Blackwood Cardigan vs. McCalls 6844

You can never have too many cardigans. I feel quite certain about that. That’s why, each Fall, I find myself yearning for a new one…or two.  I’ve made several in the past (here and here) but today I want to talk about the two cardigan patterns I reach for time and again – –  the Blackwood cardigan by Helen’s closet and McCall’s 6844 (OOP but available on-line). Both patterns are easy to sew and friendly to a variety of knit fabric options. It’s the neckline that is usually the deciding factor in why I choose to make one over the other.

IMG_9104 3This version of McCalls 6844 is a coatigan of sorts. I found this thick sweater knit at Joann’s. The weight is perfect for this time of year, and the stretch recovery is great for this pattern.

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I made view B but lengthened it by six inches. I love long cardigans these days (my Pinterest page is proof of that). The wide shawl collar makes it so warm, and by cutting the front bodice pieces a bit wider than I normally need, I was able to make the closure have a bit of an overlap, which makes it appropriate for windy weather.

IMG_9093 2Next up is (no surprise) the Blackwood cardigan by Helen’s Closet. Who doesn’t love this pattern?

IMG_9242I’ve made this before, but this time, I really wanted a stripe along a solid front band for contrast, as I’ve seen that detail on RTW cardigans.

IMG_9225 3With this striped fabric, I got lucky! The selvege edge of my fabric was solid navy with a thin purple stripe, and I had enough fabric to manage to cut the entire neck band from it!! Such a perfect opportunity to add a fun easy detail to this cardigan.  Again, I made this version very, very long. The advantage is that the longer look makes a shrimp like me feel tall. The bad news? It’s so long, none of my coats cover it. Such problems….

My new cardigans are so wardrobe friendly since they go with everything in my closet. I know they’ll get alot of mileage! What’s your favorite cardigan pattern these days?

The holidays are coming and I cannot let the season go by without a new velvet make so that’s on my sewing to do list. Oh, I guess I’ll have to go on Pinterest and start a new ‘velvet inspiration’ page, don’t you think?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A DIY Poncho You Can Sew in an Afternoon

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Fall weather can be so unpredictable in Oregon; warm one minute; cold the next. That’s why each Fall, I find myself drawn to add another poncho to my wardrobe. (previous makes here and here).  With very few seams and lots of fabric options, it’s the ideal quick and satisfying sewing project for a Saturday afternoon. It’s such a fun, easy project I can imagine making several of these to give as Christmas gifts.

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I’ve been collecting images of my favorite Fall Ponchos on Pinterest and was inspired by the many versions with button closures. When I saw this layered knit at the Mill End store, I knew it would be perfect for a cozy sweater poncho.

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This knit is extraordinary, a lucky find! It looks like lace but has the coziness of a knit, and, as an added bonus, the selvedge makes a cool-looking border.

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To make this poncho…

  • I used 1 5/8 yard of 58” wide fabric. I used the fabulous selvedges as a design detail. Probably any knit would work for this make. Come to think of it, you could probably use a woven too.
  • The button band is1 1/2 inches wide, and to make it, I just folded the long side of the fabric under. Before topstitching it in place,  I interfaced the band with a lightweight fusible interfacing. Because my knit has moderate stretch, I felt it would need the stability of the interfacing to support the buttons and button holes.
  • Before placing the buttons and buttonholes, I tried the poncho on to determine how big of a neck opening I wanted, then added the button holes accordingly, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart. For me, the opening was about 20 inches from the edge.
  • I finished the poncho’s edges with a narrow machine stitched hem.

I love this cozy poncho. If it’s chilly, I’ll keep the neck opening small by buttoning it all the way up. If it isn’t, I leave a few unbuttoned to give the neck opening a casual look. I’ve also worn it with the buttons down the front, like a cardigan. It would make a great Christmas gift, don’t you think?

IMG_8737l managed to squeeze in a quick outdoor photo before it started to rain. As you can see the fall colors are extraordinary right now. If only these days would last a bit longer!

Up next: I have a cardigan cut out from a nice sweater knit, and am shopping for a gabardine for a trench. I’ll likely sew up a plaid skirt too in the next month. What’s on your sewing list?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Inari Tee/ Dress Three Ways

PicMonkey Collage-8As luck would have it, I have another ‘three versions’ post for you this week. The Inari tee/dress is such a versatile pattern, it’s impossible to resist a bit of experimentation once  it’s on the cutting table!

The lovely Inari tee/dress by Named Clothing has been around for a while, but it hasn’t lost its appeal for me.

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I love the boat neck, the high low hem, the relaxed cocoon fit and the side slits that give the look a bit of an edge. Then, there are the lovely finishing touches, the sleeve bands, the hem stitching….it’s the little things that elevate this pattern to bring the look home!

The pattern includes two variations: A loose-fitting tee dress and a cropped A-line tee. The dress is slightly cocoon-shaped, with an uneven hemline. There are slits at the sides of the dress and you can finish the neckline with a facing or a separate neckband. This pattern works with a light to medium weight fabric, either woven or stretch which makes it doubly versatile! The instructions are really complete and easy to understand on this pattern. I think even a beginner would find it instructive and satisfying to sew.

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My fabric is a linen/rayon blend from Joann’s that is medium weight with a nice drape. I love the way the side seams wrap around to the front on this dress, causing the cocoon shape. There’s something so ‘cool-girl’ about a cocoon shape:).

My other versions evolved from the cropped tee version. I am not a big fan of cropped tees unless they’re on a teen, and this tee is really cropped. So, I added a ruffled bottom to the hem of the bodice.

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This is my buddy, Mitchell…he had to be in these photos. His twin, Maggie is too shy to participate, but Mitchell loves all the attention he can get. He’s about six months now, such a funny, outgoing guy! Don’t worry about Maggie, though. She can definitely keep up. I’m guessing she’ll be pushing her way into photos soon enough.

IMG_7917I loved working with this rayon from Fabric Depot, and it feels so cool and light on. To make this version, I cut a hem band that was 1.5 X the width of the hem, and made it seven inches deep so that when hemmed, it would add six inches to the length of the bodice. I gathered it with a long sitch then sewed it to the bodice and hemmed it.

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My next version is made of lightweight shirting from Joann’s. The stripe on this fabric is so striking….just had to have it. For this version, I shortened the bodice on the cropped tee by two inches and widened the ruffled bottom by two inches as well so that the top would have more of a raised waist look. I wear this one constantly! The weight of this cotton is light, but it launders so nicely and wears well in any temperature.

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All of my Inari makes will transition well into Fall because they’re perfect with a long cardigan or a short jacket. If you haven’t given this pattern a try, I highly recommend it. There are lots of inspiring versions in blog land and on Instagram, so give it a look!

In sewing happenings, Indie Pattern Month starts next week on the Monthly Stitch. I plan on participating in at least two of the challenges. I hope you’ll join me.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Three Versions: Darling Ranges Dress

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I’m back from my wonderful trip to France (more about that later) and am trying to ease back into the real world. So far, between jet lag and the growing awareness that daily life is not *quite* as stimulating as vacation life, it’s been a bit of a struggle. Lethargy and lack of motivation has been the mood. However, I do have a plan. This weekend I’m going to take a quick trip to a fabric store to peruse the new Fall patterns and see where that takes me.

In the meantime, I want to share with you a pattern I’m quite in love with!

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Megan Nielsen’s Darling Ranges dress pattern has been around for a while so it’s easy to find inspiring makes on social media to cheer you on. It’s pretty versatile, with two options for the dress (with or without gathered waist) and a top. Before I left for my trip,  I made three of the dresses in quick succession. I hoped to blog it before I left, but alas…that didn’t happen! I love them all, but have a special place in my heart for the two linen versions, because, well, LINEN!

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My first version is made from a striped linen/rayon blend that I found at Joann’s early this Spring. I didn’t have quite enough to make the sleeves, so I had to modify, but I’m happy with the result. It’s easy to wear as is, or, with a tee under it, it will work well for Fall. The in seam pockets are great…very convenient without a lot of bulk. This dress went to France with me, and it did its job well. The tie is meant to go in the back, but I can’t stand the feeling of a tie when I lean back, so I extended the length so that it can be worn in front.

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This green version is made from plaid cotton shirting (ModernDomestic) so it required a bit of pattern matching. I eliminated the waist tie on this version to keep the fit loose. The sleeves are lengthened so that they’re easy to roll or push up. The pockets are self drafted and are cut on the bias.

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Version three is made from a lovely embroidered striped linen I found at Mill End store here in Portland. Here’s a close up of the fabric.

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The only changes I made to this version was to hem it about a inch longer. I also made the waist tie an inch wider so that it would look more substantial when I tied it in the front.

Fit and challenges: 

  • Shoulders – – Usually I have to do a narrow shoulder adjustment – – not here! So if you have wide shoulders, the fit on this dress may need some adjusting.
  • Fabric required – – Yes, this takes a lot of fabric! I tried to skimp a bit because I’m short, and ended up with a sleeveless version when I didn’t plan on one. Yes, the dress turned out fine, but (as usual), I should have respected the stated fabric requirements to avoid that situation.
  • Button placement – – The way they were positioned on the pattern would have left gaps where I didn’t want them, so I had to do some significant repositioning.

 

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All three versions are really wearable. My favorite is probably the last one, the embroidered linen, although I’m fond of the green version too. My husband has a strong dislike to that one – – his reason? “Some dresses aren’t meant to be made in green!” Hmmm…interesting and, well, thought-provoking. I hope he’s wrong, because I predict that version will be in heavy rotation this Fall. Will I make this dress again, or is three enough? Not sure…I’m tempted to make the waist less version, although I wonder if it will be too boxy. Thoughts? Please share.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!!

 

Kobe Top in Embroidered Linen

I know many of you have started your Fall sewing, but I’m still enjoying working through my stash of linen and cotton. It’s just hard for me to switch gears when the weather is still so warm.

Linen is my absolute favorite fabric to wear in the spring and summer, and if it’s soft and a teeny bit worn, I’m in heaven! So, I love to pick up bits of linen (tablecloths, napkins etc) at garage sales, antique stores, anywhere I can find them. I was thrilled at a recent collectible market to find a large embroidered table-cloth that showed no visible damage or stains.

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I knew immediately that I wanted to sew a Kobe top by Papercut patterns, a pattern I’ve been interested in making for a while.

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I was attracted to the Kobe because of the interesting back.  I love the way the pleat falls across the back neck opening.

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When I bought the pattern, I dreamed of making it from a sheer fabric but then, I saw this linen.  I knew it would be perfect. Actually, now that I’ve made the Kobe, I can imagine a whole host of fabric options for it! Sheer silk, chiffon, rayon challis, sheer lace, anything with flow and movement should work well.

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The challenge of course was pattern placement. I wanted the embroidered details to take center stage. Because the Kobe is simple with only a few main pattern pieces, this wasn’t as hard as I expected.  I centered the largest part of the embroidered pattern on the front center of the bodice and did the same with the back. The trickiest part was figuring out how to do the hem, as I wanted to utilize the lovely embroidered edge. In the end, I did a muslin version to make sure I understood where the length of the front and back would fall on me. I’m really glad I did this because the Kobe is likely designed for someone who is quite a bit taller than me (5’4”). So I did a mid bodice adjustment of an inch. This really brought it up to a reasonable length.   

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On the sleeves, I used the same strategy – -I centered the pattern, and used the scalloped edges as a hem. This did make this a fast project – – no hemming needed!

I love my new summer top. Yes, it wrinkles, but hey, linen is worth it. And I’m happy to say, I don’t feel like I’m wearing a old table-cloth when I wear this, LOL. Have you ever made anything from an old table-cloth?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

                   

Jumpsuit Love and Two New Buddies

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I knew when I decided to participate in the RTW Fast this year, that I’d have my work cut out for me in a key wardrobe category – – Pants. I’ve always preferred RTW over me-made pants in past years. But in the jumpsuit category, RTW has always let me down; the fit, the fabric… not to mention the comfort factor. Ugh. So, creating a jumpsuit that fit was a challenge I accepted willingly.

Of course, as soon as I finished this, my husband informed me he isn’t a ‘fan’ of jumpsuits. Ha, isn’t that such a guy thing? If he would just wear a jump suit, I’m sure he would change his mind.

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The pattern I chose is Simplicity 8610, a jumpsuit with a slightly raised waist, deep pockets and slight gathers at the waist.

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I was attracted to the details on this one – the raised, gathered waist, the top-stitched bodice band, and the buttons on the straps.

 

This is my first jumpsuit and I was a bit nervous about fit, so I’m glad this pattern was pretty forgiving. The look/fit is so unstructured, there was little I could do to screw it up! I cut the size my measurements indicated and it fit perfectly – a rarity in patterns that must be celebrated! I also found the placement of the back pockets to be spot on too! That’s got to be a first for me. The one modification I made was to shift the gathers so that the center front of the waist is and smooth. I did this because I thought there was a bit of a pooch at the stomach when the gathers were evenly distributed.

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Simplicity recommends soft fabrics like cotton and linen, but I really wanted ‘drape’ so I chose a soft medium weight crepe, and I’m glad I did as it’s so comfortable and easy to wear. It was great to work with – not too slippery and it doesn’t fray. As fabrics go, crepe is pretty versatile – – easy to dress up or down. I might be able to get away with wearing my new jumpsuit in the fall with a shirt underneath. What do you think?

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Are you a jumpsuit fan, or are you in my husband’s camp? I’d love to know pattern recommendations for the future, as I’m loving this one right now!

It’s been a year since our nutty tabby, Dustin, passed, and we decided we’re ready for a new friend. We went to adopt one, and ended up with two babies :). They’re a boy and a girl from the same litter who look like twins; Maggie and Mitchell, only three months old!

They were a bit nervous at first, but are now feeling enough at home to show us their stuff. There’s lots of running, jumping and climbing at our house right now. I’m sure they’ll be leaping into a blog photo or two before too long!

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.

 

A Travel Dress for France

IMG_4487Did I tell you all that I’m headed to France in September? I’m beyond excited. We’re headed to the Dordogne region followed by a visit to Paris which will definitely include some fabric shopping. I’ve started a packing list and this dress is versatile enough to earn a place in my suitcase.

There’s something about dressing in a bright colors that makes things feel…fun! Not sure if there’s a scientific reason for that, but this dress will be a favorite just because the fabric makes me feel light and happy! This knit from Art Gallery is 95% cotton, 5% spandex. I love the name of the print… Frutteria Bleu. I found it in a shop in Alexandria Virginia that I found on a recent trip to DC.. the Stitch Sew Shop. Their natural fabric collection is nicely curated. I wish I’d had room in my suitcase for more.

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This was an easy dress to make. I used the same method I used for my Day/Night Challenge cocktail dress (here). I took a favorite knit dress pattern, shortened it a bit, then added a skirt.

 

For the bodice, I used McCalls 6886, a TNT pattern that everyone loves because it never fails…it’s an easy sew, the fit is great and it’s always a dress you want to wear!! Since this fabric is so special I could not risk a failure.

This pattern is perfect to embellish, modify, lengthen, shorten…whatever. It’s one of those patterns that really transforms with your fabric choice.

I modified by adding a skirt. To do this, I cut version A of the dress, but shortened it by 8″. That still left the dress bodice quite long, a choice I made so that the skirt would feel more like a ruffle…less like a traditional drop waist dress. To make the skirt/ruffle, I cut a wide (20″) swath of fabric whose width was 1.5 times the circumference of the hem of the shortened dress. I simply gathered that long piece of fabric with a long stitch, then sewed it to the bodice of the dress.

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Because of the long bodice and deep ruffle, I wanted this dress to be long…midi length. In the summer,  I love how a long dress moves in the breeze. It makes me feel…light!

 

 

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

A off-the-shoulder look inspired by Theory

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As you all know, I love a good designer knock-off, and Theory is one of my favorite designer lines. Last fall, a friend of mine wore the Theory shirt (on the left) to a dinner at my house, and I was smitten. She wore the shirt a bit off the shoulder and I loved the way the the gathered neckline was created by a drawstring.

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To create my knock off version, I used Simplicity 8550 as a template.

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The best news about this pattern is that I found it for a $1.99 at Joann’s!!  I have so many sewing patterns, I can only justify an addition if it’s a bargain. Yes, Indie patterns are great options, but you can’t beat the price when the Big Four go on sale.

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The neckline of the Simplicity top is similar to the Theory shirt in design, but it’s a bit wider. Also, it doesn’t have a drawstring closure.PicMonkey Collage-6To add a drawstring at the neckline: First, I adjusted the neck opening to make it a bit smaller. To do this, I took a half an inch out of the front and back bodice pattern at the center front and center back. Because the cut of this shirt is so loose in the shoulders and bodice, that adjustment did nothing to the comfort or fit of the top. To make the channel for the drawstring (a simple black ribbon), I replaced the neck facing with a strip of bias tape, and inserted the ribbon through that. Pretty simple modification…

Other adjustments: I tapered the bodice a bit by adding two eyelash darts in the back from the shoulders to the waist. Even though the Theory shirt is collarless, I couldn’t resist adding some drama with a big collar.

I was tempted to use Chambray for the top for my knock off, but decided I have too much blue in my wardrobe. It’s time for a new color…red! This cotton is from Fabric Depot and it has just the right amount of body for the collar – yet isn’t too stiff for the drawstring/gathered neck.

 

 

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This top was definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants project, and I feel lucky that it turned out so well:) I love the fact that, with a tug on the drawstring, I can adjust the neckline of this shirt as the mood strikes. The color is nice for a change too. This top won’t be a wardrobe orphan because it works so well with my favorite Ginger jeans and with my denim skirt too.

Well, I think this officially begins my summer sewing. Fingers crossed that I get to wear it soon! Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

A New Top to Add Some Drama

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Me-Made May is winding down, but not without a few more revelations that are worth mentioning. I used to wear solids and very few prints – – Not so anymore! My wardrobe is dominated by prints and textures. There isn’t anything bad about this, but I miss the drama that solids bring to the table. A well-cut top or dress with drape and style looks sophisticated and polished when there isn’t the distraction of a print.

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Ha – – Look at the volume in these sleeves! You have to admit – this top is dramatic, much more than I realized when I chose  McCall’s 7658.

There are many views and options with this pattern (Yay!), but I chose the long sleeve version because it’s still (always) on the chilly side in Oregon.  Because of the overlay, recommended fabrics for this pattern include chiffon, Georgette and sheers. I didn’t have any of those in my stash, but I did have a lightweight sheer knit so I gave that a try.

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This style looked complicated to me, but the construction steps weren’t hard at all. The long sleeve version has the sleeves built right into the overlay, so makes them a breeze to sew. The trickiest part of the make was the sleeve cuff. You’re supposed to insert elastic to give the cuff a gathered look. I chose to skip that part, since you’d never see those details on my fabric anyway, so I just inserted the cuff without the elastic. The finish of the overlay is simple – – you just turn under the edge and stitch.

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Voila! A half hour to cut this pattern, one and half hours to sew! Not a bad way to go…:)

The bat wing sleeves really give this overlay some style and drama. It’s pretty obvious though, that the wrong fabric choice would make this style look, well, pretty hideous, LOL. So, if you’re inclined to give this one a try, stick with lightweight fabrics with lots of movement and drape.

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I’m happy to say, there were no adjustments necessary on this pattern for me! I know some people aren’t fond of  sleeves with volume, but I think I love this look….it’s sort of cape-like and fun. I just might have to make it again for summer with the pleated overlay in a lightweight chiffon…but wait. I hate sewing with chiffon. Hmmm, what else would work? Any thoughts?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

Blackwood Cardigan – the Star of my ‘Me Made May’

 

For me, Me-Made May is all about figuring out what works in my daily wardrobe and and what doesn’t. As a rule, I tend to wear me-made separates that I mix and match. The questions I ask myself are – – which me-made pieces do I reach for because they make me feel great, and which ones drive me crazy as I wear them? I take notes about my daily choices for myself, only keeping photos of outfits that are revealing in some way to me. The pieces that don’t work are thrown into the revision or donate pile. I don’t post my outfits on social media – – yes, I love seeing other people’s posts but can’t bear thirty-one days of photographs of myself, LOL!!

I’ve had a couple of revelations this month – the big one, which is the subject of this post is my absolute daily dependence on cardigans! Seriously, I wear them almost every day Unpredictable May weather is the culprit – – in Oregon it can be cold enough for a coat in the morning, but shirt-sleeve weather in the afternoon. Enter the Blackwood cardigan!

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Last year, my favorite cardigan pattern was  McCall’s 7476 made here and here. This year, my obvious favorite is the blackwood cardigan by Helen’s Closet patterns.

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I’m probably the last blogger to be smitten with this pattern, but what can I say? Better late than never…

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Why do I love it? For one thing, the design is perfect for throwing over tops or dresses. Helen suggests that it be used as a layering piece and this blue version I made works with everything in my closet in part, because it’s blue, but also because the length and the cut are superb over everything!

I usually gravitate toward knits that have cotton as the primary ingredient, but I really love how this rayon knit feel against my skin. And it slides over sleeves so nicely!

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Design notes: The Blackwood rests perfectly on the shoulders which makes it great for wearing with a variety of tops and dresses. The bottom band is wide and it shapes the hemline of the sweater in a very flattering way. I love the longer length (perfect for me at 5”4”) and the wide cuff on the sleeve. The pocket size is perfection too!!

Construction notes;

  • For this pattern – the stretch and drape of the knit is everything. You want to make sure your knit has enough stretch on the cross grain for this pattern. Because it isn’t designed to close in the front, if you don’t have enough stretch, this sweater will likely gape open and probably won’t look or feel that great.
  • The front band needs to be stretched slightly to fit.
  • I stabilized the top of the pockets with a strip of fusible interfacing to keep them from sagging too much.

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I’m wearing it here with the Simplicity top I posted a few weeks ago (here).

I give this cardigan a big thumbs up. It’s a quick, fun sew that does the heavy lifting in my wardrobe, and as a result of my Me-Made-May discovery, I will likely make this pattern again and again! My other cardigan patterns will remain favorites, but it’s nice to expand my cardigan universe.  Thanks so much to those of you who recommended this pattern when I asked for ideas in a post last month!

Are you as hooked on cardigans as I am? Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!