I'd go so far to say there's a romance about Anthropologie. Embroidery, ruffles, swirling skirts, and to-die-for cardigans: A girl could reinvent herself.
But I discovered Anthropologie at about the same time I began to sew, and I can't help but critique the quality of their clothes. With the exception of prints and their heavier wools, you could purchase most of the fabrics at any local fabric store. What Anthropologie does best, in my opinion, is design. Their clothes really excel at all the little details that make something special (and can be easily replicated!). So if the fabrics aren't extraordinary and the details are easily replicated, is it worth the hundreds of dollars you'll likely drop shopping there? Is the product-money exchange even?
Coming right after my post about American Apparel's Circle Scarf, I feel a bit like I'm company-bashing, but that's not my intent. The DIY-movement, to me, is all about empowerment. We can define value rather than having a company or a culture tell us what's valuable. We can exercise our skills to recreate the things we admire. We are makers.
But when I saw my dear friend Tarra wearing Anthropologie's Breezy Ride cardigan (above), I found myself trolling the internet to snatch one for myself within a day's time. It was classic and playful and gamine-esque in all the right ways. The chiffon yoke! The bow! The contrast buttons! Sigh.
I'd been converted.
But I dilly-dallied on purchasing the sweater, which was on sale for $48 down from $99 and when I'd finally decided to get it, it had sold out. So I did what any self-respecting DIYer would do. I went to the thrift store and bought a v-neck black sweater (of which there were slim pickings) and an oversized polka-dot chiffon blouse (unfortunately I couldn't find navy chiffon, as in the original, so I got black). I also bought mustard-colored buttons.
Not cutting the v-band, I measured 4 inches from the shoulder seam on both the front and back of the sweater, marking horizontal lines for the yoke. I cut 1/4 inch from the edge of the v-band and sleeve seams, leaving this extra fabric for seam allowance.
Then, I laid the cut yoke on top of the blouse's shoulder seam, traced it, and cut 1/4 inch larger than those traced lines (for seam allowance). Attaching the chiffon and sweater knit was tricky, but in the end I hand-sewed it, then straight-stitched it on my machine, then serged the edges.
I made the bow using one of the blouse sleeves, creating two strips measuring about 2.5 x 13 inches (I'd make them a bit longer next time, say 16 inches), with a diagonal edge on one end, two inches in on the short side. I sewed two identical pieces together and turned them inside out to enclose the stitching, and did it again to make the other tie. I then secured the raw ends of the two ties right next to each other on the outside of the v-band on my left side for the bow.
Ta-da! Anthopologie cardigan Made by Ali. It's my Tarra Cardigan, 'cause I think of her every time I wear it.
It's not perfect. The v-band sort of sticks up (see image below) which I think is a combination of the heavy knit, lightweight chiffon and the fact that this is a large sweater, so it's pulling/laying imperfectly on my frame. The pattern on the knit takes away from the clean shapes of the polka dots. Finally, the sweater is longer and wider than the original inspiration and the ribbed band can be really unflattering and I'm tempted to chop it off.
But what I love about it is 1) I pulled this off and 2) I can throw this on anything that has a slim bottom and add instant snazz. Seriously, if I'm wearing my usual palate of dark jeans and a dark knit top, this bad boy can make me feel more formal and more stylish. And, I'll add 3) Unlike most of my sewing projects, this'll get major mileage 'cause this is a cardigan and so it has near daily wear potential.
What about you? What's your favorite cardigan, and why do you reach for it so often? Have you done interesting sweater refashions? Thoughts on Anthropologie -- is it worth it for a DIYer?
Link-love on sweaters, cardigans and refashions:
- Grosgrain's Embellished Knit Month (a refashion daily in November! Lots of Anthropologie inspiration!)
- A Yen for Craft, my gal-pal Jessica refashioned one sweater a month this October
- Adventures in Dressmaking leaf-sweater makeover