Cardigan Hack! aka- Saving Ugly Things From The Kon Mari Method

I made this cardigan almost exactly a year ago. It’s a vintage Kwik Sew 504. I have a serious weakness for vintage Kwik Sew, like seriously. I think that everything Kerstin Martensson designed was beautiful and it’s my favorite cover art. I really enjoy too how vintage Kiwk Sew was printed on heavy stock and has amazing instructions. Also, most things are just good basic knit blocks, which is right up my street.


I picked up this cardigan pattern and was immediately drawn to the glamorous wrap sweater version. I’m really into blushy pinks right now (and was last year too) (also who isn’t into blushy pinks? I feel like they’re just on their way out of having a major Moment) so I snapped up some petal pink wool knit from Mood of the perfect sweatery weight and sewed it right up. It is beautiful fabric and went together very easily using just my zig-zag stitch on my machine. I made a size small and wasn’t too fussed about fit because it’s a cardigan, duh. When I was done I loved it and even put up this instagram of it. But then I never wore it!

I was cleaning out my wardrobe recently and came across the cardigan. I had a Kon Mari moment. Do I love this? I don’t love this. I never wear it. I should get rid of it. Why don’t I love this? I should love this!

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I did a quick mental inventory.

Things I Love About This Sweater:

  • color
  • fabric quality
  • warmth
  • practicality
  • it fills a wardrobe hole– namely, warm and functional items that can survive a Chicago winter and also aren’t black

Things I Hate About This Sweater:

  • it only looks good with jeans, and even then it’s kind of questionable- with anything else it looks like I’m wearing a bathrobe.

And that was it! Only one flaw, but a big enough one that I was never reaching for this garment. So I decided to make a quick modification and see if that could save it. Because sometimes, yes, handmade garments go into the thrift store pile but it GALLS me to do it. Because this fabric and my time are valuable, and also because I hate throwing things out. I think it’s wasteful.

Sifu was having a 50% off sale because it’s going out of business, so I poked my head in to see if I could snag any yarn to reward myself once I’m done with my current knitting project. And what do you know, but the very first thing I saw when I walked in was these big, beautiful leather cardigan buttons– exactly the kind I’d been envisioning for this rehab! They were $3.50 each, which is bonkers. I always forget how much nice buttons cost. Luckily, these were 50% off so I snagged them for $7.00. A bargain! (Only people who sew would not only consider spending $7.00 on buttons, but to consider that a bargain!)

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The rest was simple. I marked the point where I thought the top button should be (the shawl collar is just fussy enough that I wanted to be sort of finicky about this…normally I would not give a crap), and then used this handy tool my mom got me for Christmas to perfectly and evenly space the four buttons. This is the BEST tool ever– I guess it’s called a Simflex? It’s the same one Tasia references in this tutorial.

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I made 1 1/16″ buttons using my automatically buttonhole machine, which makes making every buttonhole a dream– I don’t know how people who don’t have this tool suffer through buttonholes! Then I just sewed the buttons onto the front and was good to go! I’m expecting to get more wear out of this sweater now, which makes me happy. It also makes me sad to think of all the clothing items people must waste because of the lack of knowledge or skill it would take to do simple repair jobs (hemming, replacing buttons, taking something in). Just think– I almost scrapped this beautiful pink wool over four measly buttons!


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