dull t-shirt refashioned into femme cardigan

lace trim

The fabric fairy has recently blessed me with an unusual windfall: more ribbon, zippers, trim and other notions than I know what to do with.

Included in the stash was bolts and bolts of vintage lace trim…everything from sweet little eyelet lace, to elastic lace for lingerie, to hand crocheted trim probably originally intended for someone’s wedding trousseau (the picture above is about one third of the collection).

purple V neck t-shirt black dye and black trims

I had an idea to use some of the lace in a t-shirt refashion that would turn one of my many plain, long sleeve t-shirts into something more interesting: a pretty cardigan, perfect for fall days when you need another layer but want something a little special…anything but yet another hoodie.

My vision was simple: lace ruffle, followed by a smaller, chiffon-type print ruffle, and finished off with a velvet ribbon. I wanted an ultra feminine look that was all about varied textures, so I knew I didn’t want all three trims to be the same, flat black.

I picked up some dye from the craft store, with the intention of getting my lace trim a dark gray. I chose a print instead of a solid for the smaller, chiffon ruffle to help it stand out in between the lace and the velvet.

lace trim dyed light gray chain weight in the hem

I was very pleased with the dyeing results, because the lace ended up looking just the tiniest bit lavender, perfect to sit against my dark purple t-shirt.

The hardest part of the whole project was spacing out the ruffles evenly, which naturally is par for the course for hand-ruffled trims. I finished off the project by sewing in a chain into the hem of the finished cardigan, a little couture trick from the house of Chanel.

The legendary Chanel jackets are never made with stiff interfacing; a chain in the hem weighs down the fabric enough for it to hang properly from the shoulder, without adding bulky interlinings and such to help the jacket keep its boxy shape.

final refashioned cardigan

I was quite pleased with the final product, and wore it out Thursday night with an apple-green cowl neck top, a wide black and white obi belt, and black skirt + tights + boots. I added my usual dangly earrings and oversized cocktail ring and I was good to go!

{Check out part 2 of just say no to boring cardigans: new life for an old sweater.}


13 thoughts on “dull t-shirt refashioned into femme cardigan

  1. Shari – there really are endless possibilities! I’m already looking through my closet for more shirts to cut up. 🙂

    Cristina – it was super easy, we should make one together one night!

  2. This is absolutel stunning. I’ve been looking at cardigans like this online, but the detail in this is more fabulous than any store bought versions I’ve seen. I am saving this idea!

  3. Deb, thanks for dropping by! I’m so happy you’re inspired by the refashion, and I’d love to see pictures of one that you make. If you want/need more detailed step-by-step, I’d be happy to share. Just let me know!

    1. Hi Wendy! I got my velvet ribbon and the black chain from my local craft store – Michael’s in this case. The lace I got from my stash, but any craft store or fabric store is likely to have lace trim as well. Good luck! I’d love to see pictures of the one you make!

  4. I’ve been eyeballing a similar cardigan at Boston Proper for too long but haven’t pulled the trigger because, frankly, I’m too cheap! I could totally do this and be way more happy with myself. AND, I can see an over-the-top version in the future on the same dime! Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Bethanie – you’re totally welcome. I would love to see both versions of the cardigan you make! I’m sure yours will be much cooler than the store version. 🙂

  6. Very cute! I love this idea.

    Thank you for the chain trick! I have a few ready-made pieces that I really need to use this on!

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