Cardigan Refashion With Lace [Design Details]

By Mariana Kirova

This article explains the design elements and details done for a casual cardigan refashion with lace, supported with pictures of the materials, the features and the embellishment technique used in the project.

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The Cardigan Refashion Look "After"

The casual cardigan, thrift find from local charity shop, is enhanced by adding lace applique, button & loops closure and detachable fur collar. Now this garment is for sale in my new Etsy shop, with free gift a glass bead necklace.

The Look "Before"

I was drawn from the colour and the texture of this casual three quarter sleeve cardigan, acrylic sweater material, when I was hunting for materials in a local charity shop.

As I usually do, while still in the shop I looked around for colour matching materials or accessories. That's how I found the rabbit fur scarf (in fact I found four of those in different colours, I was lucky that day!).

The Materials

All these materials are from my gathered by different "eco" ways stash, such as thrifting from charity shops, second hand purchases from other people that I or my friends know, or from local designers who sell their materials before closing their business (recent years, unfortunately, some small fashion designers from Perth needed to close their businesses).

The buttons are something I found stitched as embellishment on another thrifted shirt I had in the pile.

The lace is a treasure of mine that I purchased from a local designer, who was closing her business and was selling lots of her materials.

In my box with lace and satin ribbons, bought some time ago from a friend's sister, I found the blue ribbon and used it for loops for the closure.

TIP: Use what you already have to find clothes to refashion

There are different ways and places to buy useful second hand materials and gather a good stash. In terms of fabric, textile remnants, roll ends and leftovers is good idea to collect specific colours & textures, you'd love to work with. With time you will build up great stash to execute your ideas. Or you might have already inherited some vintage treasures from your mum or grandma (even more pleasure to work with).

When you have great material in your stash, cut a piece of it and go to the local op-shop or charity store. Find the best matching garment and create a vision how you can redesign it. Thus, you will have better choice to find what to refashion, but also you will do it with what is already in your stash.

The Technique

The main sewing technique to do this cardigan refashion with lace was lace applique (also appliqué). It has lots of uses, often used for special occasion gowns and separates.

In this case I used special type of lace material which can be cut without causing the lace to fray. Hence, the fabulous special cut-away lace look.

Another great thing of that lace is you can stitch smaller elements of the lace without spoiling the look. Which also means almost nothing is wasted.

Stitched lace at the back

When sewing lace applique the lace is top stitched onto the garment. Usually (and easier) with free-motion sewing (like the free-motion quilting).

However, it can be done with a normal foot & straight stitch (plain stitch) sewing machine, industrial or domestic. You just lift up the foot and change the direction whenever is needed so the lace is stitched in place.

To retain the stretch of the material at the back and the shoulders, I attached the lace only on some places, not entirely. This won't cause pulling when the garment is worn (see the picture of the back).

It sounds easy, yet still needs a bit of practice. Particularly with fine materials or with knit fabrics, as it was the case with the bulky material of this cardigan. For those who have some more experience, to sew the lace on the cardigan I loosened the tension between the presser foot and the feed dogs, explained also in the Zero Waste tutorial under the Tip: Adjust the tension settings on your sewing machine. This way the cardigan didn't pucker, however, the material needed constant adjustments, so the lace to be sewn on the right position (I don't like basting, so I didn't tacked in the lace and used only pins - thus, more adjustments while sewing).

You can see the details of the stitching on some of the following pictures, right (outside) and wrong (inside) sides of the cardigan. Check pics of the buttons & loops closure below, for example.

Back detail

Front detail

Sleeve detail

Hem detail

Buttons & Loops Closure

Neckline, buttons & loops details

The buttons I took from another blue shirt, they have slightly different shade, yet good fit for the cardigan.

For the loops I used regular satin ribbon which I folded in three layers along the length and stitched. It is not the regular rouleau ['ru:loh] loops cord you could do for this kind of closure.

However, in this refashion the main criteria for me was to find the best possible colour match. So, the light blue ribbon from my stash was exactly what I was looking for.

The loops were stitched on top of the inside edge.

So, to keep the good look of all finishes (sorry, I just wouldn't stand any fluffy or ugly finish, but that's just me;) on top of the loops inside I added some small details from the lace. Those details were appliqued the same way as the other lace.

Where there wasn't lace applique on the outside, though, I opened the supporting the closure band and stitched only on the band. Just after that I stitched a little bit, catching both the outside layer and the inside band (Sometimes I could be too particular, so feel free to skip those minuscule detailing).

However, that way I prevented more stitching to reveal on the right side of the cardie.

Close look inside: the loops' ends covered with small lace elements

The Eco Fashion Sewing Label

When attaching my Eco Fashion Sewing label I added a lace flower - more beauty on the inside :)

The inkjet printable A4 fabric sheets I use to print the EFS labels

The label is printed on the inkjet printable fabric that I stashed from a craft fair years ago. You can find this or similar printable material in the craft sections of your textile retailer. Just check if you have laser or ink printer. These are for inkjet printers.

I've heard there is a way to print on a fabric and set the ink with vinegar solution, yet I have to research for this to find how exactly can be done.

Adding Detachable Fur Collar-scarf

To add more versatility to this cardigan refashion I made a detachable fur collar from the thrifted rabbit fur scarf.

Watch the video-tutorial how to make it here.

The loops and the buttons stay inside the neckline hidden by the fluffy fur

Loops on the garment & buttons on the collar give alternative look for this cardigan refashion

The Versatile Look

The cardie with the fur collar

The cardie without the fur collar

I like the versatility of the detachable collar. Whit the collar, the cardigan looks great to put on and go out for a chill day or night out. But without the collar, the cardie could be a top part of an outfit and you can easily wear it inside a restaurant or a dinner party.

This cardigan refashion with lace is now listed for sale in my  Etsy shop. Frankly, untill now this is my favourite "casual" garment refashion. It has highly enhanced, beautiful unique final look; also the material is warm and very soft, let alone the lovely light blue colour. The necklace is a free gift for the lucky buyer.

Make sure you watch the video how to make the removable fur collar, no sewing machine is required.  Above are some pics of me presenting the final look at the end of the video. Despite being easy to do, this is a wonderful, good quality, pro-looking method you can use to attach removable easy to care for and long lasting collars. Fur or textile, they can be add on the neckline of many different garments with no collar or lapel.

Let me know below what do you think about it if you feel like chatty today;)

Happy refashion adventures,

Mariana ;)

Mariana Kirova

Mariana is passionate about garment upcycling and helping others to make their own upcycled clothing. Graduated with Award in garment construction from WAIFT, Perth WA, Mariana is not a main stream eco fashion designer. She makes unique eco-friendly garments from unwanted clothes and materials and believes that small fashion professionals and DIY sewers can embrace sustainability in garment creation, thus changing the fashion world for good.

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