Swants: Turning Sweaters into Pants
Wonderfully weird, swants (upcycled sweater-pants) are an invention by knitwear designer Stephen West. They’re getting a lot of press lately, thanks in part to a wacky dance video of his crew of swants-wearing models in Amsterdam. You can see it for yourself at the end of his tutorial on how to make swants. The Del Ray Yarn Bombers decided we had to get in on the fun and make some Swants for ourselves.
We met at UpCycle Creative Reuse Center (CRC) where owners Kelley and Susan, had already assembled a few gently worn, thrift store sweaters. The uglier the better.
For this project, the bigger the sweater the better too, unless you’re making swants for a child. The way it works is that you turn the sweater upside down and put your legs through the arms. If the sweater is big enough, the arms will reach to your ankles.
Kelley picked a couple of sweaters small enough to turn into swants for her son and daughter.
We all agreed that, yes, this version would end up being the cutest of all. She may end up making them into overalls. We can’t wait to see the finished “look.”
The tricky part is fashioning the crotch. You take what was the collar and sew it together in the most pleasing way possible. Stephen West’s tutorial says to cut out the neck opening, measuring down 6 inches on the back, and 8 inches on the front. Leaving more fabric in the back, as West says in his tutorial, gives you more “booty room.” You then cut across to remove the opening.
Which gives you a bonus “dickey.”
It’s hard to show the way you sew the crotch portion of the swants. What we did was sew the shoulders together, which were the edges around the collar that you just cut away. It took a bit of maneuvering and imagination to decide how to make it work, even while consulting West’s tutorial. Luckily, swants are not a perfectly tailored look.
Now, for the front. You pull the pants on again and then someone else folds over the excess fabric (originally the bottom of the sweater) and pins it in place. And, yes, the front is supposed to look like a skirt or shorts.
You take off the swants and hand sew the folded piece down.
And you’re done, unless you want to make other adjustments. Susan decided to “take in” the sides a bit, since her sweater was extremely roomy to begin with.
And in case you were wondering, you hold the top up with a belt.
You then decide if you’re brave enough to wear them publicly. We all agreed it’s a “can’t take yourself too seriously” kind of DIY project that we had lots of laughs working on together.
If you have any swants sightings in Del Ray, let us know! And keep an eye on the UpCycle CRC web site for a swants workshop where you can fashion a pair or two for yourself, grown-up or child-sized.