Introduction: UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER DIY 2013 (Tipping the Ladder)

About: I'm a High School Technology teacher with Creativitis, a disease that doesn't let my brain sleep. I spend my days trying to infect my student's minds with a desire to learn. I lead by example and hope that my …

Woohoo! Made the top 12 again this year.

Check out my video and the other finalists and let me know what you think....

Last year I assembled my first Ugly Christmas Sweater entitled "Stuck in the Chimney". My love for building costumes around Halloween, slightly spilled into the festive season. My efforts in 2012 won me $5000 cash in a local radio contest.

This year, I'm at it again with a totally new concept, one that I hope will help me defend my UGLY SWEATER title.

I've been sitting on this concept for some time, and I have been gathering supplies for a couple of  weeks. Most of the materials for this project are thrift store finds or dollar store purchases. The budget is extremely low compared to Halloween, and the potential reward is higher than any of the costume contests I've entered. Yee hah!

If you're planning a build like this, get to your local thrift store before Halloween is over. You wouldn't believe how fast all of the Christmas stuff disappears after November 1st.

My sweater this year is called "Tipping the Ladder". Everyone has experience that moment when you try to cap the crown of the tree with that final adornment, and it's just out of your reach. This sweater is and ode to that moment in your Christmas past or your Christmas future. Careful..............

T'was the night before Christmas
And stuck in a tree
Was a man with a glue gun
And too much time that was free

His intentions were good
But ugly seemed to be better
And when the glue dried
That tree was a sweater

Atop of the Ladder
After leaping the train
Santa reached with a star
And failed to regain

His balance was skewed
And what could be badder?
Than Jolly Saint Nick
Tipping the Ladder

Update Dec 22nd 2013

The winner is......

Step 1: Materials

What you'll need to build something ridiculous like this:
  1. Support from people around you. Most of my friends and family know that I'm crazy and fully support this behaviour.
  2. 1 green sweater - preferably stretchy
  3. 1 glue gun with an infinite supply of glue (if you can work a needle and thread, go for it)
  4. 1 tree skirt
  5. 1 toy train set - circumference of the assembled track is key
  6. A Large random supply of ornaments from the thrift store or dollar store
  7. 1 ladder - home made or found
  8. Christmas Lights and accessories - dollar store
  9. 1 Santa doll
  10. 1 creepy doll - from the thrift store or your private collection
  11. Something to build the internal support for the sweater - chicken wire maybe?? I used some random plastic strapping
  12. Cotton stuffing
  13. 1 half sheet of 1/4 plywood

Step 2: Putting Up the Tree

The beautiful thing about a project like this, is the way the concept develops during construction. I started with an idea inside my brain and let the build go in the direction that my materials and tools decided to go. 

I'm more than pleased with the end result. It's better than I imagined it would be, and even though there was no clear plan during construction, the materials landed together in a beautiful mess. I mean...... an ugly mess.

Here's how things went down:
  1. I cut out a piece of plywood in the shape of a circle. Magically the tree skirt I found matched the size of the train track. Another Christmas miracle.
  2. I stapled the skirt to the plywood and tacked the track in place with small nails.
  3. I then cut some scrap pieces of steel and bent them to make brackets to hold the bottom ring for the tree/sweater.
  4. I originally intended to use a hula-hoop for the bottom ring, but it's not a readily available Christmas item and I thought sizing might be a problem. I found this plastic edging lying around the shop and it proved to be an excellent material for the entire internal structure of the sweater.
  5. I set up the initial part of the project using a dress makers mannequin. This helped me get the sweater in the right place for the rest of the build.
  6. Once I completed building the inner structure of the sweater, I was able to build a ladder out of some scrap cedar fence boards. That ladder helped stiffen the structure because I was able to screw it through the plywood base and to the inner structure of the sweater.

Step 3: Decorating the Tree

The steps for this strangely beautiful build continue.....
  1. To build the Santa that is attempting to top the tree, I made a sort of FrankenSanta. I took the arms and legs from the creepy doll, and surgically attached them to the dismembered knit Santa. The head for this new Christmas spirit would most certainly be my own.
  2. I kept the beard and hat from the dismembered head and used it as part of my costume to complete the illusion.
  3. I positioned the newly formed Santa doll on the ladder and tried to get him leaning to the side. I glued the fifty cent Salvation Army Star in his hand to make it look like he's reaching up for the final touches.
  4. To make the tree look like it is leaning to the side, I needed to cut off one of the sleeves and attach it to the shoulder some way. This is part of the project that didn't figure itself out from the start. I ended up cutting both of the sleeves off to fill out the tree at little more.
  5. I used the white fluffy parts from two dollar store Christmas hats to mend the wounds where I peeled the arms from the sweater.
  6. Once all that was taken care of, it simply came down to decorating.
  7. I used some garland to wrap the tree. This gave me a spot to hang ornaments and helped to cover some of my glued seams.
  8. I added dollar store lights by pushing them through the sweater from the inside, and re-attaching the bulbs from the outside. This way you don't have to glue them and you can re-position them later if you need to.
  9. Some of the ornaments are hung and some are glued in place. Try to pick light weight knick knacks, as your sweater gets heavier with each addition.
  10. I added some decorations around the base of the tree to help hide my legs and the brackets that mount the plywood base to the bottom ring of the tree.
Light this thing up and you're ready to go. It's not even that hard to get on. I would compare the effort to putting on any regular sweater that is a little over-sized and awkward.
Ugly Sweater Contest

Grand Prize in the
Ugly Sweater Contest

Holiday Contest

Participated in the
Holiday Contest