Swants Tutorial

by stephen on November 4, 2013

The time has come for Swants aka Sweater Pants! Your booty deserves to be just as warm as your torso so here is a step by step tutorial to transform woolly sweaters into sassy pants.

Selecting a Sweater
Don’t spend too much money on your first couple pairs of swants. You will be cutting and seaming them and it will probably take a few tries before you master the art of Swantsing. Pick a sweater you are not emotionally attached to for your first pair.

I prefer Sweater fabrics that contains natural fibers like wool or alpaca (super warm btw!) and a stitch gauge that’s easy and quick to sew by hand (fingering to worsted weight). A lot of machine knit and fine gauge acrylic sweaters can be trickier to sew by hand because the stitches may unravel as you cut and work with the fabric. Try different kinds of sweaters to learn which styles and materials feel best for you.

Drop shoulder sweaters are excellent Swants candidates because they have a less fitted and more boxy shape. Your legs go through the armholes so the waist is worn upside down on your torso. Set in sleeves and fitted armholes may be too tight for your thighs depending on your size and shape. The waist is often too wide to achieve a close fit. Sometimes I overlap the waist, wear a belt, and fold the excess fabric over the belt to keep my swants up. This method results in a bulkier waist line, but I’ll share other fitting and seaming ideas at the end of the tutorial.

1 sexy sweater
1 tapestry needle
~10 split ring markers or safety pins
Waste yarn for seaming
If you want to get super professional, you can use a serger or sewing machine to reinforce the seams.

Okay, let’s start Swantsing!

Step 1
Take off your pants.

Step 2
Put the sweater sleeves on your legs. If you fit into it, you can work with it.

Step 3
Cut the neck out.

Start cutting at the shoulder seam, next to the edge of the collar.

Cut the front of the sweater shorter than the back. This will give you more fabric in the back (booty room!). Cut approximately 8″ / 20cm straight down the front and 6″ / 15cm down the back on both sides of the neck edge. Then cut horizontally across to completely cut out the neck piece. You’re basically cutting out a dickey which you can totally use later for a matching Swants and dickey ensemble.

Step 4
Seam the crotch.

Join the 2 shoulder seams and pin them together. This will be the center of the crotch. Seam approximately 4″ / 10cm using mattress stitch (2″ / 5cm on either side of where the shoulder seams meet). I like to leave about 1″ / 2.5cm of seam allowance. I usually work one mattress stitch approximately every half centimeter or so.

Step 5
Seam the front.

Try on the sweater and make sure you have it on the right way, where the back doesn’t have as much fabric cut out from Step 3.

Yellow Line = Front flap fold
Blue Line = Existing armhole seam from the drop shoulder sweater
Pink Arrows = Direction to coax the thigh fabric to meet the front flap at an approximate 90 degreesISH angle.

There is extra fabric so you need to pleat and fold the excess fabric origami style to get a fitted effect. Start by folding the front flap until it’s at the height you want. I like to hike up my Swants so that the crotch isn’t too baggy. Then I can do my splits and high kicks without bursting the Swants seams.

Pin the folded front flap to the crotch seam and coax the fabric on the thigh in the direction of the pink arrows. The direction of front flap stitches and thigh hugging stitches will meet at an approximate right angle (90 degrees).

Pin the folded front flap to the thigh hugging fabric and seam them together using mattress stitch.

Step 6
Seam the back.

Fold and seam the back in the same way as the front. Again, you want to pull the leg fabric in the direction of the arrows for a nice fitted shape. You can get creative with how you fold the front and back flaps. You can fold them so you get more of a straight across line or fold the flap at a downward angle (as pictured above). How you fold the fabric can result in seams that give the illusion of shorts or a skirt.

Step 7
Weave in all your ends and cut out any excess fabric from the insides.

I don’t reinforce most of my Swants seams with a machine and they’ve been fine as I strut and dance around town. If you have a sewing machine or serger handy, you can reinforce your seams for a sturdy Swant that will last forever and ever or you can substitute machine sewing throughout the whole process once you’re comfortable with the construction.

Step 8
Strike a Pose.

This colorful Swant is worn with a wide belt to keep them up and the waist is folded over.

A pair of swants a day keeps the chilly chills away.
Your bum will thank you and friends may spank you.
Envelop your thighs with cozy knit stitches.
You’ll be the envy of all in your stylish new britches.

Swants require courage, attitude, and spunk.
Every pair you wear is a bingo, yahtzee, slam dunk!
Strangers may sneer, but have no fear
Because you are a pioneer discovering a new frontier.

Swants Modifications
The above Swants tutorial is your basic quick and simple sweater to pants transformation, but there are many other things you can do to customize your Swants. Here are a few ideas…

For a more fitted waist, take in the sweater’s existing side seams so you don’t have to wear a belt to keep them up.

Use cords or string for a drawstring waist.

If the waist is too long, cut it shorter and hem the top.

Insert an elastic waistband for a comfy stretchy sure-to-stay-put Swant.

Select an extra long sweater and attach shoulder straps for high waisted overall swants.

Find two indentical sweaters and seam the sweater together with the Swant for a Swonesie (Sweater Onesie).

If the cuffs are too tight, cut the outside cuff seam so it easily fits over your ankle or calf. Finish the cut edge with some embroidery and/or colorful crochet details.

Pose and dance out and about with your friends.

Use #swants for posts on twitter and instagram

More fancy swantsy photos and videos coming soon!

Swants Tutorial Model: Steve May
Swants Tutorial Photographer: Kyli Kleven
Swants Tutorial: Stephen West

The Sweaters in these images are from Sputnik in Reykjavik. The photos were also taken in Reykjavik.

Hungry for more Swants options? Here are some Swants photographed in Amsterdam earlier this year. The crazy colorful patchwork sweater was a Christmas gift from my mom several years ago. The color blocked intarsia sweater and white cabled sweater were 5 euro acquisitions from my favorite market in Amsterdam, the Noordermarkt.

Photography: Jarrod Duncan
Models: Jessica Jeanne, Stephen West

And finally, a Swants Dance brought to you by the Westknits Fun Squad!

Please send photos of your Swants creations to westknits@gmail.com or post them in the Westknits Facebook group.
Take off your pants and put on some Swants!

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 197 comments… read them below or add one }

Karrie November 21, 2013 at 11:25 am

I want the last three pair in this video!! So going to look for the right sweaters to play with!!

Koren November 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Hi there!

Loved your swants and would dearly love to recycle a couple of my favourite old sweaters. So far I am having trouble with getting the crotch to fit properly. It would be a great help if you could create a short video to help those of us who have trouble visualizing your instructions. Thanks so much and keep up the great work!


AmyCat =^.^= November 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Since my shape could most charitably be described as “..the figure of a Goddess: the Venus of Willendorf” :-} I think I’ll look for solid-color sweaters or sweatshirts if I ever try this. Tweaking the t-shirt-to-shorts pattern in the YouTube video mentioned above also looks a lot easier, and puts fewer seams on high-stress areas like the thighs and crotch…

My most recent pants project was making two pairs of baggy RenFaire-peasant-style drawstring breeches from a fitted queen-size flannel bedsheet… Warm, roomy, and $1 per pair of pants when buying thrift-store sheet sets!

AmyCat =^.^= November 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Gonna rec. this for SCA (historical re-enactor) folks, because it’d be a quick and cheap way to do leggings, as long as you used sweaters in historically-appropriate solid colors and natural fibers… Lots of people with growing kids could turn thrift-store finds into leggings to wear under tunics…

Rachel November 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm

NO. WAY. These are AWESOME! I would love to link to your how-to if you didn’t mind.

Windir November 23, 2013 at 3:20 am

Beyond gayness!

Linda November 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I live in the north so always up to find something new, funky and cozy warm to wear. I am a seamstress by trade so these will be really simple for me to make and have sewing machines ready to sew. I love the design & prints of the swants on the last 2 photos! Also to do a pair in basic black would be cool. This cut reminds me a lot of harem pants.

Mary Saunders November 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Love this, especially the bright colored ones.

Willow-Creek who knows her shenanigans November 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm

The revolution has begun in Alaska. Watch yourself, earth. Alaska be snappin yo appreciation up.

Karen Knox November 27, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I wish there was a video tutorial for this! I want to try it but I’m lost after step 4. This is the coolest (warmest?) idea. I can’t wait to try it. Help with a video!

Django Mandingo November 29, 2013 at 8:34 am

Why sew up the neck? It looks like an easy access point for the pending orgy that will happen once people see you wearing this incredibly useful garment!

Ben Cuevas November 30, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Bam! SWANTS! https://scontent-b-lax.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/p296x100/999784_10201542039126814_1522905221_n.jpg

So admittedly the step where you sew the crotch together was a bit confusing to me and I had to try a couple times to figure out exactly what I was supposed to do. But it’s actually quite simple. Just join the two should seams together and sew 2″ in either direction of the shoulder seams. It seems weird that you have these holes on either side of where the crotch will go but they become obsolete when you seam the front and back of the swants.

Nancy Liedel December 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Since my butt is the size of Texas as it is, Faire Isles pants are the last thing it needs, but my skinny fourteen year old wannabe designer needs to see this. I sense a trip to the trift shop coming on. :)

Janey L. December 13, 2013 at 7:43 am

Saw swants on GMA. Is there a website where I can purchase them. I can’t see, knit or crochet; but would love a pair. I just broke my hip and need comfy clothes to wear outside my home. Can you tell me if they can be purchased. Thank you for your time and Happy Holidays!!

etcetera1 December 13, 2013 at 9:49 am

I suppose it must take a certain sort of guy to brave sporting these swants!

geri December 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm

where and how in the world can i get a pair or have a pair made? i am unable to locate a site? can you help? and what is the cost? ger

julie December 15, 2013 at 8:29 am

I would love step by step instructions like this for upcycling a people sweater into a dog sweater. very creative.

Daisy Debs December 17, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Love them ! Hope I can get a pair made before the winter weather hits Cornwall : )

coupon code iherb December 19, 2013 at 3:45 am

This piece of writing will help the internet users for creating new website or even a blog from start to end.

COCO Maire December 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm

WOW,,,, I plan to make a pair for all of my family so we can wear them around the house, and Bombfire for the HOLIDAY’s, What a colorfull, and happy way to be… I love it.. I hope to get lucky with my swanks, Thank you for the great minds that keep us young and creative

Tyler Marshall December 22, 2013 at 12:38 am

I cannot thank you enough for creating this. My family has made it a tradition to only do hand-made gifts every year from now on, and we were struggling to come up with an idea. I’m going to be making a pair of swants for all my immediate family, and a good number of cousins. We will be sure to take some family photos with all of us wearing them!

stephen December 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Wonderful! Please send photos to me. I’d love to see! :) westknits@gmail.com

Daria McGuire January 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm

These are absolutely amazing…have to make a pair for lounging…have been following your work for some time…very talented you are….would love to interview and showcase your work for one of my posts in the future.
Let me know if you would like to do this,
Take care, Daria McGuire

stephen January 2, 2014 at 7:48 am

Sure! You can email at Westknits@gmail.com I’d love to participate in a blog post. :)

merri kay January 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm

oh my god !! you people are the best!!

Gaby January 4, 2014 at 1:58 am

the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!!!

Katie Reed January 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I’ve been making sweaters into pants for years. I started with making wool soakers for my kids in cloth diapers, then making sleep pants and one piece long underwear. In fact, I found out about “swants ” on Friday when I went to Loops yarn shop in Tulsa. Some ladies were admiring your handiwork, when I told them about mine, and was in fact wearing a pair!

Mary Killean January 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

Where can I BUY some? I dont want to make, I want to buy! Thank you

Ar-Ghost January 7, 2014 at 1:03 am

I wouldn’t cut up my sweaters, I love them. They shouldn’t be worn where they don’t go. Why not just knit some pants like sweaters?

ShawnJarvis January 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I just saw an article from Anderson Cooper… Swants made it to the rediculist… not sure if that is good or bad?!?


modem internet January 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Thank you some other fantastic document. The area different can everyone get that variety of info such an excellent method of creating? I’ve a display next week, using this program . for the search for such information.

Wendy January 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Over the Christmas break I made 5 pairs of Swants with my niece. They were gag gifts for her friends but they turned out soooo awesome I think the recipients will be wearing them for then lounging at home! Cool way to upcycle old clothing!

PatriciaFaye January 17, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Love the swans so may have to try making a pair for my daughter-in-law & granddaughter since they live in a cold weather area. Loved the pictures of all your models & the video. Thank you for the tutorial!

Zoe January 20, 2014 at 10:53 am

I did my own experimenting with swants, and I’ve fond a really fast was to make swants/sweggings with a serger. Check it out if you’re interested! http://thecutecuttlefish.blogspot.com/2014/01/diy-swantsswegging-fast-easy-way.html

Carole January 21, 2014 at 6:12 pm

these are cool, but I’d rather knit my own…….any patterns out there?

FleurBelge January 23, 2014 at 7:11 am

Génial! Genius and so pretty , confortable ! Merci for sharing these real creations , recycling this way is very intelligent and usefull;.and beautifull!
Bravo to the sylists!

Janet Baillie January 25, 2014 at 11:16 am

“Cut the back of the sweater shorter than the front. This will give you more fabric in the back”
Is this what you really mean? I haven’t made a pair of swants yet, but think they are fabulous! I’d have thought that cutting the back of the sweater shorter would leave less fabric for covering my bum….
But what do I know?


stephen January 26, 2014 at 5:38 pm

thanks for pointing that out. It should be cut the front of the sweater shorter than the back. :)

stephen January 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm

I have a knitted pants pattern here. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/cushy-tushy

UniquelyUK February 2, 2014 at 4:59 am


One of our crafters had a go at making the SWANTS the other day , anything to help them relieve the stress of filling in thos eon-line vat returns.

Here they are – with silly photos too


Patent Lawyer February 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

How ingenious! You guys are so kooky!

Joy February 20, 2014 at 1:35 am


Lukas March 13, 2014 at 6:47 am

Hi! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
There’s a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your
content. Please let me know. Many thanks

stephen March 13, 2014 at 6:53 pm

That would be great, thanks!

Delcinea -Sue M Avery March 13, 2014 at 10:33 pm

I wish I understood your sweater pants better its me. I can see you gave wonderful directions. I am hands on. I would love to make a couple pairs of these for my grandchildren for the rest of this year and make them some for next winter. As all who lives in Vermont know . Darn Cold . Very Respectfully. wonderful job.

IriePrendyGal March 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Brilliant idea!! I love it. I would like to try sweatshirt or t-shirt material for dancing in warmer warmer cllmes then pair it with stocking tops that we used to wear to dance in the 80′s (made from cutting out crotch of stockings and using legs with the feet cut off as sleeves. anyone remember that??!

mohairdamour April 6, 2014 at 1:33 am

Hi & thanks, I hope I’ll be able to do the same with very hairy mohair I like so much to made some becoming fuzzy pants… with wich I’ll be well Inside…

Leave a Comment

{ 107 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: