Hey kittens! I posted a picture last week on Instagram of a recent sweater upcycle I did… now I’m back with a few how to pictures.
The background… once upon a time I lived in the cold, frozen land of Minneapolis. Across from my office was a wonderful place… A Lands End Outlet store. Inside this store were racks and racks of catalog returns and overstocks of one thing that Lands End does well… cashmere.
Having little cashmere-related self control, I am the proud owner of more crewneck cashmere sweaters than a girl like me should really have. Because crewneck + full bust… well…
Exhibit A on why I don’t love crewneck sweaters…
Hello square sweater!!
Here’s how the sweater ended up after the upcycle.
So! Here’s the steps I took to do almost the exact same thing to sweater #2 in my project pile. The only difference is the angle of the center front seam. When working on the green sweater, I was inspired by this lovely from Ivey Abitz…
For the white version that I’m showing below, I went with a straight center cut rather than the curved one in the inspiration piece.
OK here’s the steps…
Mark the center back hem
First I put on the sweater and marked where I wanted the hem to hit on my back. I knew I wanted it super cropped – my narrowest part is pretty high up and a lot of my favorite dresses are shortwaisted. I pulled on the sweater and stuck a pin where I wanted the sweater to hit. Here’s a photo of the sweater laid out flat with the center back marked with a pin…
Cut the new center opening
So… for a cardigan we need to have a nice, new cut RIGHT down the middle of the crewneck! Since I wanted it to be centered, I folded and matched up shoulder seams and side seams. Pinned to keep in place and then used a straight edge and a rotary cutter to trim off JUST a thin strip down the middle. If I didn’t have those tools, a pencil or chalk and scissors would have done the trick. And… for cutting the curved center seam (like with the lime green upcycle) I just eyeballed and cut as smoothly as I could with a pair of sharp scissors.
Trim back seam and make center front points
I used pretty much the same method to trim the center back hem and create the center points. Folded in half, matching the center seams and used my rotary cutter to make nice, smooth points. I started at the center back where I had marked with a pin in the first step.
Add a curved neckline
I tried it on after cutting the curved hem and decided I wanted a nice, curved neck as well. I folded in half, matching shoulder seams and eyeballed the cut. I tried on after to make sure I liked the angle and all looked good… on to next step!
Oh, wait, I also removed the tag at this point. It will make the finishing much easier if it’s out!
Since I have a serger, I finished all the raw edges with my serger. If you DON’T have a serger, you could finish with a zig-zag stitch, or just leave unfinished. Knit fabrics normally don’t unravel.
I got a bit of lettuce edge from the serging… so I pressed with a bit of steam.
The sweater had a folded finish at the cuff. I wanted a longer arm (and had the fabric to lengthen) so I trimmed the folded over cuff hem with my rotary cutter.
Trim extra fabric trimmed from back
OK – this isn’t a great photo, but there was about six inches of fabric left over from when I trimmed the back of the sweater. I cut into a nice rectangle and made sure the existing hem (the one that was double folded on the bottom edge of the original sweater) was preserved… it turns into my new cuff hem!!
Measure out new ‘cuffs’
OK. Next I took the rectangle that I just trimmed up… laid out the previously trimmed off cuff (on the left below) and then lined up the newly trimmed rectangle that I removed from the back and folded over to make a new… cuff extension… make sure to fold so that you have enough to go all the way around your wrist!
Here’s my two new cuffs… ready to sew up!
Sew cuff side seams
I folded each new cuff piece in half, right sides together and serged. Again, if you don’t have a serger… just stitch with a narrow zig zag stitch.
Attach cuffs to sleeves
I slid the previously trimmed sleeves inside my new cuff extenders – right sides together. Matched up the seams on the long edges and stitched together on my sewing machine using a narrow zig zag. My serger doesn’t have a narrow enough arm to sew sleeves by sliding over the arm… and I find it very awkward to sew the other way on my serger… so I used my machine!
Whew! I forget to take a final picture… but if you look at the picture of the finished lime cardi, you can see what it looks like!
Finishing the edges
I like to hand-stitch, so that’s how I finished the front/side/lower edges. Here’s my favorites for hand stitching!! Silk thread, quilting betweens, thimble and teeny scissors.
A note on the silk thread… there is a rule of thumb to match thread fiber to fabric fiber. If the thread fiber is stronger than the fabric fiber, the stitches could pull/break the fabric fibers. Silk is pretty strong and perhaps I should use something different, but I LOVE the feel of hand stitching with silk thread… so I’m using it anyway!
One of the reasons I like to serge the edges as I did above, is it makes it easy to fold over the fabric in a nice, even way. If you don’t have a serger, another favorite trick of mine is to use 1/4″ wonder tape. This stuff is awesome – it’s a thin material that’s sticky on both sides and will wash out. It makes it really easy to turn the edges uniformly – serging serves the same purpose!
A special note on quilting betweens. These are needles that quilters use – they’re very short. They also have very, very small eyes, so they can be difficult to thread. I find them much easier to use when I’m hand sewing, so I tend to use them for most handwork – not just quilting! Here’s my needle and my thimble to give you an idea of how teeny this needle is!
Stitching the hem
I stitch the hem using what I would call a hemming stitch…. Thread the needle and tie a knot at the end. From the inside, come up from under the folded edge. Catch a thread or two on the main fabric and a few threads on the raw/serged edge to secure. Move over to the left about 1/8″, catch a few threads of the main fabric and and tug slightly. Start over by catching a few threads of the raw/serged edge directly above, then a couple threads over about 1/8″… and so on and so on…
Here’s what it looks like from the outside, you can see a little indentation, but not much!
And there you have it! From crew neck to cardi!