.
Once you are satisfied with the placement of the pins, carefully remove the sweater and sew along the marked lines. Trim any excess fabric, and finish the raw edges with an overlock stitch or serger.
Try the sweater on to ensure that it fits properly before removing any excess fabric.
Shortening the Sleeves
If your cardigan sweater has sleeves that are too long for your liking, you can easily shorten them to your desired length.
To begin, turn the sweater inside out and try it on to determine the length at which you want the sleeves to end. Use pins to mark the new length, ensuring that both sleeves are symmetrical.
Once you have marked the new length, carefully remove the sweater and trim the excess fabric, leaving a seam allowance of about 1 inch. Fold the raw edge under and stitch it in place using a sewing machine or hand sewing techniques.
Try the sweater on again to ensure that the new sleeve length is to your liking.
Altering the Neckline
If you want to change the neckline of your cardigan sweater, you can easily do so with a few simple alterations.
To start, turn the sweater inside out and try it on to determine the new neckline shape you want. Use pins to mark the new neckline, ensuring that the curves are symmetrical and the desired depth is achieved.
Once you have marked the new neckline, carefully remove the sweater and cut along the marked lines. Finish the raw edges with an overlock stitch or serger to prevent fraying.
Try the sweater on again to ensure that the new neckline is to your liking.
With these comprehensive steps, you now have the knowledge and skills to make your cardigan sweater smaller. Remember to check the fabric and construction of the sweater before proceeding, and always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Whether you choose to shrink the sweater with heat, reshape it through blocking, or make alterations to the sides, sleeves, or neckline, you can transform your cardigan sweater to fit your desired size and style. Enjoy the process of creating a perfectly fitted sweater that you can confidently wear for any occasion.