Last year while bargain hunting at the local Goodwill store, I grabbed a nice old Scottish wool sweater. It’s a basic charcoal grey, manly-sized affair, with a couple small holes, otherwise, a nice, warm and fuzzy wool. I figured for under a dollar, I could turn it into something. After a few hot water washes to shrink it down, I decided to transform it into a sort of indoor-outerwear set to fend off the chill of our wintry Vermont house.
Now, I generally wear at least two sweaters all winter. Two layers of sweater sleeves and sweater waists and sweater arm pits can sometimes feel, well, a bit bulky. So I thought, why not make a sweater cape! Granted a mini cape, because I don’t want to look like some geeky medieval role player while I’m typing away at the computer all day. A capelet would be just the ticket. Once my little capelet was done, there was still so much extra sweater leftover, so why stop there? I added a pair of keyboard-friendly fingerless gloves, and a little flannel-lined neck cowl and now the ensemble is complete. I still have some extra sweater, so maybe I need a matching beverage coozy or ear muff or ergonomic wrist pad. Hmmm, we’ll see about that.
The capelet came together quite simply. I laid the sweater out flat and then measured and marked with chalk a 14″L line from the neckline to just under each armpit. I connected the lined with a curved bottom hem, measuring down 14″ from the base of the sweater neck and marking with chalk. I cut along these lines and opened up the sweater, so the back and front lay flat on my cutting surface, with the neck hole centered between.
Next I cut open the sweater sleeves along the inside hem, cutting away the stitched seam. I fit the sleeves into the gaps between the front and back of the sweater, wrist end to the neck hole. This gave me something that looked a bit like a Greek cross. I trimmed the sleeves down to 14″L from the neck line, so they follow the hemline of the front and back pieces.
To assemble the capelet, I first stitched the arm cuffs to the base of the sweater neck. I overlapped the fabric slightly and used a zigzag stitch, which disappears nicely into the thick wool. Next, I used the same technique to sew down each 14″L side: front sides to arms, back sides to arms. I finished the bottom hem with a quick hand-stitched rolled cuff. When it’s all assembled, the ribbed wrist cuffs on the arm pieces delineate a nice little shoulder section, and separate the front and back of the capelet.
For the matching fingerless gloves, I roughly measured a length of leftover sweater hem around my hand, and cut a rectangle. I folded the rectangle over, right sides together, and zigzag stitched from the finished hem down about 2.5″. Below the stitching, I folded each side over and zigzag stitched down another 2.5″ to keep my thumb opening from fraying. I then folded the tube closed again, right sides together and zigzag stitched closed the remaining 4″ of tube. End product is an enclosed tube with a 2.25″ slit for my thumb. I hand-stitched a rolled cuff, to match the capelet hem. You can wear the gloves with the ribbed finger cover folded down or up depending on the degree of warmth and finger mobility you need.
Finally, I realized a had enough sweater left for a neck cowl. I was able to cut out two pieces about 5″H x 13-15″L. I sewed them together end to end to form one long sweater rectangle about 5″H x 29″L. This wool is a tad itchy, so I decided to line the cowl with some soft fabric. I had some extra flannel from a nightgown redo, so I pieced together a matching 5″ x 29″ section. I pinned the sweater and flannel together, right sides facing, and stitched most of the way around, leaving a 3″ opening. I turned the sweater/flannel tube right side out and them top stitched around the perimeter, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance and closing up the hole. I added a large button and sewed on an elastic hair band as a closure. Then folded back one end and secured in place with a decorative button to expose a little of the cheery, cardinal patterned flannel.