Thoughts on Cropped Sweaters and Trends

Cropped vintage-inspired sweaters are a big trend in the sewing world right now – my theory is that it all got started with sewists envying knitters like Dolly Clackett and Lladybird for all of their cute cropped handknit cardigans layered over full-skirted dresses! (That’s how it started for me, at least.)

It seems like a distinctly sewing-trend – I see plenty of cropped tees in RTW, but not sweaters as much. Vintage-y dresses are eternally popular in the sewing world though, so it makes sense that we’re all looking for ways to layer and change things up.

Here are the current options: 

(Photos belong to the patterns designer. Click the text link to see a google image search for blogger versions of each pattern, because I think it’s so interesting to see how they actually turn out!) 

There’s the Blue Ginger Doll Bonnie, with optional bias-cut front and flutter sleeves…

…Or the Muse Jenna Cardigan, which is adorable but I’ve sewn two times and can conclusively say is meant to be worn buttoned up, which means it’s not my ideal cardigan shape)…

…Then there’s the Colette Astoria and the Colette hack for a cropped Moneta

… And most recently, the Deer and Doe Ondee, which has a collar for those who like twee! (I’m not judging!)

cropped tops Collage
Then, of course, if you are like me you just shorten a pattern you already own! (From left to right, McCalls cardi I cut short before work during MMM, Maria of Denmark Kimono tee, and Plantain tee with ties.) One thing I’ve learned is that when you crop an existing jersey top (like the blue and purple ones above) the jersey springs up once there is less weight below – As a result, both tops turned out a bit shorter than I intended, so beware!

My summer sewing plans include at least one cropped sweater, to be made with khaki green french terry and (I think) a modified Renfrew pattern, and maybe a robin’s egg blue cropped tee as well (but how many cropped tops can a person really wear?)Untitled

It’s got me thinking about proportion and fit though:

  • How short?
  • How fitted?
  • How long should the sleeves be?

For my khaki sweater version, I *THINK* I’d like to try a higher neckline (partly so it can be layered over anything, and partly just to see how a crew neck looks on me). Since I’ve made some too-short shirts, I’m going to try to make the body fit down to my true waist, then a 3″ band below. Snug, but not tight?  I’d like long sleeves, but I’ve only got 90cm of fabric. I might be dreaming to think I can fit it all! I’ve been staring at finished versions of all the patterns mentioned above to try to figure out what makes the silhouette work. What do you think?

Trends are always an odd thing – fun to try, but sometimes it feels like they are over before they begin. If there are so many cropped sweater patterns, does it mean they are almost out of fashion now? Does it matter? Part of the fun of sewing is experimenting… but is it a waste of resources to sew something I might not want to wear in a year? Then again, if a trend is flattering, who cares when it’s “over”? I’ve read so many posts where bloggers say “I’m late on the bandwagon” or “Peplums are so last year, but here’s one anyway.” I’m trying to egg myself on to get an asymmetrical haircut for summer – gotta live a little, even though I think the trend was 5 years ago. What’s a girl to do when trends change quickly?


58 thoughts on “Thoughts on Cropped Sweaters and Trends

  1. I don’t think trends are worth paying strict attention to! They can introduce you to new ideas, which is great. I am all up in this culottes business, and probably will be for a while, but I get to say when I don’t want to wear something anymore, not the fashion industry! If it makes you happy to wear it, that’s all that matters.🙂

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    1. Oooh, culottes are something I haven’t tried yet… My hips are wide and I’m scared of wide leg pants!
      I feel like in theory I just wear what I want… but when I look back over a few years of sewing, I can see that I’m influenced by new patterns, rtw fashions, and colours that become popular in RTW. For example, my mom gave me a coral sweater 3 years ago, and I thought I’d never wear it… now I love coral!!

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  2. I say poo-pooh to trends. If you like it, wear it, and who cares if it’s “out of style.” I like “cropped” (and I think it’s hilarious that waist-length is considered cropped; I have a sweater from many years ago that basically covers my rib-cage. That’s cropped!) sweaters because I think I look dumpy when certain styles hit my hips. So that’s what I wear.

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    1. Hahaha – yeah, modern cropped is not so cropped! Hell, I used to wear baby doll shirts that were way shorter! (Man, I wish I had more pics from my early teens!)

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  3. Well it might be a trend, but if I don’t like it I’m not going to sew it and wear it. I get my ideas on what to wear from everywhere and everyone! For example, I can’t imagine ever wearing a jumpsuit, I just might look like Santa Claus! I might make myself some culottes though… if I find the right fabric!

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    1. LOL – now I’m picturing a Santa Claus jumpsuit!!! I always admire black knit jumpsuits on people – they look so casual and elegant – but when i think of wearing one myself it would be like pjs or an 80s flashback!!

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  4. I’ve learned the hard way that shortening knits makes them spring up a little! Ahhh… I’m all for sweatshirts/sweaters in every length — it’s all about proportions, and since my bottoms aren’t all the same my tops need to vary too!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts in this, having noticed this trend too. I think if it suits your shape, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s in fashion or not. I’m pretty short, so cropped is always good for me, and I may just have a few planned…

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      1. Me too! All very slow this end, but have a whole heap of Seamworks projects to catch up on, starting with that rather lovely cropped jumper- seen so many lovely versions around now, has definitely nudged its way to near the front of my queue🙂

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  6. I wonder if these cropped sweater patterns all have bottom bands attached to help keep them from riding/springing up in front.

    In any case, I’ll be skipping that particular trend because there’s absolutely nothing about that sweater shape that will work on my figure, being giant-boobed and short-waisted.

    On the other hand, I really have been wanting to jump on the culotte and romper/jumpsuit bandwagon but haven’t because I’ve had a few pairs of jeans and a pair of shorts bite the dust in the past couple of months, and replacing those is a higher priority for my wardrobe than trendier pieces.

    I think I’m about the last sewing blogger to not to not have made a shirtdress yet, though, and that I do intend to rectify this summer, since I know that’s a style that won’t feel dated to me in a few months.

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    1. Yeah, a cropped top might not be for you! I feel that same about short shorts – Hells no! My hips should not be isolated and highlighted!😉 Culottes though… I’m not feeling them yet, but that probably just means I’ll love them next year!😉

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  7. I am with Michelle, also being big of boob and short on waist. I would look terrible in anything cropped but they do look great if it suits your proportions. I never follow trends, I keep my stuff for so long that they might come back into fashion though.🙂
    P.S. I made another sewing dare! Xx

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    1. Nothing wrong with holding onto things! I’m a bit of a hoarder, and i can bring myself to get rid of any of my me-mades, because one day I might like them again, or fit them again, or cut them up!😉

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  8. The Megan Nielsen Briar pattern has a nice cropped option in it. I made one and really like it but I don’t wear it that much because I haven’t figured out that many outfits that go with it. Also I made it in a bit of a crazy fabric, purple and glittery gold stripes that doesn’t go with much. I do think it looks cute over a button down shirt.

    Regarding trends, I haven’t actually noticed that many cropped sweaters or tops in real life. I think in a big city, at least, there is so much good people watching and I see so many different styles all the time, it’s really anything goes. I only notice trends when magazines hit me over the head with them, or if I see them many many times on sewing blogs then it eventually sinks in that it’s a trend. Anyway, I just try to make or buy things that I like!

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    1. Bahaha – I have some purple, pink and gold stripe knit in my stash, and I can’t figure out what I can make that would get worn!😉
      I like seeing what people wear, out and about… It’s comforting to remember that style is so varied! (and that lack of style is a viable option!😉

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  9. I know what you mean about trends – they seem to come and go so quickly! Although since I started sewing I find I pay less and less attention to normal clothing trends and just sew what I like to wear instead – which does definitely include cropped sweaters at the moment!

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    1. I love how sewing means I can try trends out but not be limited by what is in stores! I hate how some years certain colours just aren’t for sale anywhere in clothing stores. Your cropped sweaters are part of my inspiration, so thanks!

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  10. Yes! I’ve definitely been swayed by the whole midi skirt length trend and have made several midi length knit dresses. the good thing is I can just chop the length or knee or mini if I get bored of them🙂 I like the crop sweater thing but feel they wouldn’t work on me for some reason.. maybe I should have a go some time though.

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    1. I think a cropped sweater would look great on you! Your dresses usually have ease in the waist though, right? So you wouldn’t want a tight sweater… Might be fun to play around with though? (Watch out, this is starting to sound like a potential #sewingdare!😉

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  11. I am totally on this bandwagon as well… I have my shrugs, of course, which work well over full-skirted dresses and I’ve been wearing for years, but last fall a lady at work gave me two cropped, button/snap front cardis (RTW) and they have been the BEST THINGS EVER, especially the one that is teeny and cotton-lace-knit-with-spandex (the other is a rayon knit with little or no spandex that grows while wearing and had to be taken in about four inches per side before it was shrunken enough. But it’s still cute and a nice change.) As a result I’ve been ogling various patterns and bringing home lacy-sweatery-knits in 1m batches at a dangerous rate. I have a couple of patterns in mind, and some fairly firm ideas—for me myself, the bottom can’t come below my natural waist, and it needs to be VERY fitted—but I need actually get DOING. /sigh. Maybe next weekend….

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    1. Yes! You are the queen of cropped sweaters, and tight totally works on you! I’ve got a short waist like you, so short tops and empire waists are good. What patterns are you thinking of trying?? (One I didn’t mention in the post is the Cake Pavlova wrap top – I love the one I made in rayon knit! It’s not as quick to make as a short tee tho!)

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      1. I have an ancient Kwik Sew, 535, with short puff sleeves, and a more recent Mccalls 6708 that I think might have some possibilities if I size it down a bit. But I might just modify my knit sloper, since I don’t want a lot of ease anyway… Depends on the fabric. I love the Pavlova on others but I can never handle wrap ‘n tie styles on myself.🙂

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        1. I threw out one Pavlova I made in rib knit – it was so bulky when tied! The one I like is think rayon, so it seems to work.🙂

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  12. I like how your crops look with your dresses! This is one trend (ha, well, one of many trends) I’m probably going to let pass me by because I don’t like how they look on my broad shoulders and thick waist. One way to approach the proportions might be to treat the sweater like a dress bodice and what you’ll wear layer under it as the skirt.

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    1. That’s a good way to think about it! It’s partly the waistband that throws me off – should it be above or below where a dress bodice would end?

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      1. Hrmmm, good question! I think you could treat it like it was the dress’s waistband. I like to go higher if it’s a thicker band and center it to my waist. You could go lower if you wanted a blousier look, too.

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  13. On trends–jumpsuits–wha? I don’t get them at all.
    I really like the cropped cardigan thing because cardigans are ideal for layering, but I’m not sure how a regular cropped sweater would work. I have a longer-ish torso, so to cover up my midsection properly, I’d have to wear some sort of high waisted contraption, possibly with more flare at the hem–two things which I find really uncomfortable. I get the reason for them–they emphasize your natural waist, but they seem tricky to execute without discomfort.

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    1. Yeah, that sounds like it might not work so well for you! I hate wearing skirts (too many layers tucked underneath, between slips, leggings, and tops) so I like the option of wearing a shirt over a dress to make it look like a skirt!🙂

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  14. Trends come and go, but your body stays with you, so I try to adapt fashion to my shapes and personal taste. I like how you look in cropped cardis, especially the burgundy one in the middle. Personally, I am not a cropped top person and I don’t think they look good on me, so I stick to what I know works best for me🙂

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  15. I dunno what some people are saying about big boobed and short waisted not looking good with cropped sweaters, because I am both and look amazing in them. I love a cropped sweater! I have a few Jenna Cardis made and a few more cut out and waiting for a day for me to deal with the issue with my serger. I wear a lot of dresses and skirts that hit me at my natural waist so I have to wear cropped sweaters and cardis with them or it doesn’t look right. I love that the band of the sweater hits me in my smallest area and accentuates my shape. Yes, it makes my boobs look bigger, but….yeah know… IDGAF, because they will look big no matter what I do.😉 Plans for the fall are to make a few JVL Enid sweatshirts to wear with skirts, etc. I like the different necklines for that sweater, the fact that it doesn’t have a boatneck, and is drafted for no-stretch sweatshirt fabric.🙂 Can’t wait to see all your plans take shape!🙂 You must be getting sew excited about the end of the school year!😉

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    1. GIRL, that is so true. You do look awesome in cropped sweaters. Guess it’s just down to personal preference then!🙂 Also, “Yes, it makes my boobs look bigger, but….yeah know… IDGAF, because they will look big no matter what I do.” <– YES! Except with my it's my stomach – like, that thing is there no matter what, so whatever!
      I cannot wait for the end of the year – One day we'll meet up and I'll tell you about the insanity that has been this year at school!

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  16. I’m on #teamcropforlife … but that’s also because I’m on #teamhighwaistedeverything. I’m super tall so that aesthetic will always be great to me. I’m also on #teambodysuitforever. No matter how many times the bodysuit goes in and out of style, I will ALWAYS wear bodysuits

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    1. Are you super tall? I never would have guessed! I just figured you were lean and athletic… but then I’m short, and I tend to assume everyone else is short too. Like Ginger – I have trouble accepting that she’s not tiny!😉

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  17. I love the cropped sweater/t-shirt trend especially over dresses. I think it might be a bit like skinny jeans – starts as a trend but then ends up a staple. At least for me anyway. You should totally do an asymmetrical haircut – that would look awesome and it will always grow back if you decide you don’t like it. I’ve done it a few times and it’s a fun way to mix up shorter hair!
    Your summer sewing plan looks great!

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    1. “Starts as a trend but then ends up as a staple” <– What a gret way to describe it! It's true, skinny jeans have spent (omg) 7 years weasling into my closet. I remember my first pair was low rise, non stretch, second hand… and I was wearing them the night Jamie and I hooked up the first time!😛
      Thats for the hair pep talk – you are so adventurous with your hair! I have this odd thing where I hate how my whole class asks "Did you get a haircut?" the next day, and I honestly avoid getting drastic haircuts because of it! but summer – bring it on!

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  18. I’ve never really thought about cropped tops. I adore high waisted skirts and dresses that emphasize that area as well. I suppose a crop top with those would be cute. Culottes are a trend that I have been firmly in the “OMG Not Again!” crowd, but lately, I’ve seen a couple that look more skirt-ish than strange wide pants that are expecting a flood any minute. I’m tempted to try a pair, but like you, I’m worried about the wide hips issue.

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      1. Definitely! I can always use a push in the out of the box direction. At some point I want to try a fitted jacket, so I might be ready for it by fall.🙂

        While rummaging through my stash, I found some lovely purple bamboo jersey, so I think I might just stitch it up into a nice summer nightgown for the Lingerie theme.

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  19. I’m not an expert in any way but I think knowing the body type is helping to decide which style would be the best, and then it is all about taste, isn’t it. Great post, thank you.

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    1. I agree, Cecilia! I love having a sister who has similar measurements but different proportions, because if it looks frumpy on my I just give it to her and she looks great!😉

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  20. Very interesting thoughts! I love so much cropped sweaters but only worn by the others. I can’t imagine me wearing a cropped sweater! Probably I’ll never be on the bandwagon just because I have an asymmetrical haircut, but I love it so much!😉
    I look at trends, but I try to adapt them to my taste and if I don’t like them, I continue to sew what I really like.
    Then I didn’t want to disturb a big like Coco Chanel but “Fashion passes, style remains”😉

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    1. That’s a great philosophy! Why wouldn’t you try a cropped sweater yourself though, if you like them on others? Just not your style, or you feel like it wouldn’t flatter?

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  21. I knit myself a cropped sweater last year, and while it’s a gorgeous pattern with a lovely deep v and beautiful cabling around the button band, I didn’t even bother sewing in the ends once I got it all together. I love it…but not on me. It was a really time-consuming way to find out that this is definitely a trend I won’t be following. I love the look of cropped sweaters on so many people (you included – you look awesome!), but I hate it on me.

    Which is sad because that sweater really rocked it.

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  22. Oh man, it seems like I’m the only person that hates cropped sweaters! The thought of something snug and cropped kinda makes me squirm! But to be fair, I don’t like fitted sweaters, really, in any situation. See also: culottes! They may be a trend but I just can’t do it!😀

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  23. This trend did seem to just pop up everywhere in online sewing community all at once. I even noticed that Jennifer Lauren Vintage also has one out for non-stretch fabrics. I think you’re right and that they pair well with vintage dresses and high waisted skirts which are sewn frequently. I actually love that this is a trend because I like this silhouette on my body. I think the key with trends is to either not invest too much time into them to try them out or if you do, choose something you would wear regardless of trends. I think comfort in your style and clothes is pretty timeless.

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  24. Cropped sweaters are why I took up knitting, years after all my friends did. A friend made me a really cute cropped cardigan, and suddenly I realized how perfectly they worked with all my fit and flare dresses and full skirts. After making a few scarfs and pairs of socks, I’m finally starting on my first knitted cropped cardigan.

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