Up-cycle a thrifted cardigan and look cute doing it

Have you seen those cute little cropped cardigans floating around the internet? Well I have and I wanted, oh how I WANTED, so when I was gifted a secondhand grey cardigan I decided to see if I could recreate it and I’m pretty thrilled with how it turned out. It’s dead simple, probably takes about 2 hours if that. Easy to customise, so if you want it tighter or with little ties at the front, for example, it’d be easy enough to do.

Unfortunately I’d made the bleeding thing before it occurred to me that I should have taken photos of the process, so the ones below are guidance photos based on another grey cardigan/jacket I have but don’t actually show any arty footage of things being cut or sewn. I’ll remember to take photos of the actual process next time, maybe…

Disclaimer: you could do this WITHOUT a sewing machine but it’d take a fair while longer!

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Cardigan
  • Sewing machine (or a needle for the patient)
  • Matching thread
  • Fabric scissors
  • Something to mark the fabric with, e.g. pins, chalk, fabric markers
  • Pins
  • A ruler
  • An iron
  • Pinking scissors *optional
  • Any additional accessories/decorations you fancy

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pop that baby on and make a mark at the length you’d like the cardi to be shortened to. Take it off and add about an inch to that measurement, use a ruler to mark a straight line so you know where to cut, then cut it. It’s easier to stay straight if you lay it flat.

Mark where you’d like the length to to be.

2. Once cut, put it back on inside out (this is very important!) and pinch along the side edges starting from the bottom of the sleeve down to the hem diagonally, making a triangular shape. Pinch in as much as you’re happy with so that it fits your body and isn’t too baggy. If it’s quite big on you, especially around the arm area, you can pinch down in a straight line instead of diagonally. Again, use something to mark this line so you know where to sew, no need to add a hem allowance.

Starting from the bottom of the arm hole pinch in the edges in a diagonal line to the hem until you get your desired fit. Repeat on the other side.

Or you can take in more by doing a straight line, bear in mind this will make the arm hole SMALLER so this might only be needed if the cardigan is big on you.

3. Take it off and use a ruler to draw a line where you’ve placed your mark then sew along this line. On jersey material (or stretchy material) when using a sewing machine use a wide zigzag stitch so the material doesn’t pucker and will still allow it to stretch. You should now have what looks like a triangular flap.

4. Cut off the excess material of this flap, leaving about a centimetre of material, you can use pinking scissors to stop fraying OR you could zig zag stitch or overlock stitch the edge of the fabric. (You can look up tutorials for this.)

5. Now, return to the bottom of the cardigan and turn up half of the hem material and then turn up again so you have what is effectively a fabric roll at the end of your cardi (see below images), press this down using an iron and sew it down in a zig zag stitch or hand-sew it in place. I chose to hand-sew because it was easiest on my stretchy material.

There you have it!

If it doesn’t have buttons you could either add some or easier yet make a tube out of scrap material and turn it into a little tie closure. Remember to try on your piece at regular intervals to make sure the fit is good for you (especially before chopping anything off).

I hope this helps you make something cute and on trend! It’s a great way to avoid dishing out like £20-30 on something that’s relatively simply to do yourself and helps rescue and repurpose old cardigans. 🙂

Meg x

Eco-friendly reading

Doing a Masters in Literature means a lot of reading, which means a lot of books. And I’m the type of person that prefers to have the book in front of me for annotation and the like. But generally these are books I only read once and end up donating or selling.

My problem last semester was that I was overwhelmed by coming back to university and having a reading list. It had been given to us just a smidgen too late to make ordering secondhand possible, which was an expensive bummer. On reflection, maybe panic buying them all new from Blackwells was not the best eco-friendly move. So I have a few tips for buying books that ends up costing way less, both economically and environmentally.

  • Buy secondhand (World of Books, Amazon Marketplace)

Buying secondhand means this term I’ve bought 6 books for £24, which is kind of the best thing ever for my pocket. My favourite site for finding secondhand books at reasonable prices is World of Books, normally they’re quite quick as well – I think it took four days for my order to arrive.

Another choice would be Amazon Marketplace – I know the issues with associated with using Amazon, but like seems to be the case with quite a few things, it’s the most affordable option. These are secondhand copies though, normally sold by individual sellers (remember to look at their trust rating before ordering).

I would make sure to be to looking at the quality description of the book (normally Good, Very Good, and Like New), I’m happy to go with anything that’s listed as in good condition and over. And they should arrive in the condition listed.

Obviously buying in charity shops is also a plus if you can do that. Unfortunately because I have specific books I need to get, this isn’t a plausible reality for me (boo).

  • Audiobooks (Library services & Audible, even podcasts)

Audiobooks are a recent revelation for me! I normally use them for my ‘personal books’, i.e. books I actually want to read!! I got Audible because I wanted the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series to keep for myself (Stephen Fry, Martin Freeman narrating gives me heart eyes). Audible is an expensive choice, so my alternative would be checking out your local library’s audiobook selection. Join your library and then download BorrowBox onto your phone, which gives you access to your library’s catalogue. So far I’ve listened to three good books whilst being able to potter around and do other things.

It’s great because it’s handsfree reading and takes up no physical shelf space!!

  • Libraries

This is the great obvious choice – join your local library and actually go in there! They’ll probably have loads on offer and it’s good to support a local convenience such as a library, so go on, have a look. Even go into your university library if that’s what’s there – amongst all the dry, critical tombs they’ll be fictional books that you can take out and read. Remember you don’t need to keep everything, books are nice but why not keep buying them for when you find something special that you really want to keep? Think of all that money you’ve saved. And all the trees.

  • Ask a friend or have a rummage around what you already have

You never know what a friend might have! Or even you might have buried away in the bottom of a shelf. Re-reading is no bad thing, as well, especially if you can’t remember the story or you know you enjoyed it.

I have a few other tips for your books, especially if you’re like me and a lot of them are ones that you wouldn’t normally choose for yourself:

  1. Annotate in pencil – this makes it easier for you to sell or donate them because you can erase the markings – you might not be able to sell them at all if you don’t.
  2. Donate or giveaway – if you’ve got a book you’ve not enjoyed why not ask your friends if they’d like it? I have quite a few bookish friends that would normally say yes! Or donate it to a charity shop of your choice.
  3. Sell old textbooks – you can google numerous websites that will do this for you and normally textbooks pick-up a bit more money than fiction.
  4. Crafts – if it’s damaged and worst comes to worst, then you can make your own books into decorations and use them for other craft purposes. Link to a website with some ideas here.

And that’s about it! I love reading and can’t imagine ever giving it up, but as with everything it has an impact on the earth. These are just a couple of ways you can buy into the ‘reuse’ part of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’.

Meg x