Dude Sewing: Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan

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!)

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

This is the closest thing I could find to a smile in the photos…

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.

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

“Oh, wow, this pipe is so INTERESTING! I think I’ll keep staring at it!”

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!

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

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.

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

Better keep inspecting that pipe– you might miss a detail!

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?

HOLY CRAP, LOOK OUT! YOUR HEAD IS GLOWING, MAN FRIEND!  Someone take the camera away from me, please.

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?

Bathroom graffiti at FIT where I’m taking night classes. It’s a cult, people!

126 responses

  1. man friend is a cutie Sonja! 😉 And the cardigan is nice too. I’ve been sewing boring work clothes. blah. Oh, and I made a quilt. Maybe I’ll blog it one of these days. I do love the pumpkin spice latte, but I’m content with my homemade coffee. Those specialty drinks really add up fast.


    • I think he’s awfully cute! Work clothes are kinda boring, but it’s so nice to have stuff you can reach for on regular days instead of just for cocktail parties or dress-up events! Would you believe I don’t have a coffee maker (I just use the one at work in the mornings)? I guess I should be a grownup and buy one! Then I can make my own specialty drinks! 😉


  2. so cozy! i’m more of the cinnamon cult… though i tend to use it year round, but definitely amp it up for fall/winter. your dude sewing looks wonderful, i can’t wait to try out TT patterns too!


  3. Fall is the best! I love wool, and knitting and apple cider (no coffee for this gal!) I Am positively in love with this sweater you’ve sewn AND thank you for highlighting this awesome pattern company I’d never heard of. Must add to the very long list of things to sew for the boyfriend.


  4. You’re so sweet! It looks great. I love fall and winter fabrics! I’ve been feeling suddenly inspired since realizing it’s fall, which only happened about a week ago due to SF’s delayed summer weather.


  5. I must say, I agree wholeheartedly with your first paragraph. Summer all the way! I just can’t get excited about the cold, but I try to with some winter sewing projects. I guess it works… 🙂 Nice job with your dude sewing skills!


  6. That is such a great sweater! Omg, I want one for myself. And you made it for your dad?!? Awwwwhhhhh. Ha ha! Love the photos of man friend. He’s a good sport. Shhmoke and a pancake?

    Umm, yes. I’m a fall junky. That includes daily trips to the local bookstore cafe for overpriced pumpkin pie chais. I’m also always cold, but grateful for the excuse to wear all of my handknits!!


  7. What an awesome wooly gift for your dad! Looks so cozy! I do tend to shy away from those tricky, thicker weight fabrics. Sewing 6 layers must have been a chore. I would love to try something like this for my man though. As for the pumpkin spice I’m with you, throw the cinnamon on yourself…


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