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The Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan by Anna

Hi everyone! It’s Anna of annajosews.com, back with another make. After making some cute vintage-inspired tops and dresses for my previous Minerva makes, this time I decided to change things up a bit and go for a more contemporary style garment. However, as this is a pattern I’ve made before I know the shape of it goes well with lots of other items in my wardrobe.

The pattern in question is Jalie 3248, the Drop Pocket Cardigan, and you can find my first version of it over on my blog here. I love that cardigan and wear it all the time. Literally! It’s so comfy and cute I throw it on all the time at home, and often wear it out of the house too as a coatigan. So I figured it was high time I made another to spread the wear and tear a little—and thanks to a generous offer from Minerva I was able to obtain the most glorious fabric to do so.

If you’ve sewn with stretch knits before you’ll already know that they are not all created equal. Not only does drape and thickness vary much in the way of wovens, but you also have the matter of stretch to contend with. Does it stretch in one direction or both? And how much does it stretch? These variables can have a huge effect on the fit and shape of your finished garment, and they can make a massive difference to how easy it is to work with. That’s why I’ll always recommend ponte roma fabric for beginners to sewing with knits. It is fairly thick (a medium or heavy weight, so suitable for cardigans, dresses, skirts, trousers, you name it!), has some stretch but not too much so it’s stable under the machine, and it’s a hard-wearing fabric because of the high polyester content.

Now, I’ve sewn plenty of different ponte fabrics at various price points and they’ve ranged from a highly disappointing one that bobbled up horrendously after one wash, to some really nice, thick ones that have been worn lots and still look as good as new. But I’ve got to say, the Ponte Roma Heavy Stretch Jersey from Minerva is the very best I’ve ever sewn with! The colour is beautifully saturated and the fabric is incredibly soft and drapey, whilst still having that body that makes ponte a dream knit to sew with. At £14.99  a metre it’s also the most expensive ponte I’ve ever sewn with, but believe me, it’s worth every penny and I will definitely be buying some of the other colourways for future projects.

One thing that’s different about this ponte to any other I’ve used is that the two sides are slightly different, and you definitely need to pay attention and choose a right and wrong side before cutting. One side has tiny horizontal stripes that you only notice up close, and the other is slightly more fuzzy with a slight vertical rib effect. I think either would work as the “right” side, but as I plan to wear this cardigan over sleeveless tops I wanted the fuzzier side next to my skin, so went with the smoothest on the outside.

For those of you who’ve never sewn with a Jalie Sewing Pattern, there are a few differences to most printed patterns you need to be aware of before you start. But don’t worry: they’re mostly good differences! For a start, you get a huge range of sizes in their patterns. Rather than splitting their size range between two different packs like Butterick and the rest tend to, Jalie go the other way and include a size range from toddlers through to adult plus sizes in most of their patterns. That means that you can easily create a matching item for your child, should you be into that sort of thing. I’m not sure I am, but I do like the idea of making one for my twelve-year-old daughter in a completely different fabric. Probably involving Barbie pink and unicorns, or whatever it is she’s into this week!

The downside of all these pattern sizes being included in the one envelope is that there are so many lines on the pattern sheet, making it more challenging to follow the correct line for your size. They are colour coded and marked regularly, though, so it’s not too hard. And the pattern paper is pretty sturdy, so you will need to trace it out or cut it out first. You can’t rely on pinning it to the fabric and cutting it in one go like you can with tissue patterns. Personally I prefer this as I always trace my patterns anyway, but I know some people much prefer tissue patterns so I figured it’s worth mentioning.

The only thing that I feel lets down Jalie patterns is their instructions. These are fairly minimal—although they give you enough to know how to sew the garment, beginners will probably need to find additional info on the best way to proceed with certain steps. The instructions are also printed on the edge of the giant pattern sheet, with the pictures in a different block to the written instructions. This would be a real downside, but fortunately you can go and download a pdf of the instructions from Jalie’s website for free, regardless of whether you’ve purchased a pattern there. This is a genius idea as it means you can go and get an idea of what’s involved in sewing up one of their patterns before you buy it, and I wish more pattern companies would do this. And even better, it means that you can print the instructions out or put them on your tablet, which saves wrestling with giant pieces of paper. Yay!

Anyway, that’s enough about the pattern envelope. How about sewing this baby up? I have to admit, despite having made this one before I did still have to study the instructions and it actually took me slightly longer to sew up than it did last time. The construction is really clever and leaves you with a beautiful clean finish on the inside of the cardigan, but it’s not intuitive so you definitely need to concentrate. I do enjoy a bit of pattern origami, though, and it’s incredibly satisfying seeing this one come together. You could sew this entirely on a regular sewing machine, but as the seam allowances are only 6mm I used my overlocker instead. That said, I did still have to keep swapping back to the sewing machine as there are plenty of times you need to baste seams before sewing, so it’s much quicker if you can leave both machines out.

Now for the finished garment. Is it any surprise that I love this cardigan?! I mean, I knew I probably would seeing as how I love my first version, and have been wanting one in a solid colour for ages. It’s a really simple, classic fit with lovely slim sleeves, but the unusual pocket design sets it apart from any other cardigan pattern I’ve seen. I particularly love the long sleeves. They reach down to the base of my thumb which is a great length for keeping cosy. Jalie say the cardigan is intended to be worn over sleeveless tops and dresses, but I find it works fine over tight fitting sleeves too.

As for fit, I know I could probably make a narrow shoulder adjustment to perfect the fit, but honestly I think it looks fine the way it is. I’m certainly not in any danger of the cardie slipping off my shoulders. I’m also happy without having graded out at the hips, like my measurements indicated I should. The finished garment doesn’t meet at the bottom front, but this cardie is intended to hang open so that’s not a problem.

And now, can we talk about those pockets? Honestly, the pockets are what makes this cardie for me. You don’t need a handbag when wearing this. You can fit paperback novels in there, along with snacks for the kids and a knitting project. Well, maybe not all in one pocket, but hey, you get two of them! They are seriously roomy, and the way they are constructed with a double layer means there’s no danger of them bagging out of shape when well loaded, in the way patch pockets can. They’re also really easy to access and comfy to put your hands into if you need a little extra warmth.

In some ways I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t use contrasting fabric for the lining for this cardigan as it really does highlight the pockets. However, if I’d added in another colour or print it would make this a less versatile garment. As it is I can wear it over pretty much any of my printed clothes with no worries about clashing. Yeah, I’m trying my best to see the positives of sewing with solid colours. I have too many prints in my wardrobe and desperately need more neutrals to go with them.

The only way I can think of improving this cardigan pattern would be to add in a front closure to keep me warmer on chilly days. However, this would completely change the look of the front of the cardie and wouldn’t really go with the shape of it, so I’m not going to attempt any pattern hacks in that direction. I’ll just wear this with my thermals and a big, cosy scarf as it gets cooler. Or maybe I should get crocheting a giant shawl. Hmmm, that could look good. I’m off to see if I have any yarn that goes with this one.

So, do you have a favourite cardigan pattern to sew? Or have you not yet taken the plunge into sewing your own?

Happy sewing!

Anna-Jo x

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