Introduction: The Presidential Portrayal: a Sweater Within a Sweater

About: I am a Christian, an Engineer, and I may be a little crazy (but only a little).

Last year my school ran an ugly sweater contest. I competed in it (got second place), and enjoyed it, but felt that had I put more time into it I could have made a more interesting sweater. So this year, as I was trying to think of ideas, it hit me. Why not put a picture of the school president on my sweater? After all, I did have pictures of him in an ugly sweater...


You will need:

A sweater (or more than one) - I get mine at thrift stores

Yarn - Get lots of different colors, thrift stores sometimes will have bags of random yarn balls

A yarn needle (Although last year I used a bent paper clip and it worked just fine)

Googly eyes that are sticky on the back - Walmart sells sheets of these

A brown paper bag

A picture of your favorite school president.

Step 1: Make a Plan: Prepare the Image

This isn't going to be a step-by-step "you must do it this way to get it right" kind of instructable. As written, there are no fickle electronics (besides Windows), nothing to blow up in your face, and nothing very technical. This is what I did for my sweater and while it will hopefully serve to inspire you, you don't have to follow my procedure. Feel free to use the ideas and build off of them.

I started by editing the photo I had of my school president. Because I had been too far away from him to get a good picture, I had taken a picture of the projector screen (The camera feeding into the projector was trained on him). My photo was dark on the sides and blurry, but that was just fine for an ugly sweater design.

To edit the photo, I used Microsoft Paint to eliminate most of the unnecessary parts, saved it, then opened up the Whiteboard in Windows 10 and imported the "cleaned up" image. Then I used my stylus to trace the outlines and shading of the image. Whiteboard is a bit lacking in colors, but it worked well enough for my purposes.

I also referenced online photos of the actual sweater and Facebook pictures of him in the sweater. I have not included them here due to copyright issues, but if you are interested, leave a comment and I can send you the URLs.

Step 2: Make a Plan: Check the Design

At this point, I actually had two sweaters and wanted to decide which one would clash more with the design. So after I had traced the image, I imported photos of my sweaters into the computer and placed the traced design on them.

After consulting with several people and showing them pictures of both sweaters with the portrait on them, I decided on the striped sweater. The tan one gets to wait until another year...

Step 3: Uglification

*This part took the most time out of anything. You might want to listen to an audiobook or something while you do this, it's very time-consuming.*

I started by putting in the outline of the president. I used a nice clashing green yarn for his sweater and a tan yarn for his face. Then I put in the outline of the little llama at the bottom. I filled in the sunglasses with purple yarn and then filled in the president's face.

The reason it may seem like I jumped around with the shading and outlines is probably because I did, but I had a good reason. If you work from top to bottom with a multicolored design like this, you'll end up having lots of different colors of yarn all being used at once and it will get confusing. I continued doing this throughout the whole design, color by color until I finished.

After I finished all the main yarn work, I placed two googly eyes on his face. For me, this was better than using yarn for eyes because yarn would have been too hard. And googly eyes are fun.

I also put in a nose and mouth with pinkish yarn. The nose was just two sides of a triangle, and the mouth was just back and forth several times with the needle and then tied off.

The lettering was just pretty simple, just use yarn to make block letters.

If I were to do this again, I would probably put tinsel and other shiny things on the sweater as well, just to make it uglier and give it more of a Christmas theme.

Step 4: How to Thread in the Yarn

I'll take a break from the actual sweater design itself here and focus on how to actually put it in the sweater.

First, decide on what portion of the design you are going to put in.

Then get out the yarn color you need and thread it through the needle (or paperclip).

Thread the needle through the sweater. Whichever way you start, you'll want to end up on the outside. Pull through as much yarn as you will need for the specific part you are working on. If you are putting in an outline, I would suggest going in 2-inch lengths and threading in and out of the fabric to lock in the yarn after each length. It's kind of hard to explain with words, so I would recommend looking at the pictures.

If you are shading in areas, you use pretty much the same method as the outline, except that you can be a little more relaxed about locking in the yarn in the middle. You can go in longer lengths without locking as long as you are shading with straight lines. Curved lines will need to frequently be locked in if you want them to keep their shape. When you reach the end of the area you want to be shaded, lock in the yarn and turn back the other direction. Large areas of the same color should be done in smaller chunks, otherwise, you'll be pulling yards of yarn through every turn and everywhere you lock in the yarn. Once again, this is hard to explain in writing, so please refer to the pictures.

Note: When you are shading, the yarn tends to pull the sweater together and shrink the design, you will want to combat this by not pulling the yarn too tight when you switch directions. I didn't do this very well, so the whole design shrunk toward the middle.

If you make mistakes, don't despair! Mistakes give character to the sweater and *hopefully* make it uglier. (Some people's mistakes make things better looking, I don't know how)

Step 5: The Final Product

After hours of threading and locking in yarn, it was basically finished. But... it wasn't quite good enough. The back was very boring. So... I smothered it in googly eyes and put a little sign on the back with brown paper.

Now, that was good enough. It was finished.

Hopefully, this helped to inspire you for your next ugly sweater. There are certainly much easier ways to make a sweater ugly, but this is certainly a unique way of doing it.

Loose ends (pun intended):

-For those wondering, I didn't win the competition at school this year

-And for those that scrutinized the last photo and noticed that the sign was actually two pieces of paper, good eye. That's because the actual sign had hashtags and tags that I didn't want to share.

-Be sure to make sure that the one you portray is goodnatured and can laugh at themselves. You wouldn't want to make anybody upset because they're on your ugly sweater.

Ugly Sweater Speed Challenge

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Ugly Sweater Speed Challenge