Introduction: Punk Style Ugly Christmas Sweater

About: Dad, maker, curious person.

My son needed an ugly sweater for a Christmas party. After looking at the stores for the commercial versions we were less than impressed and, per my usual, decided I'd make one using a sweater I had at home.

The beauty of the punk rock ethos is that it was all a bit rough and hand made anyhow. So, capitalizing on that, we used things like safety pins and glue to secure some elements.

Total build time was 30-45ish minutes once materials were gathered. The original sweater was pretty basic, black on the front and a skull on the back.



  • Sweater
  • Felt
  • Safety Pins
  • Garland
  • Bells
  • Santa hat
  • Scrap fabric
  • Thread
  • Fabric glue


  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Needle

Step 1: Embellish the Skull

The back of this sweater had a skull and the word "Hamnett" (a clothing brand). I took a $1 Santa hat and cut out the back of the white band, but left the edges to give it some bulk and give the appearance of it going around the head

I stitched up and around the hat edges, leaving the point of the hat loose so that I could fold it over. I also left most of the white band across the forehead unstitched to give it some realism.

After stitching it in place (using matching red and white threads), I took the bobble at the point of the hat and placed it to one side of the face. I then stitched behind the bobble to hide the stitches and keep it from falling down the face of the skull.

Step 2: Tree and Snowman

I used felt to rough out some basic shapes for a Christmas tree and a snowman. Basic triangles with a rectangle for the tree and three white circles of different sizes for the snowman.

I pinned everything in place to keep it's shape. The beauty of felt (and fleece) is that it doesn't fray, so if you don't want to sew it, you can just glue it.

I then took two different skull fabric scraps and cut out the small skulls, adding them like ornaments/ Christmas balls on the tree. I took another fabric with eyeballs, and cut out two for the snowman eyes and some more felt for the arms and nose of the snowman. .

I used glue to secure the skull "ornaments" and eyes of the snowman.

I used a zig zag stitch around the edge of the tree and on the arms of the snowman. This gave a nice finished look to them by covering the edge of the felt. I used a straight stitch on the snowman.

I finished off the tree by hand sewing a little metallic silver garland at the top as the star.

Step 3: Punk Rock Bells

Rather than spikes on this punk rock sweater, we used Christmas bells secured with safety pins. Bells were $2.50 for about 25 small bells.

Putting the sweater on my son, I marked out where I wanted the bells by placing safety pins at four points to mark the edges. I then filled in the space by using more safety pins and bells. The longest part of this process was finding enough safety pins. I ended up using 25 bells for the small area.

We chose the shoulder, you could do the cuffs, hem, full arm or both shoulders.

Step 4: More Ideas

We thought about upping the bling on this, but decided to stop where we were for the moment. That being said, we didn't want to lose some of our ideas. So here's some other things you might consider;

  • Christmas lights; for $5 there are a load of battery operated Christmas lights. Depending on the weave of your sweater, you could poke the head of the light through and hide the wires on the inside and either secure with a few stitches or hot glue.
  • More garland; We thought about cuffs of silver or colored garland as well as the bottom hem of the sweater in garland, but decided to pass. You might want to up the bling by doing this.
  • More bells; you could up the jingle by adding bells to the cuffs or cover both shoulders or arms with more bells.
  • Graphics; Punks were famous for patches or symbols pinned to their jackets. You could come up with your own holiday themed punk sayings. Draw it on some old t-shirt with a sharpie and pin on your sweater. I've put one I thought of in the pictures. Merry X-mas with the "a" being the anarchy symbol.
  • Yarn work;You could "embroider" using yarn and create more graphics on the sweater. I'd considered doing a poinsettia on the arm or words like Noel (something simple and short). Using a large needle and bulky cheap yarn, you could easily stitch through the sweater

Step 5: Party on in Your Ugly Sweater

Enjoy your sweater.

Thanks for reading and please post pictures of your ugly sweater.

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