The last time I posted a clothing DIY tutorial, it was because The Candyman had ruined one of my favorite shirts. The Candyman, if he’s anything, is totally a guy when it comes to certain things. He never puts the dishes away in the same place twice. Clothes will lay strewn over and around his hamper, but hardly ever IN his hamper. There is a halo of crumbs and food stuffs around the leather chair he sits in to watch TV. Like I said, totally a guy, right? This guy status also applies when it comes to reading the care labels on the clothes he washes. This happened to include a wool sweater he had that he washed (on hot, I’m gonna guess) as well as dried in the dryer. It didn’t turn directly into felt, but shrunk way beyond wearing.
I came across the sweater last week, sitting in the closet, gathering dust and I took it out to give to Goodwill or something. The color was so pretty that I thought it might be a good candidate for a project.
And besides, I wanted a new sweater.
So I would say that this DIY tutorial is rated, on a difficulty level of 1 to 5 with 5 being the hardest, at about a 3. You definitely need a sewing machine.
Here’s what I did:
Because the sweater had a center placket with buttons, I simply cut the width of the placket up the length of the sweater. Basically, I just followed the cable pattern along the sweater.
So now you’ve got some raw edges to deal with. You want to finish those off and turn them to the inside. You can edge-finish with bias tape, ribbon, lace, seam binding – all sorts of goodies. I had a hard time deciding:
You’ll want to choose one that is weight appropriate for your sweater. This is a pretty thick wool, so I choose the brown, vintage velvet ribbon.
You’ll want to measure two equal lengths of the ribbon, one for each side of the sweater. Pin and sew the ribbon on. I did what’s called “stitching in the ditch” with my ribbon. This means I sewed on the very, very edge of the ribbon (“the ditch,” if you will) to keep it pretty-pretty.
Fold the ribbon over to the inside of the sweater and press. My ribbon got a little crinkly after I turned and I pressed it, but it totally looks cute, me thinks. Once the whole thing was done, it actually smoothed out a lot.
The next step is to stitch the opposite side of the ribbon down to the sweater. I did that using a whip stitch. Grab up a few threads of the sweater, but don't go all the way through the sweater with your needle. You don't want to see your stitches on the fashion side of your sweater.
Next, you need to make the sweater fit your bod. This isn’t as hard as it seems. Once you get the general fit, you’ll want to measure one side and mimic the measurements on the other. You can use a sweater you already have as a guide, if you’d like. Don’t forget to include the sleeves in this reduction step!
I machine basted the seam first, checked it for fit and then sewed a permanent seam. There will be a little bulk on the sides at this step, but don’t worry. We’re about to fix that.
If you’re Ms. Fancypants and have a serger, you could probably use that. I think sergers are The Devil and have a theory on how they’re the demise of fine sewing, but that’s a rant for another day.
Now, since I’d cut away part of the middle front of my sweater and taken up the sides, that means there’s still going to be more fabric in the back than in the front. To fix that, I made a dart up the back.
Here’s a basic tutorial on how to sew a dart, though her methods are NOT couture (yes, yes, I'm a fucking sewing snob) and go against how I feel about people teaching shit on the internet, it's not too terrible a tutorial.
After I sewed the dart, I cut it open (this is not what one normally does with a dart, but the material is so bulky, I had to) and pressed the dart open. I finished the raw edges like I did the seams and whip stitched the edges down to the sweater, just to keep them flat. You can skip that whip stitch step if you aren’t an anal retentive freak.
Now at this point, I could stop. I’ve got a basic cardigan with no closures, my seams are finished and it looks cute. But I’ve still got some left-overs I feel I should do something with. Remember the placket and center cable I cut out of the front?
I decided to use these scraps as a front closure. I dug through The Button Bag because those faux leather things weren’t going to cut it. It’s been like 800 years since I dug through The Button Bag and who knew I had a whole other bag inside The Button Bag with all sort of vintage goodies! All so much cuter than that brown one, right?
I cut the top button and button-hole of the placket off so that the top edges would already be finished. The two other edges that weren’t? I simply did a fast whip-stitch over them using matching thread. And you totally can't even tell! It blends right into the heather gray of the sweater and looks totally professional.
I changed out the button, lined everything up at my waistline and sewed the plackets on by hand. You could do it by machine, but it would stretch out the area and probably make it look like shit. I’m just sayin’.
So taking pictures of myself is NOT a personal strength as you can tell by the above shots. However, I am SO HAPPY with this sweater, I can’t stand it. I’m totally long-waisted and most waist closures end up under my boobs. The fact that this fits right at my waist and is long enough all over (even got to double fold the sleeves up for a cute cuff!) makes me want to do the happy dance across town. I did do the happy dance across the studio, but I’m not sure that counts. Does it?
The stand up collar looks great with my hair up and I added some fun dangly earrings that matched the metal of the vintage button. CA-YOOT!
So, too much for your average tutorial, or do you think you could do it? Do you like? I’m definitely going to be stealing more of The Candyman’s ruined sweaters. Yeah, there's more than just the one.
I'd love your feedback!