Picture of Upcycled Sweater/Fabric Coat
I'm putting this Instructable together for the Sew Warm contest this year. I've seen many of these marvious creations on Etsy, and hadn't yet made my own.  A couple months ago, a friend and I were at the mall and he was like 'what happened to that coat thing you were gonna do?" and I was like, OH YEAH! it'd gotten so far to the back of my 'to-do' list that it fell off the edge of the earth.

I want to say a big "thank you" To Katwise on Etsy for making the original coats that this Instructable is based off of. Without her, these types of coats would not exist.

The main difference between my elf coat and others, especially Katwise' coats, is that the rough edge of the seams will all be inside facing. This is so that people with no serger can still make these types of coats and still have that nifty outer edge seam effect. if you want outer seam facing coats, simply do that with my or Kat's tutorial with a serger instead, but I do suggest you purchase hers for that instead of trying to convert mine.

Materials required:

Anywhere from 5-20 sweaters, and whatever other materials you want to use, you can use fabric purchased at the fabric store as well. I'm using  7 100% cotton or 100% wool sweaters (cost: free to $50 or more, depending on the number of sweaters you pick or already have. 7 sweaters will be enough for a knee length coat. A floor length coat may require up to all 20, if not using supplemental fabric. If unsure, start with around 10. Try not to pay more than five bucks for each sweater, unless you really love it - this can get expensive fast. Do not pay full price for retail sweaters - I don't even want to think about how much it would cost.

NON-STRETCH satin/shiny thick lining or piping in notions.  I'm using some leftover decent quality lining material from a previous project. 1-1.5 yards of quality lining material should be enough. ($6)

Optional: Bought or found wool or cotton fabric, should be medium weight and not too stretchy. In addition to my sweaters, I'm using some leftover velvet for trim and occasional filler.

Ribbon, pom-poms, trim or other items you might like to use to personalize your coat.

Zipper OR Buttons OR Fabric Ties: The coat can be securely tied closed with just a front tie, but with a zipper foot and basic sewing skills you can install a zipper or make button holes. Simply tying it closed works great too and has a certain charm.  I will not cover installing a zipper - if you are attempting this tutorial, I am assuming you already know how to do a zipper, or are not doing one.

Tools and Equipment:

Sewing machine and/or serger: A serger is nice, but not necessary for this Instructable  If you want those squiggly outside facing seams, you really do need a serger, or a lot of patience to zigzag stitch all your seams - and there will be a lot of seams. This tutorial is aimed at keeping all seams facing inside - you are welcome to finish seams with a serger..

You do, however, need a machine that can handle stitching through several thicknesses of fabric. If you are unsure, either leave out the satin piping, and/or do a test patch with one sweater. Cut several squares out and stack them, join them, stitch through joins and thicknesses. If your machine isn't making funny noises at this point, you can probably proceed. Do not risk burning out your machine.

If you decide NOT to do non-stretch satin pipping, or any other pipping, I urge you to use sweaters and fabric that do not stretch very much, and avoid stretch velvet altogether.

Dual-Purpose or Heavy Duty Thread: Can be complimentary or contrasting, but you'll need more than one spool of whatever color(s) you choose. Most if it will be on the inside anyway - for the most part, I used dark purple and black threads.


Heavy duty machine  needles.  You may break one, so don't be alarmed, but do be aware it could happen when you are stitching through several thicknesses of fabric. You may want to lean away from the machine or wear eye protection when dealing with these areas - mostly at the neck/hood attachment and skirt attachment. Katwise herself has a horror story of a needle to the eyeball.  (AAUUGH)

Cutting mat and Rotary Tool is preferable, but as long as you have a large, hard flat surface you can cut on, that will suffice.

Standard sewing equipment, such as tape, pins, bobbins, chalk, needles.

You do not need to know how to read patterns to make this, as long as you have at least a single base sweater to cut the sleeves off of to make the base upper section of the elf coat, if using all store bought fabric in pieces, you will have to make your sleeves/arms from a separate pattern that will not be included here.

This coat is unlined - if you have the sewing skills to add a lining, feel free to do so. If you find your sweater coat to be itchy, you can try adding a lining to the upper part and sleeves alone - just the parts that could touch your skin if wearing short sleeves under it. A long sleeved t-shirt type thing should work well.

Total cost and time: Should not be more than $75, unless you really do want 20 sweaters - then I cannot predict - if you have the time and patience, I suggest hitting yard sales, visiting more than one thrift store, and looking for deals on fabrics at your local fabric store for a few weeks before starting to assemble your coat. If you insist on purchasing 20 sweaters at once, I hope they're cheaper than at my local Goodwill - $4-5 each.

Up to knee-length took me around 15 hours of working time, but I have to separate out the time I spent typing this thing too and stopping to take photos, so I'm not positive.

**Disclaimer: This tutorial is in no way meant to disrupt sales of Katwise or others on Etsy who have purchased her tutorial (which I recommend!). I have purchased and read Kat's tutorial and am making efforts not to duplicate it, either intentionally or unintentionally.  My intention is for Instructables readers to be able to construct their own similar type of fantasy coat - the coats by her and others are simply awesome, but I don't have $2-400 to drop on a pre-made coat, and for those crafty people like myself, this tutorial is for you.
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Ltlbits2 months ago

You did a great job. Thank you. Many like me will never ever be able to afford to buy the ones sold on etsy so no worries.

cflisnik2 months ago

Be proud it's beautiful!!! Burger King never ask Mcdonald's to give up the burger.

ANYBODY can make anything called Free enterprise..just the way it go's.

If I sewed I would make and sell them..

Thank you for this :D (Y) for the lady that is freaking out about ripping off Katwise...give it up!! Who made you keyboard cop?? Stop trying to SAVE the world and live and let live...GOSH Pathetic :( As for this instructable it is CLEARLY stated in the beginning about how FABULOUS Kats coats are and how they each use different techniques.......Therefor NOT a rip off!! Keep your nose outta law cause you have NO CLUE what your talking about and you made yourself look foolish Susanrm...Funny how you say you did a consensus yet cant back up any data...LMAO-ROF

ebatson1 year ago
i think its beautiful, i wish i could make one.
and as of instructions go, even though it was someones elses pattern, you made this one and, all you did was show how you made it. i see nothing wrong with that.
batkitty2 years ago
I've bought the tutorial but this helps me so much more and alot simpler to understand thanks so much!!!!
anya402 years ago
Wow. I fail to understand the negative comments here. You cannot "patent" a design. Once it's out there it is no longer yours. If that were the case, almost every designer out there would be broke in a flash. This coat is similar to, but not exactly the same as Katwise. Even if it was the same, it is not a Katwise. Katwise has her own flair and design. She also sells her own tutorials on how to make her coats. Hence, everyone can now make one exactly as she does. So, what's the problem? Have none of you ever bought a designer knock-off?
bajablue3 years ago
I'd wear that! Very nice work, too. ;-)
canida3 years ago
Nice work. I like the color choices, and the Palpatine-esque hood is a neat variation upon the original coats that inspired you. I'm a big fan of sweater upcycling projects.

So, is it ridiculously warm?
susanrm3 years ago
Hey there, nice work. But your -ible was instantly recognizable to me as a rip-off of Katwise's. It would have been different if you had taken some of the techniques you learned from her and created your own cool design, but an elf coat? I think if she took you to court, she'd probably win, given the uniqueness and recognizability of her designs.

Please consider withdrawing your -ible and making a new one instead. I know you want to win the contest, but this isn't really a good way. You're talented, and I'm sure you can come up with your own ideas!
fluffydragon (author)  susanrm3 years ago
Honestly - All Katwise asks for is directed credit. there are other elf coat tutorials out there, NOT BY HER, for free. I credit her. I tell people to go buy her coats and tutorial. I bought her tutorial. I claim no credit for the design.

You'd do just as well going after all the people who do quilt tutorials or recipes.
Well, I can't speak for her, but I do know some of us aren't cool with it. Just so you know. You obviously mean well, but to me, this just crosses a line. Here is a good example of another elf coat that is inspired by, but completely unlike, Katwise's productions.

And I am really not "going after" you. Just pointing out something that struck me right between the eyes when I saw your -ible. I asked some folks on Facebook what they thought about it, and the consensus was that it is too close to the original for comfort, and it would have been better if you had asked her if it was okay to post a non-serger version of her instructions online.

I have read hundreds and hundreds of -ibles on this site, and this is the first one that struck me this way.
fluffydragon (author)  susanrm3 years ago
I have emailed Katwise and asked her what she would like me to do. If she asks me to take it down, I will.
That's good of you. You put a ton of work into this.
insomniaSAH3 years ago
Fantastic, I've been looking for a tutorial on just this. You did a great job documenting the process - there's little more frustrating than finding an 'ible on something you've been looking for, and it's the finished product with "sorry, but I forgot to take pictures as I was working on it."

...Not that I've done that myself >.> *cough*
fluffydragon (author)  insomniaSAH3 years ago
Thanks for commenting! I thought of it when I saw the sew warm contest was open this year again, and couldn't find any Instructables on one, so it seemed like a good idea.

I still would recommend buying Katwise's tutorial for I think it was ten bucks on etsy, IF you want one like hers - mine takes considerably longer because you should finish the inside seams and it requires double stitching to do the piping - one to do the piping and one to add the next piece. I wrote it for people who don't have sergers but want to make this type of coat.

It was fun! I've been wearing this thing out for the last two days have have gotten zero weird looks or comments XD

Please pm me if you have any questions - sometimes I get too wordy, I think, and sometimes I forget things.