When I decided to try to spend March mostly in clothes I made myself, I realized that my biggest challenge would be staying warm. I have three handknit sweaters I wear a lot, but I figured I might want more warm layers. Last year I refashioned a sweater that I enjoyed wearing, so I decided to try to make another.
First, I took a nice charcoal grey turtleneck that was too tight around the neck, and made a boring cardigan.
I made nice details like a grosgrain placket and used some antique glass buttons--but it's dull. The neckline is nicely scooped because I messed up the first neckband and decided to just cut it off and start over rather than trying to rip. But my feeling is. . . MEH: a half fail.
I engaged in a battle of the wills with my electronic sewing machine over the buttonholes. I programed a size in, tested it and then and tried to sew the top buttonhole. It would only make half and then sewed a giant lump of zig-zaging. I ripped it out and it repeated the process. So I then started at the bottom, worked my way up to the top making perfect buttonholes, and then had the same problem at the top again. I tried at least 5 times and then gave up and just manually made satin stitch for the second side. I can't figure out why it did not want to make the buttonhole there. Anybody else have a judgmental sewing machine?
After all that I read Jessica's post where she mentioned the "X-principle" and I decided I really wanted a V-neck cardigan. And Minnado mentioned replacing boring buttons on a grey cardigan with bright ones to avoid the dreaded "formidible-bosom" lady look. So then I felt I had a boring non-Xy, formidible but non-bosomy looking sweater.
Next I took a really ugly, baggy sweater with moth holes in the back and produced a really odd, wadder sweater.
What the waffle was I thinking ? The after is worse than the terrible before.
I drew a picture of a cute little sweater with lace covering up the holes as inspiration and started cutting away. I made an error or two in the cutting, but it didn't matter because the result is unwearable. The front looks okay, but there is way too much lace on the back and I just cannot wear it because I would feel like Lolita as a little old lady. So that was a total fail.
So, it was with desperation that I pulled out another thrift store sweater. This one is a vivid green with gathering around the neckband. The puckering in the center, however, was weird looking on me and I thought that a cardigan treatment might save it.
Cutting it open did release the gathers, but it also opened up some problems because then there was no neckband to cover up the center sweater fabric so I had to wrap the grosgrain around the front and try to miter it.
Taking a fitted sweater and converting it to a cardigan also creates some problems with fit because, if you overlap the front it will be a good inch smaller than before. I decided to make button holes on both sides and close the gap with some cuff links I found in my button box. I don't know if this is a success or not-- but it will be perfect for St. Patricks Day.
St. Paddy's Day preview: a necklace I made, and a Lydia tee. Oh yes, I'm keeping it real for you with a totally cluttered background. (How many totally random objects can you identify?)
This process reminds me why I sometimes despair with refashioning. No matter how much I intend to SLAD (thats Slow Down and Attend to Details or something like that), dealing with the contingencies of a garment designed to be something else, always demands extra attention. So much of my sewing is a result of trying to find a way to use something that I already have, that it often seems to lead to frustration. And sometimes this seems to be a metoaphor for my process in general--taking what I have and trying to make it work, when it might be best to just start over. . . just a thought.
Anyhoo, my biggest sweater refashioning problems are:
1) Different sweaters have different amounts of stretch so the sizing must be adjusted.
2) Previous neckline, cuffs and edge ribbing determine future design possibilities.
3) Cardigans require more ease and armhole depth to fit over another layer and fastenings usually must overlap.
In the end, I adapted two sweaters somewhat successfully to something I can wear, and one was just a spectacularly strange fail.
I think more knitting is in order.