Seasons In The Studio

Nature, and the things it inspires..........

Monday, September 5, 2011

Creating a crochet embellished garment from an altered sweater

Converting a pullover garment to a crochet embellished bolero or cardigan.
Materials List: 
1 pullover garment to be used, a crew neck works best - may be a cotton T shirt, a cotton or wool sweater, a cotton sweatshirt or similar garment.  Do not use anything with a very loose weave, spandex, jersey knits or anything that is stretchy.  When cut, a very stretchy garment will not hold it’s shape and the project won’t work well.  A very loose weave may not hold together well enough.
Paper Scissors, tailors chalk or a crayon, pencil, yardstick, a sewing pattern or paper for tracing a pattern (this can be newspaper sheets, pattern muslin, brown craft paper, or anything that can be used to trace the garment), A round object for making curves (French curve, plastic bowl, embroidery hoop, anything with about a 4-5 inch radius).
Yarn(s) to be used for embellishing, fabric scissors, beads if desired, thread, needles, crochet hook to match yarn size, tape or Heat-n-bond (with paper on one side), any other items to be used for decorating finished garment.  Buttons, if you want a closure on your sweater.

Step 1- making a pattern  (If you are not using a sewing pattern)
Tape sheets of newspaper together large enough to fit the entire garment you have chosen.  You may use pattern muslin if you place it with the grid lined up horizontally, and vertically.  Place the garment flat on the paper with the front facing you.  With the crayon or chalk, trace the outline of the entire garment.  Remove garment and check your drawing.  (See photo)
Lay ruler across the bust and mark the halfway point of the bust measurement.  Repeat with the hem of the garment.  Draw a vertical line between these two marks dividing the garment exactly in half.  (See photo)
Measure from your armpit to your waist, with the waist measurement being where you want the ending length of the cardigan/bolero to be.  Mark that measurement on the pattern and draw a horizontal line across the pattern.  (see photo)
If you are making a bolero and want curved edges, take the round shape or French curve and place it on the horizontal/vertical lines of the pattern bottom and trace a curve.  (see photo)  Trace a curve at the top of the pattern using the same method as the bottom.  You can opt to leave the edges square, it is a matter of personal choice.
Using the paper scissors, cut the entire tracing out, and cut the tracing in half along the centerline.  Make the cuts for the bolero on half the pattern only.  Save both halves of the pattern in case you need to make adjustments.  Hold the cut half up to yourself and look in the mirror.  Make sure you are happy with the length and shape of the pattern BEFORE you cut into your garment.

Step 2- Cutting the garment
Lay the pattern on the garment on a flat surface.  With a yardstick lying across the bottom of the garment, draw a straight horizontal line across the bottom of the garment where the lower edge of the pattern falls.  You do not need to leave any extra for hemming.  Draw a vertical line in the center front of the garment from top to bottom.  You may use tailors chalk or light pencil marks or tape to make these lines.
Using the fabric scissors carefully cut the bottom off the garment along the line you just made.  If possible, cut through both thicknesses of fabric at the same time.  Cut the center front line through one thickness of the fabric all the way from top to bottom.  Pin the pattern piece to one side of the FRONT ONLY of the garment and cut along the lines for that side.  Reverse the pattern and cut the other front side of the garment out.  (See photo)  DO NOT BE AFRAID to do this.  The garment will not come apart or fray if you handle it gently. 
Step 3- Embellishing!
You should be looking for an edging pattern that will look nice on the finished project.  I have used very lacy edgings with thread, or very simple edgings with a bulky decorative yarn and had success with both.  You can use more than one type of yarn if you like.  Practice on the cut garment leftovers if you need to. 
The first thing you will need to do is bind the edges of the garment.  With the appropriate needle and thread, I used a blanket stitch to bind the edges of my sweater.  I chose a contrasting color of thread since I will be crocheting into the stitches later.  If you don’t want to see the binding stitches, choose a thread that matches the garment.  The stitches don’t have to be tight, I have found that ¼ inch or so spacing is plenty to keep the edges from fraying.  You can do this with a sewing machine or serger, but you will need to use a stretch stitch.  I only machine bind the edges when I know my decorative edging will cover up the stitches.  I think hand bound edges can be decorative themselves.  Let your imagination run wild and use pretty embroidery thread for this step instead of plain thread!  (See photo)

Embellishing continued:
I crocheted one row of single crochet all the way around the entire sweater.  I followed that with a row of double crochet in the single crochet stitches.  On the outside edge of the binding stitches, I slip stitched a row with a decorative ribbon yarn.  (See photo) 
I chose a decorative floral stitch for the final embellishment on the garment.  I changed the stitch as needed so that the spacing would work out correctly and the pattern would line up on both fronts.  You will need to count and graph out the stitches if it is a pattern where matching on both sides is important.  (See photo)
I plan to carry the floral theme on the front of my sweater, and am making leaves and flowers that match my border stitching.  (See photo)  I may decide to use some decorative embroidery thread and stitches and will definitely be adding beads to my sweater. 

Photos coming soon....