handmade holidays, day two: velvet bow sweater

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Day two of handmade holidays is a DIY embellished bow sweater, a quick and inexpensive way to make a thrifted sweater your own - for you or a friend. This project is inspired by Stella McCartney's latest Resort collection, which featured an amazing white maxi dress with black bow embellishments and a matching belt. I thought I'd make an easy-to-wear, winterized version in the form of a cream knit sweater with velvet bows, something you can pair with high waisted jeans for everyday activities or with a sequin skirt for holiday wear.

Things you need.. one lightweight knit sweater, a spool of washable velvet ribbon in any color (or any embellishment of your choice - mismatched lace, trim, etc), fabric glue, and pinking shears. You'll also be using safety pins and a sewing machine with thread that matches your ribbon.

The ribbon I purchased is washable black velvet ribbon 5/8 inch wide, in a 3 yard spool. 3 yards allowed me 9 two-inch ribbons.

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To begin, make the velvet bows. Start by cutting a four-inch strip, which will serve as the bow loop. Fold the strip length-wise so the ends overlap in the center back. Cut a two-inch strip and place the edge of it inside the center of the loop, wrong side facing the two loop ends, and glue together, forming a T shape. Then, form a V with a 3-4 inch strip by folding at an angle in the center, and glue in place. Right side down, you'll then match the center of the V to the center of the loop, glueing in place, then wrapping the leg of the T around to the V center and glue over to finish. Pinking shears come in handy for trimming the bow tails, as they prevent fraying.

You can also use pre-made bows found in craft stores. They're generally found in the wedding section and can save you some time and cost just a bit more than ribbon. The satin ones would look kind of cool, I think.

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Pin the bows to the sweater with safety pins, getting an idea of how you want the layout to look. I had five bows in the front and two on each sleeve, but I could have used a couple more. Once they're pinned in their proper places, it's time to sew! Remove the safety pin carefully and sew two short rows of stitches along the center of the bow, on the loops but close enough to the center that the loops are free. Two short seams, about the length of the width of the ribbon, will keep the bows secure.

If you're anti-fabric glue, you can always use a glue gun and hot glue the bows together - but keep in mind, hot glue is not machine washable, which means you will have to safety pin the bows onto the sweater, rather than sewing them in place, so you can remove them when it's time for a wash.

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And finished!

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Thrift store sweater = 1.00 + velvet ribbon spool = 4.00 makes the project total 5.00 USD, not including supplies like fabric glue (which will run you about 5.00), safety pins, and thread. A cheap present - although this one, I think I'm keeping for myself.

More photos here!

Tomorrow, I'm posting a DIY that has nothing to do with bows, fabric, or sewing - I'm sharing homemade marshmallows! See you soon.