2015/03/26

Refashionista // Sweater into cropped cardigan

When you look through my refashionista archives you'll probably notice that I love making over sweaters. Whether into skirts or socks, or cardigans. Knits of all kinds are my favorite material to work with, and although I know that most of you don't have a serger/overlocker nor a cover-stitch machine, I still recommend giving knits a try. There are ways to work with knits on a regular sewing machine (a post about that coming soon), so don't shy away from them even if seems intimidating.

My number one favorite thing about knits besides the comfort factor is how easy they are to fit. Woven fabrics can be temperamental when it comes to getting a good fit. So, I would pick a knit over a woven any day. But, enough of the praise, let's talk about today's refashion, shall we?
This loose-fitting cropped cardigan is an iteration of this sweater into cardigan refashion I did over a year ago. While my first version was super simple and quick to make, this one has more bells and whistles and therefor takes a little more time as well.

The style was inspired by the cardigan in my spring sewing inspiration post. As soon as I saw it, I knew the sweater in my stash would be perfect for recreating the look. 
Although I love the outcome, I do have a few regrets. First, I wish I would have measured the width better. It came out a tad too loose, and the front overlap is also too big. I should have just taken it in more at the back seam. The shoulders a little bit wide as well. I was going for a droopy shoulder, but the fit didn't turn out to be perfect. I have a feeling I should have sewn the shoulder seams slightly curved. I just thought I'd share the messy behind the scenes details as well. Not every refashion I make turns out exactly the way I envision.
Here's how I did it:
1) First, I removed the sleeves. You can do this either with scissors or a seam-ripper. 
2) Second, cut off the upper part of the sweater, just below the neckline. Sew a straight seam at the dotted line. This will become the center back seam. So, moving forward, the width of the sweater becomes the height of the cardigan and vice versa.
3) Cut the sides of the sweater straight, eliminating the armpit curve. 
Measure your back width (from shoulder tip to shoulder tip). You can add a few centimeters to that measurement if you want your cardigan to be more loose-fitting. Mark the sides of the soon to be cardigan using this measurement, so that the center back seam (the only seam there is at this point) is in the center of the marks.
4) Fold the sides of the long sweater panel towards the center, so that the side mark is on the fold. The folded part will become the front of the cardigan.
Next, mark the shoulder seams. I wanted my finished collar to be 5 cm high, and my shoulder width was 10cm, which meant I needed to mark a 10x10 square (since the collar will be on the fold later) to the upper corner of both sides. Your measurements might differ a little. 
5) Cut and sew according to the lines. You should have a sort of bottle-like shape to your cardigan at this point. 
I will move on to the sleeves now, and come back to the cardigan after that. I straightened the sleeves and cut them to elbow-length, but you might not need to make these steps. 
Back to the cardigan:
1) Place the sleeve to the side of the cardigan and mark how big of a hole you'll have to cut to fit the sleeve in. Cut both armholes. Sew sleeves to the cardigan.
2) Since my cardigan was already pretty short, I decided to make a faux hem for it. I used the cut-off side strips of the sweater to piece together a long band for the hem. Then I sewed it to the bottom of the cardigan. If your cardigan is long enough to fold and sew the hem as is, you don't have to do this step on your version.
3) Now is a good time to give the garment a good press all around. To stretch out the ribbed part in the front, just stretch and pin it to the ironing board and steam well. Let cool before removing pins. With some fibers, you'll need to do that after every wash, but some fibers will also stretch out completely and stay that way even after washing. 
Also, fold and press the hem and sleeve-hems. And, Fold the collar in half (along with the whole top hem) and press well. 
4) Finally, sew the top and bottom hem, and the sleeve ends.

Quick tips for sewing all of this with a regular sewing machine:
1. Use a narrow zig-zag stitch or the knit stitch (that looks like a lightning bolt) to sew the center back seam, and the shoulder and sleeve seams. 
2. Use a wider zig-zag stitch to cover raw edges.
3. Use a twin-needle for the hems.
I'll go more in depth on this topic in an upcoming post.
I feel I'm gravitating more towards boxy cuts these days, which is something new for me. I love that I can wear this cardigan wrapped and sealed with a pin, which is a more sophisticated and feminine look, or leave the front open for a more modern and edgy look. I also love that the sweater is made of cotton, which makes this the perfect spring/summer cardigan. I know I'll get lots of wear out of this in the coming months. 
I hope you got some inspiration to take on a sweater refashion yourself, and a good idea of the process behind making this one. If you have any questions about this tutorial, or requests for upcoming posts (what would you like to learn?), let me know in the comments.

Happy sewing!

xo. Hanna

P.S! Don't forget there's still time to crab something from the shop half off with the code ENDSALE! 

2015/03/25

Scissor Talk // What's your dream sewing project?

Whether you're new to sewing or you've been at it for years, everyone has a sewing Mount Everest they'd like to climb. You know, that project that you'd love to make, but are scared to start because you feel you're just not ready yet. You don't have the skills, you lack the time, or money, or all of the above.

You pin pretty pictures to your "I would like to make" board, and seek out patterns for months, only to make absolutely zero progress on the actual making process of that project. Sounds familiar?

My sad Mount Everest story is a coat. 

I've been wanting to make myself a coat for years now. Every time I think now is the time - I'm finally going to make it - I get one step closer, but still no coat. The first time I vowed this, I got to buying a ton of lovely wool fabric in peach pink. Somehow, everything after that just fell apart. 

Fast forward a couple of years, and I was looking for just the right pattern, more determined than ever to just do it. Never happened.

Another year or so pass. Still no coat, but so much more skills and confidence this time, or so I thought. I got as far as the muslin before the fear got the better of me.

I've made progress, though. In my attempt to go around that beast of a coat, I've made a simpler jacket (this one), and and changed the lining on an old coat. Slowly gathering experiences and conquering the smaller mountain tips to train for the big one. 

I still don't feel ready. Not enough skills, not enough time, not enough patience - the same lame excuses.
The funny thing is, I never had these fears when I was a complete novice at sewing. Then, every project I made was a freakin' mountain top to climb. Because every new garment was something I had never made before. I gained new skills by DOING. And I was never afraid to screw it up. So what if the lines are crooked? So what if I wouldn't wear it in public? So what if I have to google my way through and end up with a few more grey hair?

There was never an expectation of perfection.

Somehow, I've lost that fearlessness along the way. I want to succeed every time. I'm even afraid that maybe I won't love sewing as much if I fail. So silly really.

Of course, the projects you complete AND love are the ones sewing dreams are made of. But, that doesn't mean it's not ok to fail sometimes. It's a good place for learning and growing. I'll bet you my sewing machine you learned something when making a total fail. Which is not always the case with the perfect outcome.

Here's to climbing higher and higher, until we reach our mountain top. Here's to being a fearless seamstress, and just enjoying the ride - no matter rain or shine. The journey is still more than worth it.

The bonus point you get after a failed attempt? A cool story to tell. How much rather would you love to hear about the time I sewed a corset that ended up fitting my dog better than me, than about the time I made a shirt that fit like a glove? The latter is about one sentence long. I made a shirt and it turned out great. Snooze...

What I'm trying to say is to just go for it. Even if you think you're not ready yet. You might never feel ready. If your dream project is making your first garment - just pick a pattern and go with it! If it's drafting your own block pattern - pick up a book and just do it! Whatever it is, there's no way to do it without doing it. 

Just start, and you'll figure everything out along the way.

I'd love to hear about your dreams and sewing goals. What's that project you'd love to make? What's your biggest sewing fear?

I'll see you in the comments!

xo. Hanna

2015/03/24

DIY Sequins and pearls hoop earrings

I've been getting back into jewelry making lately. It's funny how my craft-craving always come in waves. There are periods where I only want to sew for hours on end, and then there are times when I can't make enough earrings, followed by a knitting frenzy. That's just how I roll. I guess it's jewelry making time again. 

I wanted to try and make something with flexible wire, and came up with these fun sequin and pearl earrings. I made them in a bunch of colors. I love when I get into a zone while crafting and just play around with stuff. That's fun!
What you will need:
  • Flexible jewelry wire
  • Earring hooks in silver
  • 2mm round crimp beads
  • Flat-nosed pliers
  • Colorful sequins (c/o Pandahall)
  • 4mm colorful beads (c/o Pandahall)
  • Wire cutters or scissors

 1. Cut a 12cm long piece of flexible wire. Add sequins and pearls (11 sequins and 10 beads per earring) to the wire.
2. String the wire through one crimp bead, so that one tail of the wire is very short and the other is about 1.5cm long. 
3. Press the crimp bead together with the flat-nosed pliers. 
4. Add another crimp bead to the longer tail of the wire. Then, string the wire tail through the earring hook and back through the crimp bead. 
5. Again, press the crimp bead together withe the pliers. Cut wire tails.
6. A more advanced way of making this would be to use only one crimp bead to tie the wire loop. In this case, you would skip steps 3 and 4. 
Make one more and you have yourself a lovely pair of earrings.
 
This technique has so much potential. I can already imagine making these with bigger pearls and wooden pearls, and all sorts of combinations. I'm thinking I could make a few more variations and do an inspiration post. Would you be interested in that? 

I hope this tutorial was helpful also to those not that familiar with jewelry making. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comments.

xo. Hanna

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