Saturday 11 July 2020

Part 3 of cardigan reconstruction

Chilly Botty cardi, part 3


step 1, I cut 2 sleeve templates from a light voile like fabric that had originally been a lining in a skirt that had been cut out when I upcycled the outer layer a while back.

step 2, scraps and various bits and pieces were laid over the top of each lining template as I decided how to lay up the applique. When happy with the lay out, it was pinned and stitched down with the 3ZZ technique.

Heres a pic of my two sleeves

The stitched down pieces were trimmed back and neatened to make sure they matched the sleeve  pattern piece.

step 3, sew the sleeve underarm seams, 3ZZ. Its a bit tricky sewing down the sleeve tube, easier to start from the wider shoulder end.

step 4, cut 2 rectangular pieces for cuffs. Sew short ends to form into loops, fold in half and sew the raw ends to the sleeves at wrist.

step 5, I wanted the bottom of the cardigan to be wider than what it would have been if sections kept being added as straight sided rectangles, so cut 2 long triangular gores to add the sides below where the sleeves fit.

step 6, match and sew the side seams.

step 7, insert, match and sew the sleeves in.

front of cardigan with sleeves added. I don't mind the left side front being longer than the other side, though this hadn't been intentional.

back of cardigan with sleeves added
The cardigan could be finished at this stage but my plan is to make it knee length.

In part 4 I'll describe how to add extra length to the bottom of the cardigan then finish off the front edges with plackets and add some buttons.

Wednesday 8 July 2020

Hot botty 2

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Chill Botty cardi, part 2

Following on from my last blog post....

Cut off lower parts of the side fronts and the back. Cut them all different lengths. I hacked off that left sleeve unevenly, leaving an indent where a long sleeve is yet to be attached. It needs to be straight so I'll fix that by sewing a little patch in there.

This long cardigan will be unlined. Once the bottom sections are cut off we move from
de-constructing to putting it all back together. I'll be adding strips and squares of other fabrics using my quick overlay technique. For this the I use the widest 3 step zigzag stitch on my sewing machine (Janome 6600) which is 7mm. This stitch is commonly used for lingerie making as its a stretch stretch. Its necessary for this project because I'll be combining knits and woven fabrics and the 3 step stitch is going to prevent the stretch fabrics from distorting when sewed. It also facilitates not needing to line the garment as there won't be any seams on the underside.

In the instructions from now on I refer to the 3 step zigzag as 3ZZ

step 1, prepare the shoulders for where the sleeves will eventually be attached - cut 2 strips of  fabric 55cm long by 8cm wide. Centre middle of the strip over the shoulder seams and overlaying the fabrics sew with 3ZZ.

Above you can see where the strips are sewed to the shoulders.

step 2, on the left front I sewed a patch pocket. At the bottom I sewed 2 strips of fabric. All these just had the raw edges overlaid less than 1cm and sewed 3ZZ. On the right front I sewed a little triangle patch and at the bottom a large section I'd cut off another cardigan I'm upcycling. That section is flared wider at the bottom. To get the left and right side fronts matching I sewed a long narrow triangle of fabric to the front edge of the left front so it flares wider and matches the measurements of the other side.

step 3, above is a picture of the back. On the top part I've sewed more purely decorative patches, picked from my scrap bag. The lower part of the back has a long wide strip sewed to it, the full length. The side fronts are hanging lower because I need to add more stuff to the back to equal the same length.

Not counting the time I'm putting into documenting this project, the whole alteration has taken about 1.5 hours.

So at this stage the garment could potentially be a nice little sleeveless vest. To do that it would need a bit more length on the back so the side seams can be sewed up. Then I'd add plackets to the raw edges of the side fronts, so it can button up. The cap sleeves could be bound or hemmed.
Voila! a sweet button up vest.

However, in the next blog, Part 3, I'll show how to make and attach long sleeves.
Part 4 will show how to add about 50cm to the lower part to make it a knee length cardigan.

I intend to use up all the pieces that were cut off the original jumper in this reconstruction process so that 100% of it is upcycled. Because the jumper is polyester/acrylic when I adopted it into my wardrobe I pledged to take responsibility for it for the rest of its life. It needs to be worn at least 100 times or used in another form for at least 20 years before the resources that were invested in its creation can be environmentally justified.

Monday 6 July 2020

Project to warm the chill botty

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Today I'm going to start a step by step project showing how I alter a jumper into a cardigan coat.

Reading one of my favourite sewist blogs this morning
I fell in love with Lara's coat. At this coldest part of Winter here in Australia cardigans of all lengths are incredibly practical. It's a layering piece that can be put on or off as required. I especially like a calf length cardi because it's such an elegant length and keeps my chill bottom warm. you like my foot artfully posed in the picture? I'm wearing my new home made boots.

On the left above is a picture of a jumper I've worn a lot. I bought it at Vinnies 2 years ago and its 100% polyester/acrylic. Unlike some wealthy and snobby women I don't have a problem upcycling synthetic fabrics. In fact, I think its a highly ethical and sustainable thing to do. If you still buy new clothes and fabrics and want to do the right thing - don't buy synthetics. Buy cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo and silk.

This garment had already been discarded by its original buyer. If I, or somebody else, hadn't bought it it probably would have gone into a huge bale of used clothes to get shipped off to the global south. Sending our reject clothes to poorer countries isn't a virtuous thing to do. Receivers of our first world discards buy the bales by weight and sell the individual garments for pennies.

This model has disrupted the businesses of their own local based clothing makers. Most local makers had been women working from home. The exported garments are sold cheaper than the clothes produced by local workers and this competition drives down the income of the cottage workers. 

The western style clothes often seem more desirable to local people too. Many of the cottage workers would have made clothes based on long term popular regional or traditional styles. They may have used locally woven fabrics, ribbons, embroideries and decorative features and these become supplanted by the clothes made in western fabrics, prints and styling.

Back to why I don't turn up my nose at recycling synthetic fabrics. These clothes already exist in the world. If we don't take responsibility for them they could end up in somebody elses country doing damage to their local economy. Alternatively if it goes to landfill it won't biodegrade for a 1000 years. If it gets incinerated then horrible chemicals get released into the atmosphere.

So if you see and love a garment that is synthetic in a thrift shop don't feel you must refuse it because its made from bad, evil plastic stuff. The condition is - before you adopt it you have to pledge yourself to take responsibility for it forevermore. That means wearing it to death and never putting it back into the waste stream again. If you stop wearing it in 5 years time then make a cushion out it or cut it up into cleaning rags. A million other possibilities....

Step number one, I've cut the jumper down the middle front, from hem through the cowl neck. I knew this would make the collar open out beautifully.

Step number two, cut both the sleeves off, straight up and down in line with side seams, not worrying about the half disc of the sleeve cap that is still there. The original sleeves won't be left in because they're too narrow.

Step number three, undo or cut open the side seams.

Get yourself an old jumper and follow along if you like. I'll be back in a couple of days explaining what to do next.