Welcome Jenny Wilding Cardon, author of ReSew andThe Little Box of Baby Quilts. Her designs have appeared on the covers of Quilts and More and Quilt It for Kids, and in McCall’s Quilting. She writes about her sewing, thrifting, and family life at the WildCards.

Own What You’ve Sewn (A testimonial. And a tutorial.)

Hi! I want to thank Kathreen for inviting me to guest post at Whipup, which I’ve been happily following for a few years now. The ideas she brings to my screen are always fun and inventive and inspiring. But you know why I fell in love with Whipup in the first place? The manifesto. Have you read it? It’s written with humor. And it speaks to what I believe in my heart about all things handmade. Because I believe handmade can change the world. Well, maybe not the whole world. Not all at once. But it can change yours. It has mine.

I started designing clothes in high school. I had no idea what I was doing. It was fabulous. The pieces I created were eccentric, oddball, attention-grabbing, and sometimes, downright wacky. Too shy to draw attention to myself, I would force my more confident friends to wear my creations to school. When people found out I had made this or that, they would ask me about it. “Did you make that?” they would say. I would look down at the ground, turn on my heel, and walk away.

I loved the stuff I made. I just didn’t have the guts to “own” it.

During my college years, making stuff took a back seat. I tossed my passion aside to focus on my degree. After graduating, I moved to Seattle and took a job as a copywriter with a book publisher. But not just any book publisher. A craft book publisher. I started making quilts alongside my co-workers. I started decorating my house with stuff I made. And then—after one of those daring fashion friends from high school reminded me—I started to remember how much fun I used to have making kooky, offbeat stuff with abandon.

The passion I had tossed aside and forgotten (much like a shrunken wool sweater) was back. And (much like a shrunken wool sweater) it was begging to be brought back to life and transformed into something I valued again. Something that would share a little about who I am. Something I could imprint my style and sass on. Something that spoke about me.

Since I started my passion back up—full throttle now—I’ve created an intention. My intention is to “own” what I make. Make no mistake about it: what I make isn’t just a piece of clothing, or an accessory, or a quilt or a rug or a bag. It’s also my voice, speaking to you. And that’s something that the big-box store down the street, sporting its racks and rounders jam-packed with the safe and the same, can’t do.

Maybe what you make speaks that way, too.

When it comes to speaking about what I make now, there’s no more heel-turning. I grind my heel into the ground. The stuff I make speaks first, on its own. But then I speak too. And here’s what I say. Family, friend, employee, coworker, stranger: “Did you make that?”. Me: “Yes”. There’s the testimonial. (Cheers if you got through it.) Now, on to the tutorial!

This is what I call a “sleevelet,” made from the sleeve of a shrunken wool sweater. (And looky above. I’m wearing it. How about that?). Read on to learn how you can make a sleevelet too. A WildCards tutorial: sleeve + bracelet = sleevelet!

What you need:
– A shrunken wool sweater (the sleeve needs to fit your wrist and arm snugly), scissors, embroidery thread, and a yarn needle.

1. (A) Cut any ribbed cuff off of one sleeve.
2. (B) Cut the remaining sleeve into at 7″ tube. (You can make the sleevelet longer or shorter if you want to incorporate part of a design or motif.)
3. (C) Turn the tube inside out. Turn one end of the tube right side out until the end meets the center of the tube. So for a 7″ tube, turn the end 3 1/2″ toward the center of the tube.
4. Repeat for the other end of the tube. Now both ends of the tube should meet in the middle. This is the RIGHT side of your sleevelet (the side with the seam showing.)

5. Thread your yarn needle with a long length of embroidery thread, using all six strands. (As an alternative, you could also use perle cotton or even yarn). Tie a knot at one end. Starting at the sleeve seam, bury the knot in between the two layers of the tube. Take two rounds of stitches. For the first round, use a whipstitch to sew the two ends of the tube together all the way around the tube, making stitches 1/4″ apart. For the second round, make stitches close together to completely cover the raw edges where the two ends of the sleeve meet. No need to stitch through both layers of the sleevelet; only stitch through the top layer. When you need to start or end your thread, simply knot the thread and bury it in between the tube layers.

And that’s about it. All done.

If you like making stuff out of stuff that’s already been made—upcycling, repurposing, refashioning, and the like—you can check out my new book ReSew: Turn Thrift-Store Finds into Fabulous Designs in this video, or at my blog, the WildCards.

Thank you again for having me here, Kathreen!