Sunday, 1 September 2013

Winter Warmers - with Sure-Fit Designs

What do you sew at the end of winter? Two jumpers and a cardigan, of course! Better late than never.

For non-Australian readers - a jumper is a sweater. Please rid your imagination of any garment resembling a child's pinafore.

Burda 3097 - Wadder!!

After my success with my empire line dress, I turned my attention to the Sure-Fit Designs Shirt Kit . At the beginning of winter I did have a go at an old Burda pattern (3097 - now OOP) I have had for over 10 years. I thought with my new improved patternwork skills I would be able to alter the fairly basic raglan top to fit my current body shape (less slim, more busty, just as short). Hmmm. Wadda wadder. Proof that I should never ever wear raglan sleeves, and that I should keep searching for a good jumper pattern that fits without needing to put bust darts in bulky fabrics.

I did a quick test run of the shirt kit, following the directions in the instruction book. The mock-up fit really well, but the side seams weren't quite the same length. Because I have a significant bust measurement, I adjusted the pattern for a comparatively small neck. I wasn't convinced I'd adjusted front and back evenly, so checked the SFD Learning Centre for some video help, and Glenda has posted a video on doing this adjustment in a different way which made much more sense to me, and gave me a much smaller margin for error (always a good thing). I redrew the pattern using the new method.
Cutting in to the fabric was quite exciting. I have never sewn a sweater knit before. This one is a dark brown Italian acrylic jumper knit from Knitwit. The problem with stash ordering is estimating the required length. With this one I missed by about 10cm. What to do...... The mock-up was a longer than I like, so I took 2 inches off the bottom. Now the pattern pieces just fit. 

Construction was very simple in the end, but I am very glad I had some scraps to play with. For the very first time I raised the presser foot on my overlocker!! I've only owned it for 13 years! The best tool to turn that screw turned out to be a dime. I live in Australia - why was there a dime on the kitchen counter? I also needed to play with stitch length. The longest stitch length and differential feed seemed to give the best results. As knit was stretchy and I didn't want it to bag out - I decided to stabilize the shoulder seams with ribbon on the sewing machine before overlocking. That was a mistake. Even though I had my presser foot on the highest setting, it still squished the fabric and distorted it.

The rest of the garment came together really easily - except for the sleeves. Once the cuffs were sewn on, they were way too long, with the squished and lengthened shoulder seams most likely compounding the problem. I cut the cuffs off, then reattached. This time - too short!! Silly me. Luckily there was a square of fabric just large enough for two more cuffs.

I quite liked the neckline of the Burda sweater pattern, and decided to copy it. Unsure as to any proper way of doing this, and not wanting to dig out the old pattern and measure the neckline pieces, I measured my head circumference, and chipped away at the front and back necklines (more from the front) until they reached that length along the stitching line. For the collar I cut a rectangle the width of the cuffs and the same length as the stitching line.  I then folded it lengthwise, rounded off the ends and overlocked the raw edge. The rounded ends were overlapped and stay-stitched.
My second jumper is from a teal blue wool blend boucle remnant from Lincraft. I managed to get this from a 90cm piece of 150cm wide fabric! It took quite a bit of pattern placing to get it to fit. In the end, I had to do a 2 piece sleeve, but managed to get the full length back on the body.

These are very comfortable jumpers to wear. As they are made from stretch fabric I didn't adjust the SFD dots for an outer garment, and they fit just fine. The sleeve length on the teal version is right with no adjustments from my pattern, and you hardly even notice the 2 piece sleeve.

I also needed a cardigan. In her book Beyond Bodice Basics Glenda gives instructions for a Comfy Cardigan. It is drawn from the Dress Kit and includes a bust dart that is rotated to the neck end of the shoulder seam. I had this lovely rust coloured polyester/spandex "Sensation" Textured knit from Knitwit waiting in my stash.

I followed  her instructions precisely, including how to enclose the collar across the back neckline. Because of my proportions, I always drew the shorter option given in the instructions.

You could clean finish the edges and have a less structured front, but as this fabric was not very drapey, I thought it best that I turn back the collar and sew it down. I hand stitched as I didn't want an obvious stitching line.

Next time I make a cardigan, I won't flare it out at the side seams. I think a more fitted style will suit my body shape better. Also, this knit has less stretch than I thought, so it might have been better if I'd drawn the pattern 1 dot larger. Even though it's slightly tight, especially at the upper arms, it's still comfortable and a welcome addition to my wardrobe.


  1. what great, new tops! they look fantastic; I'm sure you will wear them often; fit is spot on!

  2. Very impressive new tops and they all look great on you. You are doing an amazing job with SFD and it is working for you so a win all around.

  3. You've done a good job on these tops - I haven't yet used my surefit kit - I'll be visiting lots to see how you progress :). Glad I've found you via BeaJay.