Tutorial: 'The Help' Skeeter's Sweater


The Help Skeeter's diamond  Sweater Tutorial from Va-Voom Vintage

The Help is one of those movies I can watch on an endless loop for days and not get tired of it. It's a story that reminds us that it's good to live in a modern world where people are treated with more equality than they were back then...or at least, now there are laws protecting human rights. It's also a story that encourages us to stand up for what we believe and fight for what's right, even if our friends and family don't agree. Many of us think of the battle for racial equality as a thing that happened in southern states a long time ago but even here, in Missouri, my great grandma had a maid.

The Help Skeeter's Sweater Tutorial from Va-Voom Vintage

I remember great grandma telling me about "a colored girl" who came to help clean the house and that's basically all she said about her.  My grandma, however, who was probably a child or young woman at the time remembers the maid much more fondly.  She was a dear, sweet lady who taught my grandma how to bone a chicken and she made some sort of amazing peachy jello dessert that my grandma and her brothers all loved. I will have to call grandma and ask her more about her maid and see if she remembers the lady's name or has any photos of her. I'm curious to see how she was treated by my great grandparents and what her relationship with the family was like.

vintage 1940s style Miss Albright shoes, wool skirt, mustard purse

Anyway, on to the sweater. Since I first saw this movie, I fell in love with the dress that she wears in the scene when she's talking to Constantine under the tree.(Click the link to watch the scene on You Tube)

I thought this would be a cute one to try to replicate, not as a dress but as a sweater that can be worn with a skirt or jeans.

The Help Skeeter and Constantine under the tree sweater tutorial


* A note on colors-In some photos, the trim and embellishments look brown and mustard and in others, they look burgundy and mustard.  I tried both and decided I much prefer burgundy, personally but compare swatches of different yarns and see what combinations you like best (or what you have in your yarn stash)*

 yarn in mustard and burgundy. I'm using some worsted weight scraps that I had laying around
a crochet hook-mine is a 5mm or size H
a thrift store sweat shirt in blue/green or whatever you can find that's pretty close
needle and thread to match yarn
piece of mustard and burgundy felt
3 small white or cream buttons

My sweat shirt was a little baggy so I turned it inside out, pinned at the sides, sewed it up and trimmed the excess. If your sleeves are full length, you can trim them to 3/4 length and hem them under.

blue sweatshirt The Help makeover

The Collar and Sleeves
Originally, I tried knitting this. I did k2 p2 in 3 rows, switched colors and repeated but this yarn that I had was a little bulky for the task. If you had a different yarn, it would probably be beautiful in knitted ribbing (and more accurate to the original) but for this project, I switched to crochet instead

chain enough stitches to go around your sweat shirt's collar, single crochet one row in mustard. Switch colors, sc 1 row in burgundy, tie off  (here's a video for how to do  the single crochet)

pin the crochet strip to the collar so it hangs over the edge just a bit.
using thread to match and stitch each row to the shirt. My stitches are longer and kinda willy nilly. As long as the stitching tacks it down sufficiently and doesn't show on the front, it's all good.

Do the same for the trim around the sleeves

crochet collar trim for The Help sweater makeover

The Diamonds
Cut two matching diamonds out of each color of felt. My diamonds are 4 1/2 inches long and  2 1/2 inches wide. Using matching thread, hand or machine stitch the diamonds to the upper left side of the shirt, burgundy on top, mustard on the bottom, overlapping as shown. Stitch the buttons in place as shown.

crochet collar and diamond embellishment for The Help sweater how-to
Skeeter's Sweater in The Help

tutorial for Skeeter's Sweater in The Help

That's all! It took about an hour and a half and $3 to make. It's so cute, I may make some in different color combinations. Black and pink, red and aqua, chartreuse and burgundy- this would be adorable as a cardigan and you could easily make a skirt to match!


  1. You are freaking AWESOME! Sigh...just awesome! I love it and you did an outstanding job of this sweater! Omg I need to share this link!!!! xox

  2. Oh, I'll definitely be doing this. Great idea!

  3. What a fun project. So simple and so very cute!

  4. Thank you, everyone! The crochet part is SO simple too. Seriously, if you've never crocheted before, this is a really easy project to learn on. I learn a lot about knitting and crochet from you tube! :P

  5. One of my favorite movies along with Mona Lisa Smile. It's funny, living in the "north" and being born in 1961, I asked my mom if she remembers any racial inequities such as separate bathrooms. She does not, but it is scary that it's only been eliminated (somewhat) in the last 50 or so years. Great tutorial and I love your shoes!!! I'd love to share and link on my blog. Hugs!

    1. It is scary, isn't it? My great grandma was born in 1918 so she had a lot of stories to tell that to her were very commonplace but to me was shocking. She always referred to "colored" people and even remembers living in a town where whites and blacks lived on separate sides of the train tracks! I don't think St Louis had as many segregated areas as the south but even today there are some small towns in southern Missouri that are probably not very safe for anyone who isn't caucasian. I will have to call grandma and ask her more about her memories of growing up in those days.

    2. " . . . ut even today there are some small towns in southern Missouri that are probably not very safe for anyone who isn't caucasian."

      Why are white folk seemingly always so afraid of Black folk?

      I felt "some kind of way" about thinking this when I finally decided to ask my supervisor if it was true when I lived up North (circa 2008). She answered in the affirmative almost before I could finish the question. Now in a sub-tropical climate area in these United States the term "red neck' is thrown about with pride. Humph, ignorance and fear is experienced on both sides; yes even today in 2013.


      A Black woman, Lyric

    3. I think you misunderstood me. I said "there are some small towns in southern Missouri that are probably not safe for anyone who ISN'T caucasian" as in, they're probably not safe if you're black, latino, etc. Small town southern Missouri is pretty much all white people- the type that being a white, blue eyed girl myself, I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley!

      I do think you are correct that so many white people are afraid of anyone who doesn't look just like them but I, in fact am not one of them.

    4. Also, this just reminded me- again about Great Grandma- my grandma once told me that while driving in downtown St Louis (which is very racially varied) my Great Grandma would always turn her rings around so the stones were on the inside of her hands so no one would be able to see the diamonds! I didn't believe her until we went to the city for my Aunt's wedding and I saw it myself!! I do believe that that fear and prejudice is passed down through the generations and I am so thankful that grandma had the good sense to break the cycle!

  6. Very cute and creative! The colors blend so well. So nice to see this cute tutorial:)

  7. Seriously cute sweater! I just love diamond and harlequin patterns - they so often call to mind an instant atomic era vibe for me. I have a cute little 1950s blouse with diamonds on it and this post is just the reminder I needed to wear it more in the coming summer months.

    Fantastic creation and tutorial, sweet gal - you look absolutely lovely!

    ♥ Jessica

  8. The book was really good. I haven't seen the movie but I would really like to. What a great sewing idea! You did a great job. I love those shoes.

  9. I am thinking you may be a cute genius. Glad American Duchess turned me on to YOUR blog when I inquired that I wanted to find kindred spirits who wear vintage, Regency, and/or Edwardian as a fact of life versus "costume playing" at it.



  10. I'm always staggered at how relatively recently segregation was normal in some parts of the States. Horrible.
    On a happier note this top is really clever and looks so cute! Thanks for the inspiration, as always.


  11. Lovely sweater, you've done a great job. And I love both the book and the movie too. When I read the book I couldn't put it down. So well written, and it is amazing that it is not that long ago. Scaring.

  12. I haven't seen "The Help" for a while. Need to rent a copy and watch it again, I really enjoyed it the first time I watched it.
    Great a great tutorial! I never would have guessed that cute top started life as a $3 thrift store shirt. This is proof that with a little time and a needle and thread, a girl can create a fabulous wardrobe without spending a fortune! Thanks again!

  13. So cute! When the thrifts start putting out the cooler weather clothing, I will certainly be looking for shirts to do this with!

    I've never seen the movie, but I loved the book!

    On an unrelated note, I was reading some older posts and ran across one about your kitchen. How on earth did you paint your microwave? Would love to know!

    1. Haha! You're going to love this- spray paint! yep, totally did that. I have to do it again because my microwave recently died on me so Im feeling a tutorial coming on. In case you can't wait, the basics are mask it off, prime it, paint it and be done! Let it dry between coats, of course but I just used regular rustoleum, use a sponge and surface cleaner to clean the outside of it and it lasted for ages with no problems. Do not paint in the inside, though :)

    2. That's awesome! My husband would flip, but I may have to try it!

  14. Super adorable! I love the knitted trim! What a great idea!!!

  15. I must do this!! It's so simple!


  16. I've read the book, but haven't seen the movie. I LOVE the idea of taking a plain, ready-to-wear sweater and jazzing it up with a little something. Inexpensive, not too time consuming (I've got five children, so that's important to me! lol), but it TOTALLY changes the look!


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