Tutorial Thursday: DIY Vintage Crop Sweater!

I am so excited to share my first tutorial! Long ago I found an amazing article about upcycling regular cardigans into fabulous, vintage appropriate sweaters. When¬†I couldn’t find it again, I thought I should give y’all my own version.

DIY Vintage Cropped Sweater! -  The Homemade Pinup

I’ve been frustrated by cute sweaters in my wardrobe that were just too long to look nice with the high-waisted vintage fashions I wear. These three cardigans all hit the hip or lower originally. They are unintentionally red, white, and blue! The red was given to me by my mother and has some lovely chiffon rose decoration around the neckline. The white was from an Ann Taylor Loft sale, while the navy sweater features my college sorority’s crest.

I took some before pics but they ended up looking TERRIBLE so.. sorry :3 My after pics aren’t so great either. Let’s just agree that I never claim to be a professional photographer ūüėȬ†All my sweaters were hip length or slightly longer to start. You can see the length of the white sweater in the first photo below.

HOW TO:

Find a sweater that needs updating. Shop your wardrobe, thrift stores, sales – the sky is the limit! Look for a color you need with maybe some fun beading for an extra vintage touch.

Put on your cardigan and mark where you want the finished sweater to hit. For this style, I recommend that it hits 2-3 inches below your natural waist. This part can be tricky because you need to plan around the buttons and buttonholes on your sweater РI pick the button/buttonhole pair that is closest to my natural waist, because adding the waistband later will make it longer. Mark (with pins, or count up the buttons from the bottom).

 

Measure from the bottom of your sweater up to these pins. Mine were around 5.5″. Add¬†in¬†a seam allowance of 1/2″-5/8″- making your cutting point 5″ up from the hem, if you use a 1/2″ allowance like me. Mark that distance all along your sweater on the INSIDE with chalk. The pins can be removed at this point.

Cut along this line.

Then, on the part you just cut off from the main body of the sweater, find the hem band of the sweater. Sometimes this is sewn on (in the case of my blue sweater), sometimes it is woven in (on my red and white sweaters both). Add the same seam allowance amount that you used in the previous step. Mark, and cut along this line.

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Now you have two pieces: your main body and the hem edge. Pin them together at the cut edges, right side to right side. You may have to remove a button to make the cutting and sewing easier and sew it back on afterward.

At any places that must be matched up, like the side seams or the button facings: hold the two pieces together and gently pull back the top layer so you can see the seam. Make sure they lay precisely on top of one another and use extra pins! Do NOT remove these pins as you’re sewing before they’re under the presser foot. I usually just sew over them to make sure my seams will not shift and they will match up perfectly.

Sew a 1/2″ from the edge (or 5/8″ if that’s your chosen allowance), being sure to stretch the sweater as you sew. Often you need to stretch anyway to because the band section you’ve cut will be a bit shorter than the body section. Stretching the fabric¬†will allow your sweater to maintain its stretch. A slightly longer stitch length helps as well. (Practice on the piece you cut off and discarded if you’re nervous.)

Admire your new cropped sweater! To complete, press¬†the new seam towards the hem well and then trim the seam. If you’d like, you may zig zag over the cut seam, but I only did that for one sweater.

You can also use this same process for sleeves to create cute bracelet-length sleeves! I chose not to at this point, because I like options to pull it long since I get cold easily.

The sky is the limit for your customized sweaters! I also replaced the boring plastic buttons with some vintage buttons from my stash. In the future, I’d like to¬†add ribbon facings along the button facings, like you see in some vintage cardigans.

 

With only a couple of hours’ work, I now have three “new” cardigans to put into my wardrobe rotation that previously sat gathering dust!

What cardigans will you upcycle to make them more vintage appropriate?

 

Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

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Me Made Pencil Skirt (Vintage Simplicity 3257 Review)

This week I have a review for a fabulous combo pattern by Simplicity for both a pencil skirt and cigarette pants. With such smart separates, what more can you ask for?

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This pattern is excellent because it includes different cutting lengths for various heights! I know it’s relatively easy¬†to extend or shorter a hem length, but this pattern simplifies that. I never turn my nose up at effective alterations¬†like that! I also peeked ahead and saw that they give you directions for customizing¬†the seat rise for the trousers. Excellent!

My pattern has a 26 inch waist. I am a 27″, but I betted on the pattern having a bit of wearing ease, as usual – and it didn’t. So if you buy this pattern, buy to size! The waistband ended up at just about 26 inches, so it’s a bit of a tight squeeze for me.

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This specific project was a remake – I took a skirt I previously had and cut it down! I love reusing fabrics and giving them new life. Sustainability feels good and looks good too ūüėČ Below is the before!

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The pattern had simple instructions and easy-to-use pieces. I think this pencil skirt only had three pieces! I was looking through vintage images and feel that, though the pattern is from the early 1960s, it is an appropriate skirt for the 1940s through the 1960s and beyond, depending on hemline and how you style it.

My main complaints are that the description of how to lap the zipper was very confusing before it “clicked.” Additionally, they don’t instruct you to unpick the stitches to release the kick pleat in the back.

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I used a ribbon as a hem facing (like the rayon tape in almost all vintage dresses) and did a machine-sewn invisible hem (aka blind hem). I’ve got to admit, after practice I’m getting so good at this! It was tricky to master but it is so, so satisfying when you can barely see the stitches on the right side. Would y’all be interested in a picture or video tutorial?

Though I always add pockets to my projects, I chose not to for this skirt to keep a smooth, tight line.

In summary: I highly recommend Simplicity 3257¬†for a pencil skirt staple, though I haven’t used it to make trousers yet. It was quick and easy and includes some great details for truly vintage finishing.

Do you have a favorite separates pattern, vintage or otherwise?

Until next time,
Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

That’s A Wrap! (+ Vintage Simplicity 4130 Review and BONUS review by Gussets and Godets)

I really have been sewing too much for my own good right now. I have a backlist of posts and pattern reviews to write about the plethora of blouses that I’ve made of late. I hope you like vintage blouses cause… you’ll be gettin’ a lot of ’em!

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Today I’m blogging about my experience with vintage Simplicity 4130, lent to me by my vintage sewing BFF Rachel. A call back to my dancing days, I love a good wrap top for their ballerina-like beauty and their ability to instantly emphasize the figure. This one, made up in a gold-flecked cranberry knit, certainly fulfills those expectations!

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The pattern went together quickly and easily, which is a testament to an early 60s pattern. Things started to get a lot simpler in the sewing pattern world at this time — I’m talking printed patterns and instructions that don’t assume you already know everything about the sewing process.

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As vintage patterns, like their modern counterparts, are known for having ease, PARTICULARLY in the bust, a size 32 seemed perfect for my 34-35″ bustline. I wasn’t disappointed, and this pattern went together perfectly with little need to alter. Part of that is due to the nature of a wrap top, and that’s the beauty of the thing — you don’t HAVE to be perfect at fitting with a wrap top. Highly recommended for a beginning seamstress!

I made a couple minor alterations to the pattern since it’s made for a woven fabric and I used a knit. I simply removed the seam allowance (to account for my fabric’s stretch) and ignored the facings in exchange for a simple turned over hem. Easy as pie.

My FAVORITE part about this pattern? It’s reversible! I can get two looks out of one: a traditional cross-front wrap, or a sultry high-necked, low-back stunner. What more can you ask for?

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If you’re searching for a similar look, Butterick offers B6285, one of Gertie’s¬†patterns. Though I haven’t used it, the pattern looks very similar to mine and it looks beautiful made up. I asked Christina of Gussets and Godets to write a quick review of B6285 for comparison. I think her top turned out beautifully!

This was my first experience of sewing with knits, and I’m not sure why I have never sewn with knits before. I don’t have a special machine for sewing knits, but this wrap top is super cute and I knew I could easily incorporate this into my wardrobe.

The pattern consists of only 2 pieces. One body piece and one for the waist ties. It is a very cleverly cut top and sews up so quickly because there are so few seams. I like that there is no shoulder seam or armhole to fiddle with, the dolman sleeve is sleek and smooth.

Instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Though they assume you know what you are doing so they don’t give any hints and tips on how to sew with jersey which would have been useful. Gertie published a tutorial post on her blog with step by step instruction, photos and advice which I found very helpful and is a nice resource to check if you are unsure of a step.

I sized down one size based on the measurements on the pattern envelope from my recommended size 18 to the 16 and it was definitely the right size for me. It is a very forgiving garment being a jersey wrap so if you are quite busty or flatter chested the fabric will stretch or mold to the body.

From my experience of sewing this knitted top, I can advise that using a ball point needle is a must! A slightly looser tension than for woven fabrics helps avoid snapped stitches when wearing your top and also on any areas under strain.

My verdict:¬†I really love this top! It is so versatile and allows me to wear my pretty cotton summer dresses while still covering up my arms and back in the colder weather.¬†Dress it up or down and it’s super elegant and comfortable! Overall a nice easy project, I didn’t get stuck or confused during the sewing and it was a nice quick make.

 

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Thanks to Christina, it seems like B6285 is a great alternative if you can’t find the vintage Simplicity 4130! Butterick is easy to find and the look is so close to my vintage pattern, except it has vertical darting instead of Simplicity’s¬†pretty 45 degree angle darts. Additionally, B6285 is not MADE to be reversible, but I suspect it can be worn backwards if you wish. I put on a non-reversible Ralph Lauren wrap top I own backwards, and it worked just fine.

As my grandma says about cooking (via Emeril): there’s no kitchen police! And as I say… there’s no sewing police! If you want to change something up, do so. The pattern won’t turn you in. Wear that B6285 (or other wrap pattern) backwards if you want! Feel free to use a knit instead of a woven (with simple adjustments). Sewing is what you make of it, and that’s the beauty of the thing.

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In summary (TLDR):

  • Simplicity¬†pros = made to be reversible, lovely 45 degree darts. Made for woven fabrics.
  • Simplicity¬†cons = hard-to-find pattern and only sold, as all vintage patterns, one size at a time.
  • Butterick pros = easy access, very similar look, patterned specifically for knit fabric.
  • Butterick cons = not made to be reversible (though likely can be worn backwards), boring vertical darting (lol).

 

Are you fearless with your sewing or refashions? What kind of adjustments have you made to clothing you own that it wasn’t intended for (like wearing something backwards)?

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Until next time,

Lauren || The Homemade Pinup

P.S. Remember that I have a Pinterest JUST for vintage style inspiration, organized by decade AND garment type! My Instagram is always a great place to follow my day-to-day happenings and outfits. And though it’s brand-new, I also have a Twitter that I will be using to update on new posts! Thanks for following, darlings!