Sweatshirt refashions

How to Revamp a Sweatshirt (23+ Ideas and Tips)

Quick and easy DIY Sweatshirt Makeover Ideas

In this article, you can learn how to decorate, restyle, or alter one of your old, boring, or thrift store found sweatshirt or hoodie. Any beginner or casual crafter can pull off most of these tips and ideas.

Sweatshirts and hoodies are so warm, cozy, and comfortable. I love them! But sometimes I would also like to feel feminine and pretty at the same time.

Have you ever felt the same?

I always loved to experiment with my clothes, especially those that weren’t flattering, a bit old, or bought at the second-hand store for a few bucks. Sometimes it’s so simple to turn ‘trash,’ worn-out, boring, and old garments into stunning clothes that fit and look perfect.

And today, I will show you how you can restyle a sweatshirt?

Most of these DIYs are ready in a couple of minutes and are so easy to make. You can pull them off even if you’re not too crafty or skillful.

You can use some of these ideas to transform your boyfriend’s or brother’s sweatshirts into women’s clothes. YAY! (Just don’t forget to ask permission before cutting it all up, lol.)

Let’s get started!

First of all, I will split up the alterations into different categories so you can easily choose the one that fits your dreamed look and skills best.

sweatshirt alterations

How to make an old sweatshirt look new?

Sometimes, before you start making any modifications or refashioning a sweatshirt, you need to restore it a bit. Some of them can even look new after these tips; it depends on how worn-out the sweatshirt is.

I always wash and use a fabric sanitizer on thrift store finds. Vinegar can help to make it softer and get rid of any not so pleasing odor.

Remove fuzzy bumps with a sharp razor (avoid razors with moisturizing strips). Be very careful not to cut out the fabric. Lay it down on a flat surface and smooth out the fabric. Do not push the razor too hard! Run it gently over the sweatshirt and take off any fuzziness.

If the fabric is worn-out, the color is dull, grab a bottle of fabric dye to make a touch up to the old color or give them a new look with a different color (works like a charm for light-colored sweatshirts that started to look greyish/yellowish). Skip it if you plan to customize it with tie-dyeing, bleaching, or wish to create a shabby look.


How to modify a sweatshirt with sewing? (pssst… use fabric glue)

You can create one of the biggest outfit changes by sewing. But you don’t necessarily need to use a sewing machine. In most cases, hand stitching will do the trick, or you can also skip sewing and use fabric glue instead.

So let’s start with the first refashion!

#1. Sweatshirt dress by Pretty Prudent

You can easily turn an oversized sweatshirt or one of your boyfriend’s hoodie into a stunning, comfortable dress. For a longer dress you-ll need to big sweatshirts, but if you like short dresses wearing with legging one will do the trick.

Sweatshirt dress

TIP! Choose two contrasting colors and create an amazing color-blocked dress.

#2. Add a custom pocket (or elbow patch)

This DIY is very simple! If you already have a pocket you can simply cover it with fabric, or you can remove it and use the existing pocket as a pattern and create a new one. Also, I encourage you to experiment with other shapes to give a fresh look.

Here is a video tutorial on how to do it.

#3. Mix and match with other garments – Jacket sweatshirt mashup by Bargain Hoot

Another cool sweatshirt DIY is mixing and matching. For example, you can use a denim jacket (like how Bargain Hoot did) cut it up and replace the sleeves. So you will end up with an amazing denim jacket with sweatshirt sleeves and a sweater with denim sleeves (it look better with softer denim fabric).

Or use a white shirt, remove the collar, cut off the bottom part and sew it on your sweatshirt. In my opinion, this looks best if you remove the elastic bands on the sweatshirt (cuffs and bottom).

You can also use two hoodies with different colors and/or patterns and mix them. Or another way would be shibori dye one of them and mix the sleeves up afterward (I have to try this!).


#4. Turn a sweatshirt into a cardigan by Creative Fashion Blog

I really love how this sweatshirt turned out. It looks chic and feminine. Perfect for an office outfit!

#5. A basic sweatshirt re-imagined by Thrifty Chic

This is so cool! I love how she made a basic sweatshirt look modern and unique. The decorative sewing lines make a huge difference in the appeal. This would fit me so nicely!

#6. Make it a cropped sweatshirt

This hoodie alteration can be done in three different ways:

  • cut it and leave it as is (obviously, this doesn’t require nor sewing or gluing),
  • fold back the fabric where you cut it for a clean edge (both sewable and glueable – TIP! in both cases, iron the fold, it does make a big difference in the look),
  • sew back the elastic ribbon at the bottom for a more finished look.

And here comes the help for the third version. Well, technically, you don’t need help with the first one, the second one is also pretty straight forward, but I’ve found a video tutorial for the third crop top. Check it out!

BONUS! If you are a skillful sewer, you can also try and make unique sweatshirts and hoodies from scratch. I’ve found this awesome article with lots of cool sweatshirt sewing patterns.

How to decorate a sweatshirt?

Decorating is the easiest and fastest way to restyle a sweatshirt. You can use a large variety of embellishments to fit your style. But let’s list only a few of them!

  1. pom poms (store-bought, handmade, small, big, fluffy, etc. you name it),
  2. pom pom trims,
  3. sequins
  4. leather,
  5. studs,
  6. sew-on and iron-on gems, beads, stones,
  7. lace,
  8. chain,
  9. iron-on embroidered patch,
  10. embroidery (mostly hand embroidery if you don’t own an embroidery machine),
  11. pearls,
  12. small bows,
  13. ribbon,
  14. etc.

For more ideas, you can check out my other article on sweater refashion ideas.

And now check out some stunning tutorials and inspiration.

#7. Embroidered sweatshirt tutorial

I decorated one of my sweatshirts with hand-embroidery last year. It’s a super simple way to customize any garment.

You can embroider words, flowers, animals, funny line art, and more. It’s up to your imagination.

Sweatshirt refashioning

Apply any design with these cool embroidery pattern transferring methods.

#8. Embellishment with sew-on stones by Caroline Chandler

DIY embellished sweatshirt

I love the idea of decorating the collar line with colorful stones or gems. This way, you can skip wearing a necklace.

Arranging and sewing on flat back pearls on a white, beige, or light-gray sweater results in an elegant and comfortable outfit.

#9. Lace embellished sweatshirt by Collective Gen

Pssst… If you like to revamp clothes, check her site out. She is AMAZING! I love her DIYs.

#10. Sweatshirt bomber jacket with rhinestones by Collective Gen

This is the type of DIY garment that you wouldn’t tell is handmade.

#11. 5-minute word sweater DIY by Collective Gen

Find a few iron-on patches, letters, or other fun designs and create a high-fashion sweatshirt in minutes.

#12. Lace-up sweatshirt refashion by A Beautiful Mess

Lace-up Sweatshirt

The perfect sweatshirt DIY for cool spring nights. I love the oversized eyelets and lacing!

#13. Various fast sweatshirt embellishments

This video has 5 super simple ways to refashion a sweatshirt (some DIYs use sweaters, but they work the same).

How to restyle a sweatshirt with fabric paint

Using paint on clothes is so much fun! It’s also an easy and cheap way to transform old garments.

What kind of fabric paint you should use on a sweatshirt?

All of the paints mentioned above are suitable to color or add design to a hoodie or sweatshirt, but they have different outcomes.

Let’s see which one to choose for different purposes.

How to use fabric paint to revamp a sweatshirt?

And now check out a few examples for all of the fabric paint types.

#14. Colorful tie-dyed hoodie by Chaotically Yours


The must-have tie-dye hoodie for cold, rainy festival nights.

Usually, you have to add water or prepare the powdered fabric dye. But in some DIYs, you can use it directly from the bag.

#15. Ice tie-dye sweatshirt by Chaotically Yours


This is my all-time favorite tie-dye top. It’s the perfect tutorial for using dye in powdered form (read the instructions, she has some amazing tips to achieve the best results).

#16. The reversed Shibori tie-dye sweatshirt by One Craft DIY Girl


This sweatshirt DIY is super simple, and you only need a few supplies that most households have at home.

I like Shibori dyeing; the technique results in amazing and unique patterns that look nice on both clothes and fabric for home decor (throw pillows, table runner, napkins, etc.)

Reverse tie-dye stands for using bleach instead of paint (you can still paint it afterward as Chaotically Yours did in this tutorial).

The only downside: reverse dyeing is best for darker fabrics. Unless you’re aiming for a subtle design, you can still do it on light-colored garments.

#17. Watercolor Sweatshirt by P.S. I Made This

My new craft ‘crush’ is watercolor painting. So this painted sweatshirt is so close to my heart. The soft watercolor blots make it stunning.

With this technique, you can also create galaxy-like sweatshirts. But first, you may also need to bleach it, here and there, if you do it on a black sweatshirt.

#18. Add patterns with fabric markers on Buzzfeed

What I love about fabric markers is that they are so easy to use and control. You can add doodles, words, line art, or patterns to your sweatshirt to make them unique and fashionable.

#19. Stencil sweatshirt with fabric paint by Do It Your Freaking Self

The thicker, paste-like fabric paints are perfect stenciling. It’s a pretty easy method. You can buy stencils at craft stores or create yourself out of cardboard or a thin, flexible plastic sheet.

#20. Painted sweatshirt by Brit+Co

You can apply the creamier fabric paint with a brush and create designs that look like an acrylic painting. Endless possibilities to create colorful patterns and designs.


How to Refashion a Sweatshirt with Decorative Cuts

A well-planned cut and some decoration can create a new and feminine look.

#21. Open back sweatshirt with a bow by Brassy Apple

This is one of the most feminine sweatshirt makeovers I’ve found. I love the idea because it’s so simple to make and creates a full restyle from cozy to chic.

#22. Shoulder split with a bow by Brassy Apple

She pulled off another cool and chic refashion. This alteration could also work for sweatshirts with a tight collar.

#23. Lace covered cut-out

You can also make cut-outs in the body of the sweatshirt and replace or cover the hole with lace. Follow this video tutorial (I know, it’s not in English, but it so simple to make, and the video will show every step) to learn how to do it.

The best part, you don’t need to sew (Yay for glue!) – NOTE! I wouldn’t use hot glue; fabric glue is a lot flexible and less visible. Also, you can apply it a lot thinner for a nicer look.

#24. Cut out Sweatshirt by Wobisobi

It worth experimenting with cut-outs. This tutorial is just one way to do it.

Other cut-out inspiration:

  • make a cold shoulder top (you can keep or cut the collar too),
  • striped designs (they look both nice on the sleeves and back, start with the longer streak and make them smaller by creating a ‘V’ shape),
  • cut the collar and one shoulder for an asymmetric look,
  • take off the elastic rib on the bottom and make vertical cuts to create a fringed bottom,
  • make small decorative cut-outs under the collar, back, or body of your sweatshirt (heart, diamond, abstract, etc.).

Conclusion about the sweatshirt makeovers

As you could see, there are countless ways to revamp a basic, old or boring sweatshirt or hoodie. And most of these DIY ideas don’t require any special skills or previous knowledge (except if you want to do a major makeover with sewing).

I tried to find the best DIY ideas that don’t look handmade. I hope you’ve found inspiration and try one or a few out!

Which refashion was your favorite? Do you like to restyle your existing garments or thrift store finds?

Leave a comment!

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