Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Charity Shop Knowhow Number 1

Some things you find in charity shops aren't great as they are, but have the potential for greatness. Huge wool jumpers meet this description! Here's how to turn a shapeless ugly thing into the height of cool.

1. First make sure your target item is 100% wool. No acryllic blend here please, it just won't work. You can buy a wool jumper from a charity shop for a few pounds. It doesn't matter if it is a bit out of shape of bobbly. Your jumper may look like this (it may not):

2. Wash your jumper on a hot wash. It's exactly what your mother and the care label tell you not to do, but trust your Shoe Lady on this one! Now your jumper should look like this:

ie. shrunken! It should have "felted" which means the fibres of wool have mashed together so it is denser than before. This is very important, so if you suspect that the knit is still a little loose, hot wash it again. I should say at this point that it isn't possible to predict the final size of your garment, which is the most annoying part of the whole project, because it makes it hard to take orders for them from your envious friends.

3. When the jumper is felted and dry again, take some sharp scissors and cut off the ribbing at the cuffs, neck and waistband. Not sure? Cut along the dotted lines!

4. Next you are going to cut a line down the middle to make it into a cardigan (bolero jacket is probably more accurate, but it sounds so pretentious!). It is important that the line you cut is central and straight. If you cut it wonky, you'll look like a fashion-failure rather than a fashionista. One way to make sure it is straight it to fold your garment in half and mark the line with pins. Anyway, cut along this dotted line now:

5. Now, you can wear it exactly as it is, but a bit of customisation now goes a long way towards that limited edition look. You could handsew sequins on - but that's pretty time consuming, and I'm always eager to get on and wear my creation. A quicker way to pretty it up is to run long stitches of beautiful ribbom around the edges. You can choose a contrast colour or one that tones, depending on the effect you like.

And then Ta Da! You have a one-of-a-kind little jackety thing that everyone will admire and only you will know where it came from! A bit like this one:

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