In my last post I demonstrated the “hacking wildly” technique of jumper reconstruction. I wasn’t expecting such lovely words of encouragement in response! Thank you to everyone who commented, it was very reassuring.
In this post I have calmed down a bit as I sew and stitch up the mess. Here is your mood music for today.
As much as Shetland wool binds to itself, I still didn’t feel quite able to let the edges go unsecured. So I got out the sewing machine for some quick reinforcements. Sewing onto knitting is fairly similar to sewing with jersey fabric, only the scale of the fabric is much larger. After playing around with the cutting scraps I determined that a straight stitch is best for securing horizontal edges and a simple zigzag stitch does the job for vertical edges:
And whilst the sewing machine was sitting there I thought I might as well save time and use it to sew up the seams as well. Now please don’t go thinking this is the expert handiwork of someone knows what they’re doing. It’s actually the late-night stitching of someone with nothing to lose. Oh, I might end up with a piece of knitting I might wear instead of one I never wear? What a decision!
Just like when you’re sewing regular fabric, every seam needs to be disciplined with a steam iron straight away. It took me a while to twig this and I was wondering why my seams looked so bad until the lightbulb went on. Eventually I was merrily steaming away like it was any other sewing project.
So after the reinforcing and basic seaming, it’s time to go straight back to the knitting needles and leftover scrap yarn. The buttonband is picked up through the fabric and knitted on just like a regular knitted cardigan. Let’s see how the body is fitting now…
Much better. I even bagged some legit vintage buttons from Beshley’s (her vintage button collection is quite substantial these days!) That just leaves the sleeves to sort out. I picked up along the top of the cuff, and added an extra band of fair isle for length. Joining it all back onto the main sleeve body was a right faff though. It was basically impossible to keep the stitch count straight so I just whipped out the sewing machine again. It’s not terribly neat, but at least it doesn’t look like an accident.
I seamed the sleeves with the sewing machine, but when it came to setting them in, I resorted to a proper hand-sewn backstitch. It’s just easier to get an even result that way, as far as I’m concerned. One thing I noticed on undoing the jumper was how crappy my stitching was back when I first made it. Nowadays my stitches are both smaller and faster and I have a solid method for setting properly (it involves a lot of safety pins). It’s nice to see how far you’ve come sometimes.
Done! The cardigan still has a very boxy shape, but that’s ok. It keeps it vintage-looking. The new neckline and sleeves are a massive improvement in my book. It’s not perfect but it feels a whole lot more me when I throw it on over my existing outfits.
This was an interesting mixed-media experiment. If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s that steaming Shetland wool like there’s no tomorrow is absolutely ok and should possibly be encouraged.
On top of this I get to feel as if I’ve made a whole new garment from scratch in a week!