Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sweatshirt Resize

I like to refer to the token sweatshirt from my undergrad days as the "$350 sweatshirt" because I received it after mailing in the $350 deposit to hold my spot when I decided to go to Clarkson. Of course they were indiscriminate in selecting the "welcome-to-college-thanks-for-the-first-of-a-lot-of-money-you-will-give-us" sweatshirt to send to me, and consequently it is a large . . . while I am not. Luckily, the late 90s were all about over-sized clothes, so in the grand scheme of things at the time the size was inconsequential. Not to mention that I was at an engineering school where dressing stylishly didn't feel all that crucial, except during job fairs (note to current students: sweatshirts are generally not acceptable job fair attire).
the 90s are alive in this sweatshirt
Fast forward to summer 2012, when I bought a sweatshirt from my grad school. My, how times have changed. Semi-fitted with a slight scoop-neck. What one might even call "trendy."
stylin' grad school swag
I wore the Clarkson one off and on through college, and sometime afterwards I passed it over to my mom, who recently passed it back over to me, and it has since been living at the bottom of the fleece & sweatshirt pile. Meanwhile, the one from Lesley is worn on a pretty regular basis since it fits nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I decided the Clarkson (CU) one needed a makeover in the style of the Lesley (LU) one.

Both sweatshirts are Champion brand, and clearly the company has changed with the times, since the general construction of the sweatshirts has updated:
  • (L) The '90s CU sweatshirt is your standard construction: a square tube (the body) with two slight trapezoids (sleeves) coming off each side at about a 90 degree angle, creating a boxy-cut with no shape.
  • (R) The '10s LU sweatshirt has smaller front and back panels, side panels that help create some shaping, and raglan-style sleeves that also create some shaping.
There wasn't enough material in the CU sweatshirt to completely remake it in the style of the LU sweatshirt, so the resulting re-size is a hybrid between the two. I started this project on Tuesday - it was rainy and gray and I am currently dog sitting. . . a perfect afternoon activity.

Sleeves: I cut off the sleeves and measured them against the LU, then pinned and sewed a new seam from cuff to armpit, trimming the excess with my pinking shears (leaving about a half inch of fabric).
off with the sleeves
eyeballing the new width

new arm seams
Body: I laid out the LU one on top of the CU one to get a rough idea of the width I wanted, and pinned from armpit to waist. There is slight shaping as the band at the bottom of the sweatshirt was only slightly larger than I wanted it to be. I sewed the seams and trimmed the excess, leaving about a half inch of fabric. A quick try-on and the fit is good!
eyeballing the size

attempting to make even side seams

much better fit.
some people pay a lot of money for sleeveless sweatshirts.
I am not one of them. nor should you be.
Assembly: Leaving the body of the sweatshirt inside out, I turned the sleeves right-side out and lined up the upper opening of the sleeve with the arm opening of the sweatshirt. I'm clearly an expert at this eye-balling thing as the sleeves each fit perfectly. Go me! I pinned the sleeves to the body so that there would be about a half inch seam allowance.
ready for reassembly
clearly I have excellent eyeballing skills
pinned for sewing
. . . And then my sewing machine stopped working. . .

It's an old Singer Featherweight that hasn't seen much action in the last few years, so I can't blame it for taking a break. . . However, when I took it to the repair shop, "teacher magic" kicked in and the dang thing worked as soon as the guy plugged it in (teacher magic is what I call it since it's often my students claiming something won't work or happen - usually in a lab - until I happen to be in the general vicinity of the students). Grr. Since I was already in Middlebury helping my mom with a gardening job, I took the liberty of using her machine to finish it up. When I sewed the arm holes I stretched out the fabric a little as I went around because I didn't have elastic thread, or a serger (wish list!), and I didn't want there to be any restriction in the seams.

Less than two hours (total) and one much-better-fitting sweatshirt emerged:
and done.
except for the fact that it's kind of too warm to be
wearing a sweatshirt right now.
what with the humidity and all.
Back in the rotation it goes!


  1. Great idea! I can't throw away great sweatshirts; can't wear them either!

    1. It fits much better now, I definitely will wear it more often (when it's not so hot and humid!). You could always sew them into throw pillows for the couch :)

  2. For some reason I didn't know (or maybe forgot?) that you went to Clarkson. Did you know that I finished my high school years out in Potsdam? It is still where my parents live and where I return "home" to visit.
    I just recently returned from NY and can report that both the Clarkson and SLU bookstores still sell oversize sweatshirts that seem to be popular with the hockey crowd, while they do have some much trendier and slim fit versions too.

    1. I feel like we must have talked about it at some point! I keep meaning to go back - in fact my 10-yr reunion is this weekend, but I'll be flying out to CO. Next time you're headed there, I should come over and kill two birds with one stone! And, nice to know CLK has kept up with the times with their swag!

  3. Thank you so much! I just did on my sweater, now I can wear it!