Juniper cardigan

As you might have noticed I’ve been in a bit of a sewing drought. There aren’t too many things I need in my wardrobe right now and for some reason the things I do need aren’t really getting me excited to sew them. Upside is the finished knitted items. Downside is no sewing output (I don’t need many things but the things I do need I really need!) and also feeling a bit weird and twitchy because if I don’t make something regularly I go a bit strange. Er. Stranger. Strangerer. See??

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I broke my drought with some knits. First up was a pile of new Steeplechase bikeshorts. I wear a pair at least every work day – my original batch are long gone and the most recent batch was nearing a year old. They are still ok but as they age they lose recovery and the hems start to chafe a little. They are still wearable but not ideal if I’m doing a lot of walking in them, which I do in a normal work day, to and from the train and then usually some walking at lunch when I can manage it. So some of them will be retired into sleepshorts and some will be weekend wear for the occasions when I wear skirts on the weekend instead of yogapants. I now have another week’s worth of new shorts. It feels oddly luxurious to have that pile sitting in my drawer, nice and new and fully functional (although I did make the elastic the teeniest bit tight, so it will take a while for them to wear in. Better too tight than too loose at least). Like treating myself! In the most boring way possible!

While I was on the black knits train I cut out a Juniper cardigan from Jennifer Lauren Vintage. By the way I hope you’ll excuse the terrible photos. There’s so little daylight these days I’m struggling for photo time. I did a shoot on the weekend where the top was way overexposed and looked super saggy and wrinkly – it is a little wrinkly but it looked like a disaster which it doesn’t in real life! So I did a replacement shoot quickly this morning and I look like a half-asleep ghost (which is about how I feel lately! I do not like winter…) but I’m just not going to have time to photograph it again so you gets what you gets. Weird facial expressions and all…

Still looking more wrinkly than it does irl, but it’s an improvement. Trust me.

I saw this on the CSC pattern roundup for April. I’d put myself on an informal pattern buying hiatus after finding a big stack of printed but not taped up patterns! I was intending not to buy any more patterns until I’ve used some of the dang ones I’ve got, but I liked this so much that I bought it immediately.* It is exactly the kind of silhouette I want for my jumpers, hits at the right place, and the sleeves are a bit interesting. Plus, it’s finished with bands which means no dodgy hems. I have a couple of sewn jumpers that I don’t wear much because the sleeve hems make it look very homemade to me. Obviously I could draft hem bands myself if I wanted! But it’s always nice not to have to.

*As I was finishing this post up I checked my email and saw the Laneway dress and I was so high on the success of my cardi that I bought it. NO RAGRATS! But I might have to put myself on a firm pattern buying restriction because this is getting a bit out of hand….

Is this smizing? We’ll never know

I taped this up and traced off my size during my sewing drought – along with several of those stashed patterns! I’m slowly working through my pdf patterns and getting them neat and organised and labelled, and taping them up ready to go. It feels really good to be organised! And it meant when I felt like sewing again I was ready to go without too much mucking around.

The fabric is ponti from DK fabrics. I thought I’d taken a photo of the tag for fibre content but nope. I think it’s poly/rayon/spandex in some kind of proportion, and it’s really lovely. My intention was to make this as a muslin before using more expensive merino knits because I didn’t think it would be very warm but actually I think it will be a great transitional jumper. If it wears well I’ll be back for more of this fabric – it’s very wide so I have almost-but-not-quite enough to make a pair of gingers, which I think would be great in this. It has quite good 4 directional stretch, too.

Juniper is the first Jennifer Lauren Vintage pattern I’ve bought. I really liked the PDF – there are a lot of pages but everything is sectioned off so you can just print and stick the version you want – long length with long sleeves or short length with 3/4 sleeves etc. I printed everything because I’m a completist 😛 but having it segmented made the taping process feel quick because it wasn’t a big endless swathe. Much easier to do, too, when you can cut as you go and not have a massive sheet of taped together paper taking up space. The matching notches were well designed – I tape up a LOT of PDF patterns so it’s the kind of thing I take note of. This was one of the more painless PDFs I’ve ever used.

The instructions are really comprehensive as well. They would be great for a beginner I think. Often I skim straight through and just look at the pictures but I actually read them all because of the different shoulders, and also because its’ been a while since I sewed and like Anna I tend to have a lot of stumbles when picking up sewing after a break. I haven’t forgotten how to do things exactly but it all feels a bit foreign. The good part of this is it makes me realise how many skills I actually have! I just don’t notice them because I am used to them.

Anyway the instructions are great and very clear and helpful, and I appreciated the extended pattern measurements and discussion of choosing sizes, which helped me feel confident when choosing what size to trace off. Plus I appreciated the discussion of the weight of the fabric, which has definitely caught me out before with knits, as well as information about the right notions to use. The only thing missing from the instructions, imo, is a discussion of what stitches to use. It’s not mentioned anywhere at all which was no big deal for me but would be handy for a beginner. (As an aside, the Scroop Patterns Miramar has the best breakdown of what stitches to use with knits I’ve seen. Disclaimer, I did pattern test the Miramar although I have yet to make one because I have yet to find a knit with enough vertical stretch (maybe this ponti is it??). But the instructions on that were bang on.)

Bow before me and my armpit wrinkles

I cut a size 18 sleeve and upper chest, with a size 20 bust and a size 22 waist, based on the extended measurements and the information about intended ease included in the pattern. This made it a bit tricky trying to remember which size cuff and button band to trace off but not that bad – I just had to think about it a bit! The sleeves were the perfect length when I tried it on without the cuffs, so I just lopped them off to shorten them before I sewed on the cuffs.

As you can see, this  fits me ok but not great. I think I need a size larger in the front and maybe a size smaller at back waist – the pouching at the side waist is resolved if I pinch out a good couple inches at the back waist, but then the front is too tight. It’s clearly too tight at the bust – not heaps but enough to wrinkly – and  the front pulls up a little. I am trying to decide if I would do an FBA next time (and fold out the dart, or ease it in) or just cut the front a size 22 at the bust and size 24 at the waist, and add 1/2″ length to the centre front. I’ll wear it a few more times before I decide. I’ll also add maybe 1.5cm length to the centre back I think – it technically hits ok but as I move it hikes up and I find myself wanting to tug it down. I think when I make the back tighter it will exacerbate that issue so I’ll add the length to compensate.

The back waistband looks ok but I can feel it gaping

With all those caveats, this still certainly hits my goal of ‘fits better than my RTW version’. My usual outfit every day is some kind of variation on a circle skirt, a long sleeved tshirt or button up shirt and a jumper – usually from woolovers  because it’s the only place I can find actual warm wool jumpers (not poly, and not super thin wool like Uniqlo). But they are all very long in the waist and I am always fiddling with where they are sitting, or I have to tuck them in and that has its own issues.

The ponte is warmer than I was anticipating – not as warm as my woolovers ones but significantly warmer than my thin uniqlo one – but there’s enough rayon in it that it’s not weird and sweaty either. And it’s so nice not having to fuss with the waist being too long or the shoulders too wide. ‘Not having to think about it while wearing it’ is super high on my list of desirable aspects for my clothes.

Judging you… or myself maybe? Or perhaps a bird that I saw.

Sewing wise, this top went together so quickly and sweetly! The saddle shoulders have the potential to be tricky but the notches are bang on and the instructions are great so I didn’t have any trouble. The only hiccup was attaching the buttonband. I sewed the bulk of the jumper on my sewing machine with a lightning stitch, and then I used my overlocker for the bands and cuffs because I find they sit neater if overlocked. But I didn’t have any knit interfacing so I used regular, which meant that that section of the button band had no stretch there. Which is fine! Except that it meant that I had no give to ease it in. That plus the bulk not wanting to go under my overlocker meant there’s a little bit of a missmatch at the bottom of the jumper. Not heaps, but enough to make me cross with myself. This would be super easily avoidable if you were sewing on a sewing machine with more control, and next time I will machine baste it before overlocking. Totally user error on my part, a dumb mistake.

The sole survivor of the original photoshoot where you can see the dodginess I created. I promise it’s not half as obvious irl

I also wasn’t really thinking and used white interfacing – which was all I had on hand anyway. It does show through a teeny bit, I think it probably will show with wear. Not a huge deal but a bit annoying, and something to remember next time.

I never wear cardigans open so I decided the sew the buttonband shut. I was also influenced by the sewing error above – this hides it a bit more effectively. I sewed it up a bit too high so it pulls at the top, when I have black thread in my machine next I will unpick that top bit and use my favourite dodgy trick of sewing over the line of stitching for a bit and backtacking to hold it in place. The buttons are just basic ones from my stash, and I sewed them right through both button bands.

I didn’t top stitch because I liked it as is and didn’t want to risk making it wobbly. I stablised the shoulders with some thin twill tape I have from S’s dad – he used to own a deli and stocked basic notions which he took with him when he sold it as the new owners didn’t want them. So I have a nice stash of snaps and twill tape and the like. It felt really good to use some and it was the perfect thing for this. I really don’t like how clear elastic feels so I avoid using it where possible, and I thought on a thick knit like this I could use the extra heft of a woven stabliser. Also I totally forgot to take a photo of that bit and now it’s dark and impossible to photograph black things, so you’ll just have to imagine it.

TL;DR review:

  • Fabric is a ponti from DK fabrics.
  • I sewed a size 18 upper chest and sleeves, size 20 bust and size 22 waist.
  • My measurements are upper bust 41″, full bust 46″, waist 41″, hips 46″
  • Next time I would size down at the back waist (so, a size 18 upper chest and size 20 down) and either do an FBA or size up on the front from the bust down (size 22 bust size 24 waist).
  • I shortened the sleeves by 1.5″ ish (the length of the cuff).
  • I found the pdf really well designed, and the pattern well drafted. Really impressed by this.
  • I used regular interfacing for the button bands, not knit, and this made it hard to get the bands set in correctly.
  • This would be easily worked around by basting before sewing or overlocking the bands on.
  • I sewed the button band shut because I don’t intend on ever opening it.
  • I used thin twill tape to stablise the shoulder seams.

I really like this pattern and this jumper! My version is not perfect but I like it a lot, and I really enjoyed sewing this well drafted pattern. I would definitely recommend it, and based on the experience I would be keen to try other JLV patterns.

I’m looking forward to sewing it up in some of the merino in my stash – and maybe purchasing some different colours of the fabric store merino – A navy cardi would be very practical, and I think I might need an emerald one, don’t you?

Fehr Trade Steeplechase shorts

Or: Unflattering pictures of my butt and other parts.

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Butts

I winced a bit at the thought of blogging these, because 1) it’s impossible to get a flattering shot of them, so ~~bodyfeels~~ 2) they are essentially underwear, even though they are covering a lot, and I am not a person who feels natural about putting photos of herself in her underwear onto the internet. But these are essential things that I wear every day, and I want a record of what changes I made, and also, all the same reasons that Nicole blogged her bra.

So! I made some steeplechase bike shorts by Fehr Trade. I wear bike shorts every day I wear skirts or dresses, which is basically every day. I can’t stand chub rub, and it’s nice to be confident to move freely without worrying you’ll flash someone. I was using a pattern adapted from leggings that I had been refining over the years, but they always wore out at the inseam long before they did anywhere else, and also the inseam itself occasionally caused chub rub. I was trying to get my mind around how to make a pattern with no inseam, when the steeplechase leggings/shorts were released. I figured the hard work was done, and much better than I would be able to!

My measurements fell somewhere between L and XL for the hips, and above XL for the waist – waist 99cm, hips 116cm. But I know from experience that my waist is functionally a smaller size than its actual measurements, especially for elastic-waisted things, because of where the width is. I have a belly so that my waist is actually my largest place on the front, but that’s balanced by a big swayback, so for elastic waists or tight fitting yokes, I generally need a size down from my measurements because it sits closer to my sacrum than a measuring tape will.

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Because of the funky (and so smart) way the pattern is drafted, I wasn’t sure how to blend between sizes. I sort of wunged it and traced a bit between the L and XL lines, for this first one. If I’d read the instructions all the way through properly, I would have seen that there’s instructions for sizing up the waist yoke by slashing and spreading. If I’d stopped to think I’d have known to do that without needing to read the instructions, since that was where I needed the most room. But I’m trying to sew even when I’m not 100% at my best, which is resulting in a much higher output in both actual, wearable clothes, and also dumb mistakes. So.

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Also, there is a lot of underwear bunching going on at the hips but that’s life.

As you can see, these are too large. They have enough positive ease that they actually chafe a bit – I find that for shorts I need exactly the right amount of negative ease or they are loose at the bottom and rub. I also had some pattern adjusting shenanigans because I initially put these on back-to-front and there was way too much height at front. I still find them quite high in the stomach area, but it helps if I put them on correctly! The leg seam should go at the back, which handily removes any need for a tab or anything to tell front from back.

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v. saggy

I also found them too long, I have to be careful they don’t peek out the bottom of skirts, so in future versions I shortened the pattern by 1″.

So after that I cut a straight L

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These were much better, but after about a half day of wear they relax enough to have slight positive ease. The back view of these ones are at the top of the post.

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So then I cut a straight size M.

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I was initially really pleased with this. However, after wearing them a few times, it’s clear they are too small at the waist – the L sit above my belly and sit flat and still – high waisted might not be particularly attractive but for undershorts it’s much better because they sit nice under clothes and it means I don’t have two waistbands in the same spot if I’m wearing a skirt. Whereas the M are too small to stretch all the way around my belly at its widest, and not high enough to go above it. I find myself needing to adjust them every time I go to the bathroom during the day, and sometimes they bunch weirdly beneath clothes. They also are too short, and the hem hits high enough to be in the Chub Zone, which means they chafe a bit. I mean, duh, more negative ease = less length.

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Pulling down at the sacrum, too small everywhere across my butt.
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You can see the belly issues – that’s sitting at my widest point while the L sit comfortably above it.

Annoyingly, I thought I’d cracked the fit and made three of the M. They’re still wearable, and still better than the ones I had made before from my own pattern. I’ll need to make more anyway, so I think next time I will slash and spread the yoke to be a M at the bottom and an L at the top, and use the M legs, which do fit pretty perfectly, once I add back in that 1″ of length.

I serged them all with grey thread because that’s what was in my machine and who cares. It shows through a bit when they stretch but… they are very unsexy under-wear anyway, not to mention muslins, so it’s not a big deal.

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Thread show through

I have to say, these were really fun to make. They are a cool draft, the instructions are great, and I felt smart once I sewed it, even though they actually weren’t hard. I just followed the excellent instructions blindly the first time, and now I know how the origami of them works they don’t seem any harder to make than a regular thing with legs. I also really like the way the instructions have you insert the elastic – mine is very functional and comfortable but not neat, but if you were wearing these as outerwear it would be easy to take just slightly more care than I was bothered about and have the insides look nice.

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I made a couple out of scraps of different colours.

I will definitely be making more of these, as soon as I can source some appropriate fabric. It needs to be stretchy but breatheable, which is a hard ask. Spotlight has some ‘performance knit’ which my last batch before this were made from, which was great but it’s $24 a metre or something which I guess is not particularly expensive but it is for spotlight and also for something as boring as this! But given that I’ve failed to find anything else appropriate, I’ll be buying some. At least I know how it behaves – the trouble with sewing something like this is that every fabric is slightly different. For instance, the M shorts that I’ve shown here have slightly less length-ways stretch and so are too short to wear by themselves without chafing, while the M shorts made from the same light blue fabric as the L size are closer to long enough.

At least the long-but-short nature of the pattern pieces means it’s actually better for being parsimonious with your fabric use. I got all of these out of scraps left over from various projects – there was a lot of fabric but in weird shapes, but I managed to get these out of it. I did cut one cross grain by accident, but since this fabric has pretty close to 50% stretch each way, I don’t actually notice it at all.

I really love these shorts, and am so glad I tried this pattern. If it’s something you would wear or use, I definitely recommend it.

Who wore it better?
Who wore it better?