We all have items in our wardrobe that we have literally loved to death and that are now ready for the charity shop or for recycling. But somehow, you just can't part with them, because of sentimental reasons or maybe you just feel there is still something that can be done with them.
This is exactly how I felt about this old cardigan, which was a hand-me-down (or a swap in modern terms) from my good friend in Romania a few years ago. And I loved it and wore it on heavy rotation for some years, until age and machine washing took their toll and I ended up with a wonky contraption that, try as I might, was not wearable anymore. There is a lesson in there somewhere about how to treat woollens properly, but that is one for another day.
The cardigan was in my charity shop pile, as I know that old wool items can get recycled into new cloth, but I felt sorry to part with it. So I kept thinking about how I could remove the issues and turn it into something that I can wear again.
The biggest problem was the wonky centre front; the buttons were going all over the place, so that was the first issue to tackle. My idea was to use the back as a front and cut the lower part until it got rid of the wonkiness. I also had a large stash of metallic zips that I could dig into, to make it a bit more interesting.
My plan was to cut the cardigan up into the component parts and use a basic pattern to ensure the neckline and armholes were as they should be. You can of course free-hand, but I just wanted to get the shapes right.
I used the back of the cardigan for the front of the jumper, making a boat neckline and shaping the armholes as for the front bodice (as opposed to the back bodice they were before).
I then reshaped the armholes of the front sides of the cardigan to accommodate the back of the sleeve.
I then joined the shoulders (with the overlocker), then overlocked the side seams, ready for the sleeve insertion. I did not modify the original sleeves at all, and they went in perfectly without any adjustments.
I now had the main part of the jumper constructed, so I was ready to insert the zipper. None of my zippers were suitable to sew just from the centre back downwards, so I used a longer zip and took it all the way up to the shoulder seams instead.
To make sure the wool would not stretch when sewing in the zipper, I used stay tape (in this case nylon tape, but you can use twill as well). Then I put in the zipper as per usual and then topstitched the edges for a more professional look.
To finish the neckline, I used part of the button stand as bias tape and sewed it all round, from one end of the zipper to the other.
The last bit was to overlock, turn and topstitch the hem.
I am very happy with the outcome and I have already worn the new jumper a few times since I finished it. The only thing I would change is maybe making a facing, as the zipper gets quite cold on my back if I'm not wearing a camisole.
Alex believes in "sewing for good": to cut, stitch, refashion, make, learn, teach, ditch fast-fashion and save the planet one lovely handmade project at a time. She blogs at sewrendipity.com.