Tuesday 26 January 2010

Play your Cardies right

Are you ready, are you ready for the fall?

So it seems we’re seeing the first green shoots of economic recovery, in what feels like aeons of deprived despair, otherwise known as the recession. Surely that’ll be something to smile about this winter, which we can look to with more hope than a year ago, when the worst of the impending doom was ahead of us… right?

Well… maybe. But I have been privy to some respectable scaremongering from “experts” in various fiscal institutions, via articles on tinterweb. Don’t be so easily fooled, they proclaim, and don’t start writing out your champagne lifestyle Christmas list yet. Some fear that we’re only seeing profits and improvements from companies in recent quarters because they’re cutting corners on costs, while others state there’ll be (shudder) an even worse downturn in the not-so-distant future if regulatory measures aren’t taken to ensure that the wunch (of bankers), responsible the first time around, start to change their ways and behave themselves. The scariest couple of articles mentioned a load of statistics and institutions which I can’t for the life of me remember and which I managed to crash my computer trying to find again on the net today. Still, regarding the latter point about banks sticking to promises and taking precautions, well, it didn’t take a fiscal genius to figure that one out, did it?

Let’s hope everyone becomes - and stays - less cavalier about letting money run through their hands like water than they were a couple of years ago. It’s even done me the power of good not having money to burn, over the past year, causing me to replace my habit of shopaholism with the natural highs of my own creativity.

Cut your coat according to your cloth, as my mum likes to say. I still like to spoil myself now and again - on something sensible. I already own an obscene amount of clothes, most of them summer weight, dating back to my days as a fashion student when I spent 12 hours a day, for 9 months of the year in a studio resembling dante’s inferno, never to emerge until the summer months. I need a staple, stylish winter item in which I can really wrap up warm for the season - a wardrobe essential, if you will. Looking to Vogue for inspiration, I found this feminine, frippery-free flight of fancy, by Paul & Joe. It’s warm, it goes with everything and it will only set you back… (sigh) £285!

…A whole season’s worth of a budget on one garment- thereby defeating the whole purpose of economising. Out of reach? Thankfully worse things happen at sea (and on Hollyoaks, but that’s some several other stories!)

It’s easy to cut your coat when your cloth’s only half a metre of black lace from Barry’s in Birmingham, 3m of black bias binding and a white cardi from the charity shop, coming in at a total of £9.50, leaving the rest to put away for a rainy day - or the forthcoming heating bill!



Very straightforward, bit fiddly and thankfully not difficult to get your hands on the raw ingredients. I managed to buy them all in one day and still have time for a hair appointment - as I bet you all really wanted to know!

Total Cost

About £10-16 depending on whether you’re lucky with charity shops, so if, like me, you are, then…

Save it!

… You’d be saving yourself £275, paying just over a 30th of the original price!

You will need

- A white cardigan. On this blog, I’d typically recommend a standard retail option, say from Peacocks or Primani, but this is the sort of essential, ultra-basic item you can often pick up in a charity shop for even less. I happen to be spoilt for choice on that front in my home town, making it the second-hand fashion capital of… ooh, easily the West Midlands - perhaps even the entire Midlands region, we can but hope. And the damage? Only 3 and a half of our British pounds, courtesy of Acorn’s Hospice.

- About 3 metres of black bias binding, maybe more for larger size cardies, at least 1″ wide.

- Half a metre of black lace.

- Sewing machine.

- Scalpel.

- Paper - lots of it.

- Pins.

- Compass.

- You might also want to use fray check on the raw egdes of your lace, that’ll whack on another fiver to your costs. Alternatively, you can stitch round your raw edges.

So, then, here we go…

- Fasten your cardigan and lay it flat, face down on your paper and pin it in place.

- Trace around the top edge of your cardigan and in a line like the one where the lace ends in the original, with pinpricks.

- Unpin your cardigan and trace around your line of pinholes with a pen.

- Cut your new shape out. This will be your back panel. Cut one of these out of lace.

- Fold your new back panel pattern piece in half and trace around it. This will be your front panel and you need to cut two of these in your lace.

- Use your compass to draw a semicircle about 11cm in diameter. Cut it out, fold it and cut it in half. Stick a diamond shape about 12cm long in the middle, between the two pieces. This will be your sleeve pattern piece. Cut two of these out of your lace.

- With your sleeve pieces, put some long, loose stitches along the top, pull your thread tight so that it ruches and knot it so that it stays in place. This will help your sleeves to billow out to capture the authentic romance of Victoriana.

- Pin your lace to your cardigan. I find it helps to tack stitch them in place and to take the pins out before machine stitching them on, otherwise it’s almost impossible to stitch your pieces on neatly, especially if you’re working on a ribbed cardigan.

- When your pieces are stitched on, slip stitch the bias binding together at the seams to get rid of any nasty white gaps.

…And that should leave you with a reason to be looking fabulous this winter, which should look something like this:

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