June/July 2007 – A fun little summer project
I have a fun little summer project – moving from Alsace to a lovely village near Lyon with husband, daughter, son and all our belongings, including tons of yarn. Oh no, that was a mistake. That’s not my fun little summer project. That’s the BIG summer project, and the reason why there will be no newsletter in July. The fun little one is detailed below.
Crochet to update a garment
I’m going to describe how I made crocheted sleeves for a T-shirt. I will not give yarn requirements or detailed row-by-row instructions, because the whole point of this is to take a look at your wardrobe, another at your stash, and see how you can use small amounts of yarn to spruce up your own garments.
Instead of making new sleeves for a T-shirt, you can cut out and replace any part of a garment. It’s easiest to use a garment made from a machine-knit fabric (a T-shirt, a sweatshirt…), because the edges will not fray (or very little), so the need for finishing is minimal.
Even if this is an excellent playground for free-form crochet, I recommend that you make a swatch and wash and dry it as you plan to do with your garment. If the piece of garment you’ve « replaced » with crochet shrinks at a different rate than the garment it is attached to, the result will be neither beautiful nor comfortable.
I’ve had this idea for ages, and I bought a couple of inexpensive T-shirts at least two years ago with this project in mind. (Not too inexpensive, though – very cheap T-shirts age badly, and are not, in my opinion, worth the investment of your time and effort for a make-over). If I hadn’t had these T-shirts, I would have used any old garment in my wardrobe in need of a refresher.
The yarn you see in the pictures is DMC Senso in a variegated colour with pinks and oranges – left-overs from the « big accessory project » I told you about last month.
When choosing your yarn for this project, bear in mind the fabric of the garment you’re going to apply your crochet to. For a machine-knit T-shirt, use a relatively fine yarn, or even thread. If the garment is thicker (such as a store-bought sweater), you can go with a thicker yarn. Make a swatch and see how fabric thicknesses compare. The aim is not to get exactly the same thing – you will add texture and personality to your garment. But if the crocheted parts are much bulkier and heavier than the base garment, you might be disappointed with the result.
How I worked
So, I selected a T-shirt and the yarn I wanted to use from my stash.
I crocheted my swatch, washed it, and decided it would work. With sharp scissors, I carefully cut the sleeves off the T-shirt, following the seamline.
I kept the sleeves (one is actually enough) to use as a pattern for the new crocheted sleeves. Then I decided on the stitch pattern. I could have stuck with the simple dc I used in the swatch, but I decided to take the opportunity to try out a new stitch pattern. I wanted to keep the edges of the sleeves in solid dc, though, for easier seaming. Therefore, when pulling out my stitch dictionaries, I looked for a stitch pattern in which every row began and ended with a dc. I picked the Boxed Shell Stitch from the Harmony Guides vol 6.
I decided to work my sleeve from the top of the cap down to the sleeve hem. It would also be possible to work from the hem upward, or from one side to the other. I put the sleeve/pattern over the swatch to see how many stitches I needed to start with. The two center pins mark the number of stitches needed in the first row, while the two outer pins mark how many stitches need to be increased at each side in the second row.
I needed to increase 4 stitches at the beginning and the end of the second row (and of several others). At the beginning of a row, it’s easy to chain the extra number of stitches and increase that way. At the end of a row, I generally use a very simple method (found in a vintage crochet book by Sylvia Cosh and James Walters).
Use a length of yarn taken from another ball of yarn or from the swatch. Take your crochet hook out of your work (leaving a relatively large loop to prevent unraveling). Put the hook through the last stitch of the row and pull through the extra length of yarn. Chain the number of stitches you want to increase. Fasten off. Continue working, and at the end of the row, simply work one stitch in each added chain.
This method leaves two more ends of yarn to be woven in – but it is simple and straightforward. (And really, I don’t find weaving in ends that awful.)
So, I continued working my crocheted sleeve, constantly comparing it to my « pattern ».
The new sleeve should follow the outline of the cut-out one. A slightly larger crocheted sleeve will give you space to do the shaping and seaming. Avoid working the crocheted sleeve smaller than the original one – it will not fit into the armhole, and stretching it out of shape will not work.
With the new sleeve just off my hook, the comparison looked like this:
I worked the sleeve seams (in this picture, the part of the sleeve above the largest point of the sleeve cap) of the new sleeve straight, to give a little extra room for my upper arms (they need that).
Next step was, of course, to make a second sleeve. Here is the result, after weaving in ends and light blocking:
Before attaching the sleeves to the body of the T-shirt, I sewed the sleeve side seams, after folding each sleeve in two:
I attached the sleeves to the body with back stitch, using sewing thread and a needle. And here’s the result:
See the sidebar for modeled pictures.
And now, back to the BIG summer project!
See you soon!