Monday, March 7, 2011

How to: Up-cycled Cardigan

Eventually, it happens to us all . . . we become our mothers.  There's just no stopping it.  It's an inevitability, a force beyond our control.  For me, one of the many ways this manifests is as a love of cardigans.  Every once in a while, I get an urge to try to thwart my frumpy destiny by making my cardigans more fun.  Here are some tips on how to do it yourself. . . .

The Old T-shirt Way:

  1. Recycling
    • Locate an old t-shirt with some type of graphic on it that doesn't fit well or is an outrageous color that you'd never wear on its own and cut out the picture with a little room around the outside to sew.  If you like the rough edges, like the ones in the photo below, cut closer to the picture but if you want to be able to fold the edges under to a make cleaner looking edges, cut a larger border.
    • Some things to consider when choosing a t-shirt/picture to use: 
      • How the picture will fit on the sweater.  Is it too big for the area you want it in?  Will it still look good out of the t-shirt's context?
      • Think of how the color of the sweater and the graphic go together.  Maybe even use the color wheel to find nice color combinations!
  2. Location, Location, Location
    • Pin on the graphic in the area you'd like.  Play around a bit trying it on the right and left sides, the top and bottom, or maybe the back.
    • Try it on!  Especially if you're placing it on the front, you'll want to make sure you're not sending the wrong message ifyaknowwhatImean. . .
    • Once you find the spot you like, pin it on!  Make sure to place it on while the fabric below it is flat up against what you're sewing on.
  3. Sew Away!
    • Use a nicely contrasting color of thread to keep with the recycled look.
    • It's likely that sewing it by hand will be better to allow for more control.  
  4. Um, you're done.  Wear it proudly!
The Shape it Up Way

Michigan has a notable shape, and there is a certain fascination with it for Michiganders.  I've seen tattoos, necklaces, hand-knitted sweaters and dishcloths, local food labels . . . pretty much anything you could think to put Michigan on some Michigander has done it.  So as a new(ish) resident, it made sense to spice up this thrift store cardigan with my own version of state branding.  I wore it to the Homegrown  Local Food Summit and got lots of compliments because people were feeling the Michigan spirit!

  1. Scrap 
    • Find a piece of scrap fabric that you like and that looks good with the color of the cardigan. I used fabric from a gynormous frumpy dress that I bought at the thrift store for $3, but some thrift store have small pieces of fabric for $1 or less!
  2. Pick a Shape
    • Choose a shape or symbol you'd like to use and do a google image search for one that will be easy to cut out.  Put the image in a word document and size it to the size you need for the cardigan.  Print it!
  3. Cut it Out
    • Um, yeah . . . cut it out.
  4. Mirror Image
    • Turn your scrap fabric to the side you don't want to be seen when it's finished.  Place the cut out of your shape on top of the fabric in its mirror image.  Trace around the shape lightly with sharp permanent marker or pen being careful that it doesn't bleed through.  
    • Cut along the lines you drew.
  5. Pin it on and Sew it Up
    • As with the other version, you can use a contrasting thread color and sew just a simple over under stitch all the way around the edges.
  6. Accoutrements 
    • Add finishing touches such as new buttons or borders around the cuffs with the same fabric.