The dickey – it’s a relic of bygone days. No one dons a dickey anymore, right? Wrong! Dickeys make sense in this era of global warming and self conscious fashion. We all love the look of a turtleneck, but it’s so often too warm to wear one during the downright odd winter weather we’re so frequently having lately. Hence, the dickey – the smart look of a turtleneck without the uncomfortable schvitzing that comes with wearing a real turtle neck in warm weather.
In my travels recently, I found a stash of vintage 1970’s turtlenecks in great colors. These turtlenecks had been well loved and showed signs of that, with minor pilling and stretching under the arms. To add insult to injury, they were just a trifle too small for me. This made them perfect candidates to be made into dickeys!
Begin by cutting the sleeves off. Now I did this right along the armhole seam where it met the shoulder. This gave me a dickey that was as wide as it could possibly be.
Don’t discard those sleeves! We’ll use them too.
Leave the hem intact. Most dickeys were short, but I like my dickeys to be long enough to tuck in.
De-Pill Your Dickey
If your fabric is pilled, you’ll want to do something about that. I have a little de-pilling machine that does a great job. It’s just like an electric shaver and I get such satisfaction from de-pilling garments. Sometimes I’ll just sit in front of the television watching reruns of Dragnet and de-pill sweater after scarf after skirt, happily ridding my wardrobe of that offensive fuzz.
You can see the results. Look how nicely the de-piller removed not only the obvious pills, but also the more subtle ones as well, leaving a shimmering, fresh, new-looking knit behind.
Clean Up Those Edges
Next you’ll want to stop your raw edges from fraying. There are two ways to do this. I use my sewing machine to apply a finishing stitch. If you can sew at all, this is the way to go. It’s a super simple process.
If you’re not a sewer, you can use something called Fray-Check. It’s a liquid that seals the raw edges so they can’t fray. It’s a good thing to have around the house for emergencies.
And here’s the finished dickey! It’s a nice, light alternative to a bulky turtleneck sweater – perfect to wear under a shirt or shirt dress.
How About Those Sleeves?
Now I promised you the sleeves wouldn’t go to waste. They can be made into gauntlets that will further advance the illusion that you’re actually wearing a sweater! All you need is a little elastic. First you’ll want to cut the sleeve off so it will fit your arm naturally from above the elbow to the wrist.
Then make an elastic ring that fits around your arm, above the elbow comfortably. This ring will hold the top of the sleeve up, so it doesn’t sag.
Next, stitch the ring to the raw edge of the sleeve on the OUTSIDE. Stitch along the edge farthest from the raw edge, stretching the sleeve and elastic out while you stitch.
Turn the elastic under, to the inside and with the sleeve stretched out again, stitch the elastic under, using a 3-step zigzag stitch. This lingerie finish will reduce bulk and make the sleeve comfortable to wear.
Here are the finished sleeves.
Dickeys for Every Occasion
And here’s the dickey styled under a shirt. If worn with the sleeve gauntlets, you can roll up the shirt sleeves and no one will be the wiser that you’re sporting a dickey!
Not only is this a great way to look chic and stay cool in warmer weather, it’s also a great way to repurpose sweaters that you can’t wear anymore because of stretching, moth holes or stains.
You don’t have to limit yourself to sweaters. Dickeys like this can be made from shirts and blouses as well. Cut away those yellowed underarm stains and gravy spots and wear that favorite shirt or vintage thrift-shop-find blouse again!
There’s no shame in a dickey anymore, it’s the thing to wear.