Guest post by Lindsay Olsen
In the beginning, there was Great-Aunt Mabel, a woman blessed with a lot of creativity and an endless supply of yarn. What Mabel lacked in taste she made up in energy. Her nieces and nephews could always count on getting a warm, comfortable and utterly hideous sweater every Christmas.
Great-Aunt Mabel, and others like her, produced knitted monstrosities that could only be worn by the brave. Want a puffy, three-dimensional Christmas tree? Mabel had a stitch for that. Need to make sure that Rudolph’s nose is placed in a socially awkward location? Mabel’s knitting needles came with an anatomical GPS. It’s a shame she isn’t still around to wrap us all in the warm glow of holiday embarrassment.
Nowadays, the ugly Christmas sweater is a tradition to be celebrated, not worn once and hidden away in shame. If you don’t have a Great-Aunt Mabel and don’t have time to knit for yourself, there are still some options available for your Christmas party wardrobe.
Finding Great-Aunt Mabel
Exploring thrift shops is like searching for buried treasure. You never know what you’ll find. These stores often get donations from estates or from people who are simply cleaning out their attics. Great-Aunt Mabel’s work has been known to make an appearance. Vintage ugly Christmas sweaters can also be found in online shops and auction sites. Read the descriptions carefully to make sure the garment is the right size, and keep in mind that the actual quality and condition may not be apparent from the photos.
Starting From Scratch
The nice thing about creating a custom ugly Christmas sweater is that it doesn’t have to be a sweater at all. Any knitted top that’s heavy enough to support your decorations will do. Here are just a few of the ways to get ugly:
This is a patch or other shape added directly to the sweater. You can draw your own designs using markers or fabric paints. Another easy option is to use iron-on transfer paper to print images you find online. Craft felt and a glue gun makes quick work of geometric designs like Christmas trees — not to mention snowpeople of either gender.
All the trimmings.
Craft stores and fabric stores are great places to find interesting and kitschy trim to add to your ugly Christmas sweater. Use string or yarn fringe to mimic icicles. For strings of ornaments, try ball fringe. The tiny yarn balls have a fuzzy texture and will sway as you move. Rickrack is an easy way to decorate a felt gingerbread house. Sequin trim adds flash and can be used to trace outlines or even woven in and around other decorations.
Light it up!
If sequins aren’t flashy enough, try battery-powered LED lights. These can be found in hobby stores or purchased online. Use strings of tiny lights as tree decorations, edging on a cottage roof or an outline around your own special sweater billboard. Larger individual lights work as noses for reindeer or for buzzed elves. Lights will need a power source and a controller. A simple pocket sewn into the lower edge of your ugly Christmas sweater will make these easy to reach.
Entering a new dimension.
Great-Aunt Mabel’s puffs and cable stitches gave her sweaters a bulky, three-dimensional look. You can do the same by adding on yarn pompoms to create Christmas trees or snowbanks. For a more sophisticated effect, try using tulle flowers. These come in a wide range of shapes and colors, and can be attached to any sweater with just a few stitches or a dab of glue. You can even use them to turn yourself into a Christmas present. Simply cover the front of the sweater with a large square of felt. Next, add a cross of wide satin ribbons. Finally, attach a cluster of tulle flowers as a bow.
What to Do When Time Is Short
If you’re running short on time, searching the Web or hot-gluing elves onto your shoulder pads may not be an option. That doesn’t mean you have to attend that holiday party dressed like a civilian. Your custom ugly Christmas sweater is just a click away. Just choose your color and pattern, then add your artwork. It just shows that you can wear an ugly Christmas sweater and still be a snappy dresser – no glue gun required.
Just don’t tell Great-Aunt Mabel.