Tag Archives: sweater

Darlin’ It’s COLD outside



As the leaves wither and rattle from the trees, Canadians hunker down and sink into a quiet desperation while daylight hours dwindle and summer ebbs away to a painful memory, and the impending torture of the deep freeze becomes an immanent presence suffusing every waking moment…

Burda XXXX, with sleeve alteration

Burda 6847, with sleeve alteration

Yup, it’s sweater season. And Fabricland has a variety of sweater knits and fleeces I haven’t seen the like of in years, so I had to dig in, on the project side because, as per usual, I am flat broke with my real own money, and good sweaterknits are expensive. Hell, mediocre ones are expensive. Darned kids and their needing braces and things. I was actually hoping to do a men’s cardigan for my father for Christmas, but another lady totally nabbed that* and they don’t like us to all do the same pattern. Boo hiss. On the up side, that meant I was free and clear to pick a project for MEEEeEe!

I’ve been ogling Burda 6847 for a while now. I love long sweaters but I haven’t had one of my own in years. Gillian has been making some awesome ones though.  And, see my above comment about the sweater knit collection.



I picked a faux-cable knit kinda fabric, in white because I am a sucker for punishment. When this fabric first came in I wasn’t sure if I hated it, just for having a misleading name. I detest when they do that. It’s not a “real” cable knit, but rather two layers knit together to create what look rather like quilted cable shapes. But it’s got a nice weight and stretch and all that. And, because I’m kinda mad for fleece lined sweaters (my husband has quite a few that I’m always stealing), I wanted to line it. But I didn’t want just our regular old fleece—I wanted this particular one we got in with a bit of an odd, nubbly surface. Again, I wasn’t sure I actually liked it at first glance, but when I was picking out the project, it just seemed right. Except. We were already sold out of the white. All that remained were a couple of remnants with stains on.

Can you see the nubblesÉ

Can you see the nubbles?

I grabbed them anyway. At the very least it would be enough for the hood, which is really all that is “supposed” to be lined in this pattern. Of course, if at all possible, I had every intention of lining the whole damn thing.

The zipper might almost be my favourite part—this is the kind of crazy luxury item I would have a really hard time splurging for myself, but for a project—awesome! As per the pattern photos, it`s a double-ended separating zipper, so you can zip it up from both ends. With a particularly gorgeous gunmetal finish.

Front view

Front view. At least I look like a shapely marshmallow. Sexy astronaut costume?

I was pretty minimal on my alterations for this one—I cut a size 36 (aka 10, technically a wee bit smaller than I actually am but I wanted this to be form-fitting.) I petite`d the bodice, lengthened the sleeves, and squared the shoulders. I skipped the swayback adjustment, figuring it’s just a sweater. But I can definitely tell that I skipped it.

Awful back view, with swayback wrinkles For Science.

Awful back view, with swayback wrinkles For Science.

So, as I mentioned, the pattern isn`t designed to be fully lined. So I was a bit perplexed when it called for 1.4m of fabric for lining the hood. I mean, the whole pattern only calls for 2m of fabric for the outside). How do you use 1.4m of fabric on a hood?



Well, it turns out when you cut the hood and front facing all in one, that really does take 1.4m of fabric. Fortunately for me (especially since neither of the remnants I wanted to use for lining was anywhere near 1.4m long), I just wanted to use the exact same pieces for the lining as the outside. I was able to get my body pieces from one remnant, and the sleeves and hood from the other.


Hood? Also, unfinished hem.

Speaking of the hood, I’m not loving any of the pictures where I’m actually wearing it. It’s large enough to be functional, it isn’t large enough to have an attractive drape when up. I often use the hoods on my bunnyhugs to layer over and under various winter hats, though, so I’m sure I won’t regret having it. Also, the grainline on it is odd. It doen’t run parallel to the front of the hood. Which wouldn’t bother me except that I was using what was essentially a vertically striped fabric, and I think having the cables on a bit of an angle at the hood front is a little odd. But maybe better than trying to have it go perfectly down the edge of a cable like I tried to do for the front zipper. That was hairy, and made me wish I’d cut things out singly.

Less candid, but much more pleasing, back view.

Less candid, but much more pleasing, back view.

I fused knit interfacing along the front of the fabric, both shell and lining, before attaching the zipper. I still ended up with some pretty hefty rippling in the zipper, boo hiss. At a guess, I was trying to ease too much fabric onto a shorter zipper (the pattern called for 34″, but the longest Fabricland had that was separating was 32″, My alterations should have taken care of at least 1″ of that, but I probably eased in the remaining 1″ without realizing it., It doesn`t show when it’s zipped up and I’m sure as hell not unpicking, but it was a bit of a disappointment.

2015-10-12 15.46.19-1

Worn open. Which is probably how I’d normally wear it anyway.

I also wasn’t happy with how bubbly the hem looked in these photos, so I tried to wrangle a 2″ wide strip of steam-a-seam into the space inside the hem. I think this would’ve been a great solution if I had tried to do it, at leat the first half, while the hem was still open, rather than after I’d sewn everything up except a 4″ gap that I eventually finished by hand. As it was, trying to wrangle it in and then get it fused was a bit of a disaster—it looks OK, but not as smooth as I would’ve hoped, and the doing of it was just a nightmare.

I think I like it best with a belt.

I think I like it best with a belt.

The fleece lining definitely makes it a bit less sleek and more, um, marshmallow-y than it might otherwise have been, but the coziness certainly can`t be beat. And I don’t think I can explain to you how much pleasure those cozy long sleeves give me. LOOOOOONG sleeves.

There is one potentially catastrophic problem, though. I showed it off to my stylish sister-in-law at Thanksgiving**, who also loves LONG sweaters with LOOOOOOONG sleeves, and she wants one. Preferably this one. Like, right now.

So when I get it back from hanging, I may have a fight on my hands.

*In fairness, apparently she had hoped to do something with Burda 6749, the basis of Tyo’s flannel shirt… So we yoinked each other.

**Canadian Thanksgiving, in early October, a civilized length of time before Christmas.



Filed under Sewing

A (probably) vintage shrug

Two cute shrugs

Above left is a very cute little cream sweater shrug I nabbed from the dress-up box at my Grandma’s house ages ago. I can’t actually confirm its age, except that it’s been kicking around the farmhouse for as long as I can remember. It might have belonged to my mother or her sister (in which case it would be late 60s or very early 70s) or not. A Google search of “50s shrug” turns up examples of identical style, so even if the actual garment isn’t that old, the style certainly is.

In particular I think it’s adorable with my 70s dress. I don’t like it as much with my circle skirt, though on someone with a longer waist I think the look would be great.

Drapey sleeve

Sadly, however, the fabric is starting to disintegrate—little moth-holes everywhere—so it’s no longer really wearable. However, it was such a cute little sweater, and so simple a pattern, that I thought I would give making a pattern a try. So I spent some time this past weekend measuring the original and plotting out lines in Inkscape, and came up with a pattern! Hooray! Which sewed up into a passable copy of the original! (That would be the black version, by the way.)

So, in a first for this blog, I’d like to share with you my 50s Shrug Pattern! (Also tiled for A4—warning, not tested, and the first, overview page is for sure not A4 sized).

The back---would look better on someone with a longer waist.

Now, this first go came out a bit larger than the original, although the sleeve-cuffs are still quite nicely narrow; in particular, the arms are longer. I’d say it would be good for someone with a bust in the 34-36″ range (as opposed to my 33″). I may down-size a wee bit for my next one, in which case I’ll post that pattern, too. For those in the larger range, I’m sorry, my pattern-grading skills are nonexistent. I don’t think it would be too hard, though…

In the original, the bands are made of ribbing, but for mine I just used cross-grain strips of the same fabric and it worked fine.

So, without further adieu, here’s my instructions, such as they are. Please bear with me—I’ve never done this before! 🙂

Recommended Fabric: 1 m (or yard) of sweater-knit, 60″ (150 cm) wide (slightly narrower might work, but not much). Pattern includes 6mm (1/4″) seam allowances; I used the serger for all construction, but any stretch-stitch would do.


Pattern piece on folded fabric

  1. Print and tape together pattern; there are nine pattern pages, numbered as in the overview page. Test square for sizing is placed on numbered page 1, and should be 10 cm (4″) square. Trimming should not be necessary, although there may be a small blank space around the outer edge of the page due to printer limitations. (Again, I don’t have any A4 paper so I couldn’t test this version. Sorry!)
  2. Fold fabric lengthwise; place pattern piece so Centre Back is on fold. Cut out pattern piece.
  3. From remaining fabric, make two cross-grain bands, one 8 cm (3″) wide by the full fabric width, one 6cm (2 1/4″) wide by 44 cm (17″) long. Fold bands in half, wrong sides together, and press.
  4. Cut two 24 cm lengths from the wider strip; align raw edges with right side of sleeve ends and stitch. The process is the same as described here for T-shirt collars, except not in the round and without topstitching afterwards. The same process is used for applying all bands on the shrug.
  5. Stitch curved under-arm seams.

    Cuff band attached, ready to sew curved underarm seams

  6. Mark centre of bottom back and centre of remaining wide cross-grain band (roughly 120 cm or 47″)
  7. Distribute wide cross-grain band around the shrug’s hem, from neck opening to neck opening, matching halfway points. The cross-grain band should be slightly stretched, especially  around the curved areas in front. Stitch as for wrist-bands.
  8. Fold ends of narrow cross-band strip right-sides together; stitch ends and turn wrong-sides together so that ends are neatly enclosed.
  9. Align raw edges of narrow band with neck opening, again aligning centre back with halfway point on band and stretching/easing to fit. Stitch.
  10. Work buttonhole in front-right corner of neckline; attach button on front-left.
  11. If desired, press band seams towards garment interior.
  12. Wear, looking adorably cute!

How’s that? Clear as mud? Writing sewing instructions is HARD! (Way harder than sewing the actual thing was. I feel like that’s all clear as mud)


Filed under Sewing

Haphazard progress

Lady Grey---side view

So, I have now stitched up the bodice of my mutant Lady Grey. In a way, it’s good, as it works something like another iteration of muslin for the pattern. In particular, it’s highlighting how my severe swayback alteration is playing havoc with the peplum (and still needs tweaking), but anyway.

Lady Grey---Back

I opted for topstitching. Lots of topstitching. This adds a bit more structure to the sweatshirt material, and will also (theoretically) make the inside a little neater since I’m not planning on lining it at the moment and my serger is still MIA. Lining would probably have been a good  idea, but I don’t have any fabric suitable for a stretch lining in the stash.

The lumpiness in the upper back is mostly show-through from the layers underneath; there might still be a bit of extra fabric there, but I think it’ll be fine for this version. As you can see the upper part of the swayback is fitted very nicely, but it all kinda goes to hell below the waist. I suppose the peplum is designed that way, but I feel like a gentler flare at the back would work better for me. However, it won’t be happening in this version as I did all the topstitching before I sewed the side seams to try it on, and I’m not particularly inclined to pick it out at this point

Bust curve, with topstitching

Almost as an afterthought when I was mussing with the pattern, I flattened the bust curve a little bit (very unscientifically) and I’m quite happy with the result. I don’t have quite the cups Colette is drafted for.

(Also, doesn’t it look cute with a contrast puff and then a narrow sleeve? Kinda Shakespearian…)

Speaking of Colette’s draft, I was ogling my Ceylon pattern again the other night. I have a sinking feeling, however, that it’s going to require some serious muslining, as it will need both a major swayback and, I’m rather sure, a small-bust adjustment.  Again, I’m torn whether to make the size 0 (which matches my bust and hip sizes), or go up to a 2 and do an SBA. Which didn’t seem to work particularly well for this coat. Grumph. Maybe I won’t tackle that until after I have a duct-tape double to do fitting tweaks on. Also, I was planning to grade the waist panel from 0 (or 2) at the top up to my actual waist size (6) at the middle, but looking at the pattern pieces that would actually give me a convex waist! I’m rectangular, but I’m not literally apple-shaped (yet, anyway). The waist-curve on the pattern is definitely a bit extreme, but I don’t think I can go up more than one size. And then there’s the darts to think about (ugh) and whether to add a center-back seam (I’m told that’s the way to go when swaybacks are in the air). /sigh. Anyway, a lot to think about for that pattern.

Why, yes, I will cheerfully insert fly zippers ’til the cows come home, but double-ended darts send me running for the hills.

Next step: collar (I think I’m going to cheese out and do a straight band, like a traditional kimono collar), “obi” wrap, and how to finish the #%$# hems.


Filed under Sewing