Sunday, 22 March 2015

Pimp my cardi!

As I’ve mentioned before, I have long arms and legs, and a short torso. This isn’t a problem for clothing; I just alter patterns to fit me. Knitwear is a different matter though. I don’t knit (yet), nor have I managed to track down any ace knitters who are willing to make me a suitably shortened jumper in exchange for a made-to-measure frock. So when I came across some pretty, cotton-rich, lightweight cropped cardigans in BHS which more or less fitted me, I was thrilled. The fact that they were 30% off was even better!

I bought one in purple, as I seem to have a lot of purple clothes either in my wardrobe or planned. Then, as it will be ages before I find anything similar again, I picked up a fawn one as well. The idea was that it would go with anything, but on getting it home there was no denying that it was a bit, well, dull.

It was just begging to be brightened up, and my initial idea was to use buttons, trim and lace. I have a substantial collection of pearl and shell buttons inherited from my grannies, but few of them are exactly the same, which limits their use as buttons. Rifling through my button box I found that I had so many buttons suitable for this project that I decided to omit the trim and lace, and limit the decoration to just buttons with holes in them (i.e. no buttons with shanks).

The cardigan, and part of my button collection

I knew that I only wanted buttons on one side of the cardigan, and was worried that the weight would stretch it out of shape, so decided to add a fabric facing, which I made from a lightweight muslin. I put the cardigan on Nancy inside out then (after checking several times that I was working on the correct side of the reversed cardi!) attached the muslin with a few pins, with the grain going straight up and down.

The muslin facing

After that I turned the cardigan right way out, pinned the muslin in place properly, and laid the front over my pin board. I played around with the buttons until I got a design I was happy with, and pinned them in place as well.

Everything pinned in place

Then I tacked each button on separately, and took out all of the pins.

Buttons tacked on and pins removed

The design consisted of three large buttons, with a smaller buttons scrolling around them. It didn’t look entirely clear, so I emphasised the scrolling with stem stitch in DMC number 5 perlé thread in ecru. Once the stem stitch was complete, I sewed the buttons on.

The embroidery highlights the scrolling design

Finally the facing was cut to shape, and the edges finished. Where possible, they were turned under and overcast onto the seams of the cardigan. Elsewhere they were finished with a narrow hem.

The completed facing

And here is the completed cardigan. It looks much less dull, and everything apart from the jumper itself and the wooden heart-shaped button came from my stash. Result!

The end result


  1. A really nice way to personalise some plain knitwear

  2. Oh how fun is this!!! I love the buttons on your cardigan!! What fun!