I basically started writing this post right in the middle of construction details, and then added stuff as I thought of it, so it's very abrupt, but I couldn't think of a way/didn't want to make an effort to rearrange to make it better. So:
It looks to me like the bib is not completely even. I think it actually is, because I measured it extensively (after sewing). I think it's just that there's a bit of stretch/puckering, and the maybe it's also the angle of the plaid. I know that the collar ends overlap each other more than they're supposed to, so the plaid isn't as diagonal as it should be. (I should've trimmed them down when I noticed this, but that didn't occur to me until just now.) Even on the bias, I don't think the pieces would've stretched out that much--they were like two inches off--but obviously something went wrong.
Actually, I think they have to have stretched. (Or, possibly, the fabric was so off grain when I was cutting that I made them too long to begin with.) This is also why there are like four different layers of bias tape on the inside--all the pieces were different lengths. One was significantly shorter than the other three, and at the time I thought I'd cut it too short, but looking back I'm guessing that it's the one that remained the correct length. Eh, hindsight.
|(Oops. Oops. Oops. Also--I could've done a better job with my hand stitching, and made it invisible, but I figured it was already ugly, so.)|
Speaking of the back neck, the facing gave me fits. I could not for the life of me figure out how it was supposed to work. I read the directions multiple times, stared at all the diagrams, pinned and sewed (and unpicked) it both ways, moved the pattern pieces and the actual fabric around repeatedly. I spent at least half an hour on it. Nothing seemed right. Eventually I decided it was an inessential piece and just got rid of it. I thought it might make more sense once I had the whole garment assembled (for future reference, I guess), but no. I still don't have any idea what that facing was supposed to do.
Another weird thing is that the upper collar is cut in two pieces, so there's a visible seam along the back. I'm not sure why this was done, except that, I guess, if you were using stripes or an uneven plaid (or anything directional, I guess) they wouldn't match in the front, since the collar is cut on the bias. If I'd thought about this in advance, my fabric would've been fine to cut the collar in one piece. But the seam isn't too obvious, and fortuitously, the plaid lined up really well there (I didn't bother with plaid matching at all, both because of my limited amount of fabric and because the scale was so small I figured it wouldn't matter anyway).
|(Yeah, clearly I need to iron the back fold out a little more.)|
Other notes: I probably should've stabilized the shoulder seams. (Maybe even the armscyes?) The fabric is woven, not knit, but it's pretty drapey. Maybe the bias binding will help? That's the only change I really have, though.
Because, while the collar was kind of a pain to sew, I think that now I've done it once and know what's what, it'll be a lot easier in the future. And the pattern made up for any collar difficulty by everything else being incredibly easy. There are no darts or gathers or, really, any fitting at all. And the sleeves, oh my god, the sleeves. The shoulders are slightly dropped, and the sleeve heads fit into the armscyes completely flat, with no easing. I repeat, no easing. Almost like they were made for each other or something. (Why can't all patterns be like this?) Granted, the sleeves are pretty wide, and I narrowed them. (And I'll probably narrow them a bit more, next time.)
What this means is that it's an incredibly comfortable sweater to wear. I have full range of motion in my arms!
As is the hem. I knew I wanted my top to be shorter on me than the one in the pattern illustration, which is almost tunic length. Normally I add a couple inches to patterns to accommodate my height; in this case, I decided that if I cut out the pattern unaltered, it would wind up being my desired length. I did move the waist curve down a couple inches, but it's such a slight curve to begin with that this probably made very little difference. Anyway, though, the length is pretty much exactly right.
I didn't mess with the width at all. I thought about taking in the hips slightly, since the tunic in the illustration looks rather flared, but then I remembered that I often make garments too tight in the hips inadvertently. (And I was already making a 1970s size 8, which is meant for a woman with 33 1/2" hips. I do not have 33 1/2" hips. The pattern does also give the finished hem measurement (which is 43 1/2") and I don't have 43 1/2" hips, either, so I could've taken some off, but I decided I'd rather have a similar amount of ease at the waist and hips, rather than looking like I was wearing something with an elastic band at the bottom.) Now, I could've taken the hips in a couple inches and been fine, but I also think the width is fine as is. The bust fits well, too, and while there's plenty of room around the waist, obviously it's meant to be that way. I'm really pleased with how well the fabric drapes, and I think it was a good choice with this pattern, because even though I'm basically wearing an unfitted box, it does manage to still have some shape.
In fact, I think it looks fairly similar to the Finlayson sweater from Thread Theory (although I'm pretty sure Finlayson has a smaller collar--it's narrower and the bib is further up). The main difference, I think, is that my pattern, Butterick 4437, is for wovens. And for women. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, but other than a few women who've made the Finlayson for themselves, I don't think I've seen any contemporary women's patterns that even resemble this. (So maybe that means this style is a bit dated? Whatever, I'm wearing it anyway.)
The fabric I used--one of the only thrifted fabrics I have that came with a label--is Lowell wool. I don't know anything else about it, like when it was made (I don't think there are still working mills in Lowell, but I also don't know if "Lowell wool" necessarily means it was made there, or if it's more of a descriptor for a brand or fabric type) or its exact fiber content. It's thin (held up to the light I can see through) and not scratchy, very drapey (I had a hard time getting it on grain; in fact, I'm sure it's not entirely on grain, especially horizontally), loosely woven, and the black fibers generally tend to be thicker and curlier than the purple.
I tried to handle all the pieces as little as possible, to prevent both stretching and ravel. Re stretching, see above. Re ravel, well, it wasn't too bad, but I had to do a lot of trimming. I sewed everything at 5/8", but those edges are not 5/8" now. I remember thinking at one point that maybe this wasn't the best fabric to use for a garment that I hope to wear fairly frequently. (I see it as slightly more like outerwear in that respect.) I mean, I'm going to be folding it up to carry, and moving around in it a lot, and maybe sometimes even pushing up the sleeves, not storing it in a vacuum. We'll see how it in fact holds up. Right now, my hopes are high.
I also thought I might experiment with making the bib square instead of rounded. (That might help with thinking it's crooked.) I also think I'd like the collar to be even a bit bigger. I haven't done, or even been very interested in, oversize collars in a while, but I guess when they're on outerwear instead of a blouse, it's okay. I feel kind of like my collar isn't as big as the ones in the illustration, so maybe that's why I want it. (It definitely doesn't seem as deep as theirs, but then, they're also stylized. The bottom of the bib comes to the same place re the sleeves and my bust point as it does on them.)
And I briefly considered attempting to make the collar into a hood. Then I looked at a couple hooded Finlaysons and decided I didn't really want a hood after all. I rarely wear hoods. I also realized that a straight collar variation would make this even more like the Finlayson. And, looking at the sew-along instructions, I think I may have figured out how to enclose the raw collar edges. (Note: it is not exactly what is directed. But it's only a small modification. And easier that way, I think, than what I'd end up with, fiddling with this.)
I have another piece of fabric, also a two-color plaid wool blend, that I wanted to use for another of these (if I liked the first one enough), but it's actually a scrap, and when I laid it out, I didn't even have to place any of the pattern pieces to know it wouldn't be big enough. I have a lot of leftover white fleece that I'm trying to get rid of, so I might mess with that (I'd never wear a white fleece pullover outside, unless maybe it was underneath several other layers, but it could be a house sweater), but other than that, I don't think I have anything else in my stash that'll work. I'm going to have to try very hard the rest of the winter not to buy a bunch of plaid flannel and wool. Or maybe I'll just buy a bunch and make like ten of these. I do need warm clothes, yeah?
|(I'm not sure what's up with all the different colors showing, but I think that this, oddly, is the most accurate representation.)|
Fabric: 1 2/3 yards at 60" plaid wool, from Scrap, purchased July 2013, $3.00. (I actually couldn't remember when I bought this or how much it cost. $3.00 was a lot less than I expected.)
Pattern: Butterick 4437, from Scrap, purchased June 2013, $0.50
Notions: self-made bias tape, a lot of it, using scraps from stash. nothing else.
Made before: nope
Make again: very likely
Sewing soundtrack: nope
First worn: just for pictures
Wear again: yes
Total cost: $3.50