Saturday, 24 December 2016

The entirely literal jumper hack

Years ago there was an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun in which John Lithgow's character railed against the misuse of the word 'literally'. As a pair of grammar nerds, Mr Tulip and I entirely agreed with him. I think I'm safe with the title of this post however. Not only is it about a hack as in a nifty solution to a problem, but it also involved chopping said jumper apart with scissors.

As I've mentioned before, the bodices of standard size clothes are always too long for me. This isn't an issue with fabric clothing, as I mostly make my own, but woollens are a problem. Making my own isn't an option, as I can't knit or crochet for toffee.

To make matters even worse, knitwear from the 1940s and 1950s tended to be shorter than today's styles, so I have absolutely no chance of finding anything to go with the sort of clothes I usually make.

1940s knitting patterns from Vintage in a Modern World

But then the wonderful Lauren of American Duchess mentioned in her blog that she'd shortened all her sweaters, and included a link to a how-to post. I really wanted to have a go, so off I went to the local charity shops.

I found this red, fine-knit, number almost straight away. Tucked into a skirt, it doesn't look too bad.

Vaguely 1950s

But worn over the skirt, it's supremely unflattering.


For hacking purposes, it had the advantage of being the same colour as one of the two spools of woolly nylon thread I own (woolly nylon is vital to the job). I won't go into details of what I did, as it's all in Lauren's post.

I must admit I was a bit nervous before I started. Not about Lauren's instructions, but about my ability to follow them. Taking scissors to knitwear has the potential to go horribly wrong, but I reasoned that even if it was a complete disaster at least Barnardo's had gained a fiver out of it.

The one thing I will say that if you don't have a needle threader, buy one before you try to set up your sewing machine (yes sewing machine, you don't need an overlocker/serger) with the woolly nylon - or prepare to go mad. The only other thing I'd add is don't worry if your seams look a bit stretched and rippled immediately after you've stitched them; the steam iron is your friend here.

I'm thrilled with the end result. At last, a jumper that's the right length! Thanks Lauren!!

Now I really don't like those before and after pictures where the 'before' features a glum, unkempt model with appalling posture, and the 'after' shows the same person standing up straight, with a radiant smile and perfect hair and make-up: the implication being that the 'Acme Wonder-Wotsit' can fix all these things, and probably make you a nice cup of tea as well. So I tried to keep my 'after' pictures as close to the originals as possible, including keeping the large button, which I will remove.


Well, when I say 'as close to the originals as possible', there was one teensy, weensy change in some of the photos. See if you can spot it.

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Merry Christmas!


  1. YES! I'm so glad to the tutorial worked for you! It really opens up a whole new world of knitwear possibilities, doesn't it? Your revised sweater looks absolutely perfect. Well done!

    1. Thank you Lauren! I shall be haunting the local charity shops now, looking for more suitable candidates for the chop!