How are you doing? It’s been a bit quiet on the sewing front for me since I got back from my trip. After going self employed recently I’ve needed to focus on my hairdressing (what with that being my main source of income) and I’m happy to report it’s going really well. I’ve found a great salon where I’m really comfortable, steadily busy and my own boss. Win, win, win! (If you’re interested in an appointment, drop me a message either here or on Instagram 😉)
My world of tap-dance-teaching has expanded now too and on top of the two regular Thursday night classes I teach in Covent Garden, I have taken over a Wednesday evening class from a friend. It’s in Leytonstone Library which has a beautiful art-deco hall on the first floor – I wasn’t really sure how tap dancing would go down in a library, but we’ve had no noise complaints so far! (Click here if you’d like to know more about my tap classes!)
This ‘spanner-in-my-sewing’ has come at an inopportune time as this month (September) I was (very kindly) asked to get involved with #sewmanpants – an Instagram challenge encouraging people to sew more menswear, check out Vivian’s post for the full details. But the idea is, sew some menswear in September (not necessarily pants as the hashtag might suggest!) and post on Instagram using #sewmanpants and tagging the four main hosts, for the chance to win some fantastic prizes! What’s stopping you…?!
As I made it last month, this top doesn’t count for the competition but let me put it out there as a bit of inspiration anyway… You may remember a couple of posts ago that I was very kindly given some patterns from the new French Menswear pattern company Patrons les BG. I started out with their underwear pattern (and caused quite a stir on instagram with the photo I posted of MrA BBQ-ing in his twin-set!). Well, next up is the Relaxed Sweater – and as wonderful a sweater as it is, I’m afraid it does not come with a racy photo-shoot! (I’ve also made the Chinos, documented here)
The ‘Relaxed’ is a pullover sweater with a hood and kangaroo pocket option. The sizes range from 95cm to 116cm chest and take around 1.5 – 2 metres of jersey fabric, depending on the width of the fabric, and, indeed, the width of you. The hood meets at the centre front, so it would be a simple-ish job to make it into a zip up hoodie – by splitting the front piece, measuring for a zip and adding seam allowance – if you wanted that option.
I was sent the patterns for free, but these blog posts are all my own idea, opinion and instigation.
I was particularly pleased to get this pattern as I was looking for a top to go with my recent tap dancing shorts (which I am in love with… officially!) and I had just the right amount of both fabrics left.
Pattern & Fabric
As before, you get a nice sturdy plastic wallet containing a card with the front sketches, a neatly illustrated instruction booklet and your paper pattern. Remember, seam allowances are not included so you’ll have to add what you need at the tracing stage. Even for the hooded version with the pocket there are only five pieces to cut. The sleeve is drafted on the fold as the front is the same as the back, but I traced it as a whole sleeve so that I could make better use of my fabric.
The sweatshirt jersey came from Vend Fabrics on a late-night-booze-fuelled-online-shopping-spree (… don’t tell me I’m the only one…!) and luckily I couldn’t be happier with it. I got some tshirt jersey at the same time which has sewn and washed really well too. It’s a little less stretchy than the pattern suggests ( 30% minimum) so I knew it would be a bit more fitted. I cut out a medium based on my measurements and am really happy with the fit. Check the measurements carefully before you cut out as these patterns are drafted much more realistically than some of the more traditional pattern companies.
It’s billed as a simpler pattern for beginners, and I’d have to agree with them. If you are starting out and thinking of this as a maiden project, I’d suggest omitting the pocket but maybe doing the hood on your first one… Hey, forget that, do what you want – go for it! But maybe use some starch on the pocket piece to help press and position it neatly.
The hood went in painlessly… I know neck bands can be awkward (I certainly feel more confident with them since my recent revelations) but still, the hood option seems almost foolproof by comparison.
With ‘simple’ zigzagged or overlocked seams and folded cuffs and hems, this is a much less fiddly sew than it would be if it had taped neck and shoulder seams, and separate cuffs & hem bands. These things could be added quite easily and it would still be achievable within a few hours. I chose to let my rainbow overlocker thread* add a secret splash of colour.
With such ‘simple’ pattern pieces, the options for modification are pretty wide. I’ve seen some great ones on Instagram using contrast fabrics and colour blocking as well as slashing the pattern to add more design depth.
I used regular polyester sew all thread, #70 jersey needle and a 2mm x 2mm zigzag stitch for all the main sewing. Rainbow overlocker thread on all the seams and a twin needle to finish the pocket, cuffs & hems
I’m so happy with this hoodie I don’t really have anything negative to say about it. If I’m pushed, I’d have to say that the shoulders are a little bit pointy – I think the flipside of this is that the arms aren’t overly baggy either which is, in fact, another plus!
This post was delayed in its posting as I was trying to get some better photos of the hoodie than this. But I’m afraid, life is more important and I’ve worn it much more than I’ve photographed it! This was me after hairdressing all day then teaching two hours of tap dancing… just before the (weekly) celebratory beer & pizza, in a Covent Garden side street…!
I have to admit, I feel pretty cool in my camo-combo and I wear this hoodie at every opportunity. Have a look at Patrons les BG on Instagram, there are some really cool & colourful makes. And remember, you’ve got until the end of September for the #Sewmanpants challenge.
Hopefully I’ll find a bit more time for sewing between now and Christmas. Without realising it I seem to have gathered up a few projects worth of fabric and have quite a backlog in my sewing queue. Some serious prep is called for: I think it’s time to tidy up my stash.
Until next time,
Notes to self:
- Clothes seem easier to store than fabric, so get making!
- However, don’t be afraid of drink fuelled fabric shopping, sometimes it pays good dividends!
- Find some snuggly winter fabrics for some more of these Hoodies, it’s a winner!
- Make time for sewing, you’re moody without it!
- Get something finished within september and there’s the chance to win a prize with #sewmanpants!