DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater

DIY So-Ugly-It’s-Cute Christmas Sweater (thank you very much).

Wore my ugly sweater to a bowling holiday party.

A few years back in all my DIY glory I decided to make my own Ugly Christmas Sweater.  I was invited to a few Ugly Christmas Sweater parties that year and I wanted to stand out.  To Google I went!!  I searched ideas for hours, and I found a blog, The Modern Austen, that changed my life (well at least my DIY ugly sweater life).  I wanted to make a sweater that was not just ugly, but so ugly that it was cute, and this was it!  I took her idea and added my own twist.  (You can even see my comments on her site from back in 2012 proclaiming how much I loved her idea.)  Not sure why I haven’t written my own blog about my sweater yet, so here it goes.  (Warning, unfortunately since I did not make my sweater with my blog in mind I don’t have action shots.)


  • Sweater
  • Your favorite fabric (more or less needed depending on what exactly you make)
  • Iron on transfer paper
  • Thread in various colors
  • Sewing machine (or a thousand hours of hand stitching)
  • Special touches (I used a button, but bows, bells, mini ornaments would be cute too!
  • Paper, pencil/printer
  • Fabric scissors
Top Left: Zoomed in detail of the stitching, Right: Front, Bottom Left: Back


  1. Gather your materials.  I went to the thrift store to get my sweater.  I wanted a sweater so baggy I could wear it as a tunic with tights, and I wanted a turtleneck because duh, turtlenecks make every sweater better.  I got half a yard of each type of fabric from Jo-Anne’s, and picked up thread, iron on transfer paper, and my button there too.
  2. Decide on your design.  The original design was more simplistic and cute, while I wanted something a bit more “ugly” and over the top.  I have a mini Dachshund, so I wanted to put a Doxie somewhere on my sweater, because like turtlenecks, Doxies make everything better too.
  3. Cut out your fabric. I can’t draw for beans, so I googled pictures and played with their sizes until I got the ratios I wanted.  I then printed the pictures out, cut them, and then pinned them to the back of the fabric I wanted that design in.  If you can draw, you can skip the printer and go straight to free-handing your design on a piece of paper.  If your picture is direction sensitive, like my Doxie was, make sure you pin the paper so when you cut it out it is going in the right direction.  Then, using sharp fabric scissors cut out your patterns, then once done unpin your paper.
  4. Add your iron on transfer paper to your patterns.  I laid the iron on paper on my ironing board and puzzle pieced the fabric pieces in top of it.  Then I ironed the fabric to the transfer paper.  Make sure you follow the directions on the transfer paper to make sure you are doing it correctly!  Then, I had to carefully re-cut all of my pieces out again.  If you have one or two larger pieces, you could do this step before you do #3, however since I had a ton of small pieces in a few different fabrics I figured this way was easier.  Either way works!
  5. Iron your fabric patterns to your sweater.  I laid my sweater on the table and then played around with the pieces until I got them how I liked them.  Then I carefully pinned them in place and then took the sweater to the ironing board to iron them in place.  Remember, follow the transfer paper’s instructions and remove whatever backing there is before you do this step (trust me, I learned the hard way)!  You could technically be done now.  You don’t need to add the sewn outline like I did, but I wanted to add the cute/tacky element to mine.  Plus, I hoped it would help keep the pieces on a little longer, because I have had iron on transfer paper give up on me over years of wear and washing.
  6. Sew an outline around your patterns.  I wanted the thread to pop, so I used contrasting colors and cute settings to make different effects.  This part took me forever, especially with all the snowflakes all over the back, so just a warning!  I am still glad I did it though because I feel it was worth it.
  7. Add your special touches.  Last, I hand sewed a red button on the nose of the Doxie to make it look like Rudolf.
  8. Now rock that so ugly it is cute sweater!!  The best part about this idea is you can do literally whatever you want.  And I mean that, literally anything!  The only limit is your imagination, so no pressure or anything.

If I could make this again, I would change one BIG thing.  When the sweater is laying on the table everything looks perfect, but when I wear it I have a big problem.  The Doxie head and cute button nose, arguably the cutest part of the sweater, is hiding under my arm!  So word to the wise, make sure you try on your sweater first and draw little lines where you don’t want your designs to go past.

The picture I sent into a Doxie fan club Facebook page, I got dozens of requests to make them one, but it too me way too long to make more!!
Our school’s Ugly Christmas Sweater day just happened to be the same day as our Fireball Lab.  The results were amazing. 

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