Vintage Sewing

Using Hand Sewing to Salvage a Vintage Sweater

August 19, 2011

One of the things I’m always looking for at thrift stores is vintage and high quality cashmere sweaters. I know I can go to Macy’s after the first of the year and buy a new cashmere sweater for $49.99, but cashmere is one of those items that it is true that you get what you pay for. After touching Pringle, or most other Scottish cashmeres, you’ll never be content with Charter Club again.

As with many used items, you really have to be careful about condition when buying used cashmere. Some advice: 1) If it pills, don’t buy it. 2) Learn to mend small holes 3) Don’t be afraid to hand wash cashmere. I use conditioner shampoo.

I recently found a nice tan Pringle, button front with a collar. I knew I’d wear it a lot, but there were two issues – the elbows were getting thin, and there was a small hole. I learned a long time ago that holes are just part of owning cashmere, and that if I was to wear it, I’d have to learn to mend them. So I did.

The elbows were a larger problem. I decided to go with patches. I like the look of elbow patches. I can remember a time when all men’s sweaters had them, so maybe this preference is nostalgic in nature.

Here is where it is convenient to have a fabric stash. A stash is not hording. A stash is made up of fabrics and trims and buttons you love and can see yourself using. My stash is carefully edited! I had no problem finding a fabric I liked, a Pendleton plaid taken from a skirt made unusable by the presence of multiple moth holes.

I cut two identical ovals (being careful to avoid those pesky holes) and carefully pinned them to the elbows. I then used buttonhole twist to hand sew the patches to the sweater, using a blanket stitch. This is quite easy, the only problem being that it is easy to catch up both layers of the sleeve instead of just the one where the patch is applied.

There are a few more photos at my blog, The Vintage Traveler.

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