I admit it, I had a stroke of luck when Kat approached me & asked if I would like to sew the first of her patterns, the Jenna Cardigan. I mean, we all know how long it takes me to knit anything, especially a cardigan. (Answer: about a year) How else am I going to satisfy the warm’n’wooly aspects of my wardrobe with a no-buy RTW pledge?
So I have sewn and compared two cardigan patterns prior to the Jenna. Simplicity 2154 and McCalls 6708. And my conclusion I think was that I would like a combination of the two in terms of fit & finish. I also love the Julia cardigan, having made a couple of those now that get worn almost solidly. But for a classic layerable & wearable under coats cardi? Enter Jenna. I must caveat this with the fact that I have *so far* only sewn one version, so my thralls might well be based on fluke, a full moon, or the ambient temperature on the living room rug as I cut it out. But people I am seriously impressed.
The Jenna cardigan, in case you have not seen other fabulous versions, gives you options: sleeve length, body length (waist or hip length) & it gives you the opportunity to include if you wish a cute gathered front yoke. Coo. I did. Because I haven’t got a cardi with a cute pretty gathered yoke. And it’s just too perfectly quaint.
I found some grey “sweater knit” of some description that I had in my stash. I thought it was some yukky acryllic but when I came to work with it, changed my mind, suspecting it has some cotton in it. And probably a degree of synthetics, but no way as high as I had initially thought. I sewed it with the wrong-side out so that the “garter stitch” finish was on the outside. I’ve done this for something else I’ve sewn recently & will show you soon. I like the nubbly effect this gives & thinks it elevates the appearance from “dull” synthetic-cotton mix to “interesting & artisan” cotton-synthetic mix. And cutting the waist length version does not need a whole load of fabric, which is another bonus- it’s quite an economical little make, even with long sleeves. The deep waistband helps keep pieces (apart from the sleeves) from being that long.
So, once cut & started to be sewn I was enjoying the process. I accidentally ignored notches & sewed the yoke pieces upside down (doh!) so unpicking a top-stitched, yoke with gathering & almost perfectly matched thread in a sweater knit was not the easiest, but that’s life when you are over confident 😉
Apart from that I had a simple sew & loved how it all came together. I did have to narrow the arms a little bit once I had the chance to try it on. I also shortened the sleeves a little too, but don’t you think that’s a good design principle as one of the worst things is to have sleeves that are too short? I would much rather have sleeves too long & swaddling my wrists in layers. But hey, when you are making it yourself, you can get the sleeve length the right length to suit you! Score.
So this is the first pattern by Muse Patterns, & it’s a very welcome entry into my sewing repertoire. The cardigan is truly fulfilling my cardigan ambitions. The only thing possibly I would even consider adding would be the welt pockets from McCalls 6708. But this pattern has now officially usurped the other two. As far as the instructions go, new pattern company & all that. I found them just right (OK, even if I proved that I didn’t read them properly! It is my fault, not the instructions’). I think if you are comfortable sewing knits, you should progress to cardigans. You don’t have to use an overlocker (although I always do whenever I get the chance). The construction is very similar to the Renfrew in terms of hem bands & sleeve cuffs to provide a nice edge, but you also have to introduce the button band which is actually no big deal, even if you think it is going to be! Before I made cardies I always imagined the button band would be where I faltered, I thought it would play up, stretch out of shape and drag under my buttonhole foot. In this pattern, the button band is interfaced which helps a whole lot in terms of nice neat finish when wearing, but also when sewing buttonholes. And if your fabric is thick, fluffy/ open weave or anything else that will cause you problems with buttonholes, then you can use snap fasteners, hooks & eyes, or even turn some loops. But simulate it first and try a practice piece as it might not be as bad as you think.
So this cardi was originally a tester if I am to be honest, before I bring in the wool jersey. I had to make sure I knew what I was doing & what I had to be careful about next time (paying attention!). But when this cardigan came together & I had buttons to choose I thought it was the perfect backdrop for some ceramic buttons a friend had brought me, a while ago.
Who cares if one button cost more than the sum of all the other materials, these arty crafty buttons go down a storm on such a plain backdrop.
So, it has been worn a lot. I don’t think it looks second rate (which I think my others do). The next version of this is more than likely going to involve my special wool jersey that is *one of those* fabrics wrapped away for *the perfect* make. I can’t think of anything better to do with it than to make a cardigan that will be truly practical & pretty. Thank you Kat ! Here’s the link to the pattern where you can see a bit more about the design and other variations.