The Jenna Cardigan – a Workhorse of a Pattern!
Posted on Monday the 9th October 2017 by Sew Sarah Smith
With the weather quickly turning cold I knew I needed some more cardigans in my life. My Blackwood Cardigan
has been getting a lot of wear but I was looking for a more traditional button up version that I could wear in it’s own right, rather than just a layering piece. The Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns has been on my radar for quite some time and with the #Cosycardichallenge in full swing over on Instagram, I decided now was the time!
I decided to get the expansion pack because this gives you the scope to make a myriad of different options. The regular pattern comes in two versions, cropped and hip length and either plain or with a gorgeous 1940’s inspired shoulder yoke detail, as well as three sleeve lengths. The expansion pack gives the options for a V neckline or a Peter Pan style collar, a total of five sleeve options and three lengths. In other words, this pattern has the potential to be a real workhorse of a pattern.
Once you get the fit nailed, that is.
Muse state that the pattern is drafted for an hourglass figure (hurrah!), a height of 5.10” (boo!) and a B cup (ah hum). I’m 5.3 and a D cup so I knew from the off I was going to have to alter the pattern some but that’s what we sewists routinely do so I was undeterred.
I duly looked at the finished measurements and decided to cut the pattern based on my high bust measurement as I figured this would give me a better fit across the shoulders and upper back; plus it more closely matched my waist and hip measurements. I decided to take out 0.5” from the width of the shoulder as well as approximately 2” from the sleeve; all fairly standard so far. I then looked at the length of the pattern pieces. As I say, I’m a whopping 7" shorter than the pattern is supposedly designed for. I wanted the cropped version so getting the length right was critical. Looking at the pieces though I couldn’t see that I needed to take out anything from the length at all, which I thought a little … odd. I then looked at the sleeves and measured the width as I had read elsewhere they were wide. And they were! Like, really wide! So I took pen and ruler to my cut out pattern piece and removed 3” from the cuff, tapering to nothing just above the elbow. I’m not really sure why the sleeve would be designed to be so wide; it seems a little incongruous when compared to the bodice which is designed with negative ease across the bust. But maybe it’s so you can push them up? Anyway, I altered mine so they were more fitted but that it would still giving me enough allowance to push them out of the way to do the washing up! (Am I the only person who still prefers doing it by hand?!)
The big issue then was deciding how to get extra width needed across the bust? I researched a few ways of doing a Full Bust Adjustment for knit patterns; what I really didn’t want though was the resultant bust dart a standard FBA gives you. In the end I decided not to faff and settled on a quick ‘cheat’ and merely graded out the bodice pieces to my size at the underarm, grading back down to my waist size.
Phew! Then on to the actual sewing! The instructions are lovely and clear without being too wordy and it sews up in no time. The pattern calls for a 3/8” seam allowance and could easily be mostly sewn up on an overlocker. However, me being me, I decided to sew it up on my regular machine using a Ballpoint Sewing Needle
and finish the seams on my overlocker. I would definitely recommend that if you do decide to sew it fully on your overlocker that you perhaps sew, or at least baste, the button band on your sewing machine first just to ensure that you get them to line up properly. The pattern instructions call for you to stabilise the button band with interfacing so they are robust enough to take the buttonholes and state that the use of a woven interfacing would be fine. However, I didn’t like that idea and opted to use a Stretch Interfacing
, as I was concerned that the button band would be too rigid for comfort and offer zero scope to ease the band in if necessary to ensure it fit flush with the bodice.
That said, I decided to go for snaps rather than attaching buttons. It just felt like the easiest solution all round. Plus I love my Prym Love Snaps
and Vario Pliers
and I was looking for an excuse to use them again (there is a full tutorial on how to use them over on my blog
if you’re thinking of using them for the first time).
Up to this point, I was still unsure my cheater FBA was going to be sufficient. It was, but only just. I put on a total of eight snaps to reduce the risk of gaping and certainly the stretchiness of my fabric helped a great deal.
Ah my fabric! Minerva kindly sent me this navy blue Cotton Jersey Fabric
. As I wanted to wear this fabric against my skin (rather than as a layering piece) I really wanted the breathability of cotton and it feels great on. As you may expect with a cotton knit though, it has a tendency to curl at the cut edge but I managed to tame it with the liberal use of pins and my fingers. Show the fabric you’re the boss! Or I guess you could use a wash out spray stabiliser/starch.
All in all I’m happy I used this fabric for this make. I’m considering it a wearable toile and I plan on mastering the FBA on my next version – I want to add in an extra half inch. I’ll also take a bit more out of the shoulder and further reduce the length of the sleeve. Expect to see that on my blog sewsarahsmith.com
As always, thanks to you for reading and thanks to Minerva for sending me the lovely supplies!