July 7, 2011

Add Support to a Bandeau

Kludging goal: Add support and shape to a bikini top
Kludging skill level: Beginner
Permanence: Semi-permanent
Starting materials: Bandeau top, old molded-cup bra, coordinating thread
Required tools: Scissors, sewing machine or needle and thread

I've had this retro-style bikini for several years but haven't gotten much use out of it due to the unflattering way the top fits. It tends to sag in the cups and ride up in the middle, due to the lack of reinforcement and the placement of the straps. It wasn't very flattering and had the potential for a wardrobe malfunction...

I decided to move the straps and add additional support in the cups. I started by removing the flimsy pads from the top (they slipped in and out of the inner lining).

I then traced the pad on the cup of a bra that had streched out in the band but still had usable, supportive molded cups.

I repeated this on the other cup, and cut out the cups (above the underwire) on the traced lines.
Note: If you need extra support and the bathing suit cups are big enough, you could keep the underwire with the bra cup when cutting it out.

I slipped the new cups into the bandeau and it improved the shape immediately.

I then snipped off the straps which were attached in the middle of the bandeau.

I tried on the top and decided where the best new location for the straps would be for the most support (this ended up being about the midpoint of the cups). I sewed the straps on to their new location.

Greatly improved!

No more sag...

...or risk of flashing!

April 18, 2011

Restoring a leather bag

Kludging goal: Redye and condition a leather bag
Kludging skill level: Beginner

Permanence: Semi-permanent
Starting materials: Leather bag, leather dye, leather creme, mink oil or similar leather protectant

Required tools: Rags, kitchen sponge

I found this gorgeous purple leather bag on eBay and fell in love, but it's seen better days. The leather was dried out from lack of conditioning, and the dye had been worn off the seams. Otherwise the bag was in wonderful condition--  the leather without stains or scratches, all the seams perfect, and the lining clean and free from holes.

Faded leather and worn seams
 The color of the bag had faded to a reddish purple. You can see the difference between the original bluish hue (protected under a flap) and the faded reddish hue here:

I decided to spring for the bag as well as a leather dye and creme kit to restore this bag to its original beauty.

Tarrago shoe dye and creme kit in Purple, purchased online. $15 including shipping.

The first step was to prep the leather for dye. The kit included a preparing solution which is applied with the scrubby side of a kitchen sponge. This removed any dirt or leftover conditioning wax that would keep the dye from penetrating the leather.

Next I applied the dye to the most worn areas like the seams and strap. I admit that at this point I started to worry about the color matching, but since I knew I'd be treating the whole bag with coordinating leather creme later, I continued.

Dying the seams

After the seams were dyed, I applied the coordinating leather creme with a rag, working it over the whole bag.

The creme made a world of difference in correcting the faded color and restoring the leather's softness and lustre.

Reddish faded areas corrected with leather creme

Next I buffed the entire bag with a soft rag. I found the easiest way to do this was to put the bag over my knee.

Finally, I gave the whole bag a nice coat of mink oil to further condition and waterproof the leather. This also served to even out any irregularities in the color.

All done!

Seams after treatment...and before.

I'm very pleased with the final result. I can't wait to carry this bag for years to come!

February 4, 2011

Update a Turtleneck Sweater

Kludging goal: Remove turtleneck from sweater and repurpose as embellishment
Kludging skill level: Intermediate
Permanence: Permanent
Starting materials: Turtleneck sweater, matching thread
Required tools: Sharp scissors, needle

I received this heavy knit turtleneck sweater as a hand-me-down. The sweater seemed well-made, and I liked the soft, thick yarn and the charcoal color, but, due to what my mother lovingly refers to as my "pencil neck", turtlenecks just don't work on me.

Nice on the mannequin, bad on me.

I discovered that the neck piece (which is knitted separately, then attached to the neckline), rather than being sewn on, was attched by a knitted 'rib' (perhaps even by hand?). This would make it easy to remove the turtleneck piece, leaving a crew neck.

That rib around the neckline = sweater is well-made.

The first step was to turn the sweater inside out, then put the tip of the scissors into the 'rib' that was formed by yarn that covered the joint where the neckline and turtleneck met.

Cutting into the rib.

I continued pushing my scissors along inside the rib until it was opened the whole way around.

This uncovered the finished edge of the neckline, which had been hidden inside the rib.

 Now I needed to remove the turtleneck entirely. I did this by locating and then snipping the yarn that was stitched through the now-exposed neckline, then into the turtleneck.

This was tedious.
 As I snipped away, the turtleneck came off until, voila!

There were a few places where the knit pattern ended in visible knots or loose yarn (this had been hidden by the rib).

In the front...

...and at the shoulder seams.
 This was easily remedied by knotting any longer loose yarns, then tucking them in and securing by hand stitching a few times.
All cleaned up!
 I now had a perfectly good crew-neck sweater.

...but I decided not to stop there. I cut the leftover neck material into two uneaven strips, one with two raw edges, the other with one raw edge and the existing finished edge.

I rolled the larger strip into a tight spiral, and stitched through the bottom edge few times.

I continued rolling, letting the spiral get looser and looser, and then stitched through the bottom edge again.

And this made a ruffly rosette! I stitched it to the neckline of the sweater.
Peony-esque, no?
I repeated this same technique for the strip with one finished edge, resulting in a neater, less frilly rosette. I sewed it next to it's larger counterpart, and voila!

All done!
I'm really happy with the way this turned out. Embellished sweaters are everywhere this season, and I got a good fitting one for free after just a few quick alterations.