I saw a link recently on Charity Shop Chic, that lead me to Sew Amy Sew. Sew Amy Sew is hosting a 'Repurpose, Reuse, Refashion' challenge for 'sewists to do your bit to minimise waste!' This suits me down to the ground, I thought, so I went rummaging in my stash trunk for some unloved charity shop find to repurpose. I've been doing pretty poorly in my New Year's Resolution to sew more, so this little competition was exactly what I was looking for to get me started on sewing again.
I started with this amazing fairisle 100% wool sweater I thrifted for 99p from a charity shop in Mussleburgh. I've been planning on converting it to a cardigan for years, after being inspired by this amazing cardigan refashion from April Leino. The idea behind her cardigans is that everything is recycled from previously discarded clothes, so it's completely sustainable and creates something new and interesting from something disposable. I love that ethos, so much of our fashion these days is treated as expendable, without a thought for the huge amounts of energy, resources, time and money that have gone into turning it from cotton on a plant or wool on an animal, into a wearable item of clothing. I love charity shopping, but sometimes it's depressing to see row after row of the same poorly made, disposable cotton t-shirts or baggy, acrylic jumpers. Not to mention the thousands of tonnes of similar items that never make it to charity shops and instead head straight to landfill. Now that I have a bit of disposable income, I try and buy as good quality and long lasting as I can afford (when I need or have to buy new) with a view to getting it fixed in the future to prolong its life. That's why I bought my Barbour and Ten Point shoes, the Barbour can have the zip and poppers replaced and rewaxed every 2 years and the Ten Points can be resoled and zip replaced if necessary.
It's honestly not wonky at the bottom in real life, promise! Clearly wearing it my standard one-button-under-the-boobs isn't the best look for this cardi
The 'After' taken in a rush last Thursday night in a bid to get my competition entry in on time! But proof that it's not wonky at the bottom, promise!
Anyway, back to the sewing. I started by removing the sleeves and taking them in along the side seam. I shortened the shoulders and recut the armhole to match my smaller sleeve head. I then replaced the newly sized sleeves back into the smaller armhole and sewed up the side seam to compensate for the smaller armhole.
I then cut up the centre and turned in as small a hem as possible, since the fit around the body was already pretty good. I pinned some gorgeous purple velvet ribbon over the top of this hem and sewed it down, partly to reinforce the button bands and partly to give a more professional finish by hiding the hem. I love the look of wool and velvet together, it's so sumptuous and warming.
The length was a bit long for me, so I cut off the bottom cuffed hem, marked on where I'd like the bottom hem to sit and cut off the corresponding strip of fairisle in the middle. I then resewed the cuff back on, this time higher up. If anything it's now slightly too short (didn't factor in seam allowance, facepalm) but not enough to stop me wearing it. It's actually grown slightly since blocking as well, so has ended up at a near-perfect length.
I normally wear a cardigan done up halfway, or even just with one button fastened under the bust. Since the fit around the body was now pretty snug, I elected to just do buttons halfway up the body, to give a V neck appearance. No point putting buttons all the way up to the collar, if I'm never going to use them! I say thrifty, you say lazy. The buttons are all from my stash, I didn't have 5 matching so I went for purposeful mismatch instead.
All that was left at this point was to remove the '90s, dirty, frumpy label and replace it with one of my own, left over from my Etsy shop days. Oh, and darn a couple of holes in the cuff using my mad surgical skillz. I've already worn this so much, I can tell it's going to be a hit for the winter.
I've got a couple more wool sweaters to refashion as well, this little project has given me the confidence boost I needed to get going. It was amazing how easy it was to fit into my life, in the past I've spoken about why I've struggled to learn to sew, with one of the main issues being finding time. This project was perfect, 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there and it was done in a week. I think I have this mental block about sewing, that I need a whole afternoon set aside to really get my teeth into a project. Refashioning is so much easier than following a pattern as well, you just make it up as you go along, the perfect lazy persons sewing!