I had so many requests for a tutorial for the boat-neck sweater refashion I posted on Instagram a few weeks ago, and I finally got around to putting together a full tutorial - with pictures! The instructions are based on the steps I followed, but I was pretty much making it up as I went along and doing it by eye, so it's a bit vague in places. I also didn’t take pictures as I went, so I’ve illustrated the steps I took with sketches instead!
The original sweater caught my eye in a local charity shop - it was a men’s large size, but I liked the colours and the quality (it’s a modern Jantzen label), and saw potential for it to become a 1940s style Nordic knit. I originally anticipated re-making the sweater in the original crew-neck style, but once I cut it down I was immediately picturing a slash neckline in order to preserve that pretty snowflake yoke.
To prepare for the refashion, I started by unpicking all the (serged) seams to dismantle the sweater. Just to note (because I got a lot of questions about this!), fraying or unravelling doesn’t appear to be as much of an issue as I expected. I did make sure to handle the raw edges fairly gently, but it showed no sign that it was about to unravel, cartoon-like, into a pile of yarn.
Then I cut off the cable knit yoke above the snowflake design to shorten by about nine inches (I left a seam allowance of approx. ⅝” of the blue cable knit so as not to lose any of the snowflake design). I cut new armscyes, roughly based on a basic bodice sewing pattern. I also shaped the front and back pieces, tapering the sides in to the waist.
I also cut down the sleeves, again roughly following a sewing pattern for the sleeve cap shape, and measuring where the fairisle pattern fell so the design would line up in the new armscyes. It took a bit of trial and error to get the height and curve of the sleeve cap just right, but I love the slightly puffed 1940s style shoulder I ended up with on the second attempt.
I sewed the front and back together, right sides together. I don’t have a serger, so I used a shallow zigzag stitch for all the seams to allow for stretch. The sweater knit is pretty forgiving and the stitches disappear into the knit, so you can’t see that the seam line is zigzagged. When it came to setting in the sleeves, I lined up the pattern of the fairisle knit and pinned carefully in place. Again, the knit fabric is extremely forgiving so you don’t need to worry too much about being exact - you can ease a little this way or stretch a little that way to get it to fit together)
To finish the neckline I just turned the seam allowance under, dipping it slightly lower in the front, and zigzagged close to the raw edge (see close-up photos at the bottom of this post).
The finished sweater makes a perfect partner to this pencil skirt and beret set I made years ago!
Here are some detail shots of the actual sweater so you can see the stitching close up: