Sweater Quandry – Redesign or Recycle

With good intentions, I often visit my closets and drawers each January for a little cleaning out.  some things are easy to part with because they are worn or ill-fitting.  Other items, that should be disposed of, prove more challenging.  I seem to have an irrational attachment to them.  One such item is this red cashmere sweater.  I don’t even think it is that old, but there are just enough moth holes in very visible spots around my midriff that it cannot be worn in public.  I came to this conclusion over a year ago but could not throw it away.  It is the perfect shade of red, has interesting drop stitch details and the sleeves are just the right length.photo sweater redo skirt size test

 

The sweater made its way to the studio where I searched for fabrics and trims to perk it up and cover the holes.  I found an interesting rayon remnant that matched pretty well and fiddled around with how to use it on the sweater.  But nothing worked quite right, so the project languished.

Sweater and gold lace

Sweater and gold lace

 

This fall while I was visiting my Sewing with Knits page on Pinterest I notices several mixed fabric tops that used lace as a bridge between disparate fabrics.  So, a visit to my leftover lace bin led me to two pieces that had potential.  The yellow and gold piece, though a perfect color match, seemed a bit sparkly and impractical.  The bronze piece, while not the perfect color, offered the mood I was looking for.

Sweater with bronze lace.

Sweater with bronze lace.

 

First, I measured the lace boarder and determined there was enough to provide a transition between the sweater and the rayon “skirt”.  Carefully I trimmed the border off the larger piece of lace.  A smaller chunk of lace border was destined to fill in the dramatically low neckline.  If I was going to upcycle this sweater, might as well improve it in the process.

Cutting the border off the lace.

Cutting the border off the lace.

Next I adjusted my Tabula Rasa Jacket with the Swing Side to create a “skirt” that curved up in the center front and dipped a bit in the back.

Patterns adjusted for this project.

Patterns adjusted for this project.

I cut out the skirt pieces in the rayon  and stitched the seams.  After double checking to make sure it would fit, I used the serger to overcast the seam allowances and roll the raw edges at the hem and along the upper edge where it was to connect with the sweater.

Skirt prepared with edge finishes

Skirt prepared with edge finishes

 

I put the sweater on the dress form, pinned the “skirt” to the sweater and carefully tried the top on to confirm the placement.

Sweater with pinned skirt

Sweater with pinned skirt

Good thing I did because the skirt needed to sit just a little lower in the front and higher in the back.  Once I was satisfied with the placement, I top-stitched the “skirt” onto the sweater.

Pinning the lace in place.

Pinning the lace in place.

 

Finally I pinned and then hand stitched the lace border to the sweater and skirt to cover the transition.  Once it was complete, I cut away some of the sweater underneath so the top would swing freely.  Using the serger, I overcast the cut edge of the sweater to secure the knitting.  I am saving the part I cut off so I can use the yarn to repair any new holes that might pop up in the sweater section of my fun new top.

The final result.

The final result.

Do you have a restyling or recycling project that is haunting your sewing room?  Winter is a good time to tackle such a project.  Share the details with us and think about using a Fit for Art pattern to help you with the restyling. And one last thing, do you think I should put something on the end of the sleeves?

Happy Sewing, RAE

5 Responses to “Sweater Quandry – Redesign or Recycle”

  1. Kathy Semone January 12, 2016 at 6:46 pm #

    Yes, I feel like the sleeves need something. Perhaps a bit of the rayon motif or some of the lace? As is, they look unfinished.

  2. glenda barnes January 12, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    Hi Rae, I like what you did with the lace to repair your sweater. I don’t feel that you need any trim on the sleeves. This gives you the option to push them up if you want to.

  3. Nancy January 12, 2016 at 8:06 pm #

    Fantastic up cycling Rae! And so timely. I would love to see a photo of you wearing it, thanks for your ideas, Nancy

  4. Anna January 13, 2016 at 4:12 am #

    First—LOVE the sweater upcycle you did. It is gorgeous. I think if you put anything on the sleeves it will take away from the body of the sweater. I say—leave as be!!

  5. garnet128 January 14, 2016 at 6:17 am #

    Wow, looks more like an intentional make (you know…was meant to be that way). I would not look at this and think it was an upcycle. It is very attractive as is. I personally would not add anything to the sleeves. Nicely done.

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