DIY Holiday Sweater


DIY Holiday Sweater 

What better way to keep warm this winter season than a holiday sweater? With some creativity, you can forge one that reflects your own style. 



As I went about this project, the first order of business was looking for inspiration. I noticed that tinsel, ornaments, felt, pom-poms, and patches were all common materials. Reindeers, Christmas trees, and festive patterns were themes and designs that popped up a lot, along with the occasional pun or lyric. 

I initially planned to order all of my materials online, but the list of potential supplies I’d written up based on my research wasn’t interesting. The thing with online shopping is that you’ll mostly see what you’re searching for, so I decided to shop at a physical store so I could see what was available and get more unique ideas.



Supplies for this project fall into two categories: the absolutely necessary base materials (the sweater, scissors, glue and sewing supplies) and customizable add-ons (pom-poms, beads, plushies, bells, and charms). 

A word of advice regarding charms and other add-ons: if you’re planning to photograph your sweater, be careful with items that are made up of multiple light colors. The peach skin and white beard of my Santa blended together in most of my photos. (Putting a filter over the image helped a little, but then I had to apply the same filter to every image so that the colors weren’t jarringly different). Items with contrasting colors are easier to deal with. For example, my deer plush was light tan and dark brown, which made it easy to see in all sorts of lighting.



Before making any permanent decisions, I laid out a potential design. Do this to see how an idea looks in practice before it’s too late to change your mind. Take a picture of your design so you can reference it. 

You can also sketch out ideas on paper by tracing your sweater or printing out a template of one.

I dealt with items that’d be sewn down first. If you glue first and sew after, the handling and movement of the sweater may break the dried glue. 

My charms had a bit of weight to them and would’ve pulled normal sewing pins out, so I used safety pins to hold them down instead. 

If you don’t know how to hand sew, the basics are all you need here. You can get away with simple knots and primitive stitching for this project. 

If you’re not comfortable with sewing, you can use safety pins by hiding most of the pin under the fabric of the sweater. If hand sewing and safety pins are both out of the question, you can skip charms completely and keep to iron-on patches and applicants you can glue on. 

Whether or not this is your first time sewing, please be safe. Make sure you don’t drop and lose any needles and be especially careful around pets and children.

If possible, use thread that is similar to the color of your sweater so it’s not noticeable.

Per my planned layout, I wanted my mini stockings to be pinned down instead of hanging freely. I attempted this by using safety pins on the back, but the weight of the mini stockings made them fall forwards and it looked odd. 

I had to mull over what I wanted to do instead, so I moved on to the reindeer for a bit.

I wanted to be able to remove the reindeer, so instead of sewing him down, I used safety pins. I used one at the back of his head, one at his scarf, and one at his back. In total, that’s three safety pins with his weight roughly distributed across them. If I only used one safety pin, his weight would make him hang forward. 

I was able to put the safety pin through the loops created by the scarf, but for the head and back I had to pinch the fabric of the plush and pin through there.

Next, I arranged the pom-poms again so I could glue them down. In my original layout, I placed them randomly. Looking at my plan, I realized I could do a bit of a zig-zag pattern. That’s another benefit of doing a layout beforehand–you have more time to look at what you’re doing and you notice subtle changes you could make. Having a proper (albeit loose) pattern was cleaner to look at.

The green pom-poms were very “thready.” I could flatten them to get more surface area to apply glue to. The golden pom-poms, however, weren’t made the same way. They were perfect spheres and did not take well to being glued down. 

I cut the golden pom-poms in half to create a flat surface to apply glue to. They stopped falling off after that.

Finally, I decided my sweater wouldn’t be complete without the stockings. 

I didn’t want to glue them down, so I attached them by their loops with safety pins. With that, they hung down like stockings are really supposed to. I ended up liking the look better than the one I had planned! 

Troubleshooting is important in a project as flexible as this one because problems can lead to outcomes better than expected.

The last step, of course, is to wear!



The steps to this project depend on what materials you’re using. However, I’d say there’s a basic process that can be prescribed across the board. 

  1. Collect materials 
  2. Work out a potential layout
  3. Sew down sewn items and pin down pinned items first 
  4. Attach any items that need to be glued down
  5. Wear


Concluding thoughts

The complete customization of this project makes it work for any skill level. If you can’t sew, this is something you could totally achieve by just gluing things down or using pins. 

I took a more planned approach to my design, but ended up having to improvise. Luckily, problems were simple enough to where I could work around them quickly. If you’re not into structured projects, this is simple enough to make up along the way. 

In the blur of winter busyness, it was nice to buckle down and just make something. (Listening to The Beatles half the time was fun too, though feel free to put on holiday radio instead if that’s your jam). 

Happy holidays and merry crafting!