Monday, October 11, 2010

Mini-Tutorial: Converting a pullover sweater to an embellished cardigan

Mini-tutorial for you to refashion your own embellished, swingy, customized cardigan from a pullover sweater! I realize some people have a knack for looking at something and realizing immediately what steps it takes to create a similar DIY look, but for others the instructions and tips can be helpful. I do apologize that this is more like a list of steps with some photos than a full-blown "how to," but it's also my first mini-tute so I hope to get better at them in the future!

I started off with an oversized crew neck sweater. Because we're grabbing the excess sweater material and overlapping it in the front to button up, it's important that your initial sweater be several sizes too large!

(Apologies for crud on mirror. Cleaning that off apparently falls rather low on the priority list around here.)

Step 1: Locate middle of the front of sweater. Carefully cut open the sweater so that there is now a front-left and front-right panel.

From here, I like to finish the raw edges of my sweater front panels because I don't want them unraveling on me! For this project, I used some ribbon, but bias tape would work equally well.

Step 2: Attach ribbon to front sweater panels.

(Show with wrong side of fabric facing up).

You could machine stitch this. I was having trouble keeping it non-ripply, so I hand stitched it.

Step 3: Turn ribbon under and blind stitch into place so that stitches barely show through on right side of fabric. This is what it should look like once you're finished with this part:

[Sweater, right sides facing out, and I flipped over the interior of the cardigan to show you the ribbon facings.]

Step 4: Pulling the cardigan fronts together so they overlap, determine how much overlap you'd like and mark snap placement. I used 3 snaps but you could use more or fewer. Then I sewed decorative buttons on top of the snaps so that it would look like I buttoned up the cardigan.

At this point, try on your cardigan to see how you like the fit. If desired, shorten sleeves to 3/4 length (you could use a similar technique of folding under and covering with bias tape. I'd recommend bias tape or anything that stretches, since stretch is more important for sleeves than for the straight front edges of your cardigan).

Optional: Take in the cardigan arms and sides if still too big. Mine looks like this, but I will say that I am not sure this is the proper way to do this. I turned my cardigan inside-out and pinned out the excess under the arms and at the bust area, then machine basted and checked for fit.

Step 5: Embellishments! I mostly used the flower patterns from Crochet Adorned, specifically the Egg Flower, 5-Petal Flower, 5-Petal Pointy Flower from the Garden Party Cardigan, and the Daffodil from the stitch dictionary in the back ... but you can find a bunch of free patterns here, or there's this and this or tons on Ravelry. I also made up my own pattern for the tiny flowers, as follows:

round 1: ch 4, slip stitch to first stitch in chain, creating a ring with 4 stitches.
round 2: (ch4, sl1) into ring 5 times. Bind off.

Details to make your life easier:

1) I used a worsted yarn and crochet hooks size G to I to get chunky flowers. For me, this produced flowers that were 1", 2", 3" and 4" in diameter. You want a good variety of sizes to create a visual tension and interest.
2) I made a total of 17 flowers: 6 tiny, 6 small, 4 large, 1 XL. I put 5 on each front panel and 7 on the back. If I had planned the back better, I probably would've made more to create a denser look that matches the front.
3) I am 5'2" and usually wear a XS or S in RTW tops. So if you are much taller or larger than I am, you may want to make larger flowers, or more of them.

Regarding embellishment placement, I personally liked the contrast between the small and XL flowers on one side, balanced by two large flowers on the opposite side. But play around with what you like best, and be sure to try it on before you commit because embellishments look different flat vs. 3D!

To attach the flowers to the cardigan, I stitched along the outermost edge of the flower, like so:

Hm ... but don't pull so taught that it causes puckering. Red thread used for contrast so that you could see it, on the real thing I used a dark blue.

And that's it! Time to strut into Anthropologie for some crafting reconnaissance as you wear your newly embellished, completely one-of-a-kind cardigan :-), and mentally calculate how many cardigans you can sew/refashion/knit for the price of one of theirs ...

Let me know if you have any questions or if this is unclear, and I hope this is helpful!


linda permann said...

it looks great!! i love the monochromatic look, too!

Anne said...

I found a link to your blog on Linda Permann's blog. I love your projects!
I'm working on a similar project to this one, but was unsure whether I should cut open the sweater. Thanks for the tutorial. I might just be brave enough to try.