Spring is in the air, the sun is shining and I’m feeling creatively inspired! My latest refashion project features appliqué and a fresh set of buttons for a kitschy novelty sweater inspired by Susan Dannenberg’s creations from the 1940s.
The original, photographed by Nina Leen, appeared in an article on the designer Susan Dannenberg in the the January 27, 1947 issue of LIFE magazine. The same article also featured the much-imitated “Jezebel” design of a jewelled dagger through a heart. “Suse” (pronounced Susie) sweaters, hand embellished with felt appliqués, were high-end designer wear at the time, retailing for the equivalent of $1,000+ today.
For my version, I used a plain red cardigan from Rocket Originals as the base, adding handmade felt appliqué playing cards after the original. Never one to under-do a theme, I replaced the original plain fisheye buttons with cute playing card-themed bakelite buttons from The Swagman’s Daughter (note: these were in my stash; she now seems to have sold out of the red in the 1.8cm size I used, but she does have them in other colours, and in the larger 2.2cm size in red). As my new buttons are larger than the originals that came on the cardigan I needed to extend the buttonholes slightly, which I did by simply snipping through one end of the buttonhole to enlarge it by about 1/8”, then buttonhole-stitching around the end of the extended opening.
My favourite vintage harlequin circle skirt made a perfect partner - I love how the diamond pattern echoes the playing card theme, as well as the injection of bright turquoise into an otherwise fairly unimaginative colour scheme of black, white and red.