Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thrifty: Repairing My Favourite Sweater

My favourite sweater was purchased in August 1997, just before I headed up North to teach for a year. I was twenty-three years old, and just embarking on my teaching career. I loved this sweater. Blue, rust, chocolate brown, gold, all in a classic pattern. Plus, it was a cardigan. I wore it with jeans, I wore it with dresses, I wore it with skirts, I wore it with nightgowns.

The trouble is, this sweater was 100% wool. Warm, yes. Durable? Not so much. Wool tends to wear through wherever there's any steady rubbing or pressure. So, with time, the elbows gave out. A moth or a mouse nibbled a small hole near a button.

There were times when I thought I'd just felt the thing in the washer and make slippers out of it. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It's everything I want in a cardigan: nice fit, not too thick, beautiful colours, classic design. I just couldn't do it.

Today was what we call a "Two Fire Day" (fires in both the wood furnace and the kitchen woodstove); it was that cold. It was the day to fix my sweater.

 First I had to choose a fabric that would be both complimentary and quirky!
 Next, I created a pattern for a patch large enough to generously cover the holes.
 A small book inserted inside the sleeve offered a good flat surface on which to stitch (and ensured that I don't catch the other side of the sleeve). Peter Rabbit is the perfect size!
 Using an iron, I pressed a rolled hem around the edges of the patch, then used embroidery floss to stitch it onto the elbow of the sweater.
While sewing, I noticed a few stitches that were beginning to "ladder", so used a crochet hook to pick them back up, then secured them with a stitch.
Not so scholarly as leather patches on tweed, this dear sweater of mine feels even more mine with the addition of pretty patches.

The patch over the hole in front wanted to be a heart-shape. Now, instead of looking ragged and worn, this beautiful garment has years of life in it, and will be worn proudly until I wear through the patches.


  1. Ahh, MUCH better than slippers (though those would have been great too - as all your work is)! So very YOU. I love that photo of it hanging on the back of the chair, light streaming in, kitty in the background. WONDERFUL!

  2. What a brilliant idea! I am still looking for a sweater that 'feels like mine'....I know it's out there somewhere and I keep searching. I do have a NZ wool sweater with a hood, zipper and pockets...that I purchased when I lived there, but it's thick and lined with fleece so I wear it as my 'winter coat'. It remains to be my favourite but too warm to wear when I'm indoors. I'll keep looking, one day it will come to me.

  3. I actually like it better with the unique repairs! Thanks for sharing, as parting with something so versatile is not easy, and now you have revived it!


  4. wow, well done! it looks cool. pretty patches are much better than tweed, i like them!

  5. they don't use the metaphor " like an old comfy sweater" for nothing!
    my youngest daughter was born in August of 1997. It was a fine year.

  6. What a fantastic idea. I have just the candidate for this at my house. A similar story about a much loved sweater. Thank you for saving it from a felting!!

    Hope you are staying warm, it is cold isn't it?!

    Jennifer@dark blue dragon

  7. What a fantastic idea - I always think of darning for patching knits, but I love the fabric patches. I have a vintage sweater that was mine when I was little that i'm passing on to my daughter, and there's a small hole in the front. A fabric patch would be perfect - thans for the inspiration!

  8. What a wonderful 'fix'!! Isn't it a lovely feeling to re-purpose a beloved (and useful) garment like this?!?!


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