Good Holidays: DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 2, 2015

When it comes to Ugly Christmas Sweater shopping at Goodwill, there are two basic roads you can go down. You can either opt to purchase an existing Ugly Christmas Sweater, or you can opt to gather a few supplies to create your own. There are benefits to both sides—and it really just depends on your own style and what you find on your hunt.

This blog, however, is specifically for the person who wants to very quickly (and inexpensively) throw together a sweater for tomorrow night’s Ugly Christmas Sweater party.

For this #GoodHolidays Do-It-Yourself (DIY), we kept the design super simple to show off how easily it can be done (even kids can do it!)—but it can get as involved or as complicated as you want! For example, with the similar materials seen here, you could make a Brontosaurus in a Santa hat tromping through a snowfield—or even turn a basic red sweater into a Santa jacket.

I spent about 15 minutes at Goodwill, and about 30 minutes actively working on the project. I let the glue and puff paint dry for 24 hours.


From Goodwill: From a craft store:
Red Fleece Sweater Aleene's Fabric Glue
3 pillow cases Red and green puff paint
A fuzzy white stuffed animal Bronze Sharpie



Step one: Decide on a design. I wanted to keep it simple, so I went with a Christmas tree. Originally, I was going to use the fuzzy fabric from the stuffed animal to line the collar and sleeve wrists—but because of some odd seams in the stuffed animal, I opted to use it as snow. DIY lesson learned: Be prepared to adapt! Also: check for inconvenient seams.

Step two: Draw the main part of your design on your fabric—and cut it out. I was going for quick and easy—so I folded my green pillowcase in half, and drew half a Christmas tree, and cut the folded fabric. You don’t need to worry about getting the edges perfect. That’s what the puff paint is for! You can find a ton of patterns to use online!

Step three: Decide where on your sweater you want your design to be—and with a minimal amount of fabric glue, cover the edges only of your design—and place it. If you’ve got a paintbrush or a sponge you don’t mind using with glue, use that to spread it.  Once you put the design down, there isn’t much wiggle room to correct it short of washing the fabric and starting over—so be sure to take your time!

Step four: Add your embellishments. I chose a polka dotted pillow case, because I knew that would help me get easy circular ornaments for my tree. Use the glue again—but again, don’t worry too much about the edges, that’s what the puff paint is for! (You can add the “snow” here, or after you puff paint.)

Step five: Puff paint the edges! It will look the smoothest if you do it in one fluid motion. (You’ll note here you can see the glue through the tree—that disappears as the glue dries.)

Step six: Let it dry for 24 hours. The visibility of the glue will disappear.

The fun thing about a DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater is that you can make it as ugly, tacky, or fun as you want—or time allows. As I mentioned, I was aiming for quick and simple—something anyone could do!

If you DIY your own Ugly Christmas Sweater, we’d love to see it! Share it with us on Instagram by tagging @SeattleGoodwill and #GoodHolidays! 


Kim fancies herself a professional communicator. She has experience in writing, graphic design, and social media, and is always looking to expand her knowledge base into other fields of communication. She loves people, coffee & Seattle (including the rain).

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