Sunday, December 7, 2008

When Is a Sweater Not a Sweater?

Imagine my delight to find this lovely Christmas sweater, complete with felted poinsettia, on a sale rack for only $15—

and then my horror to find a cut in the lower back. The sweater was too pretty to leave behind so I bought it anyway. Then, what to do with it?

I thought I could fuse a piece of interfacing under the slit and wear it anyway—but the sweater proved a bit too small so into a box it went.

This year, I unearthed the sweater in my search for some other set-aside project and decided to do something with it or send it off to Goodwill. I'm in a "use it or be done with it" mode. A Christmas pillow for my couch was the wonderful result.
Here's how I did it--you can use this general procedure to rescue a sweater with a stain, mothhole, etc., or one you find on sale that doesn't fit or one that you discover in a thrift store.

Step 1: Steam press the sweater to remove wrinkles, then button it up, make sure the lower edges are even, and then use rotary tools to cut it apart just under the armholes.

Step 2: Remove the top button to get it out of the way of the seam placement at the cut edge. Whipstitch the buttonhole lips together.

Step 3: Cut out the lovely flower to reapply to the pillow. I trimmed as much of the underlying sweater away under the felted petals.

Step 4: Unbutton the sweater and apply lightweight knit fusible interfacing to the underside where the flower will be restitched—for added support and easier machine stitching.

Step 5. Apply small strips of fusible web to the underside of the flower center and petals. (Flower in position on sweater with white press cloth shown in photo.)

Remove the protective paper on the fusible web and position the flower on the pillow front, keeping it out of the way of where the upper raw edges will be seamed together (1/4"-wide seam). Cover with a press cloth and fuse in place.
For added durability, stitch in place after fusing. I machine-stitched along the existing embroidered details wherever possible and close to raw edges when there was no embroidery.
Step 6: Salvage a piece of the sweater from the cutaway to "mend" the hole with fusible web. Apply the web to each side of the slit on the wrong side with the iron and them remove the protective paper to expose the web.
Step 7. Force the cut edges together and cover with the sweater scrap. Fuse in place. Trim the edges and round the corners of the patch--it doesn't have to be "pretty" since it won't show. This will be the back of the pillow, so even if the "mend" is not perfect on the right side, it won't matter that much. I did a zigzag stitch over the edges from the right side after fusing the patch in place on the wrong side.

Step 8: Button the buttons, pin the front edge in place, and slipstitch in place.

Step 9. With right sides facing, stitch the upper raw edges together where you cut the "pillow" section away from the upper part of the sweater. Stitch again, close to the first stitching. Trim excess, leaving a 1/4"-wide seam allowance. Turn right side out and steam press as needed.

Step 10. Pin and edgestitch the lower rib knit edges together, leaving a long opening for inserting a pillow form.

Step 11. Measure the finished pillow cover and make a pillow form that is an inch larger all around so the pillow will really fill out the cover. Use muslin or other fabric leftovers to make the cover and fill with polyester fiberfill to the desired firmness. See Tip below. Remember that the sweater has "give" so it will snug up over a firm pillow. Tuck the pillow form inside and hand or machine-stitch the opening closed (you may need to use your zipper foot for this).

Tip: Make the pillow form larger than than the outside measurements of the sweater cover—at least an inch. It will fill out the cover better.

This was an easy project but did take a bit longer than I anticipated—but then that's usually the way it works out!

Rather than a sweater lying unworn at the bottom of a project box, now I have a lovely pillow to grace my couch for the holidays! Plus, I have sweater leftovers to use for trim on other projects—or cute little mitten ornaments for my Christmas tree!

Speaking of Christmas Trees
Here's mine--and just in case I don't find time to do another blog this month, Merry Christmas to all of you!
Until next time, keep sewing and smiling!