Tutorial

Simple sweater mend: under arm hole

Here is a super simple way to mend a hole under the arm of your sweater or t-shirt.

Use a stretch needle and a stretch stitch or zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine. Or, simply sew by hand using an overcast stitch.

Here we go:

 

1. Pin the underarm seam

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Turn the sweater inside out. Pin the underarm seam together, matching up the side seams for a neat finish.

(Yep, I forgot to match up my side seams, as you can see in the bottom photos.)

 

2. Sew a new seam

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Start on top of the original seam a little before the hole, curve around the hole and end on top of the original seam a little beyond the hole.

 

3. That’s it, you’re done!

It only takes about three minutes, so don't do what I did and put it off for three months!

Happy mending!

How to refashion a jumper into a cardigan

jumper to cardigan refashion

I love cardigans. They are wardrobe work-horses: easy to layer, easy to dress up or down and as useful on cold Winter days as chilly Summer evenings.

As it happens, I inherited this cream-coloured, woollen pullover from my Grandmother about a year ago. And while I had used it quite a lot as it was, what I really wanted was a cardigan. So why not refashion it?

Want to try it yourself? Here is how I did it:

 

Jumper to cardigan, step-by-step

 

1. Centre front

Find the centre of the jumper by measuring across the top and bottom. Draw a line or sew a seam of basting stitches to mark the centre front line.

2. Zigzag & cut

On either side of the centre front line, sew a seam of zigzag stitches. I used a 3-step zigzag stitch. This step ensures that the fabric doesn’t unravel once cut, but it may not be necessary if your jumper is a tightly knit wool.

A little tip to avoid stretched out, wavy seams when sewing with knit fabrics: try reducing the pressure of the pressure foot on your sewing machine.

Cut along the centre front line, between the two zigzag seams.

3. Button band

Attach a band of cotton ribbon or bias binding to the back on each side. This helps stabilize the button band when you later sew buttonholes and buttons.

I used bias binding. You then line up the cut edge of the jumper and the raw edge of the bias binding so that right sides are facing, leaving an extra 2-3 cm of bias binding at the top and bottom. Sew a seam along the fold line of the bias binding. Next, fold under the ends at the top and bottom, and fold the whole binding to the back. Pin and press. Finally, sew the band in place by hand for a neat, invisible finish. Do the same for the other side.

If you are new to bias binding, take a look at this tutorial. The same principle holds here, except that you are sewing a straight seam instead of joining for a neck line, and finally attaching the band by hand instead of by machine.

4. Buttonholes and buttons

Mark where you want your buttons, and sew the buttonholes.

My top buttonhole is a bit wonky due to the extra bulk of fabric at the collar. To avoid a similar problem, you could move the buttonhole further down, or sew it by hand.

Finally, sew on your buttons, and you are done!


Congratulations, a cardigan!

Cutting into your knits: How to lengthen, shorten or change finished objects

Have you ever knit something and found afterwards that the fit wasn’t quite right? Maybe it’s just a little too short, or perhaps too long?

Yep, me too. The good news is that you can easily fix that without ripping out the whole thing and having to start from scratch. In principle you can add length, shorten or re-knit the bottom of any knitted garment.

I knit these mittens last Autumn, and though I love the look and feel of them I didn’t wear them much over the Winter simply because they kept sliding annoyingly off my hands. My mittens needed new cuffs. It took me about a year to pluck up the courage, but I finally did roll up my sleeves and get to it.

Don’t make the same the same mistake of thinking it is too difficult to fix. It’s not. It’s totally doable and definitely worth it to get a garment that fits well and you will love to use.

 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Pick up a row of stitches on the garment where you later want to join to the new bottom piece.

2. Carefully snip into a stitch on the row below. You may be able to just pull the yarn through or you may have to snip the stitches as you go, depending on how 'slippery' or 'sticky' the yarn is. Separate the top and bottom pieces. Leave a tail of yarn on the top piece to weave in and secure later.

You now have the option to make changes to the bottom piece or knit a new one. For these mittens I knitted new cuffs with ribbing. However, if you want to add length to the original bottom piece, pick up the stitches and continue knitting until you reach the desired length. Alternatively, to shorten: pull the yarn of the bottom piece and unravel the number of rows you want to shorten your piece with. Then set the stitches back on a needle, stitch holder or some string.

 

3. With your new bottom piece ready, leave a fairly long tail of yarn and use a tapestry needle to graft the stitches together creating an invisible seam. (Also called Kitchener stitch.) There are some excellent tutorials on this, for example at Purl Soho, Garnstudio Drops Design and Vogue Knitting.

4. Finally, weave in any loose ends and you are done!

Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back and enjoy your "new" knitted garment to the full!