Monday, November 21, 2011

A sweater for the boy, upcycled from Grandpa's sweater!

Well actually, it's upcycled from his great-grandpa's merino sweater.  The boy has a nice striped sweater that fits him well, but because I like to buy things with room to grow, this is the same sweater he wore for all holiday/dressy events LAST year.  So I wanted him to have something new to wear this year for all of the holiday pictures and events (that will probably still fit NEXT year, but I'll want him to have something new...) Good thing there's more than one holiday, huh?  He can wear the new stuff for the main events and the old for less-photographed occasions

Side Note:  Apologies in advance to my photographer friends.  Sigh.  I should not be tempted by the free free free photos and sittings and free free free from Major Department Store Photo Studio.  I tried it once, and it was pretty much a nightmare. The flashes freaked out the girl, the boy was super goofy (especially by the end when the little one was finally starting to calm down), waiting for the proofs took FOREVER because they have to put them into all of these cutesy collages that are not part of the FREE FREE FREE but I wouldn't want anyway, etc. But then they sent me an even better offer, including digital images and the rights to them, so I went back.  I thought maybe the second time around the little one wouldn't be so freaked out, and I brought a bag of Christmas props for them to play with in the photos,  It was worse than before.  The girl cried pretty much THE WHOLE TIME.  The whole time.  From the moment we walked into the studio room, she was like, Oh no, not this again!  Both times that I went, I felt like I was betraying my photographer friends, and both times my results showed me exactly why I should be using professional photographers, but man, that is just not in the budget very often, and bla bla bla, end of tangent, but the point of all this is that I wanted the kids to wear holiday outfits that I had made in the photos.  So here is (believe it or not) the very best picture we wrangled out of that session.  And you can barely see their outfits.  So it's a perfect sneak peek, I guess.

Not making the Christmas Card Cut.
Oh, and I didn't bring that giant pair of balls.  Those were
thoughtfully provided by the photo studio.

I don't make nearly as many things for the boy, you may have noticed.  He has definitely noticed.  So it was fun to tackle this project.  For the most part, it was very easy--just like downsizing a men's t-shirt, as I have done before.  But with one major challenge.

This sweater has a collar.  And I thought it would look funny to have a three-year-old wearing a boy-sized shirt with a man-sized collar.  So, here's how I tackled it.

First step, as always, was to find an appropriate template shirt to use, since I don't make patterns.

Then I chopped off the collar.  I really wasn't sure how I was going to reattach it, but don't fret--I figured out a way!  All by myself!  Without using all of the resources the internets have to offer, because I was in a hurry and just winging it!  I am usually not a spokesperson for reinventing the wheel, but this time, I just went for it.  If you have a link to a better/simpler/faster/more pro way to do this, please let me  know!

Amputated collar.
I left a small (1/4 inch or so) lip of fabric at the top for reattachment--
probably would do more like a half inch next time.
The next step was cutting up the side seams and removing the sleeves.  I was planning to leave the neck opening as-is (it was about the same size as my t-shirt template), so I wanted to keep the shoulder seams intact.

Maybe I should stop here and make a collared merino muscle shirt.
But alas...
Drat!  Foiled again.

There was a hole right next to the neckline.  So, I decided I should probably make the neckhole smaller anyway, since there's the button placket and all, and I trimmed a bit from the front and the back shoulder seams to eliminate the hole and shrink the neckline.  Just a tiny strip from the front and the back, probably a 1/4 inch each (since I'll need to leave seam allowance to sew them back together, and I don't want to make the neckline TOO much smaller).

Then I used my template shirt to figure out where to cut the hole for the sleeve.  After doing one side, I folded it in half to cut the other side.

I then used the front piece as a template to cut out the back piece, and pinned them together (right sides together) at the shoulder and side seams, and sewed those together.

Don't sew the armholes shut!
Oh!  I should mention that I decided in the end to put little slits in each side of the bottom of the hem (not sure what that's called).  If you are planning to do that, leave an inch or two of the bottom of your side seams open (depending on how big you want your slit to be).   Mine are pretty tiny--you can look at the bottom of this post to see what I'm talking about.

Now at this point, I could have gone to the sleeves or the collar.  I decided to do the collar because the sleeves would be easy, and I wanted to make sure I could figure out the collar or if I'd have to scrap the whole project.  So first, I had to cut the collar down to size.  I trimmed about a 1/2 inch off the bottom of it (so it wouldn't be so tall), then I lined it up to the neckline of the shirt to figure out how much to cut out of the back of it.  Once I knew where I needed the back seam to be, I folded the collar piece in half (right sides together), sewed a straight seam from top to bottom (backstitching at both ends) and trimmed off the excess.  Now I was ready to pin my smaller collar (hey, that rhymes!) to the new sweater.

Back view--that's the seam in the middle where I shortened the collar.
I flipped the sweater right-side out, then pinned the collar to the neckline.  I placed the collar with the right side facing out (the side that I want to show when I'm done), and lined up the raw edges and pinned all around.

I lined up the front edges on both sides and pinned towards the back, making sure it was even.

Then I sewed those together, using a straight stitch.

Next, (and I hope I can explain this), I flipped the raw edges down towards the inside of the shirt, and sewed them down with another seam.  This is where I wished I'd left myself a little more raw edge at the top of the sweater, because it was hard to sew down such a tiny seam.  But it did work.

See how the pins are holding the sewn-together raw edges down, thereby flipping the collar up?
 That's where I sewed my new seam.
And the collar looks good!  I can make the rest of the shirt now.

The Smaller Collar.
Next was the sleeves.  Using my trusty template t-shirt to determine the length, I cut the sleeves out of the original sleeves, maintaining the original cuff.

Because this sweater had a ribbed cuff at the end of the sleeve, I mimicked the shape of the original sleeve to give it just a leeeetle fullness, rather than copying my template exactly.

I cut out sleeve number one while it was folded in half, cutting out the original sleeve seam.
I opened up the first sleeve and used it as a template to cut out the second sleeve:

Cut sleeve laying on top of the second sleeve
Then turned both inside out, pinned along the seam, and sewed them down.

Next was attaching to the sweater.  I remember the first time I read how to do this, it seemed a little confusing and backwards, but now that I've done it so many times it's really easy.  I should probably just have a link here (or copy and paste what I've written before about inserting sleeves) so I don't have to rewrite it every time, but here we go again:

Raw edges of sleeve and shirt, pinned together.

Turn the body of the shirt inside out.  Then turn your sleeves right-side out.  Insert the first sleeve into the armhole and line up the raw edges of the sleeve and body, and pin.  Then sew together.  Do the same for the other side.  When you pull the sleeves out, they will be attached the right direction, I promise!

Now all I had left was the hem!

Rather than replicating the ribbed hem from the original sweater, I decided to make a small flap in the sides--is this a shirttail hem?  No, that's where there's some sort of curve involved, I think...not sure what to call this type of hem, but since it was a sweater with just straight sides, and my son would most likely NOT be tucking it in, I wanted do something a little different than a typical t-shirt hem.

The only thing different about this than a typical hem is that if you didn't decide to do it ahead of time, you will need to use a seam ripper to remove a bit of the side seam at the bottom, then do a little backstitching at the end of the side seams.  Then hem your sweater in two pieces, the front and the back.

And it's done!
My little boy looks so grown-up in this sweater.  I guess that's what happens when you dress him in old man clothes.

Not without my racecar
Who's looking grown-up now?
(Portraits not taken in a department store.)

1 comment:

  1. I never told you how much I loved this sweater, Beth. The color is great and so adorable on Liam. I know it means so much more to you now then when you made it. Great work!


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