Sweater resized and refashioned for Valentine’s Day

I love to make things – really love to – but I love my family even more. Oh, I love them, love them, love them. So Valentine’s Day is just so perfect because I get to celebrate my loves by making them something with a heart on it. It teeters on the edge of corny, but it is just too genuine to be. Every year, I make something new for my kids to wear – like a hat, or a t-shirt, or a necklace. I have even made etched glasses for the occasion.  Ava is now a teenager with very clear ideas about her personal style, and Harry is an enormous 8 year old and can’t wear anything too “young” – it’s unusual enough to make a boy something with a heart on it, but he’s always loved them and no one has ever said a thing teasy so I’ll carry on.

Today I want to share a refashioned sweater I made for Ava. I re-sized a thrifted wool sweater, scooped the neck a little, and added a Peter Pan collar with some hand embroidery.  I think she will love it. I hope she will. I was doubly happy that I was making something warm for her, as she is prone towards under-dressing and that just sets this Mama on edge.

I had to model it since Ava won’t be getting this until Valentine’s Day, and she is a little smaller than me – I mean, she’s as tall, but she is 13 and I’m 42, so you can imagine. There are many lovely sweaters out in thrift store land that can  be re-sized to fit anyone and you can really play around to make them special. This one started out like this:

I washed and tumble dried it so it felted a little – this makes it softer too.  I would have loved to make her a cashmere sweater, but I couldn’t find a big one in the right color. Instead I edged it with cashmere and made the collar cashmere and cotton.

The process is simple and you only need a shirt that fits well to create a pattern. As you may have heard us say before, Improv Sewing has all the directions you need for creating a wardrobe from knit fabrics. I will direct you there for learning the steps of creating a pattern for making shirts, tunics, and dresses, and show you below how I made this sweater.

1) Trace your torso pattern piece onto the sweater, and cut through both thicknesses of fabric (the front and the back of the sweater, that is).

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2) Use your sleeve pattern piece and trace it onto both sleeves of the sweater. Cut out.

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3) Now assemble the sweater. I am tempted to walk you through it, but like I said, grab the book for those directions. What I will do is explain how simple the process is, so you’ll be more inclined to grab our 101 project filled book knowing that you will actually use it to make all sorts of things. It goes in this order:

-sew shoulder seams

-attach sleeves, starting at shoulder seams and ending at underarm – both sides. Sew up sleeve by starting at the wrist.

-make collar (I will show you this part)

-attach binding along bottom and trim around wrists.

Making the Peter Pan Collar

1) Lay the sweater atop a large sheet of paper and trace the front neckline and the back neckline separately (unless they are the same).

It is easiest if you trace to the halfway point so you can make the neckline symmetrical. 

I made the collar pattern 2.5″ wide, so the finished collar would be 2″ wide. You can adjust that measurement to your liking.

Cut out the collar pattern piece and lay it atop of the neckline of the sweater to decide the shape you want to make the Peter pan styling. I just eyeballed this, but basically just made a swooping arc from the fold to the bottom of the collar, like this:

The, I cut it out and made sure that it was a smooth curve.  Unfold the pattern piece and see how it looks.  The back piece would be the same as the front, without that cut curve. I had cut another pattern piece before cutting my front collar.

Cut 2 front collar pieces and one back piece from the outer fabric chosen (for me, it was this soft cashmere), and do the same with a cotton lining fabric.

With the right sides together, sew a 1/4″ seam along the curved sides, leaving the flat ends open for turning right side out.

Notch the curved edges before turning right side out so the collar lies smoothly.

Turn right side out  and press flat. This is also done with the back collar piece.

Position the pieces on the sweater, aligning the back collar piece with the front pieces. Pin together and then sew a seam  top attach them. This seam will match the shoulder seam.

Pin the collar in place on the sweater. It will be hand stitched in place, so get comfortable and enjoy a little peaceful machine-free moment.

Choose a color of embroidery floss that you will enjoy seeing. The stitches will be small, but a contrasting color can add a little nice something. First, stitch the two front collar pieces together in some decorative way. I chose 2 wide stitches, but in the end, I stuck a button on top of it for a nice little detail.

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To attach the collar to the sweater, use an invisible stitch. This is basically a stitch that runs back and forth, from inside to outside of each piece. There are a lot of diagrams on google images if you need one. Work your way around the whole collar and make a knot on the underside of the collar to hide where you tie off.

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This is a Valentine, so a heart must be the adornment. The cute collar is the perfect spot for something adorable, so I embroidered my decoration right where a pin would go.



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You can leave the sweater like this or you can finish the hemline and cuffs. I cut a 2″ wide strip and sewed it into a loop that would fit perfectly around the hemline and then wrapped it around that hemline to bind it and hand secured it in  place using a running stitch sewn by hand.

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I didn’t bind the cuffs, but just stitched a 1″ wide strip of the cashmere in place with some Xs, overlapping the strip where they meet and securing it with a couple nice little stitches.

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That button was an after thought and I simply sewed it in place. I have, since this hasty photo was taken, snipped loose threads and lint brushed the whole thing. I will post a photo of Ava wearing it as soon as she receives it later this week.

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I definitely approached this in my own way and I have since watched Amy Karol’s workshop on Creativebug on making Peter Pan collars. I highly recommend it for a visual and entertaining walk through the whole preocess. Her workshop shows you how to make a removable collar- it isn’t attached to a garment, but more like an accessory (though it looks attached while wearing it).  And seriously, if you haven’t checked out Creativebug yet, you really must. It is a treasure trove of workshop from pottery, to jewelry making, to sewing. We have workshops there, which you can view here and here. What will you make today?

This entry was posted by nicoleblum.

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