+1 Sparkly Cardigan of Arm-Covering

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Like a lot of plus-sized brides, I’m not a huge fan of my upper arms and wear half to full sleeves pretty much year-round. The thing is, it’s not so much the size of my arms that bugs me the most, it’s the pale-yet-blotchy skin tone that makes me feel more comfortable with them covered. That and my nervous habit of scratching at my arms if they’re not covered (which doesn’t help the blotchy skin tone).

All that to say, I knew from the beginning that I would be wearing a sweater, shrug, or bolero along with my wedding dress. And that I shopped for my dress with an eye towards compatible necklines.

Since I am most comfortable in knits, and I do knit from time to time, I figured I’d be happiest if I knit my own shrug, etc. and began looking for suitable patterns ages ago. Thanks to Duchess Katherine’s second wedding look (which included a cropped angora jacket over her evening dress), Vogue Knitting dreamed up a close-enough version and offered it as a free download. As usual, the sizing wasn’t quite right for me as written, so I decided to give the pattern a go in a larger, less fuzzy yarn and different needles and see how close that got me.

Color me shocked when my test-run turned out to be a pretty close match to the shade of dress I ended up choosing, and that the pattern adjustment was just right. Happy accident, that! All that was left was some sparkle to make it wedding-worthy.

Beaded trim, if you’ve never priced it yourself, is damned expensive. For good reason, mind you; it takes a lot of work, usually by hand, to achieve just the right look, but I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that we’ve got more time than money to put towards this wedding, and I’m already pretty adept with several styles of beading.

a beaded portrait (personal photo)

a beaded portrait (personal photo)

Since we Road Trips have a standing date with our DVR on Friday nights, I’ve been working on the necessary length to edge my cardigan (a little over a yard) during those date nights–it’s nice to have something to do with my hands while we’re otherwise vegging out.

I’ll do a better how-to of it in another post, but this beading took somewhere between 15 and 20 hours to complete. I’d have to check my receipts to see how much it cost me, but I know I’ve only used half the beads I purchased (I want to do more trim for the dress, plus a belt) and I doubt I’ve spent more than $50 total, so maybe $25 in materials, but something like $300 in time (at a rate of $20 an hour–not that high for custom hand-work).

Look at it sparkle! (personal photo)

The finished trim–look at it sparkle! (personal photo)

Even though I pinned out the length of ribbon I’d need to bead to trim the sweater, after hanging for a little while the neckline had “grown” as can happen with knits. It took a couple of tries before I got the trim and knitting to match up correctly without the body of the cardigan puckering, but it worked out in the end.

You can see some of the puckers on the right that I hadn't quite fixed yet.

You can see some of the puckers on the right that I hadn’t quite fixed yet.

To make sure the beading held to the knitted edges, I placed another length of ribbon on the back side of the knitting so that the trim would have something sturdier to anchor to. This also had the effect of stabilizing the edge of the sweater–it was curling in before the trim was added.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the sweater's edge.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the sweater’s edge.

And here she is, all ready for wearing!

All done! and, see, no puckers!

All done! and, see, no puckers!

A close-up of the beading along the neckline.

A close-up of the beading along the neckline.

One of the major “rules” about bridal diy is that you don’t plan something that means acquiring additional skills or expensive equipment. Thankfully this project required neither, just a lot of time.

Have you undertaken any ambitious diy projects lately?

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