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[Not] my man’s cardigan!

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This weekend, in celebration of the pouring rain and occasional thunder outside our studio window, we are having a Newcastle Cardigan Sale so that you can sew yourself or someone else something cozy as Fall approaches!

From now until midnight, September 22nd (PST) (while I am on my Sew-cation) you can buy the Newcastle Cardigan PDF sewing pattern at 20% off!  Simply enter the code RAIN at check out (using capslock).  Happy sewing!

Since Selfish Sewing Week is coming up, I sewed something yesterday that will ease me into this weekend’s much anticipated ‘selfish’ sew-cation.

This project is both, in essence, completely selfish and decidedly thoughtful…I sewed a Newcastle Cardigan for myself!  Its selfish because I used work time to sew something that I will wear and skipped over the list of several cardigans I’ve agreed to make for family members and investors (woops!) to make my version first.  It’s thoughtful because I can now wear a ‘stolen from the boyfriend’ style cardigan without actually stealing it…not that I’ve managed to steal Matt’s more than once or twice.  Every time I’m chilly and go to grab it, he’s already wearing it!

I love my green wool version.  It’s my absolute favorite colour and I treated myself to all my favorite features: military-esque brass buttons, huge patch pockets, extra long sleeves, leather details…the works!

I kept the fit really slouchy and exaggerated by cutting a size XS (way too big for me!) and then limiting my sizing adjustments to narrowing the shoulders and only slightly exaggerating the curve of the waist.  That way, the arms are still really wide and it is too long for me, making it the coziest of cozy sweaters to put over top of bulky layers for fall evening walks and to wear while sewing in my chilly sewing studio.

The rest of the adjustments I made were a bit of an experiment to see if I could eliminate the use of facings and also add a zipper.  As you can see, the zipper was a dismal failure and was quickly ripped out.  I think that a shawl collar, super slouchy fit, and stiff zipper could never co-inhabit the same sweater happily.  The zipper sat so stiffly that it pointed out, away from my chest at the top and looked really ridiculous.  Instead, I decided to treat my bound seam allowances as a built in facing by interfacing them, folding them over and adding button holes.  I added buttons on a slight asymmetrical angle to make the sweater fit slightly smaller in the chest and I kept the bottom of the sweater open to accommodate for my hips as I didn’t add width here (if you wanted to make a buttoned Newcastle for a female without many alterations to the pattern you would have to add width to the pattern pieces at the hips while likely taking away width at the waist to better fit the female form).

All my experimenting led to a sweater I really love but it certainly didn’t result in the no-facing, no buttons tutorial that I was planning to make!  It was really easy to eliminate the facing pieces though so I’ve included the tutorial photos Matt took just in case anyone is interested to see how I did it:

Resized-1You’ll need rulers (a curved on is preferable but you can always eyeball the curves if you don’t have one!), a pencil or marker, scissors and tape.

These are the pieces that I eliminated for my sweater: The Back Neck Facing, the Front Facing, and the Button Placket.

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I eliminated the Button Placket by extending the Cardigan Front by half the placket amount on each front because I was planning to add a zipper so I didn’t want the Cardigan Front to overlap.  As you can see, I added 1 5/8″ because I mistakenly thought I should add a seam allowance to the centre front…I forgot that there was already a seam allowance included to sew the Cardigan Front to the Front Placket!  So I really should have added a total of 1″

In the end, of course, all of this was irrelevant because I added buttons instead of a zipper after all and fudged things, trusting that the forgiving wool would hide that I was pulling and tugging things off grain by making the front overlap and button up asymmetrically!

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After adding width to the front of the cardigan I adjusted the neck curve so that it would extend to the new CF.  I tried to keep the old neckline and the new neckline as close to the same measurement as possible but I ended up needing to add a little length to the collar pattern pieces so that they would still reach the centre front of the cardigan.

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I also removed some width from the shoulders (I didn’t adjust the sleeve heads as I technically should have because, since this was all an experiment I again trusted that the forgiving wool would allow me to ease them into the new, bigger armholes).  Lastly, I exaggerated the curve of the waist to create a slightly less boxy fit:

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Of course, if you were to adjust the shoulder width and planned to use the yokes from Version 1 of the pattern, you would have to also remove width from these pieces:

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To create the patch pockets, I cut rectangles of wool 7 1/2″ tall X 6 1/2″ wide and sewed them to the Cardigan Front pieces with exposed raw edges (I like how the edges felt and look fluffy when this wool is washed and dried).  You could easily serge and turn under the edges if your fabric frays or you don’t like the look of the raw edges.  Instead of sewing all the way up to the top of the pocket outside edge, I stopped half way up and then folded over the loose flap and tacked it down with a decorative button.  This pocket, with the angled top opening is really comfortable to put my hands in!

Before sewing the shoulder seams together, I top-stitched on strips of leather in the same way the Shoulder Yoke is sewn on.  I also bound the CF because I was envisioning adding a zipper at a later point and wanted finished seam allowances.  If I had known I was going to be turning under approx. 1 1/2″ as a self-facing I would have interfaced this strip before adding the binding.

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To eliminate the Back Neck Facing I sewed the collar on, as per the directions (minus the facing piece) and then carefully graded the seam allowance before enclosing the allowance in an open piece of binding.  This creates visible stitching on the right side of the collar but it will be hidden when the collar is folded over:

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All the binding made for a very pretty garment, but really, in the end the sewing steps took just as long as using the facings would have and were much more fiddly (I guess it depends how comfortable your machine is with stitching woven binding onto thick and stretchy knit layers).  Both the facing and binding/self facing methods have their advantages and disadvantages and I am glad to have tried both for the Newcastle because I often worry that people will be a little put off by the idea of a cardigan with facings.  In the end, I like the facing method more as it creates a sturdier garment with less visible exterior stitching and less fighting with the tricky combination of woven and knit fabrics.

Would you consider converting the Newcastle Cardigan pattern into a women’s version?

Thanks for the fun photo shoot Matt!

 

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25 thoughts on “[Not] my man’s cardigan!

  1. Pingback: Quarterly Report #2 | Thread Theory

  2. You look lovely in your new cardigan. That women version is gorgeous!

  3. Love this idea! But I must make one for my husband first. Such a great cardigan!

  4. I would so make this for myself – on my list for next winter :-)

  5. This looks so cozy — it works great for women! I plan to finally sew up this pattern now that the weather is cooling down!

  6. Not only adorable but so stylish and comfy looking, love the color also. Brenda Thompson, Kemptville, Ontario

  7. This reminds me of clothes I designed for myself and my children years ago. It fires me up to do it again as my shape has changed with age and it is hard to find tops and jackets now that fit well in the shoulders and still do up from waist down.

    • It might take a muslin or two (or fabric that is cheap enough you are willing to experiment with it!) but I think, with the Newcastle (and other patterns designed for knits) as long as the shoulders fit there is lots of room to play around with the fit of the body by changing the waist and hip curve and adjusting design details. I hope you give it a try!

  8. It’s a great Newcastle version, I love the nice details like the bindings!

  9. Yes! I absolutely am going to convert this for my curvy figure! Let’s hope I have the skill set!

  10. I made one of these for my husband out of cotton interlock. He loves it, by the way. But now I really want to make one for me! Where do you find minimally stretchy wool knits? Seems I can only find wool as either jersey or woven. Would a crepe work do you think?

    • I’m glad your husband likes the one you made! I’ve been having luck finding wool sweater knits at my local Fabricland so that won’t help you…but there are several online retailers that seem to have a really nice selection.

      I wrote a blog post on them a while back, here is the link: http://threadtheoryblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/tips-on-manly-knits/

      And this is the link to a fairly expensive but really beautiful looking wool knit that apparently has very little stretch and I think would be perfect for the Newcastle. It’s also available in red!: http://www.hartsfabric.com/lana-bollito-knit-brown-69646.html

      I hope this helps! You might want to check out Mood fabrics as well as they always have a great selection of knits. I searched wool crepes on Mood as well and found quite a selection. I can’t guarantee they would work as I haven’t tried them myself but I imagine they would (as long as they have a bit of spandex or other type of stretch in them). I think they would make the Newcastle into a really smart looking jacket!

  11. that is so cute! i haven’t gotten to making this yet, but i hope to get to it soon. i had wondered about eliminating the facings, thanks for that info!

  12. That is the cutest cardigan I’ve seen lately!

  13. It is lovely cardingan! Great for this cooler, rainy weather.

  14. You are absolutely adorable in your women’s newcastle! Lovely conversion! And I have to say that K is always wearing his, too!

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