Ugly Christmas Tree Sweater

Y’all! We’re back in WV! I can own up to the fact that Christmas is less than a week away now that I’m home. It just feels right now. Know what I mean? In other news, I went to Rue21 the other day and was surprised at the number of garments I saw there that I actually would wear, namely a certain ugly Christmas sweater that had a reindeer on it AND also lit up with a bunch of little lights when you flipped a small switch on the inside of the sleeve. I never thought I was an ugly sweater kind of gal, but as it turns out, I guess I am. Surprise! But I’m also cheap. No shocker there. Sooo…I made my own, and my husband told me it was the prettiest ugly Christmas tree sweater he’d ever seen. Mission accomplished…I think?

Ugly Christmas Tree sweater

The projects I love most are the ones that a) turn out nice, b) are fun to plan for, and c) are cheap. This sweater was ALL 3. I found the winning sweater specimen at the Salvation Army Store—my fav—for $2. I had to talk myself out of buying some brown yarn and a veterinary internal medicine textbook before I left and headed to Wal-Mart where I was searching for Christmassy ornament-y embellishments. The ones I eventually chose came in a bundle of 5—shiny stars, snowflakes, and birds—for only $1.98. All told, my “ugly” Christmas sweater was under $7. (*victory!)

But whatever would I wear this to, Whitney? Well, you could host an ugly Christmas sweater party, be the only fun person wearing it to your annual Christmas Eve shindig, or how about making a bunch of mismatched ones and using them as chair back covers? How cute is this?

Chair cover ugly sweater

I’m sure you’ll think of something. Me, I’m wearing mine to a third grade Christmas party. I thought of completing the look with a tree skirt and a big ole’ star on my head…but that might be too much. 😉


    • a cheap sweater from a secondhand store
    • a long piece of red ribbon (or some pre-made red bows)
    • scissors
    • a needle
    • thread
    • a ½ in. wedge paintbrush
    • green and nutmeg brown acrylic paint
    • a pencil
    • a dark brown Sharpie marker
    • a small trash bag
    • an iron
    • medium sized buttons
    • string, hemp, or jute cord
    • some small, cheap ornaments
    • towel/ old piece of fabric


 How to do it:

Drawing a tree on the sweater

  •  Find some pictures of pine trees that you like, and use them to plan your sweater design. I practiced with Sharpie markers and paint on a scrap piece of paper to get it just right. Then, put a plastic bag on the inside of your sweater to keep paint and marker from bleeding through, and use the brown Sharpie marker to draw the outline of your pine tree onto the sweater. I colored in my branches, but you don’t have to!

Painting the tree

  • Next, use nutmeg brown acrylic paint to fill in your tree trunk…

Painting the pine tree

  • …and then use your green paint to paint the needles on each branch. When you’re finished, let this dry well.

Setting the paint by ironing

  • Now, place a towel or piece of fabric over your tree painting. On the highest setting, iron over your tree, spending about 30 seconds going back and forth over each area to set the paint. *After you do this, you might want to wash the sweater so it doesn’t smell like paint. I didn’t wash mine, so I can’t tell you how this affects it, though!
  • Now you’re ready to decorate your Christmas tree! I would advise laying everything out in the place you want it before attaching. Then…

Make some bows

  • …make and sew on some bows (or fasten on some pre-made ones)…

Sew on some buttons

  • …sew on some buttons…

String the ornaments

  • …and hang a little ornament from each button.

Ugly Christmas sweater

  • Put on your ugly Christmas tree sweater, and get out the door to that Christmas party!


4 thoughts on “Ugly Christmas Tree Sweater

  1. I LOVE this sweater! It’s a great idea for an “ugly” Christmas sweater…but it’s not ugly at all. I’ll have to try this next Christmas.

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