September 27, 2010
Sweater Surgery by Stefanie Girard is one of the most fun books I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. My library is full of resource books, books with great patterns, foundation books and go-to books but not many FUN books. It is kind of scary at first shrinking and cutting a sweater but there is a freedom that regular fabric cannot give. Mistakes turn into great details, seams are lovely and size is irrelevant.
Stefanie takes you through everything you need to know to turn your old sweaters into something new and special: toys, purses, different sweaters or any accessory your wardrobe is lacking. She talks you through picking a sweater for your project or vice versa, felting (washing machine and needle), tools and notions, deconstruction, reclaiming yarn, you name it. Stefanie shows the reader how to look at the details of a sweater and use them to their best advantage: the bottom ribbing of a sweater becomes the cuff of a mitten, the buttons of a cardigan are the central design on a bag, and the reverse of a fair isle becomes an endearing softie. The projects are a little bit crazy and a little bit bold but only because of Stefanie's sweater choices. The bones of each project are on trend and adaptable to many styles. There is something for everyone because you can make it your own with sweater choices. The fabric necklaces in the book may be too bold for you but if you choose neutral colors and amber colored beads, the whole look of the necklace changes. It becomes a remarkable accessory, a conversation starter upon close inspection but not a neon sign.
Stefanie also includes home accessories in Sweater Surgery that are amazing. Just imagine soft, luxurious sweater pillows to snuggle with on your couch. Such pillows are costly and popular at all the high end boutiques but with careful selection at a local thrift store you can have the same look for under $10 instead of hundreds. There are also some great holiday decorating ideas and projects in this book.
Each project is well explained and some include patterns. In the back, there is inspiration with summaries of how to achieve the look yourself or to use as a starting point for your own creation. I chose to use a mistakenly felted cable sweater and turned it into a sweater dress for my little lady come winter. I cut up the center of the sweater and cut off the arms. I left the seams on the right side because I really dug the look in some of Stefanie's inspiration photos. I stitched with a 2 in seam allowance on the sides and then cut the seam down to ¼ in. I then stitched up the center with a ½ in. seam, leaving 2 in. open at the top (to make it easier to get it over her head). I cut 8 in off the arms and sewed the arms back on with a ½ in. seam stretching to make the arms fit. I trimmed all the seams to ¼ in. The dress fits perfectly and looks even better (it will be great paired with some polka dot or striped leggings). I may use the left over arm for a softie or arm warmers for me when knitting in the cold. This book has got my blood pumping for more sweater projects and I am excited to reuse some of my old sweater instead of tossing them.
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