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Valentine’s Day Reverse Appliqué Heart Sweater

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A question I get from you guys a lot is, “Do you ever have a fail?”

The answer is, I used to have pllllenty of failed refashions when I first started sewing, but now that I’ve been doing it for a while, they almost never happen.

That being said, this refashion was very nearly a fail!

If you enjoy tales of suspense, mental torture, and redemption, read on!

In recent weeks, I’ve been scouring the $1 racks of my favorite thrift stores for a red sweater for a Valentine’s Day refashion.

I couldn’t find a long-sleeved one for some reason, but I did find this pretty short-sleeved sweater, which shall be the base for my Valentine’s Day Sweater Refashion!

refashionista Valentine's Day Reverse Appliqué Heart Sweater before
Just a basic red sweater.

Let’s take a look at that label, shall we?

alfred dunner label
I am not the target demographic for this brand.

The target demographic for this brand is 65+, which means Zennials are almost certainly going to make it mainstream in the 21-under set as well. I mean, if they can bring back mom jeans (which I’m totally cool with), they can do anything.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered the previous owner had snipped out the shoulder pads that were originally sewn in to this sweater.

shoulder pad scrap in sweater
Someone is after my own heart!

I also found this XL kid’s T-shirt!

refashionista Valentine's Day Reverse Appliqué Heart Sweater before holding T-shirt
Just a typical red T-shirt!

I decided to use a reverse appliqué technique to make a fun heart sweater for Valentine’s Day.

This could have gone one of two ways. I could have chosen to wear the T-Shirt and cut the heart out of the sweater, or wear the sweater and cut the heart out of the T-shirt.

I really liked the sweater, so that’s what I went with for the base.

Before getting started with the reverse appliqué heart part, I snipped out the neck of my sweater.

cutting out neck of sweater
Breathing easier already!

First, I traced a heart in chalk on the T-shirt.

chalk heart on t-shirt
See it?

If you’re really particular about the shape of your heart, you can print out a heart shape and trace it onto your shirt.

I wanted a funkier shape, so I just freehanded it.

Then, I cut my heart out.

Cut out heart from t-shirt

And here’s where all goes to crap for a moment!

What NOT to do!!!!

My original thought for this sweater was to do a punk-ish slash look over the heart, revealing the red T-shirt heart underneath.

Because I just wasn’t thinking, I traced the heart onto my sweater, and then began cutting slashes, thinking I’d add the heart later. DO NOT DO THIS.

cutting slash in sweater.

A few slashes in, I realized what a mistake this was (you’ll see what I mean in just a moment), and pinned the heart to the inside of my sweater (It’s turned inside-out in the pic below).

pinned heart to back of sweater
But is it too late?

Next, I stitched my heart down, using a simple straight stitch.

sewing heart onto shirt
Everything’s going to be okay, right?

When I was done, it looked like this.

heart sewn onto sweater
All good, right?

I turned my sweater right-side-out and immediately gasped in horror!

sewing mistake
What the WHUUUUUUUU?!?!?

Well this looks like hot garbage.

You can see how, despite my best efforts, a couple of those slashy bits got caught up in the stitching for heart.

This is why you want to make any cuts AFTER adding the fabric backing.

At first, I thought everything was salvageable. So, I trimmed off the parts of the sweater that had gotten caught up in the stitching, and kept making slashes.

cutting slashes into shirt
We’re back on track now, right?

But I quickly discovered an entirely new problem with my chosen method.

scraps sagging on shirt
Saggy and sad. 🙁

The sweater shreds were a saggy mess!

I should have known better than to think this would work, as the sweater fabric is heavy, cutting into it makes the shreds longer, and those things combined means they’re going to sag.

I was pretty annoyed with myself at this point, friends.

Still, I didn’t give up! I cut off the shreds altogether, and cut out the outline of the heart.

cutting out heart applique
This is some self-loathing snippage right here.

I thought my sweater looked like a botched DIY project (which to be fair, it was) at this point.

But then I had an idea!

I picked up one of the shredded bits and pinned it to the outline of the heart.

pinned shred on outline of heart

Then, I pinned more!

scraps pinned to edge of heart
Yes. The center thing looks stupid. Don’t worry. It’s doesn’t stay.

I carefully stitched them all down.

sewing edge of heart
Everything’s going to work okay now, right?

But when I tried it on, I noticed that center part had a…problem, so I snipped it out.

center part looking awkward
Apparently, I forgot I have breasts when I thought this was a good idea.

What was I going for with that thing anyways? Some sort of “NO LOVE” message? Nobody needs that level of negativity in their lives right now.

I was finally almost done with this (very stressful) refashion!

I didn’t like the original look of the sleeves, so I changed them up.

Scalloped sleeve

To do this, I folded them into cuffs and pinned them in place.

pinned cuff of sleeve

Then I tacked them down at the top and the bottom.

tacking down sleeve cuff
Just a couple of stitches with do it!

FINALLY, after much mental anguish, I was DONE!!!!!!

refashionista Valentine's Day Reverse Appliqué Heart Sweater close up
Hey…that looks not-so-bad!

You guys! I really like this one!!!!

refashionista Valentine's Day Reverse Appliqué Heart Sweater after
You could even say I “heart” it!

I styled my new sweater with a pair of high-waisted ripped mom/boyfriend jeans (See Zennials, I’m cool! I’m hip! I’m with it!) and waterproof boots.

refashionista Valentine's Day Reverse Appliqué Heart Sweater in rain with umbrella
This is why waterproof boots were necessary!

Feeling festive? You might also like this Valentine’s Day T-Shirt Refashion!

When Erin saw it, she said, “Oh…that’s a good one. Some idiot would totally spend $100 on it at Urban Outfitters.”

Jillian Owens and Erin

I’m happy with it. I like that I was able to keep some of the ragged/punkish aesthetic I was originally going for and that I kept going even when it wasn’t working out.

In refashioning, the difference between a success and a fail often comes down to not giving up. With a little creativity and problem-solving (even if you created said problem yourself), you can almost always pivot and adapt to make it work!

Jillian drinking wine
Deep thoughts, yo.

Cheers…and Happy Valentine’s Day!

refashionista Valentine's Day Reverse Appliqué Heart Sweater before and after
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