Thursday, October 28, 2010

DIY: Sew An Organic Sweater (with hoody!)

Armed with some sustainable Organic Cotton Fleece and Bamboo fabric I decided to take the challenge of making my own organic sweater for the winter. Organic clothing can be really pricey, most times far out of the range most people want to spend and when it comes to organic cotton winter wear it's even worse...although worth the $$$ to those with sensitive skin, chem sensitivities or eco minded ethics, sometimes we just can't pay $100 to stay warm.
This is why DIY sewing skillz can be a big money saver, not to mention a lil' creative fun. I am not the best at sewing to be honest, each project is a lesson...
so here is what I learned & how I did it....
I took a shirt I made a few years ago, and used it to make a new pattern.
When making a pattern from a garment you already own here are two important tips:
  • Make sure to trace extra room at all the seams where you will be sewing (see pic below)
  • Check for differences in the fabric, like stretch vs. not so stretchy and adjust accordingly

Once you trace your pattern cut it out with scissors.
I cut out the body part and the sleeves separate, because I planned on sewing them together later.
Making a hoody is actually super easy, like making a basic pillow!
Trace a hoody you already have, which will make a pattern for one side of the hoody. Both sides will match and be sewn together.
You can always test the paper pattern on your head to make sure it will fit, and to see how long the neck part may need to be to meet the back of your sweater.
Lay out all your pieces on the fabric and make sure you have enough. I ended up not having enough purple organic cotton fleece for the hoody and used more bamboo fabric instead.
To make cutting out the pattern you made easier, pin it down to the fabric. I totally hate this part for some reason and always try to find ways to get out of it... but it never turns out right without those pins holding it right in place.
Once the pins are in, you can cut out the fabric pieces that will be sewn together.
I doubled the fabric so that I could cut out the back and front of the sweater all together.
I then took my sweater cut outs, and pinned them to the bamboo fabric I wanted to use as a warm smooth lining inside the organic cotton sweater.

I made the sleeves separate, and after sewing together the seams for the body part of the sweater, i added on the sleeves.
I did a tight zig zag stitch on the outside of the sweater so that it could have that cute handmade look.
The hoody got cut out and sewn on last....
END RESULT #1 ::::
The sweater is SO amazingly soft and warm, but was feeling a little tight because the fleece didn't have much stretch... (some organic cotton does and some doesn't, bamboo typically stretches.)I could have taken out the inner seams and loosened it up, but then i got another idea!!!
NEW IDEA! :::::
I cut down the entire front of the sweater and sewed some zig zag seams along those sides to hold in the bamboo lining.
Then I took the bone awl Urban Scout made me (see pic below) to punch holes evenly along those seams.
I used the bamboo lining scraps to create a corset, lace up front for the sweater that way the size could adjust with my needs.
ADorabLe & SeXy!! It has a hardcore fairy feel to it now, and I like it even better. :)))
Yes? Yes!
The Bamboo Fabric Store, see more.
Near Sea Naturals (who now carry Spiritex local organic cotton), see more.


Teresa Evangeline said...

Innovative, creative and courageous. That's you. I'm so glad you are out there, showing us how it can be done with compassion and wit and wisdom, born of real experience. Thank You.

Stephanie Rogers said...

Love it! I need to make myself something like this!

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Thanks so much Teresa :)
I like to think that someone sees compassion in my sewing project, ha! :)))

Stephanie -
The organic cotton is made locally... we used to be able to get it downtown asheville, NC right at the spiritex store but they don't carry it there anymore. I wrote the owner Daniel Sanders and he left some fabric for me to pick up, and showed me that it can be bought online at Near Sea Naturals (who are now local too and share a warehouse with Spiritex.)
I put the link in the post... but i think you can write Daniel and ask for a discount code!

Aaron-Paul said...

I love this top can you make a guy version ! ;-)

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Aaron Paul!
Actually while I was making this one I was thinking about making a guy version -
consider it in the suggestion box and coming soon....
Until then, here is how you could make a dude organic sweater:
Instead of making it fitted to a woman's body, measure & trace your pattern from a looser man shirt, then add in sleeves. You can control the fit by choosing a shirt you already have that fits you good as the pattern. :)))
I also thought it would be fun to add in pockets, and I think i will do that for the guy pull over.

Liberty said...

very cool! what an undertaking!
I admire you actually doing all that pinning!!! I despise pinning and don't do it. I just draw onto the fabric (on the back - not the front) with a marker and cut out. it's never exactly perfect but I tend to not care... it's worth the lack of pinning!
I also hate pinning two pieces together... I rarely do that either... do you?

I love your solution to the slightly-too-tight-ness :)

shabnam said...

wow.... just brilliant!!! hats off to you!!

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Liberty...
I might admire myself for actually pinning too, I do it by force...!! lol it's so hard to convince myself I have to do it.
What kind of marker do you use? Maybe I need one of those or a chalk pen, to skip the pinning.
Once I have the two pieces I don't think i ever pin them together unless it's crazy complicated, usually they line up so easily I can see where to go with it.
I suppose for the anal they may want to pin the exact seam line so they dont go off measurement while sewing? I think I am working towards becoming anal! ha

Thanks Shabnam... hope you get to try it out. :)

Liberty said...

I use whatever marker I have lying around. I've also used ball point pens. if the fabric is light enough that I am afraid the marker will bleed through, I se a really light marker like yellow or pale pink and I use a washable one (like kids crayola washable markers). another option it to draw the line a few millimetres farther out than I need it and then cut just inside the marker line - so there is no marker left on the piece I am sewing with.
sometimes it helps to put a few books on top of the paper and fabric to help them stay in position while drawing.
the nice thing about using something to draw the outline is that I skip the paper step entirely (as well as the pinning step).
I just put the piece of clothing I am copying on top of the fabric and outline about an inch all the way around.
It was neat to see I'm not the only one that sews by copying or adapting existing clothing! That's all I ever do :)

Lidia ZuniReds said...

I like it your ideas :)