Thursday, January 26, 2012

Granny Charm For My Grampa Sweater

Depending on the thrift stores you're used to frequenting, I've noticed that a lot of them often have a nook somewhere that is spilling over with unfinished or never started craft projects (the older and more bizarre the better). And more often than not they're practically giving the stuff away. Such was the case with the vintage needlepoint pocket canvas that I found. Totally charming and it only cost 25 cents! 

I decided to combine it with this thick and beautiful, but way-too-big-for-me turtleneck sweater in my attempt to make my own grampa/varsity style cardigan.

-old turtleneck sweater 
-needle point canvas
-2" wide twill tape
-1 1/4" wide twill tape
-3 button
-3 1/2" piece of elastic cording

Turning the Sweater into a Cardigan

Step 1: Lay the sweater completely flat. At the center front, cut from bottom to top. You can use the grain of the sweater to help you keep your cut in a straight line.

Step 2: Sew straight down on each of the cut sides to prevent fraying and unraveling. (Repeat this step if you think it's necessary.)

Step 3: Measure one of the open side from top to bottom, then cut two pieces of the 2" wide twill tape that length plus an extra 2" inches. (The twill tape will serve both as a decorative element and as a binding for the cut edges of the sweater.)

Step 4: Place 2 long strips of double stick tape down each side of the twill tape. Remove the backing from one side one lay face down on the front side of one of the cut edges. It's very important that the twill tape be laid down straight with roughly half or more of its width is over the edge of the sweater.

Step 5: Fold over the excess twill tape at the top and bottom. (Later this will give you clean finished edges on all sides.)

Step 6: Remove the backing from the other side of your double stick tape and slowly fold over onto the sweater's backside. 

Step 7: Sew down the left side of the twill tape, the right side, then the top and bottom.
Step 8: Repeat steps 5, 6 and 7 on the other cut edge of the sweater.

When you finished these steps, each side of the sweater will look like this:

Adding A Closure

Step 1: Decide on the placement for a button and sew it into position on the left side binding.

Step 2: Fold a 3 1/2" piece of elastic cord in half in and find the corresponding placement on the right side binding to match up with the button you've just sewn.

Step 3: Securely sew the two elastic ends to the backside of the twill tape at this position. (Make your stitches shallow enough that they will not appear on the front side of the binding.)

Adding Detail to the Sleeves

Step 1: Cut you 1 1/4" twill tape in to two pieces that are each 5" long. 

Step 2: Fold down one of the ends a 1/2". Apply a small piece of double stick tape in that area and press firmly down about 3" above the bottom edge of the sleeve.

Step 2: Apply double stick tape to the other end of the tab and fold under to secure to the inside of the sleeve.

Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the other sleeve.

When both sleeve tabs look like this they are ready to be sewn down.

Step 4: Sew along the sides and across the top on both sleeve tabs.

Step 5: The last step in finishing the sleeves is to sew a button on to each of the tabs.

The finished sleeves will look like this:

And finally...
The Pocket

Step 1: There's no magic way to speed up the process of filling in the canvas. You've just gotta do it. Plan on getting comfortable, because this part is going to take a little while. Obviously the larger the pattern the more time this is going to take. You may want to keep this in mind when you're selecting what you use. If the sewing is particularly grueling for you, stick to smaller pieces.

Step 2: Cut excess from your work, leaving a 1/2" allowance all around.

Step 3: Flip the pocket over so the good side is facing down and add double stick tape to the allowance areas on all sides.

Step 4: Remove paper backing from the double stick tape and press each side down. Flip the pocket right side up again and make sure that none of the canvas can be see on the front side. If it is, just lift that taped area and refasten until it's hidden. Finish by gently pounding all of the edges down with a mallet to make them crisp.

Step 5: On the sewing machine, sew straight across the top edge of the pocket ONLY. This will prevent the allowance from popping up.

Step 6: Figure out the placement of the pocket and then pin down secure all around.

Step 7: Finish by sewing the sides and bottom edges down to the sweater, making sure not to sew the top edge.

This definitely isn't one of my quicker projects, but I think the inexpensiveness and unique finished results make it totally worth it! I was fortunate to have found a vintage pattern specifically created to be a pocket, but don't let it stop you if you don't come across one of these. You can get equally good (and probably cooler) results from any shape.

*double stick tape
*needle and thread
*sewing machine
*tape measure
*straight pins


  1. Very enterprising of you, and what a success!

  2. What a wonderful re-purpose for Grandpa's sweater! bravo!

  3. absolutely brilliant! thanks so much for sharing the project with great photos! I got your link from Craftzine.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I have a sweater that I love, but hate that it is a pullover. I think I might just have to do this.

    One question. Why did you use tape and did it gum up your machine. When ever I use any kind of adhesive it seems to make my machine work yucky.

    1. Hey, Zoe!
      All of the time I spend doing leather work has kinda gotten me in the habit of using a lot of double stick tape, since using pins damages the leather. I love it because it's a bit quicker than pinning, but if the adhesive is too gummy for your machine, just substitute the tape with pins instead. Also, tiny binder clips are pretty great, especially on sweatery stuff.

      Of you make the sweater please send pix!!:)

  5. Thank you guys for all of the love on this post! I so appreciate it!