DIY Christmas Sweater Ideas

DIY Christmas Sweater Ideas

If all the Christmas decorations popping up in stores before Halloween is even over isn’t enough to remind you that the winter holiday season is approaching, consider the proliferation of themed sweaters (and other clothing items) for sale. Once relegated to making an appearance on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, holiday sweaters have become increasingly popular to wear throughout the season. From tacky and funny to tasteful and elegant, you can find sweaters with reindeer, snow people, elves, and, of course, Santa. If you don’t find a sweater you like, despite all the design options, read on for some do-it-yourself Christmas sweater ideas.

Gather Your Supplies

Whether you’re an expert sewer, a whiz with a glue gun, or all thumbs when it comes to any sort of crafting, you can make your own Christmas sweater using a wide range of crafting materials—think googly eyes, mini pom-poms, felt squares, fabric paint, lace edging beads, ribbon, mini jingle bells, and whatever else your creative self can come up with. If you own one, you’ll want to get out your sewing machine, but hand sewing works fine. Similarly, if you don’t have a glue gun (or are unable to use one without burning yourself at least once), fabric glue will do just fine. Of course, first, you’ll need your “canvas.” Whether you prefer a crewneck sweater, a quarter zip, or some other style, you’ll want one with a tight weave, unless you want to accidentally stick your sweater to your work surface because of glue seepage.

If you are not a sewer, paper-backed fusible webbing is a lifesaver. Be sure to read the directions before using. Basically, you simply peel off one side of the backing, iron the webbing onto the back of your fabric, cut out the shape you want in reverse, remove the remaining backing, and then iron the fabric shape onto your sweater. If the idea of choosing fabric from the many pattern and material options available in stores seems overwhelming, an easy cheat is to use a dog Christmas bandana. No matter the fabric—cotton, cotton-blend, or flannel—it will work for your sweater, and the small size makes the bandana easy to manipulate if you want to cut out shapes.

Plan Your Design

When it comes to designing your sweater, let your imagination run wild. Note that when it comes to attaching any fabric shapes, it will be your choice whether you do so using thread, fusible webbing, or fabric glue. If you own a sewing machine, you can use fancy stitching around the fabric borders. Another option is to use puff fabric paint to outline any attached fabric (the paint also helps to hide any uneven edges). If you are going this route, apply the paint as your last step. The paint will need time to dry, and you don’t want to smear it while you’re putting other objects on your sweater.

Christmas Tree: Cut out a tree from green felt and attach it to the sweater. You can either cut a straight triangle or zig-zag along the sides to give a feeling of branches. Glue on some silver or gold rick rack sewing trim in a loose zig-zag from side to side to simulate tree garlands. Scatter on some miniature pompoms to make ornaments. Place a larger gold or silver pompom at the top. If you’re not a fan of pom-poms, sew on some small, round shank buttons to make ornaments and a larger one at the top of the tree.

Snow Family: Why settle for a snowman when you can have a whole family? You’ll want a slightly different white-on-white pattern fabric for each snow being, especially if you’re planning to overlap them. Once you’ve cut out your various snow people, arrange them on your sweater to be sure they’re how you want them before attaching them. For scarves, you’ll want different bits of ribbon. Allowing the ribbon to fray a bit will create fringes. To give your sweater some dimension, attach each scarf around the neck of a snow person but let the ends hang loose. Use bits of black felt, small flat buttons, and fabric paint to finish off your creations.

Santa and/or Elves: Find a piece of fabric with Santa, either with or without his elves. If you will be ironing on the image, prep it with the fusible webbing. Cut out and attach the applique to your sweater. You can embellish by adding gift boxes with ribbons and tiny bows glued on. Add snowflakes using white iridescent or glitter fabric paint.

Elegant: For a dressier sweater, skip the cutesy embellishments and keep it simple. Add some gold lace trim around the edges of your sweater. Next, take some gold metallic thread and, using a needle, gently weave it in and out of the sweater’s stitches (use as little or as much thread as you want) to add some subtle sparkle. If you’re wearing a cardigan sweater, you can also replace the buttons with either gold buttons to match the rest of your embellishments or holiday-themed buttons in keeping with the season.

Making Christmas (or other holiday) sweaters can be a fun group activity. Whether you’re crafting with friends or as a family—in which case, you may prefer to use adult or kids’ sweatshirts —you’ll have a great time. And when you’re done with the sweaters, you can move on to decorating Christmas cookies. Just be sure to swap out the fabric paint for icing first.


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