Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

January Upcycle – Wardrobe sorting and Jumper mend


My pledge for the new year involved buying no new clothes, but I still have a large number, too many I would say, that aren’t used.

So, this morning, I rummaged through my wardrobe and identified those items that I could refashion, upcycle or mend. Many of these items are slightly scruffy-looking old favourites or they are items I’ve hardly worn because they don’t fit or I don’t like the style anymore.

In the past, I would have taken them to the charity shop, but now I’m actually going to mend or upcycle them. I realised that a few of the items, though quite old, have better quality fabric than you generally see these days and it makes sense to make the most of this.

Here’s the list:

3 shirts – oversized
2 short-sleeved t-shirts – faded
1 short-sleeved t-shirt – faded
1 pair trousers – size too large
1 pair 3/4 length trousers – again too large in general
1 pair of slippers – top worn out, but sole good
1 pair of slippers – look nice, but sole uncomfortably thin (no carpets in this house)
2 skirts – too long for my liking
1 skirt – length fine, but doesn’t fit at the waist
1 jacket – a bit short
2 jumpers – made of wool / lambswool, thin at the elbow

My plan is to gradually work my way through this list; it should keep me busy. There are so many good tutorials and ideas for upcycling on the web I’m sure I’ll be able to find some way to improve these clothes and start wearing them again.

Mending a jumper with holes at the elbow

Lambswool jumper - before and afterI’ll start with an easy mend. Jumper number 1, made of lambswool It has a hole in one elbow and is very thin on the other. I’ve decided to darn the elbows and then put elbow patches on. Elbow patches seem quite popular at the moment, they’re not just the apparel of choice for school teachers!


Jumper that needs mending

Matching wool for darning

Paper to make the patch template

Faux suede for elbow patches

Embroidery floss in matching or contrasting colour (whichever you prefer)

Leather needle (optional, depending on thickness of faux suede used)

First the darning – here’s an online tutorial.  Strangely I found that I was able to match the green easier than the blue. Sadly there wasn’t just a hole, but also a large thin area around it, so the mend was bigger than I first thought.

Jumper - elbow darned

Next, I made a template for my elbow patches. I folded a piece of paper into quarters and drew a shape corresponding to a quarter of the oval I required. When folded out you get the whole oval and using this method you get a good symmetrical shape.

The template was then used to cut out the elbow patches from the faux suede.

Elbow patches - supplies

Wearing the jumper I placed one of the patches in the correct place on the jumper, covering the darned area. You can use some tape to hold the patch in place while you take the jumper off. Alternatively, get someone else to pin the patch in place. I then lined up the other patch to match on the other arm.

Finally, I sewed around the patch with three strands of my embroidery floss using blanket stitch. I used a leather needle, as the faux suede is rather thick.

Elbow patch - close-up

Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

3 thoughts on “January Upcycle – Wardrobe sorting and Jumper mend

  1. They look as though they have always been there! Well done.

    • Thanks for your kind comments. I’m rather pleased with the way they turned out. Unfortunately, I’ve found two more holes in this poor jumper since! So a bit more darning still is required!

  2. I love the elbow patches – so cute!

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