Thursday, February 21, 2008

DEMO! Sweater Reconstruction

It's time for another crafty demo, this one inspired by my love of (slightly) wacky clothes and my (slightly) compulsive shopping habit . . . How many of you out there (be honest now!) have clothing currently in your closet that you purchased with the best of intentions . . . and have never actually worn? It can be new or scavenged from the Goodwill; it can be something that seemed great at the time or that was purchased because "it's cheap and it'll work if I just tweak it a little bit." The issue of the gifted or inherited garment can be handled with much less guilt . . . and Sweet Sassafras does it with such style here . . .

I, however, have many of these high-guilt purchased items. One that has been nagging at my conscience is a baggy striped sweater purchased at Old Navy. It filled me with visions of 80's-inspired funk and hipness and legging-clad comfort when I bought it. In truth, every time I tried it on as part of an actual outfit, it was comfortable but it made me feel . . . frumpy. Here's the sweater:

So, after the last time I tried it on several weeks ago, I got crafty. Well, actually, I just pulled the scissors out and attacked the sweater. This has, luckily for us all, resulted in an actual demo - yes, something you CAN safely try at home . . .

DEMO: Sweater Reconstruction

Normally, cutting into a sweater is a quick path to running, unraveling madness. Two big exceptions: wool sweaters that have been "felted" or "fulled" by washing them with detergent in hot water and then dried or sweaters that have a very fine knit like a t-shirt. This particular sweater has a very fine knit - while cutting should be done with caution in these cases, it can be done. Here, I cut the sweater off about 8" under the armpit - removing a 10" length of sweater tube from the bottom of the sweater.

Next, I turned the tube inside out, and did a rough measurement of its circumference as compared to the circumference of the sweater's neck opening . . . Yes! The sweater tube could become a cowl neck! (If you have a tendency towards sanity, you will do the measuring bit before you cut into the sweater.)

Finding that they were pretty close, I pinned the sweater tube to the sweater's neck. I started by lining up one side seam (the one with the tag) with the back of the neck, and lining up the other side seam with the point of the "v" in the front of the sweater. Then, I pinned them in place, with the "right" side of the tube meeting the "right" side of the sweater's neck. (In other words, as I pinned in the photo below, I was looking at the outside of the sweater and the inside of the tube)

Then, I pinned the rest of the tube to the neck. The tube was a little bit bigger than the neck of the sweater, and so I made and pinned a few "tucks" in the tube on each side, close to the shoulders.

Finally, I stitched the tube to the sweater's neck. I used a zig-zag stitch, and a ball point needle for knits on my sewing machine. I did two parallel rows of stitching around the neck to attach the cowl securely and to prevent unraveling. I also did a row of zig-zag stitching around the "hem." This should keep it from running. (Stretching it a bit as you stitch will result in a ruffled hem - not what I was going for!)

And here's the final product - a cropped cowl sweater worn over a long black knit tunic and jeans . . . I kind of like the way it plays with proportion, and I love the stripes. I even going to wear this out in public today to meet with Sister Diane for coffee. And I may feel a bit, er, "fluffy" in this outfit (not so slimming, really) but I sure as heck don't feel frumpy!

Mission accomplished.

Added Later for the Very Ambitious and Inspired: It would also be possible to do something similar with old t-shirts. There are some wonderful books on t-shirt reconstruction, like Generation T (a lot of designs for the young, slim, and fit - but easily adaptable and so many ideas!!) Another thing to keep in mind is that if you've got several garments - sweaters or t-shirts - with similar weights, stretchiness, and fiber content, you can mix and match. Try taking a tube and sleeves from one sweater and attaching them to another one . . . There are also some great books out there on sweater reconstruction. One of my favorites is Second-Time Cool, which has a very alterna-grrl aesthetic while providing basic info on how to do different embroidery stitches, knit and crochet! Subversive Seamster also has some great deconstruction/reconstruction ideas for thrift store finds . . . lots of eye candy and plenty of basic construction advice.


Susan said...

Love your sweater reconstruction! You are such a cleaver girl!

I've been doing some reconstruction of my own over at my website. It's not the finished version, but I did update it a bit. Oh, and thanks for stopping by. It's wonderful to see a friendly face.

No doubt you have more treats in store for us. Can't wait!


Anonymous said...

I love what you've done with this sweater. It looks much more edgy and hip now!

d said...

holy crap. talk about 'using every part of the beast you kill'. i woulda just given it back to the goodwill or given it to my dog to use as a chew toy.

nicely done.

mmmm, brains said...

I love this! I have very similar sweaters from Old Navy and you've inspired me to "fix" them so that I'll actually wear them.

Geek+Nerd said...

This is awesome! I totally have some sweaters that I can do this to. Thanks for sharing!

Bridget said...

Thanks, everybody. So glad you found it useful - and inspiring. I'm going to update the post a bit, too, as you can apply this technique with t-shirts or use sweaters of similar weights/materials/stretchiness to mix and match . . . maybe we need to start a takeoff on that blog "Ikeahack" called "ONhack" (for Old Navy) or "GoodwillHack" . . . hmmm

amy turn sharp said...

um, you rock!

gl. said...

love eeet! the instructions don't make any sense at all to me, but i love the contrast & cleverness. :)

how did the meeting w/ sister dg go?