Time for a bit more of an in depth look at the garments I made for the Maai Design Blog Tour. First up, P's hoodie:
For a couple of years now I've been wanting to re-create a zip-up, knit fabric hoodie that P had outgrown. I'd stalled due to not being able to find the exact knit I wanted - the old one was a double sided knit with two different, but complementary, coloured striped faces. It had welt pockets, and the welts, bottom band, cuffs and zipper placket were all sewn with the "wrong" side of the fabric showing.
For the lack of such a fabric the obvious thing to do was to use two different knits. I didn't have a suitable pattern, and I was about to start seriously complicating one of my favourite basic T-shirt patterns, when I remembered a pattern I did already have....
It's the Zander Hoodie by Everything Your Mama Made (E.Y.M.M.) and I think I'd bought it a while ago in one of those PDF pattern bundle sales. I figured since I already had a hoodie pattern I may as well use it. I liked the asymmetrical zip, although that stopped me from doing welt pockets as I figured they would look oddly unbalanced, so I sewed it exactly "as is".
P is 7 and a half years old, and his measurements put him smack in the middle of the 6/7 and 8/10 sizes. Knowing his tendency to need extra sleeve length, I went for the bigger size and scratched around for some fabric to make a test run. What I found wasn't going to suit P, and he didn't need two hoodies anyway, so I made up one for the little sister that can sit in the cupboard for three years!
To be clear, I'm not a big fan of print at home PDF patterns. Sometimes, it's fairly painless and the pattern is so good it's worth it, and other times, not.
I faffed around with Microsoft reader trying to get the 1" test square to be any size other than 15/16ths of an inch. Eventually I gave up, reinstalled Adobe and got my test square the right size. The pattern boasted an ingenious tiling solution that didn't require any trimming. Just line up the free edge of one page with the printed line on the previous page. Great I thought.... I did note an odd comment about using a large window to overlap the pages IF you're using A4 paper. Well, since when did paper size have anything to do with transparency? Tosh, thought I...
Then I gathered up all 34 pages of pattern printout and started trying to align them. They simply did not match up. By searching the EYMM website I found the addendum that the page aligning method won't work for any paper size other than whatever non international standard size the yanks use. For the rest of the world, one should align the pages as best as possible by linking up the lines. It will be accurate to within 1/8th of an inch. Whaaaa??? *#%^@&?! I've just spent an hour or more trying to eliminate the 1/16" of an inch scaling error only to have to haphazardly mash my pattern pages together.
To be clear, I'm not a big fan of (most) print at home PDF patterns.
Deep breath, pour a glass of wine and start cutting some pink loopback terry knit and the little bits of leftover Lisette knit for the lining.
The sewing is mostly easy, interrupted by trips back and forwards to the computer to view the instructions. Easy that is, until you get to the shoulder and back neckline stage. The pattern has no notches or markings anywhere and this one step is where that is a real problem. To sew the angle at the front shoulder is similar to sewing a V neck T-shirt. There are two opposite V's which need to come together with no puckers.
The problems is that the apex of each V is not clearly defined. One side (the side with the zip placket) is about a cm different to the other - and I was being precise with my seam allowances. To sew a neat V it helps to staystitch, clip, pin down the apex and then shift the fabric under the needle. In fact here's a tutorial I wrote doing exactly that. But I was stumped here as I just didn't have any reference points for where this apex was meant to be...
If I'm sounding a bit grumpy about this, bear in mind that this awkward corner is sewn four times in total. Both sides on the lining and the outer garment. If you're fussy about puckers and rip the seam and re-sew, the count goes up from four. There was swearing.
But after that point, the rest of the sewing is very pleasant, and then when you're finally done and the fit is perfection, well, that's when you go back and do it again (and there was swearing the next four times through that shoulder corner as well)
It was certainly easier in a stretchier knit. I'm sure if you were using polar fleece or similar it would be relatively easy to fudge a decent corner. But why not just give us some pattern markings and save everyone's sanity?!
Perhaps the huge hood is intended to always cover that point, so no one ever needs to feel bad about their shoulder corners. It is a very generously sized hood!
One feature that I really like, and might have had trouble figuring out, had I made up my own zip up hoodie is the inner zip shield. This is neat:
I think there's meant to be some edgestitching around the bottom band, but since I had no idea which way to press my seam allowances when I attached the zipper, I ended up with some seam allowance down into the bottom band, and some up. Edgestitching seemed futile. Of course I didn't think it through before the second version so it also went without the edgestitching on the bottom band.
A neat trick that I learned from Oliver + S is this (I was looking elsewhere for instructions by now) : After attaching one side of the zipper, close the zip and mark the bottom and top of the garment, and the line of the top edge of the pocket on the zipper tape. Then when you attach the other side of the zipper you can get it perfectly aligned so that the pockets match when the zipper is closed.
To give P's Zonen09 knit hoodie the same weight and warmth as the terry version I underlined with a single layer of polar fleece. I also used some ribbing inside the bottom band and cuffs, so they're also hefty, double thickness.
The pattern has the sleeves unlined (I should have taken a photo of the pink one inside out, sorry), but since I wanted the green one to be super thick I lined and underlined the sleeves as well. It made no difference to the sewing, just that the sleeve cuffs are the final part attached and thus the only inner visible seam. My overlocker did struggle a bit with all that thickness, but they're not about to fall off.
The final verdict: He LOVES it. The squishy fabric, the thick, coziness of it, the ludicrously big hood and the "it's not straight, mum" zipper. And now that the sewing experience is behind me, so do I. To have a jacket fit him so well with no adjustments is a delight. I mean look at those sleeves! No more bare wrists for monkey boy. I'm scoring a definite "room for improvement" on the pattern's assembly and instructions but it's two thumbs up for the finished garment.
I even kept the big tiled pattern sheet so that should I need to trace another size one day then I'm one headaches headstart on this version!
Don't forget you can still enter to win some lovely Soft cactus or Froy & Dind fabric by using the widget at the end of this blog post. Good luck