O, Autumn!, fairest of seasons, when the air is crisp and clear, lattes are pumpkin-spiced, and a sewist’s heart leaps at the thought of wrapping herself in wool from head to toe! Just kidding, guys, I hate cold weather and I don’t like dropping an extra buck just to have someone dump nutmeg in my coffee. But I do turn into a whimpering baby and reach for sweaters the second the temp dips below 65 degrees, so I hit the wool section at Mood Fabrics NYC determined to find the perfect cocoon to shelter myself from autumn’s advances! They have beautiful fabrics for fall up there, and when I found this luxurious wool double knit, I knew immediately I had to make a sweater for my dad. It just looked like something he would like, you know what I mean? He’s always cold, but lives in a cool climate (if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t want to know what Michigan feels like in the wintertime), so he layers up nearly year-round!
(Special thanks goes out to Man Friend, who graciously volunteered to model the cardigan for these photos despite the fact that it’s a good size and a half too small for him. He was a lovely model, so I’ll have to think of something special to make for him!)
I used Thread Theory‘s Newcastle Cardigan pattern and cut a size small based on measurements my mom took of a few of my dad’s sweaters. The pattern comes together quickly and is pretty fun to sew. I chose version 1, with front and back yoke details, but cut them in self fabric as my pop’s a pretty conservative dresser and probably wouldn’t appreciate any extra “flair” in his garment! I opted for the larger shawl collar as it seemed cozier. The topstitched yokes are a really nice detail, even if they’re mostly covered up by the shawl collar. I added an extra button (pretty arbitrarily… six just looked better than five in the button size I selected!). If I made this for someone else, I would lengthen the body a bit– it seems a little short, especially in comparison to the length of the sleeves. Luckily my dad’s pretty short-waisted, so it won’t be a problem for him. I would also draft a waistband for the cardigan, I think. I feel like a hem band would look a little nicer and more RTW.
The fabric is perfect for my pop– it’s warm and soft, but without any of the scratchiness that often deters people from wool. It’s got some heft, but it’s still drapey, which seemed like just the right weight for a cardigan. To help it keep its shape, I used pro-tricot deluxe fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply for the collar, plackets, facings, and yoke pieces. I really liked this interfacing– I was amazed to see that the fabric still retained its stretch after fusing! I also stabilized the shoulder seam with twill tape, following the pattern directions to topstitch from the right side on either side of the seam. The fabric is stretchy, but not CRAZY stretchy, so I used a ballpoint needle to avoid skipped stitches, but stitched the vertical seams with a regular straight stitch. I used a zigzag stitch on anything that needed to stretch horizontally (like the cuff seams), and I used my Janome’s special stretch zigzag stitch for the hem to make sure it had plenty of give (I just discovered this stitch after, oh, two years sewing on this machine… facepalm). Buttonholes… well, they LOOK pretty good, but my feed dogs couldn’t move the fabric forward while I was sewing them, so I had to sort of manually shove the fabric underneath the buttonhole foot. I was trying to match the speed I thought the sewing machine would move to keep from stretching out the buttonholes, and I think I was fairly successful, but it was pretty nerve-wracking!
The major difficulty of using a fabric like this for this pattern is BULK. In some places, like where the collar attaches to the neckline, you’re sewing through six layers of fabric (not counting interfacing!)– whoa, Nelly! My poor sewing machine was pretty sad trying to chomp through that much fabric. I graded the seams and notched them aggressively, but there’s still a bit of bulk in some of the seams that just couldn’t be eliminated. If you’re making this pattern or something else with a shawl collar, it might make sense to cut facings or the undercollar out of a lighter-weight fabric, something I routinely do when sewing with wovens but didn’t consider on this project.
So, brief sidebar– guys, it’s WAY more fun to be on the other side of the camera telling someone how to model than to pose for pictures yourself! I was nearly mad with power and really had to dial back the impulse to shout things like, “What’s your character’s backstory?” Man Friend was worried that he looked too much like His Excellency, the Duke of Fall. There’s definitely a resemblance, huh?
How about you– are you a wool enthusiast? Are you a fall junkie? Are you a member of the pumpkin spice latte cult? What’s on your sewing table these days?