How to Transform a Natty Cashmere Sweater into a New Designer Originalcomments (4) October 10th, 2008
I love fall—it's the beginning of sweater season! Let me show you how to take apart an old, tired sweater and use the fabric to create a new, exciting top. I've decided to use my new Tee Shirt pattern—it's perfect because the front and back pattern pieces are made up of at least two smaller pieces. One of the challenges that you can run into is not having en
ough fabric to cut out large pieces. If your pattern is made up of smaller pieces, you have more flexibility when you are positioning them on a deconstructed sweater. Patterns with an empire waist or below-the-bust seams would also work well.
What you'll need:
- An old sweater that you're willing to take apart
- A pattern designed for knit fabrics
- Sharp scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Serger threaded with decorative woolly nylon
- All-purpose thread for constructing your sweater
- Stay tape
Here's the lumpy sweater that I'm going to use. If you don't have any sweaters in your closet, visit your local thrift store and check out the men's sections—there's a lot more to work with!
Start cutting your sweater apart along a side seam.
Then cut the ribbing off before you cut the other side seam. That way you can save the ribbing in one long piece to use later to finish the neckline, armholes, sleeves, or your new hemline.
After you have separated all the pieces of your sweater, lay the sleeves right sides together. Position the sleeve pattern piece on top. Depending on the style of your new sleeve, you might have extra room to cut something else out, too.
If you are working on a cutting mat, it's really easy to use a rotary cutter to cut out the pieces.
Play with your pattern pieces to see how many you can fit on the front and back sections of the old sweater. If you can't fit them all, decide which pieces you want to cut out in one whole piece. I decided to cut out the lower front and back pieces first. That took up all the room I had left.
What I did have left was a pile of scraps that were not big enough to accommodate my two remaining pattern pieces—the upper back and center front. One way to handle this dilemma is to "make" a large enough piece of fabric to accommodate those pieces.
To make my pile of scraps manageable, I cut them into 2-inch strips. The next step is to lay the strips next to each other in a row. That way you can arrange the strips in order to follow the shape of your pattern pieces.
Thread your serger for a four-thread stitch. Use decorative woolly nylon in the loopers. I used black metallic woolly nylon in the loopers and regular black serger thread in my needles. Then place two strips, WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, and run them through the serger. Continue adding strips until you have made a big enough piece.
Here are all my pattern pieces cut out and ready to sew together.
When you serge the pieces together, make sure that the decorative serged edges are all going in the same direction. I'm normally not big on pinning, but I did use pins to hold the serged edges in place.
If the pattern you are working with has curved seams, you can press them without flattening them by using a ham. (The pink plaid thing is a ham; it provides a hard, curved surface to shape your curved seams as you press them. They are great for pressing bust darts, too.)
When you get to the shoulder seams, use some stay tape in the seam to keep the shoulders from stretching.
After you have finished constructing your new top, check out Cal Patch's post on how to make a classic T-shirt neckband. I basically did it the same way. I used the ribbing I cut off the bottom of the sweater. The ribbing was 2 inches wide, so I cut it into two 1-inch-wide strips and used one to finish the neckline and the hem of my new sweater. To finish the sleeves, I used the rib cuffs from the original sweater.