Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No Sweat Sweater Re-Fashion Week: Husband Cardigan

I'm a tall girl. 5'9" to be exact. This can sometimes present a sleeve-length issue when shopping for sweaters. Nothing worse than a too short sleeve, am I right? Take note: if your sleeve does not at least come past your wrist bone, it's too short. Don't try to force it. Just move on. I may be a tall girl but luckily, I married a tall man. John is 6'3" (6'4" if you ask him). He too has long arms but he also has a long torso. This oftentimes results in sweaters that eventually become too short for him.

John has owned this Gap sweater for many years. I rescued it from the Goodwill pile for myself. I love a longer, cozy cardigan and I knew this could turn out to be just such an item. This is really a "boyfriend" sweater but I don't have a boyfriend. I had to change the name since John is my husband. Maybe if I had made this before we were married, then it could be a boyfriend sweater. You can name this cardigan anything you like depending upon the relation of the donor.

If your pockets are deeper than the ocean, you can buy this cashmere version instead for just under $1,800!


Pretty, but I'm sure you'll agree, not a practical expenditure. Let's work on the one that will cost me about $5.00, shall we? First, a little altering as I don't wear a Mens' XL. I put the sweater on myself inside out. Then, with a little help, I pinned the side seams and sleeves in to fit.

I sewed up the sides and down the sleeves with a pretty generous seam allowance. I still need to cut the center for the cardigan and allow for making a placket and finishing the edges.Once sewn, I trimmed the excess sweater from the seams. Hang onto those parts! They'll come in handy depending on your cardigan collar.

If you want to alter a large sweater into a plain crew or v-neck, you can stop here! You've got a brand
new-to-you sweater that fits perfectly. But, since we want a cardigan, let's press on.

Measure the width of the sweater to find your center. You want to measure a couple spots and mark with tailor's chalk or pins so that you're sure to have a straight cut line.

Now it's time to cut! Don't be nervous, just take your time. I also cut off the ribbed crewneck collar and added a slight V-neck to it. I will end up with a shawl collar. Once you've cut, turn the edges in, wrongsides together and sew. This will give you a nice finished edge.

Here we are with my center cuts and button placement. I searched high and low for toggle buttons. OK, I went to two stores. I didn't find what I wanted and I didn't feel like waiting for them to be shipped if I ordered online. Instead, I chose these chunky leather buttons. To make things a bit easier on myself, I skipped the buttonholes. How will you keep your cardigan closed? You ask. Just wait!

These are hair rubberbands! I bought a multicolored pack of them from Target. I don't need 20 rubberbands so I thought I'd take the best coordinated color and use them here. No buttonholes and a fun way to keep the cardigan together.

You'll want to sew over the rubberbands after you've twisted them into a figure 8. I backstitched a couple times as well to really anchor them down.

If you want to make things easier on yourself, you can sew on each button now and be done! I got it in my head that I wanted a shawl collar on my cardigan so again, we'll press on.

Please note, this shawl collar was formed through trial and error. I didn't have a store-made version to look at while I was finagling this one into place. That would have been super helpful. I took the excess fabric from the original alterations and fashioned a tube. The length should run from the top of the V, around the neck and down the other side. The ends will stop just above the first button.

I'm sorry I don't have any pictures of this step. Once I got the collar twisted correctly so it would lay how I wanted, I sewed it onto the sweater.

This is the collar (over the arm of my couch) I just wanted to show a close-up.

Then you need to find the proper placement of your buttons and sew them on. I did this by hand because the buttons were shanked (not flat on the bottom).

Button is a bit heavy but you get the idea -- Fastened with the hair tie

Rough angle - my photographer had the flu

Ignore that gap at the top, please!

Long sleeves, long length, WAY less than $1,800. Winner winner chicken dinner!

The thing to remember when re-purposing sweaters is that sometimes you have to go through a few rough steps to reach your end result. Keep at it. If you have to abandon your original plan to make it work (Tim Gunn!) then that's okay. No one will know any different.

Now, go raid your significant other's closet!

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