The Renegade DIY Cardigan

This week, I upcyled an old thrift store sweater into a cardigan. I bought this striped 100% acrylic crewneck years ago and have worn it a million times around the house. It’s boxy shape and stretched-out bottom hem were among the reasons it remained just an around-the-house-sweater. As I enter my 3rd trimester (now 29 weeks pregnant), cardigans paired with long tanks/minidresses and leggiings have become wardrobe staples so I decided to refashion my old sweater into a cardigan.

After discovering and falling in love with The Renegade Seamstress Beth Huntington’s website last month, filled with her fantastic sewing tutorials, I immediately went out and picked up her book, The Refashion Handbook. For this upcycle project, I followed Beth’s Merino Wool Cardigan tutorial. Since this project is found on page 60 of her book, I will not be sharing the details with you here, however, Beth has a similar tutorial on her website. After I cut, pinned, sewed, pinned again, sewed some more and then hand stitched the button in place, I pressed the seams and voilà, my old favourite sweater is now my new cardigan!

Before & After
Before & After

I highly recommend Huntington’s book to everyone who enjoys upcycling clothes and working with fabric they probably already own. Some of these projects I have thought of myself and done already and others, like her Renegade Ikat Bag made using an old pretty tablecloth, a black leather sleeve, a denim pocket and an old belt, I will definitely be trying out very soon. Beth Huntington, the MacGyver Sewist!

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Sweater for the Shop (S-I-F)

Happy New Year!!

I hope your holiday break was as lovely and restful as mine. I had intended on doing a lot of sewing once exams were done and the clinic closed for the break but then my niece Ella came to town. All projects were put on the back-burner so I could spend time with the adorable silly bean. Santa was particularly kind to me this year, among my fantastic gifts was a slew of carefully selected thrift store rescues from my mother. Among these relics was an ’80s (I’m guessing) Italian (again, guessing) satin wedding dress.  It’s going to be a fun year!

Before & After
Before & After

Lady E handed me a bunch of soft and comfortable sweaters at the beginning of December. She asked that I refashion them like the previous set because no one was interested in these outdated and oversized knits. This white with red flowers Sentiments sweater is the first of many to come. Voiià, my first Sewing-It-Forward project of 2015, another little sweater ’cause baby, it’s cold outside!

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Tutorial to come as promised with the next sweater refashioning.

The St-Michael’s Dress/Tunic (Sewing-It-Forward)

My 6th Sewing-It-Forward outfit!

As soon as Lady E handed me this size 18, 100% acrylic St Michael’s dress, I knew it had a potential of becoming something wearable and dare I say- stylish. I love paisley print so immediately knew I could create something cool. Unfortunately, my sweater dress idea was quickly squashed when I found a palm-sized shredding moth hole mid-thigh. I felt that patching would look odd on top of the print so I opted to create a sweater tunic instead. I am 5’8″ so this number could probably easily work as a mini dress for a smaller woman.


The dress had a loose elastic sewn into the waist line which I tightened giving a nice shape to the bodice. I dropped this outfit to the shelter’s boutique yesterday along with the Grazia pieces. I’m excited to see who picks this one out.

Now what to do with the remaining 6-ish inches of paisley fabric…

Koftochkas (Sewing-It-Forward)

Kofta is sweater in Russian. This week, I turned large sweaters into smaller ones. I call these Koftochkas!

Every Wednesday, I host an art session at a local women’s shelter. It’s a two-hour period for the women to pause in the middle of their afternoon and participated in mindful artist activity. I believe that creating something, be it painting or needlework or any other sort of creation, allows for the expression of our emotions and is filled with therapeutic and self-healing rewards. The workshops are run rather informally and are open to whomever is interested, no sign up. Just come & sit, either to paint, draw, collage or needlepoint and engage in good conversation. Good music always helps set the tone; a mix of Bob Marley and Ella Fitzgerald have become our weekly soundtrack. I started this program last winter with the hopes of eventually turning it into a sewing workshop; build self-esteem by fashioning a dress strategy. More sewing machines are needed for this phase of the program.

Last week, Lady E who runs the “boutique”, a large display closet for all the donations received, complimented me on my refashion leopard sweater. Lady E challenged me to turn three large sweaters that she hadn’t been able to find homes for into beautiful and fashionable ones for deserving new owners.

I dissembled the sweaters like I had with my leopard sweater project. I removed the sleeves and separated the front from the back by cutting the shoulder and side seams. I used a Burda knit top pattern as a guide for size and shape, but adjusted the pattern for each sweater in order to keep the original collars, cuffs and bottom hems.

I’m happy with how they turned out and excited to see who picks them up next week! #SewingItForward