Looking for a quick but practical sewing project? Try this sweater hack — it was originally inspired by my mom, who at 84 years young, has limited mobility, which makes it increasingly difficult for her to wear her existing pullover sweaters. By simply adding a separating zipper down the front, I was able to give new life to a few of her wardrobe favorites.
This handy hack can also extend the life of a too-snug sweater, whether or not mobility is an issue. (You’ll want to wear it unzipped, or zipped up partially.) Now the sweater becomes a more versatile layering piece.
All you’ll need for this transformation is the sweater, a separating zipper long enough for the front length of the sweater, and a strip of fusible interfacing measuring 2″ wide x the length of the sweater front. Follow these easy steps:
- Turn sweater wrong side out. Center the strip of fusible interfacing down the center on the WRONG side of the sweater front. This stabilizes the area and prevents raveling when you cut the front open. (This particular sweater just happened to have a cable stitch down the center front (A) which gave me a built-in center line; you can simply mark the center line of your sweater with chalk.) Fuse interfacing strip to sweater (B).
- Carefully cut down the middle of the fused strip (C).
- Turn in the front along the interfaced edges about 1″ and press. Zig-zag stitch or hand stitch the pressed edges in place.
- Place the zipper under the front edges with the bottom separating edge of the zipper about 1/4″ above the lower edge of the sweater fronts. Let any excess zipper extend at the top of the sweater. I used a zigzag along the edge of the zipper tape, then using a zipper foot, I added a straight stitch closer to the zipper teeth (D).
- Trim upper zipper tapes if necessary, leaving about ½” beyond the sweater. Turn in the upper ends of the zipper tapes for a neat finish, and tack them down by hand or machine.
- Optional: Depending on the stability & weight of the sweater, you might want to also reinforce the neck edge of the sweater with fusible interfacing or seam binding, but note that the interfacing will be visible on the inside.
An added bonus: Not only is this sweater now easier to put on and take off, but the senior fashionista also appreciates not having to “mess up her hair” by pulling the sweater over her head!
Lisa Shepard Stewart (bio)