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The Whatever-the-Weather Cardigan

This year I’m making an effort to sew more clothing for my kids as it gives me the opportunity to sew with cute prints I’d never wear myself. This gorgeous quality French Terry Fabric is the perfect example. It was actually ordered in error (I got muddled when requesting the fabric) and was meant to be plain grey French terry to make a sweatshirt for Gabriel. Now, Gabriel has very set ideas about what he wants to wear and this cloud print wasn’t it but as I thought it was cute I held onto it, thinking I should be able to make something for one of my girls instead.

Inspiration struck when Daisy decided she really liked it and wanted some kind of a top. Daisy definitely has more than enough t-shirts in her drawers but she’s really lacking in cardigans. I had a little ponder, couldn’t find any kids cardigan patterns I liked in my stash then remembered the Jalie Drop Pocket Cardigan came in kids sizes too.

Daisy was thrilled with the idea of having her own version as I wear one of my Drop Pocket Cardies almost every day so she’s really familiar with the design. And I was thrilled because I just love making up this pattern. Win-win!

I’ve never sewn with French terry before so I hadn’t been entirely certain what to expect from it. I’d imagined a more loopy back giving a thicker fabric like sweatshirting but instead it’s more like a regular medium weight jersey with a super soft and snuggly back (see picture above). The overall fabric isn’t too thick so it’s the perfect weight for making t-shirts, dresses and the like. This particular French terry is 95% cotton and 5% lycra, so it’s soft, breathable and stretchy with good recovery. I measured about 30% stretch across the grain and surprisingly a whopping 40% of vertical stretch.

The only problem with making Daisy a Drop Pocket Cardigan is that there wasn’t quite enough fabric to cut all the pieces out of as I’d only ordered 1m originally. Luckily there was enough to use for the main fabric with a contrast fabric for the lining. This pattern has a really cute feature where the lining comes round and forms the outside of the pockets so I knew it was important to get something that looked good with the main fabric. In the end I took Daisy to our local fabric store and she picked out a grey ponte she liked.

Choosing which size to cut for Daisy turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated. Because of her Down’s Syndrome she has quite different body proportions to the fit model. Specifically, she has very narrow shoulders, shorter limbs and a much wider waist than would be typical for a girl of her age. In the end I cut a size R which fit her waist and hip measurements, but graded it down to a P at the neck and shoulders.

I then measured Daisy’s arms and took 3” off the sleeves. I also figured out how much to shorten the whole cardie by measuring where the bottom edge of my cardies hits on my arm (at the knuckles), and finding the corresponding measurement for Daisy. Otherwise, I knew the pockets would be dangling down too low for her to use them easily. I ended up taking 5” off the body pieces on the lengthen/shorten line!

The finished sleeves are still a bit too long but I figure they can be pushed up and Daisy doesn’t seem to mind. More problematic is all those drag lines around the armscyes, indicating I didn’t get the fit right. In the end I think I would have been better off tracing a smaller size to begin with but slashing and spreading the pattern pieces widthways (from a pivot point up on the shoulders so as not to widen this area) to put body width back in. I will definitely give that a go next time I alter a pattern for Daisy.

As it is, though, she’s happy with the fit and at least the cardigan stays up well and the pockets are at just the right height for her. Sometimes I think us sewists are our own worst critics!

As I’ve made this cardigan pattern twice before the construction was uneventful and speedy. I just love the way this pattern is constructed as it gives a really nice finish to the insides, as you can see:

Sewing the French terry was pretty straightforward but it does have a tendency to curl when cut. I found I needed to press some of my cut pieces to get them to behave. It was fine to sew with the overlocker but stretched out slightly when I experimented with different ways of topstitching on my sewing machine with a regular zig-zag presser foot. I got around this by swapping over to my walking foot which solved the problem.

If you don’t have an overlocker and/or a walking foot for your machine and want to sew this fabric then I recommend testing your stitches on scrap fabric and experimenting with changing the presser foot pressure (if your machine lets you) and stabilising with strips of Knit Interfacing or Wonder Tape.

Daisy is really happy with her finished cardigan and although I wouldn’t have chosen to style it this way for the pictures (I’d have gone for a plain dress underneath) this is probably how she’ll wear it most of the time. Let’s face it, you can’t tell a thirteen year old how to dress! Or more accurately: you can, but they won’t listen.

Case in point: Daisy is always wearing t-shirts when the weather is cold. Hopefully now when I tell her to go and put something warmer on she’ll reach for this cardigan. It’s a great layering piece and she absolutely loves those roomy pockets. She took great delight in showing me how she could fit her phone and lipstick in with plenty of room to spare.

There are another couple of colourways in this print which both look really cute but I think this light grey will work well for Daisy as she has plenty of pale tops that should go well with it.

I will definitely be sewing with French terry again in the futur and Minerva currently have an awesome range of colours and patterns to choose from! I’m thinking of a dress and some snuggly tops for myself, as well as lots of things for the kids. It’s the perfect fabric for them: comfy, cosy, and able to be chucked in the washing machine and tumble drier. Yay!

What would you make from French terry?

Happy sewing, everyone!

Anna-Jo x

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The main fabric for this make was kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!

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