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How to Make an Ugly Sweater + 5 Ugly Christmas Sweater Ideas

Easy steps and ideas to creating a DIY ugly Christmas sweater.

By: Krista Childers, Editor, AllFreeChristmasCrafts.com

We have all seen them. Ugly Christmas sweaters. Often, someone will wear a store-bought or homemade ugly Christmas sweater for a party, contest, or other holiday celebration. Learn How to Make an Ugly Sweater Plus 5 Ugly Christmas Sweater Ideas can be found right here. These gaudy and hilarious Christmas wearables are a fun way to celebrate Christmas in social situations. Buying ugly Christmas sweaters is fine but if you really want to go over the top and make people laugh (and maybe win some contests), then DIY ugly sweaters are the way to go.

Besides being innovative and overly obnoxious, an ugly Christmas sweater DIY is usually pretty cheap. Use dollar stores and thrift stores to your advantage when shopping for materials. Go through closets, your own unused Christmas supplies, and check your local garage sales. You can make a DIY ugly sweater with any materials you want, which is why this is such a fun Christmas craft. We will provide you with some steps and tips for making your own homemade ugly sweater. We will also show you some DIY ugly sweaters that have already been made and that you can use for your own DIY ugly Christmas sweater or to help flesh out ugly Christmas sweater ideas. 

Materials List

  • An old or cheap sweater in color of choice
  • Christmas decorations (ornaments, stockings, garland, candy, stuffed animals, florals, etc)
  • LED or string lights with portable electricity (optional)
  • Adhesive (hot glue gun or strong craft glue)
  • Needle and thread (optional)
  • Safety pins (optional)

How to Make an Ugly Christmas Sweater

The beauty of making a DIY ugly Christmas sweater is that you can use what you have, your skills, and your imagination to make anything you want. There is no right or wrong, no rhyme or reason. You can choose a theme if you want, such as making an ugly cat Christmas sweater or becoming a human Christmas tree. Some ugly sweater ideas may take more planning, time, or know-how. But the end result will be hilarious! Below you will find the basic steps for creating a homemade ugly Christmas sweater that you can wear to work parties, friends' Christmas parties, or on Christmas day to make your family laugh and develop a new Christmas tradition.

  1. Find an old sweater in your closet or buy one from the store.

    Check out your local thrift store, dollar store, garage sale, or flea market. For many DIY ugly sweaters, a more ill-fitting or oddly-colored sweater makes the final product even more tacky.

  2. Gather Christmas decorations for your DIY ugly Christmas sweater.

    If you're going with a theme, then collect the appropriate materials. Otherwise, get the most ornate, ugly, or awkward decorations you can find. This includes ornaments (bonus points for ornaments that make noise or light up), stockings (bonus points for stocking stuffers inside), garlands (tinsel is a great choice here), candy (candy canes, gold chocolate coins, or other popular candies for Christmas), stuffed animals (penguins, reindeer, Santa, etc), and florals (Christmas swag, small wreaths, etc), just to name a few. Take a look at discount stores to get the best deals on these ugly sweater additions.

  3. Plan out your DIY ugly sweater.

    Do this by laying out your sweater and laying the decorations over the top. If you have a mannequin or volunteer to help by wearing the sweater during this or the assembling process, it may be easier to envision the final creation. You can use safety pins to hold the decorations to your sweater. Safety pins may be used to hold decorations on the final sweater, too (this is great if you want to remove and reuse it later).

  4. Attach the embellishments to your homemade ugly sweater. 

    Use safety pins, adhesive, or a needle and thread to keep these decorations on the sweater. Do some tugging once finished to make sure nothing is going to fall off while you are partying. Some people even find a way to add lights to their sweater for added bling. You can find battery-operated lights that will do nicely if this is something you want to add to your sweater.

  5. Put on your ugly sweater and take a look at your handy work.

    Once it's on, you can see if you need to add anything or see if anything is at risk of falling off or moving. Make adjustments as needed.

Ugly Sweater Ideas

This pop culture phenomenon has led to a lot of cool inventions in the field. Below you will find a variety of different Christmassy ideas, including super simple designs and more complex plans. Ugly Christmas sweater ideas are vast and unique, so you can either replicate these using the tutorials or you can use them to create your own version.

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