Archive / Upcycled

RSS feed for this section

Heather’s Basic Blazer

Filet crochet is one of my favorite crochet techniques. It’s easy, quick to master, and lovely to look at. Its versatility never ceases to amaze me. Filet crochet can be used for curtains, table runners, accessories, and many kinds of garments. I chose it to feature in my crochet cardigan called Heather’s Basic Blazer.

I like pieces of clothing that are easy to mix and match. Especially cardigans should work with everything in your closet. This basic style works wonders with skirts and dresses, and compliments looks built around trousers. The only thing that can clash with this cardigan is its color. I’ve sorted out that problem by making two: one in basic black, and one in petrol blue. The blue version is actually made with a combination of two yarns. A light, upcycled acrylic in petrol blue, and a satin finished black yarn also upcycled. The combo of two textures and colors gave the blazer a unique finish, and made the blue cardigan decadently heavy. I’ve often heard that one shouldn’t mix different weights and finishes, but I think it’s a way to add detail to a basic garment. As long as the yarns can both be washed in the same temperature, it’s OK to go nuts. I recommend playing around with yarns. After all, crocheting should be fun and rewarding.

The black version is made with basic cotton. I chose to use upcycled materials for both black and blue crochet cardigan. You can find a short tute on how to salvage yarn here, but feel free to use freshly bought yarn or something from your stash instead. This crochet cardigan works with any kind of sport weight yarn. As long as the gauge matches, you’re good to go!

Both these cardigans have quickly become my absolute favourites. They’re easy to pair, comfy to wear, and offer the right amount of warmth to casual outfits. With a sleek shape, they’re even nice to wear under winter coats!

I hope you’ll enjoy the Heather’s Basic Blazer crochet pattern!

Until next Wednesday.

Love,

Heather

Seed Stitch Shrug

Seed stitch is one of my favourite knitting stitches. It’s lovely, easy to work, and very versatile. For the Chunky Seed Stitch Shrug, I paired it with stockinette, and a crochet cast-off.

As I often do, I dug up a discarded sweater from a flea market, and scavenged it for yarn. You can find my tutorial on how to do that here.

What I got after unraveling the sweater, was a multitoned chunky yarn light and soft. I wanted to knit it into something warm, something that could be worn in many ways. Versatility is a key factor in shrugs and cardigans, and with simple alterations, this shrug changes moods with you.

seed stitch shrug, open

The Chunky Seed Stitch Shrug calls for soft, chunky yarn. It’s worked with needlesize 7 mm – US 10.75 which makes it a quick knit. The construction is a cross between cardigan and shrug: this garment has a shaped sleeves, and a border worked in the round. The combination of seed stitch and stockinette work wonderfully with self-patterning and multitoned yarns. On a calm design, colours work to their full advantage. This shrug can even pull off stripes if you so choose: try asymmetrical stripes in bold colours, or thin ones with just two shades.

seed stitch shrug, closed at neck

The shrug has a large border. It has no closure, so it’s perfect to wear with shawl pins and brooches. The collar can be pinned in many ways: high on the neck or low at the waist. The shrug can also be worn open for a more casual look. A versatile style can be paired with all kinds of outfits. Though this shrug loves dresses, it works well with jeans, too.

seed stitch shrug, sleeve detail

The Chunky Seed Stitch Shrug features a crochet cast-off. In order to gain an elastic edge, I created a picot cast-off. It works both to give the shrug a detailed, feminine look, and as a practical solution for binding off. The cast-off method is time consuming, and requires knowledge of basic crochet, but the end result is well worth the labour.

I hope you’ll enjoy our Seed Stitch Shrug Knitting Pattern!

Until next Wednesday.

Love,

Heather

seed stitch shrug, closed at hem

How To Scavenge a Sweater for Yarn

Once upon a time, I promised a tutorial on how to unravel a discarded sweater for yarn. As I happened upon an untouched knit when looking for something in my stash, I decided today is the day.

Ooh, pink and pretty!
The first thing you need to do is to go shopping. It’s my favourite past-time, and I know most ladies love it. Hit the flea markets, and dig up anything that’s been knit. It can be hand-made or factory-born, doesn’t matter. Yarn is always yarn, and can be used in many ways.
Your main focus is the seams. Turn the sweater you find inside out, and take a good look at the seaming.
Some store-bought knits are sewn with a serger. If you try to unravel these, you’ll end up with pieces of yarn. You can of course use that to make pompoms or tassels, but we’re now looking for yarn that can be knit. You can only knit with yarn that’s intact and uncut.
You’ll want to find a garment that’s been made with pieces knit to shape, and then sewn together using a straight-stitch machine. It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the two kinds of seams. You can easily see the edges of knit pieces when you open the seam. This is the main thing you’ll need to focus on: to find a knit that doesn’t have serged seams.
Serged seam.
On the shoulder, OK.
On the sides, never.

Buy it, take it home, toss it in the washing machine, and take it outside. Outside because unravelling is dusty work. Taking the knit out of the house saves you a whole lot of hoovering.

Straight stitched seam.
See the edges of the pieces?
Look for this.

The industrial straight-stitch machine leaves a crochet-like chain of stitches. The easiest way to undo this is to find a long end inside a seam, cut it, and pull at everything to find the end that unravels the whole seam. Once you find it, you can just pull, and watch the whole seam come undone.

 Another way is to pull the seam open, and carefully cut it. Not the pieces themselves, but the yarn between holding them together.
Undo all of the seams, pull off collars and buttons, and you should end up with pieces that have at least three intact edges.
Taking the collar off can seem intimidating.
Collars are often sewn to place with a straight stitch, and they come off relatively easily. See the crochet chain at the bottom of the collar? That’s the seam to rip.
 Once the collar comes off, you’ll often find a cut neckline and serged shoulder seams.
Take your scissors, and straighten the top of the front and back pieces. It doesn’t matter all that much if the line isn’t entirely straight, but try to get it as direct as possible.
 Finding both kinds of seams, straight stitched and serged, on an industrial knit isn’t all that uncommon. Sleeves and shoulder are often sewn with a serger. If you find this, it’s OK. A vertical serged seam is fine: you’ll lose a bit of yarn straightening the top of a shaped sleeve, but there will be much to save. Serged side seams, though, mean that the knit can never again be yarn.
 Pull off any excess yarn. It comes off in small pieces, but you should soon find intact yarn. Once you do, wind it up.
  Now comes the boring part, which I usually skip.

Find the end of yarn in the cast off edge, and start unravelling. Wind the yarn as you go along, since it will get tangled up in no time. I usually frog as I knit, but winding the yarn and letting it sit for a day or two will ease the curl.

 I know this sounds a bit silly, buying a sweater and frogging it just to knit it again, but when you knit a lot, this trick of making upcycled yarn can save you a pretty penny.
On average, a sweater costs 0,50€ to 5€ at a flea market. It will give you at least 400 grams of yarn.
A 50 gram ball of cotton yarn can cost up to 5€. You’ll need eight of those to match the amount a frogged sweater can offer. That’s 40€.
Knitting and crocheting ease stress and are a great way of expressing oneself. If you’re looking to knit cotton or mixed fiber, flea markets are an affordable option. Let me know if you’ve scavenged yarn, and leave a link to your creations!
Until next Wednesday.
Love,
Heather

Let’s Make… Add Ruffles to Blouse

Once upon a time, I had a short sleeved blouse. An ordinary blouse made with stretchy fabric. It was comfy, but getting a bit old and having a mid-life crisis. Much like its owner. It was pretty much the right size, all that really needed doing was adjusting darts on the back.
But I wanted to make it less ordinary. So I decided to do the good old “add ruffles to blouse” -trick.
I took a long strip of fabric that tinted quite a lot towards blue, and cut it into four pieces.
I shaped the strips, and did a rolled hem on one of the long sides on each strip.
I pinned the strips to the front of the blouse, rouching them a little as I went a long. I sewed them on, snapped a picture, GIMPed it, and then my computer ate it. Very impolite on its part.
I left a gap between the ruffle and the button list.
… so that I’d have room for another layer. I pinned the second pair of ruffles onto the front, hiding one of the raw edges under the button list.
The other side was made differently, so I hid the edge of the ruffle with satin ribbon.
After sewing the ribbon on, it made a nice little detail.
And that was all it took. The blouse turned from meh to fun, and now I can’t wait to wear it again!
For the pictures, I paired the blouse with pants, but it works well with long skirts and corsets as well.
The ruffles give the blouse a feminine touch, and make it different in a very subtle way.
This trick works for all kinds of blouses. Try adding patterned materials, or making many narrow rows of ruffles with different fabrics!
Until next Wednesday.
Love,
Heather

Let’s Make… Boring Tee to Cool Top

Once upon a time, there was a T-shirt.
Now I’m not much of a T-shirt -person. There’s something I can’t put my finger on that makes me uncomfortable when wearing one.
Naturally, T-shirts are very common, and many find their way to me.
I see it as my sworn duty to give each one a makeover.
This Tee had a girly skull print. I liked it, and wanted to turn the Tee a bit more feminine. It was an almost perfect fit, so I didn’t need to take it in at the sides.
I started by folding the Tee with side seams facing. I cut off the collar and the sleeves, leaving a deep V-neck and a low rise back.
The easiest way to do this is to first cut off the sleeves, and then open the shoulder seams. After that, it’s much easier to get the Tee to lie flat on a surface. After, take any backless top, fold it accordingly, and use it as a pattern to find the right length for the back piece. The neckline is best shaped while trying the top on. You can cut it super low, or leave it higher for more coverage.
When opening the fold, I got a backless V-neck top.
Which naturally needed something.
I measured the distance from shoulder to back, and covered it with elastic band. I didn’t cut it, but used the same length of elastic to bind the back of the top. I left another bit of elastic to the other shoulder. These would later be used as straps. I used ordinary elastic band, since I’d accidentally ran out of all the nicer kinds. Elastic lace will look pretty as straps, too.
I bound the neckline with narrow elastic lace.
 I added two more straps to each shoulder, so that I had three pairs. I would have added some elastic lace to the straps, but, well, I ran out of that as well.
 I attached the straps to the back piece. As an afterthought, it might have been a good idea to make the straps cross each other… that would have given me a trendy cage-detail.
 The transformation didn’t take long, but did wonders to an ordinary Tee!
The top turned out nice and comfy, and with a subtle skull print, I can wear it without feeling like an exclamation point. Next time I do this, I’ll add an extra pair of straps (or two) and see how much fun can be had with crossing them!
Until next Wednesday.
Love,
Heather

Elise Shawl

Once upon a time, I found a violet cotton cardigan from a flea market. I liked the colour, and I liked the feel of the knit, so I bought it and took it home.
I do this a lot, buy a knit from wherever, give it a good wash, and unravel it for yarn. It’s a cheap way to get loads of yarn, but it does take a bit of effort. I’m going to write a tutorial on how to upcycle sweaters for yarn, but today, I’m just going to flaunt something I made.
Two years ago I got a bit of a Christmas-panic. I had five nights to go, and no present for Mom. So I got some red wool blend, and rummaged through Ravelry for something quick and lovely.
What I happened upon was Evan Plevinski’s Elise Shawl. It’s a beautiful, airy shawl which can be made in any size. Mom’s shawl ate 200 grams of yarn, and took three nights to make.
Later, I decided to want one for myself. So I took my violet cotton, and set to work.
The lace pattern is easy and consists of just two rows. It’s quick to memorize, so this shawl is a pretty perfect watching TV -project.
I had an entire cardigan’s worth of yarn, and I used it all for my Elise. It turned out pretty big, and a good blocking would increase it size even further. It’s just that I tend to wear this a lot, and can’t be bothered to block it after each wash…
Shawls are lovely, but they tend to be a bit tricky to wear. To force mine stay put, I crocheted a flower from the little yarn I had left over.
Behind the flower, I sewed a button. I use this to close my Elise so it won’t fall off when I see something shiny and get all exited.
 Made from cotton, this is a perfect summer shawl. It’s light, it breathes, and it still provides warmth when I need it.
 And it’s big! Of course, I’m tiny, but still that’s a lot of shawl.
 I’m very happy about the way the finished shawl came out, and I really like the Elise pattern.
A shawl can be worn in many ways, but we often forget that it can work as a skirt. It complements gypsy-inspired outfits, and doubles as a hip scarf for belly dancing. Scarves and shawls are very versatile, so don’t forget to take advantage of their full potential.
Until next Wednesday.
Love,
Heather

Let’s Make… Sweatshirt to Skirt

Once upon a time, a friend brought me all sorts of discarded clothes. Among them was a hooded sweatshirt.
I don’t wear sweatshirts, full stop.
But the fabric was kinda nice, a thick, white jersey with a skull print.
So I asked the hoodie whether it might like to be something else.
It contemplated on becoming a shrug, and as I picked up my scissors, it shrieked.
“No! Wait! Skirt!”
Trying the hoodie on to see if I could fit my wide ass derriere inside it was a bit impossible, so I decided to risk it.
I started by cutting off the hood and the sleeves leaving a straight edge.
Then I cut off the rib. White is a difficult colour, and white rib was just too much.
And then I got to try it on.
And it fit!
I shaped the side seams to a curvier shape. I also shaped the waist a bit, making it lower in the front. This way, the waist will fit better, and the skirt won’t look like the front of it is taller.
 One of the sleeves got to be a waistband. I cut a strip from it, sewed short edges together, and folded it.
I pinned it to the right side of the waist with raw edges together, and serged the seam.
I got a tidy finish with minimal effort.
 I hemmed the skirt using a zigzag-stitch. It gives more than a straight stitch, and looks a bit nicer, too. And that was all it took. Two hours, including planning, photos, and sewing. I bet you can do it in one!
The hoodie got a new life, and I got a white skirt with skulls on it.
Until next Wednesday!
Love,
Heather