New Cardigan: McCalls 6844

If I wasn’t already sold on garment sewing, I would be after this project. I’m still kind of shocked that I managed to make this myself.

This is a my February project for the Make a Garment a Month challenge. I actually managed to finish sewing this on the evening of the 28th, but it’s clearly taken me awhile to get around to taking pictures. I’m blaming a particularly difficult grading marathon.

The pattern I used is McCalls 6844 (view A), which is a pattern that’s been made about a million times at this point. And I totally get why—it’s a really excellent pattern with some great design details. I appreciate that it’s an open-front cardigan that is not a waterfall style, and I also like this version’s slight, but not overly-obnoxious, high-low hem. It’s really only a matter of time before I make this pattern again. I’m pretty sure my life demands a version in black and, possibly, a more casual striped version.

One of the great things about this pattern for me (given that this is only the second garment I’ve made for myself) is that the fit is forgiving enough that I didn’t really have to make any fit adjustments. I took 3/8” out of the shoulder but otherwise cut a straight size XL. The next time around, I might take a full 1/2” from the shoulder and I’ll shorten the sleeves by about 1/2”. If I were using a less stretchy fabric (this sweater knit had at least 50% stretch), I would probably also add some width to the sleeves.

After reading reviews of the pattern, I decided to use a different construction order than outlined in the pattern instructions, and I think that made it even easier to sew. I started by sewing the collar pieces together per the pattern instructions. Then I sewed the shoulder seams (adding some fusible stay tape to stabilize the seams), and then sewed the sleeves in flat. After that, I hemmed the sleeves and the bottom of the sweater before stitching up the sides of the body and the sleeves. Finally, I attached the collar to the sweater and then topstitched to finish. I used a stretch stitch for the hems. It looks clean and I’m relatively pleased with how it turned out, but I think my next sewing-with-knits challenge is to master the twin needle.

I used a very stretchy dark gray Hacci sweater knit from Girl Charlee. I was a little worried about working with a sweater knit, but it was fine. It was a bit of a pain to cut, partly because it had so much stretch and partly because it was a little sticky and was reluctant to being smoothed out nicely for me to lay the pattern pieces down. But after I got past the cutting, things got a lot easier. It was very easy to sew, pressed really nicely, and resulted in a cardigan that is very comfortable to wear.

(Somehow, while taking these pictures, I managed to strike a perfectly dramatic fashion blogger pose. Although you’ll note the absence of a coordinating handbag so . . . Fail.)

After wearing this out and about, I realized that people have a tendency to dive in and touch your clothes (which is basically touching you, the wearer) when they find out that you’ve made something. I’ve had this happen over and over for years. Once, when I told a friend I had knit the sweater I was wearing, she jumped out of her seat and stuck her hand down the front of my sweater to feel the back of the cabling pattern. I think it’s funny and innocent, probably because I’ve only experienced this reaction from women I know and because there’s always a funny moment when the person realizes they’re doing something really weird. Have you experienced this before? What do you think is the behind the fascination with touching handmade items?

 

February Sewing Plans

There’s not much of February left, so I’m trying to keep it relatively simple with my sewing plans this month. I’m going to make McCalls 6844, View A (the shorter version without the peplum). I’m going to be using some charcoal gray Hacci sweater knit I bought earlier this year from Girl Charlee. This will be my first time sewing with a sweater knit—hopefully it doesn’t give me too much trouble. I don’t anticipate having to make many changes to the pattern other than making some minor adjustments to the shoulder.

M6844 via sweetalchemy.wordpress.com

I’m looking forward to giving this pattern a try, since it has the potential to be the kind of thing I make over and over again. I used to have a gray open-front cardigan like this that I bought at Old Navy but have since lost while traveling. The Old Navy cardigan isn’t that great of a loss since it was really boxy and was part of Old Navy’s attempt to bring back the drop sleeve (a truly terrible idea), but it was very easy to wear—kind of like throwing on a hoodie, but a little more classy. So I’m hoping this month’s sewing will yield something with the convenience of the lost sweater, but with a bit more style. Onward with the sewing!