Finished - l'ensemble gratis
Today it's an outfit built on the generosity of the sewing world out there on the interwebs. There are so many free sewing patterns available now, you could dress yourself top to toe in garments made from patterns that will cost you nothing more than a few sheets of paper, some glue or tape and a bit of time. Todays photos come from a brightish corner of my sewing room. It is so blustery, wet and miserable today that I couldn't bear to be out even for a few minutes to get some outside pics. So apologies for slightly dim shots.
My cardigan is the Swoon Scarf Neck cardigan, first discussed here in my discussion of cardigan patterns back in MMM 14. Swoon make bag and childrens patterns, and for some reason decided to release their adult womens cardigan pattern for free. It's an intriguing design, with princess seams in the front for some extra shape, a drapey neckline that mimics a bunched up scarf, nice long sleeves for winter, and an unusual shoulder/yoke design that I've not seen before. I made it in a lovely wool knit that was an absolute bargain at G&J fabrics in Brunswick East - it was $4/m, content unknown, but my twitchy little fingers thought it was suspiciously woolly and when I did the burn test at home it was definitely very wool rich - and it smells like a wet sheep when steamed. I may or may not have gone back to buy more......
I made the smallest size S, but decided to use 2/8 inch seam allowances rather than the 5/8 given in the pattern, mostly because my lightening stitch makes a nice seam at that size and I wanted to seams to look as tidy as possible (the instructions suggest french seaming which I've never done with knits. I know I love a woven frenchie, but the idea of a knit french seam didn't appeal much to me). The fit is quite flattering - it does narrow at the waist and flares out at the hem, with nice slim fitted sleeves. I ended up taking in the shoulder seams by an extra 5/8 inch on top of my original 2/8 inch seam as they were not sitting on my shoulders. I also to cut off the angular point at the bottom of the side-front panel - it was long and I knew it wouldn't really suit me, and I also wondered how it would be to nicely hem it. So off it came, straightening that part of the hem. I shortened the whole cardigan by about an inch, then did a 3/4 inch hem to raise the hemline to hip level. The sleeves are very long - I lopped the ends off and used them to make cuffs, mostly because I had run out of matching thread by that point....
It's quite a fabric hungry pattern, due to the drapiness I suppose, but I cut it out in a single layer which was the most efficient way to use my fabric. I think I used 1.5 metres with only scraps left over. It came together very nicely - there are no notches on the pattern but it's not complicated and the instructions are very clear. I was a bit concerned about hemming both the long vertical neckline edge, and the bottom hem without waviness. I've run out of Steam-a-seam, but Spotty had Heat-n-Bond, so I thought I'd give that a go instead. It's quite different to the SAS - it doesn't stretch so it wouldn't be any good with a knit hem that needs to stretch and it makes the hem quite stiff and inflexible. It worked very well for the vertical neckline, but I still got some waviness on the horizontal hem - the next cardigan hem I do I will defintely try the sewing over tissue paper trick that has been recommended to me. Be aware that the drapey angled front hem is sometimes visible from the wrong side, depending on how your neckline is draping so take some care to finish the seam nicely from both sides.
Will I make it again? Not right away. It's certainly warm and cozy, and will be great for work or lazing around at home, but it's a little too drapey for my style. I would never have even tried this on in a shop if I saw it, so at least sewing has made me step outside my normal style parameters. But if you like a bit of a drapey cardi then I say definitely make it up - the design really is very unique and quite different to the many drapey cardi patterns available out there.
Hiding under my cardi is my first attempt at the Deer and Doe Plaintain tee. Not much to say on this one - it's another great basic tee pattern, drafted to be fitted around in the sleeves and bust, then tapering out slightly at the hip line. I made a size 38 - next time I'll do the same but sew the side seams with a 3/8 inch seam allowance rather than the 5/8 for whiff more room. But otherwise it's pretty great - I love the neckline, the binding fit perfectly, and the long sleeves and hem length were perfect on me. I used the leftover stripe from my Nettie - it will be perfect for work and there will definitely be future versions. Highly recommended.
And finally the past part of my freebie ensemble is my leggings! These are a hybrid of a self drafted pattern using the directions from Miranda at One Little Minute, with a little cheating using my Style Arc Elle pants for the crotch curve and waistband. They're not quite perfect but I'm very happy with them nonetheless as they are also a lovely grey-black marle wool knit, from Darn Cheap Fabrics. At $20/m it wasn't cheap but I really wanted some wool leggings to wear at home and they've turned out great considering theres no Lycra in them. They've bagged out slightly over the knees but considering I wore these all day and are due for a visit to the laundry they've held their shape very well. I used the lightening stitch on my machine, because I've found knits that have negative ease often need a bit of a yank to get them over their relevant body part, and the vertical seams need a bit more strength than what a plain zig zag can provide. I am firmly in the team of Leggings Are Not Pants if you are in public, not exercising and over 7 years of age (ponte is fine, tshirt weight fabric however is not) but have been wearing them As Pants in the privacy of my couch, and with a mini in public when I had to pop out to the shops. Next time I'll make them in a cotton-Lycra blend, and have already altered my pattern to be a little snugger but I think Miranda's directions are great and again, I highly recommend having a go at DIY drafting this essential basic.
I was going to list a few more free patterns that I liked the look of or have already made, but that little list is pretty huge, so I will save that for my next post. Have you ever made leggings? Do you think Leggings Can Be Pants?