4 Ideas for DIY Sweatshirt Projects

January 27, 2022
Nicole Rollender
A shirt that is being painted on and there are three paints and paintbrushes on the side of the shirt

Got a favorite or well-worn sweatshirt that you’re considering tossing out or donating? Wait! Before you do that, consider making over or upcycling your tired sweatshirt to create a brand-new customized piece you’ll love to wear. If you’ve been wondering how to give your sweatshirt a quick and easy makeover, you’re in luck! We’ve got four easy DIY sweatshirt ideas that you can do right at home, within a few hours.

Besides creating a unique sweatshirt when you make it over, you’re also doing your part to protect the environment. When you buy and toss clothes, they go into a landfill and take hundreds of years to degrade. That’s why finding creative ways to reuse your clothes helps Mother Earth and refreshes your wardrobe without you spending more money. 

In fact, we’re betting that you might even like your one-of-a-kind, made-over sweatshirt more than the original! You can make over more of your sweatshirts, and extend the love to your family and friends’ apparel as well!

There are so many ways to upcycle your sweatshirt that after reading this article, you’ll wonder why you ever threw away or donated a well-loved sweatshirt before. If you’re ready to do a quick and easy DIY sweatshirt makeover at home, check out these four DIY sweatshirt ideas to get your creativity flowing:

  • DIY sweatshirt cutting ideas
  • DIY crop sweatshirt
  • DIY sweatshirt painting
  • DIY iron-on patch sweatshirt

How to Update a Sweatshirt Without Sewing

If you don’t like to sew, you’re in luck! You’re going to love these four easy ways you can update your sweatshirts right at home, including ideas, the materials you need and step-by-step instructions. We’ve got lots of hot options, from cutting up your sweatshirt to embellishing it by ironing on decorative pieces.

How To Cut Up a Sweatshirt

If you’re not a fan of sewing, you’ll be thrilled to learn that you can just use scissors to give almost any sweatshirt a totally new look. You might even decide to hit some thrift stores to upcycle a handful of sweatshirts with different snipped looks. We’re going to give you some quick DIY sweatshirt cutting ideas–you can easily find more in-depth how-to instructions on Pinterest or YouTube.

You’ll need:

  • Your t-shirt
  • Scissors
  • Razor blade (if needed)
  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric marker or pencil

Decide What Look You Want to Achieve

Here are three ideas based on a sweatshirt’s anatomy to get your creative juices going.

1. Create a new neckline. You can create a lower-cut scoop neck look from a crewneck sweatshirt. Or, cut a subtle V-neck into a sweatshirt to give your neckline more interest.

2. Take your sleeves to a whole new length. We love a lot of the long-sleeve DIY sweatshirt cutting ideas out there. If you start with a long-sleeve tee, the sleeve’s the limit. You can cut to achieve three-quarter-length sleeves, short sleeves or even a sleeveless-muscle sweatshirt look. 

3. Open up the back. You can cut a lower neckline in the back, or cut a higher bottom hem. You can open up the back almost entirely and lace it up with ribbon or cut horizontal slits down the entire length (and wear a tank top under it or not). 

4. Remove the hood. If you want to bring new life to your favorite hoodie, try out a unique diy hoodie cutting idea by removing the hood. It won’t be your favorite hoodie anymore, but it just might be your new favorite sweatshirt!

How To Create a Cropped Sweatshirt

Crops have been a hot style for the last couple of years and aren’t going away anytime soon. The great news is that all crop lengths are in, so you can choose the length that’s most flattering for your body type. Boxy crop sweatshirts are in vogue, so feel free to start with that DIY sweatshirt silhouette.

You’ll need:

  • Your sweatshirt
  • Scissors
  • Flexible measuring tape
  • Fabric marker or pencil

Remove your sweatshirt and lay it on your flat work surface. Use your measuring tape to measure from the armpit area to your cut mark. Then, go to the other side and measure the same distance so your crop cut will be even.

Step 1: Decide On the Length You Want

Put your sweatshirt on and stand in front of a mirror so you can decide how much length you want to crop. We recommend starting ½ inch lower than your desired length to give you room, so you don’t cut too much at first. Use your measuring tape if you want to be precise.

Then, make your cut marks on the side seams of your sweatshirt, using your fabric marker or pencil.

Step 2: Double-check Your Measurements

Remove your sweatshirt and lay it on your flat work surface. Use your measuring tape to measure from the armpit area to your cut mark. Then, go to the other side and measure the same distance so your crop cut will be even.

Step 3: Get Ready to Cut Your Crop

Your sweatshirt should still lay flat. Use your scissors to cut from one side of your makeover sweatshirt to the other, cutting through the front and back at the same time.

Step 4: Double-check Your Length and Adjust

Now, put your sweatshirt back on and stand in front of the mirror to see if you like the length. If you decide you want to cut more off to make the crop shorter, repeat the steps above.

Don’t worry that your sweatshirt crop hem will fray, since that usually doesn’t happen with this fabric. That means you can wash, wear and dry your DIY sweatshirt as normal. A small edge of fabric at the bottom of your sweatshirt may roll up slightly, but this is common for this fabrication.

How To Paint a Sweatshirt

You’re going to love how painting a sweatshirt gives it a whole new life in vibrant colors. Plus, you’ll create one-of-a-kind pieces that you can’t find in a retail store.

You’ll need:

  • Your t-shirt
  • Paint
  • Fabric medium (if you use acrylic paint)
  • Paintbrush
  • Stencil
  • Cardboard
  • Iron
  • Ironing board

Step 1: Decide What Type of Paint to Use on Your Sweatshirt

Choosing your paint might be the most time-consuming part of this process. You want to choose the right paint so that it seeps into the sweatshirt fibers, creating a long-lasting, permanent and flexible bond. 

You can use fabric paint or acrylic paint (which requires fabric medium if it’s not included in the formulation). Fabric paint has been designed to withstand wear and tear, and many washings, so your design stays bright and intact. Some people even opt for fabric spray paint, which dries quickly and stays flexible for the garment’s life. 

Some acrylic paints have a fabric medium built in; this additive makes the acrylic paint flexible so that it doesn’t peel or crack as you wear the sweatshirt. Some artists say that they can find a wider variety of colors in acrylic paint, so you may choose one type of paint over another depending on what your design requires. 

You’ll also need to pick the right colors for your design and sweatshirt fabric color. In our experience, fabric paints work better on lighter-colored sweatshirts like white, cream, beige or even a light yellow. If your sweatshirt is a darker color, you’ll need a more opaque paint and you might need to apply more than one coat so the paint stands out against the darker background.

Step 2: Prep Your Sweatshirt

Pre-wash your sweatshirt to remove any dirt or chemicals. Don’t use fabric softener, since it’ll add more chemicals to your surface. You want as clean a surface as possible so the paint will adhere well to the sweatshirt. 

Next, test your paint on a small sample of your sweatshirt to see how well the paint covers the fabric. Depending on the look you want, you may need to add a second coat or use a thicker paint formula.

Iron your garment to remove any wrinkles so that you have a totally flat surface for painting. Finally, insert your cardboard into the sweatshirt body so that paint doesn’t migrate to the other side.

Step 3: Paint Your Sweatshirt

Now, it’s time to get creative! Use your brush and stencil, or paint free-hand. You can find many online tutorials that show you how to achieve different looks on your sweatshirt, whether you’re in the mood for flowers or dragons.

Step 4: Get Ready to Wear Your DIY Painted Creation

First, let your painted sweatshirt dry for at least 24 hours. Then, set your design using heat from your iron. Turn the sweatshirt inside out and iron the garment on the flip side of the design. The iron’s heat will set the design, so you have a permanent finish.

How To Embellish a Sweatshirt By Ironing On Decorative Elements

Like the cut-only method of creating a totally new sweatshirt, it’s very easy to use iron-on patches to create a standout design or add elements in different locations. But be forewarned: You may end up wanting to personalize almost all of your clothing and bags.

You’ll need:

  • Your sweatshirt
  • Iron-on patches
  • Pressing cloth or pillowcase
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Timer

Step 1: Prep Your Sweatshirt and Plan Your Design

First, heat your iron to its highest setting so the patches fully adhere to your sweatshirt.

Next, lay your sweatshirt on your ironing board, and place the first patch in the spot where you want it to go. You can move it around to see which placement works best. When you’ve chosen your spot, make sure that the patch’s adhesive side is flat against the sweatshirt fabric.

Pro tip: Before you start your project, decide what type of design you want to create and purchase your patch kits. As with all the DIY sweatshirt makeover ideas we mention here, head to Pinterest and YouTube for design inspiration.

Step 2: Apply Your First Patch

Place your pressing cloth (or pillowcase or even a slightly damp towel) over the patch front to protect your sweatshirt from the heat.

Now, it’s time to iron on the first patch. We recommend pressing your patch for 30 seconds to apply it. However, it’s always a good idea to read your patch kit instructions for how long to hold the iron on the patch.

Next, turn the sweatshirt inside out and lay it flat on your ironing board. Place the pressing cloth over the back of the patch and iron it again for 30 seconds, or what your kit recommends, to fully adhere it.

Step 3: Apply the Rest of Your Patches

Repeat step three if you have more patches to apply. Remember, this is where you get to be creative! You can apply one patch or use several patches to create a center front design. You can also apply patches in different locations, like the yoke under the back collar or on the sleeves or even above the bottom hem.

Step 4: Show Off Your DIY Patch Sweatshirt Creation

Once your patches have cooled, you can wear your unique sweatshirt right away!

Find Your New Favorite Sweatshirt From Threadsy!

Choosing the right sweatshirt is important because you want to spend your time on creating something that you’ll actually be proud to wear (not to mention ridiculously comfy).Choosing the right sweatshirt might just be the most important part of gathering your supplies. After all, your sweatshirt is your blank canvas for your creativity and self-expression! If you don’t have what you need at home, or if you are making sweatshirts as gifts or to sell, purchasing new blank sweatshirts is the way to go. Threadsy has thousands of blank sweatshirt options for you in every imaginable color and fabric. Here are some of our most popular styles:

  1. Ladies' Cropped Fleece Crew
    B7503
    |
    Bella + Canvas
    Ladies' Cropped Fleece Crew
    S-L
    $23.69
  2. Unisex Sponge Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt
    3901
    |
    Bella + Canvas
    Unisex Sponge Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt
    XS-2XL
    $22.83
  3. Adult NuBlend® Fleece Crew
    562
    |
    Jerzees
    Adult NuBlend® Fleece Crew
    S-5XL
    $6.12
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