Upcycled Lacy Cardigan | Machine Embroidery Designs | Urban Threads - Print

Upcycled Lacy Cardigan

As the artist who created the Nocturnus collection, I envisioned the creatures and flowers I designed emerging from darkness. It seemed fitting to create something equally dark to showcase the designs. In this tutorial, we'll restyle a plain cardigan into a stylish bohemian sweater that emerges from the darkness of an excess of lace scraps. It's the perfect way to take a simple apparel item into the whimsical fall season and add some dark drama to everyday outfits.


To make this upcycled cardigan, you will need....

  • Your favorite Nocturnus embroidery designs (or really any designs of your choice!)
  • Printed templates of your designs (Here's how to print templates)
  • Medium or light weight cutaway stabilizer
  • Temporary spray adhesive
  • A cardigan
  • Lace scraps
  • Twill fabric (or whatever fabric suits your cardigan)
  • Scissors and pins
  • Fabric pencil
  • Paper/marker/ruler to make a template with

Products Used

  • Nocturnus - Moth (Sku: ESP10616-1)
  • Nocturnus - Bat (Sku: ESP10619-1)

Steps To Complete

In order to create more of a romantic long drape, we're going to be opening up the seams of the cardigan and adding fabric to the sides, so we'll start by creating a diamond template for these additions.

I taped a few sheets of paper together and created a diamond shape 11 inches wide and 20 inches tall for my size small cardigan. You can scale this template up or down based on the side of your cardigan, and your preference.

Next, the embroidery.

Cut two large pieces of your twill or other fabric, each larger than the diamond you made. Be sure to adhere the stabilizer to the back of your fabric with temporary spray adhesive and hoop both together tightly before you start stitching.

Place your design using your printed template (here's how to print templates of embroidery designs for placement) and when everything is lined up you can remove it and start stitching! Repeat for the other side, but be sure to mirror the design.

While our designs are sewing out, let's open the side seams of your cardigan.

Place the edge of the diamond template you made alongside the seam under the arm of the cardigan. The horizontal points of your diamond should line up with the hem. Mark where the template tip ends on the fabric with your fabric pencil, minus half an inch for seam allowance.

Use scissors to cut up the seam. Trim any excess seam for easier sewing later.

A cardigan without pockets is like no cardigan at all, so I decided to add in some simple pockets before attaching the side panels.

Cut out two mirror-image pieces of lace (I made mine about 6 inches wide by 7.5 inches tall, with one corner cut on a curve) and pin them to the front sides, leaving the lace just a bit off the edge of the cut seam. Sew along the seam and curved edge of the pocket, leaving the top open.

For a sturdier lace pocket, fold your lace fabric over at the top of the pocket edge, so it's double layered, and sew in place.

Continuing with the embroidery, hoop up the back of your cardigan with your cutaway stabilizer, stuck to the back of the fabric with temporary spray adhesive.

Use your printed template to place the design right in the middle of the back.

When the design is done stitching, carefully trim away the excess stabilizer.

Now, return to those two embroidered side panel pieces. Carefully cut back the excess stabilizer form the back, then use your diamond template to cut your fabric into your diamond shape.

It's time to add a little lace!

Arrange some lace scraps over your side pieces. I mirrored the placement of the lace on each piece so they would be symmetrical.

Once you like your placement, pin and sew the lace in place along the edges of your diamond, and then cut away the excess.

Pin the side pieces to the open seams of your cardigan.

The middle left and right points of the diamond should line up with the bottom hem of the cardigan.

Sew in place.

With the extra fabric added to the sides, your cardigan will flow out a little more like a dress. Now we just need to add a little more length through some romantic lace.

Start cutting and layering long triangular pieces of lace underneath the bottom of your cardigan. Vary the size and length of these to get a more tattered look.

Pin the lace pieces all along the bottom hem of the cardigan, folding over the hem as you work. You might want to cut off excess lace before sewing to make sure the lace doesn't get caught in the hem.

Sew in place.

Cut off any remaining excess lace and iron the hem flat.

And you're done!

Try on your new uniquely chic cardigan and let that trailing lace float around you.

Elegant lace pockets and romantic trim are a perfect way to offset the dark but beautiful designs.

A simple cardigan has been transformed into a longer, more unique fall fashion piece. Use this upcycle to rescue old cardigans or bring even more style to new ones!

After all, darkly beautiful and trailing lace can go a long way to transforming your look during the autumn season.