I'm about to kick off a big sewing-related weekend, so I'm going to take the lazy way out and copy my Patternreview comments here. I meant to do some construction notes through the week as I worked on this, but life and work and family and exhaustion got in the way. It was either sew or type, and I made the right choice.
Pattern Description: Wardrobe pattern including a knockoff of the Michelle Obama inauguration day dress/coat. Also includes a top, skirt and cardigan. This review is for the cardigan only, at least at this point. The cardigan has raglan sleeves, a shoulder dart, and a pleat in the front below the neck band that adds a nice drape to the front.
Pattern Sizing: Simplicity sizes 4-22. I made a size 12 with no alteration other than the standard "shorten here" petite alteration.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.
Were the instructions easy to follow?I didn't look at them as I was sewing, but I checked them after and they were fine. This is a very simple, intuitive pattern and went together without issues.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?Interestingly enough, I bought the pattern for the coat/dress and thought that the top/skirt/cardigan was fairly uninteresting. When I bought this fabric, however, the first pattern that popped into my head was this little cardigan. It turned out to be just right - simple lines to let the fabric shine, and an easy fit. Well drafted so that I could tweak it if I wanted to.
Fabric Used: Sweater knit from Emma One Sock. Carolyn made me buy it. Listed as wool/poly/acrylic though she calls it "cashmere" (in quotes). It definitely feels cashmere-like, it itches like wool, and it's as warm as any good unnatural fiber. Since the fabric was sold with the caveat of dry clean or hand wash in cold, and I don't like to dry clean (or hand wash, if I can help it), my options were limited to pieces that didn't need a lot of cleaning.
Any alterations or any design changes you made: I made very few alterations to the pattern. There were some design and construction changes, but I'll start with the pattern. My only change, after tissue-fitting the pattern, was to fold out the petite alteration to change the overall length of the sweater. I could see situations where the original length would work, but for what I had in mind, the shorter silhouette was the right one.
This pattern is meant for stretch fabrics, and while my sweater knit was a stretch to begin with, it didn't end up that way. I loved the fabric, but wool makes me itch, and this apparently had just enough wool in it to get to me. So there went my original sweater idea, since I couldn't wear the fabric against my skin. And I'm not much of a shirt-under-sweater fan, it makes me feel all rumply and untucked. Also, as I said above, I didn't want a piece that would be againt my skin because it would require more frequent cleaning. I came up with the cardigan idea, and then decided that I was going to line it.
From there, I went from lining to underlining. I found a standard lightweight lining fabric in a coordinating green, and I cut lining pieces for every pattern piece. Then I hand-basted the lining to the sweater knit. Since the lining was slippery and the knit was stretchy, I foresaw disaster if I tried to baste by machine. Once I had the two layers basted together, I pin-fit again, liked what I saw, and started to sew the seams. Since the seam allowances would be visible on the inside, once the seams were complete I trimmed them close and zig-zagged over them to neaten the seams. I ended up liking the look a lot; it's very clean and about the best I'm going to get unless I invest in a serger.
My main design change was to shorten the sleeves to right below the elbow and add a sleeve flounce..
The collar is a nice feature - the piece is a curved band, cut on the fold, so there's no stretching, no easing to make it fit. Very nice.
As a side note, I didn't use any interfacing at all in this project. It was of course recommended for the button placket and the collar band, but it was also intended for a different method of construction. Since I was only doing a top closure, I knew I didn't have to do the placket, but I was iffy about the band. After I sewed the band to the cardigan, I pressed the lining band to the inside and pinned it to see how it felt. At that point, I still could have cut an interfacing piece and ironed it on, a little awkwardly, but it would have worked. However, the neck band felt good and stayed nice and flat and stable, so I went without.
For the lining, I hand-sewed the collar band on the inside. I pressed the cut-on facing back (leaving the extra bit of lining on the inside to serve as interfacing) and hand-sewed that as well. I didn't want a lot of visible stitching on this piece. Here's a picture of the cardigan inside out. The one place where I did visibly stitch was the hem - I pulled out the coverstitch. I basted the hem up and then coverstitched over the basting stitches to make sure I contained the raw edge inside the stitching. I love how clean and finished the inside of the cardigan looks.
For the closure, the pattern suggests buttons and buttonholes, but I went for a single closure at the top. I used an oversized snap from Pacific Trims in NYC, and sewed a button on top. The button is an antique, the last of a set of 6 purchased at a Paris flea market last year.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would definitely recommend this - it's a well-drafted, easy to sew pattern that would lend itself to a variety of looks and fabrics.
Conclusion: The perfect pattern for fabric I hadn't intended to buy, and proof that you never know when that pattern you aren't attracted to won't all of a sudden start looking good to you.