From Sweatshirt to Jacket

Elizabeth "Binki" Thalman © 2008

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These are instructions for converting a purchased pullover sweatshirt into a jacket. When completed, it is a perfect “blank canvas” for decorating in whatever manner you choose…some crazy quilt pockets or borders down the front certainly come to mind! Just use your imagination.


  • sweatshirt of your choice
  • pins
  • marking tool
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • rotary cutter
  • basic sewing supplies


I often use Authentic Pigment sweatshirts, but any brand will work. Be sure to wash and dry your sweatshirt prior to starting this project so it doesn’t shrink away from your embellishment.

First you will mark the center front with pins by measuring from side to side. Then using a ruler or straight edge of some sort along the pins, mark this line with a Chaco Liner, soap, or any marking pen or pencil.

Cut along this line with a rotary cutter (with a mat in between the sweatshirt layers) or scissors. I find that a rotary cutter makes a straighter line, which looks better on the finished sweatshirt jacket.

Cut ribbing off bottom or sleeves or both. It is your choice; sometimes it’s nice to leave the ribbing, depending on the look you want. While doing this, be careful not to stretch the sweatshirt.

Turn back and pin the sides and bottom of the sweatshirt the desired width. I usually use 1.25”. When I first made these, I would just square off the bottom front corners.

When I got bored with that, I decided to miter them, and either method looks just fine. I did one of each for this picture, but will miter them both before sewing.

When stitching, I usually use matching rayon or polyester embroidery thread, but you can use any thread you would like, matching or contrasting; whatever suits your fancy. Use one of the decorative stitches on your machine, or just a plain blanket stitch (my favorite). This could, of course, also be worked by hand.

I’ve just sewn on plain pockets here, but this is where your crazy quilting can be showcased to great effect.

Wouldn’t these make great Christmas gifts?

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