Tuesday, January 24, 2017


One of the sweaters that I optimistically added to my collection last summer was a loosely knit white sweater marled with burgundy. Back then, when I was just coming out of a cold season marked by entirely too few fun things to wear, I thought a cropped sweater a size too big was a good idea. This fall, in the harsh light of I-already-have-a-closet-full-of-sweaters, it seemed like a very bad one indeed. However, I'd already spent 3 dollars (plus tax!) on the abomination, and I was unlikely to get that much back on eBay, so I decided to make lemonade out of my lemon. I liked the color and the knit; I just needed some way to get it to a usable length.

Enter one of the hand-me-down sweaters that I'd reserved just for refashioning purposes! This burgundy hooded sweater was cute enough, but at an XS, it fit a little too close for comfort, and the holes decorating the front panel made it quite breezy—not exactly my first choice for winter wear. I figured I could combine parts of both sweaters to make one sweater that would be both long enough and warm enough.

I decided to attach the bottom portion of the red sweater to the top portion of the marled sweater to add the necessary length. 

So I chopped top off the red one...

...And the the bottom off the marled one! 

Because the marled sweater was a rather loose boxy shape and the red one was extra small and fitted, the two portions did not line up nicely.

I decided to use the last few inches of the red sleeves to add more width to the bottom portion, which gave me so much extra fabric that I figured I'd gather it at the join for a kind of skirted look.

Meanwhile, I wanted the top to have a more fitted look, so I trimmed a bit off the sides and sewed new seams.

From the red sweater, I separated the front from the back, removed the side seams from the sleeve ends, and joined all four pieces together in one long strip. You can see some obvious signs of salvage work here: the ribbed hems of the sleeves are shorter than those of the sweater body; I also, on the back, accidentally put the wrong side out (but decided to keep it that way because it wasn't too noticeable and the wrong side was actually in slightly better condition).

Then it came time to attach the two portions together at the waist! I basted them together at 4 critical points – the middle of the front, the middle of the back, and both side edges – then used the machine to finish the job. Of course I made tons of mistakes, including sewing the entire bottom half on inside-out, so I had to pick out my seam and start over!

On the front half of the sweater, I stretched the upper portion as I sewed to make it line up appropriately with the bottom portion. Midway through, I took it out of the machine for some reason and noticed that I hated the way it looked, because the marled portion never really snapped back the way I'd expected it too, so it instead looked kind of wavery and stretched-out.

So for the back and sides of the sweater, I just placed some strategic gathers into the wider red portion, which turned out to be a much better choice.

Since the sweater still didn't fit around the waist as tidily as I'd hoped, and the front was downright stretched out, I added a strip of elastic all around the waist. 

It helped, but I still would prefer a tighter, flatter waist, so I think at some point, I'll probably try to redo it by either tightening the elastic or putting more gathers in the front skirted portion (or both!). But for now, I am willing to settle.

Now I've never really been a fan of the colorblocked look (to me, the different-colored top and bottom just scream cobbled-together!), so to add a little continuity throughout the piece, I added some decorative touches.

I unraveled a length of yarn from the marled sweater, braided it, and tied it into a bow which I then stitched to the middle of the waistband.

I cut a strip off the edge of the hood of the red sweater and used it to decorate the ends of the sleeves.

I feel like this breaks up the huge swathes of color and makes the whole sweater look more like a unified piece.
 Done! And worn with burgundy boots for an artfully tonal color scheme!