Thursday, 23 October 2014

Yet More Knits

I am still on a knit sewing rampage! Here are the first two of this week's garments.

First up, a cardigan in the lushest (and also most expensive) knit I have ever owned, which I bought half price (but still £7.50/m!) from Fabrix in Lancaster last year. I have been trying on and off to find a cardigan pattern that worked with it, to no avail. Then recently I saw the free Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan pattern made up on... someone's, idk whose, blog and immediately thought it was a great match for this drapey, soft fabric. I particularly loved that rather than the usual boxy shape, this particular cardigan pattern uses princess seams to shape the bodice, and at the same time it's a very simple pattern with few pattern pieces, as you would expect from a free pattern.

By the time I tried this on I was already in love with the outcome because the fabric was so beautiful to handle. However, I actually also LOVE how this pattern turned out. I have a somewhat similar drapey RTW cardigan that I love from LTS that I have been looking to replicate forever. The only thing I've seen that comes close to my original is a StyleArc pattern, and I kind of hesitate at paying the indie price premium PLUS shipping from Australia AND only getting a single size for a cardigan pattern.

I used the sizing on the pattern to pick my size (in my case, a Large) and found it fit very well. (As always though, I am PROFOUNDLY irritated by pattern writers who don't provide metric. AARGH.) The sleeves were quite long on me, but that is much more easily fixed than if the sleeves are too short. I love the irregular hem.

Swoon cardigan in purple. I know the hem looks crooked at the back, but I swear it isn't.
So, the outcome of this pattern is really great, in my opinion, but it's not a perfect pattern. Don't get me wrong, it's a GREAT free pattern, but I would have been disappointed in it if I'd paid actual money for it. The problems really are the pattern-as-PDF-document and some minor technical pattern details. For one, the PDF layout is wasteful of paper. For another, OK, this sounds really nitpicky, but putting together PDFs is my LEAST favourite part of sewing from e-patterns, and this is probably the worst from a putting-together standpoint that I've ever used among garment pattern creators. Mainly the problem is that rather than labelling each PAGE and how it fits together, the pattern creator labelled the join of each PATTERN PIECE, which is just needlessly confusing, and I think more time consuming to fit together.

On the pattern itself, the pattern creator bizarrely chose to provide only a cross-grainline which is totally unhelpful for the purposes of laying out on your fabric. Since the front "scarf" piece is cut at an angle (and not quite on the bias, it's weird) it's actually quite important to have a proper grainline. I mean, it's 5 seconds work to add a proper grainline to work from but this is a basic part of a pattern that I don't feel I should have to do myself. Also, the sleeve head is symmetrical, which I don't love anyway as a sleeve design, but I dislike even more that the pattern piece for the sleeve is provided as if you're going to cut it on the fold, which would be such a weird and inefficient way to lay this out on fabric. In fact, from the way the pattern instructions are worded, it seems like the pattern author thinks you are going to cut out each piece individually from a single layer rather than laying it all and then cutting, and to of course therefore there's no such thing as a layout diagram provided. I noticed that this is the pattern creator's only adult pattern, so I'm wondering if she's just not used to the conventions. At any rate, the sleeve issue too was an easy fix, insofar as I just traced a whole sleeve using the half piece that the pattern provided, but again: fine with a free pattern, would not have been excited if I'd paid for it.

Swoon cardi as modelled by me, pls excuse my totally inappropriate turquoise top.
On the plus side, once I got past the mild problems with getting the pattern ready, everything went together absolutely beautifully. I especially love the way the scarf neck is constructed.

One thing I will say is that all the volume at the hip makes me look quite pear-shaped, which is quite amusing for me as I am actually the TOTAL opposite in shape. I guess if you're already a very pronounced pear you might not find that particularly desirable.

Overall, I think I have to say that I would recommend this pattern as a free pattern, but be prepared to have to grit your teeth through some of the initial stages of using it.

The other thing I made was another pair of yoga pants from a different pattern but in the same fabric. I hadn't entirely planned to wear another pair of purple yoga plans QUITE so soon after the first pair I made using the Silhouette 3400 Three Piece Yoga Pants pattern. Then I sat down on my garden wall and ripped a hole in one of my older RTW lounging pants on a nail I hadn't seen. Oops. Further yoga pants were therefore required.

Rather than make another Silhouette pair (wear update: the Silhouette pair are very comfy and I like them a lot but I really DON'T love the waistband treatment, which allows far too much freedom to the elastic and therefore results in it constantly getting twisted and shifting about) I decided to look through my pattern stash for a different pattern. I know I have like, a dozen options from Burda and Ottobre back issues, but my eye was caught by Simplicity 2369. I think every sewer in the western world has made this raglan faux wrap top & dress pattern. I am dead keen to do so too one day and bought the pattern ages and ages ago. Mostly, people have ignored the knit trouser pattern that came with it. They are super wide-legged and otherwise utterly basic: two pieces, elasticated waist done in a casing. I mean, I don't blame anyone for overlooking them really! Since I again really didn't care that much about this part of the pattern, I cut it out straight from the pattern sheet rather than tracing in a size 16, which is approximately my Simplicity size.

Simplicity 2369 as modelled by a hanger and me. I tied my shirt up like that for the photo only, promise.
They are SO wide-legged, it's like my knees have parachutes. I also probably could have sized down by one size because my fabric is super stretchy. However, they are SUPER comfortable and the fit is actually really great. This is hilarious to me because I've spent SO LONG being told that Big 4 trouser fit is TERRIBLE OMG THE WORST and yet they're the best fitting trousers out-of-the-envelope that I've tried so far. I mean, I know, these are wide-legged unfitted knit yoga pants so there SHOULDN'T be fitting problems... but I spent 30 minutes re-doing the crotch seam on the Silhouette pants and when I compared my revised Silhouette crotch seam pattern piece to the Simplicity pattern pieces, it was almost spot on. Maybe I have the actual body type that they draft for! I guess I deserve a break since my upper body is IN NO WAY the body type they draft for.

I would actually love these trousers in a really drapy and slinky knit. This fabric is just a little bit too firm for the style, and hangs too stiffly over my legs as a result. Still, it's FINE for a pair of lounging pants and I am pleased with the outcome.

Next up: a zipper hoodie from Ottobre 05-2014, which I am SUPER excited to sew. I also have a 3m piece of red jersey that I am mad keen to sew up, but I'm in at least two minds about what to sew with it. I don't know if you've been reading Michelle's great recently released pattern round-ups, but last week she mentioned the Gillian Wrap dress. Something about it REALLY grabbed me, so I bought the pattern while it was on sale, thinking I would make a red wrap top. Then I kind of went off the idea because the PDF is SO HUGE, ugh, more sticking and pasting, and I read the instructions and could not make head or tail of the waistband thing (probably it makes more sense when you actually have the pieces in front of you? Probably.). Then I made the Swoon cardigan and half-decided I immediately needed another one in red... except the fabric isn't great for a cardigan and certainly doesn't have the lush hand and drape of my purple one (I keep DROOLING over this fabulous mohair sweater knit in blue/green I found on a website that I could make another Swoon Scard Cardi from but I can't bring myself to pull the trigger on it. I've already WAY overspent my sewing budget this month). If I don't make either the Gillian or the Swoon cardigan, I definitely think I am looking for a more complicated sort of knit top. I don't want to make yet another basic tee even though, tbh I wear my basic tees constantly. Decisions, decisions


  1. I haven't looked at the Gillian waistband instructions yet myself, but the consensus I've been seeing around the blogosphere is to "just go with it, it works". A Gillian wrap top is one of my top two post-Halloween-project candidates, so I'll likely take a closer look then.

    1. I kind of skimmed the instructions without looking too closely at them and was baffled, but I am assuming they WILL make more sense when I look at them properly with the pieces in front of me. I might try making it this weekend, actually.

    2. No, the Gillian midriff instrux may not make any more sense ... until you just do what the instructions say ... literally ... and see the result. But it's a great pattern, so don't be discouraged for that little bit, which is really only a total of about 2 inches of stitching. lol

      Thanks for the cardi info. I just downloaded it to my office so I can print next week. :-) Yours looks GREAT!

  2. That cardigan is so flattering on you! You should make more.