The Plum Pudding Cardigan
Posted on Sunday the 16th December 2018 by Anna-Jo Sews
Who doesn’t love a good cardigan at this time of year? Or at any time of year, in my book—just change the fabric to suit the weather! And my Plum Pudding cardigan is a festive treat, beautifully soft to cosy up while the winter weather rages outside.
I’m becoming quite the Jalie Patterns fangirl these days, as not only does their block fit me really well, but I love their styles and appreciate the wide range of sizes each pattern comes in—perfect when you have two daughters to clothe!
This particular Jalie pattern, the Pleated Cardigan and Vest (2919) is one I’ve had on my radar for a while. It looked like it might give me the casual vibe of one of those waterfall cardigans that were all the rage a few years ago, but without those bulky ruffles. I’ve tried on a few waterfall cardigans in the shops and despite admiring them on others, they always make me look matronly and at least a decade older. Not really the vibe I’m going for.
The cardie is designed to be worn over a sleeveless top and as a result the sleeves are fairly narrow, but their Drop Pocket Cardigan says the same and I’ve found it fine for layering over close-fitting tops. No, you wouldn’t get it over one of those crazy statement sleeves, but I’m not really into that trend so a narrow cardie sleeve is fine for me.
This plum Jersey Fabric was a very happy accident, as I originally ordered it for next month’s project, and picked out what I thought was a polka-dotted ponte roma for this. Turned out I’d actually clicked on a Very Stretchy Jersey rather than the Ponte Roma Fabric I'd been looking at earlier (they were both black with polka dots and I was tired, all right?!). Now, that polka dot jersey probably could have worked okay with this pattern for a summer cover-up, but it wasn’t what I was after. However, it would be perfect for next month’s project. More perfect, in fact, than this less stretchy, almost-sweater-knit weight plum jersey would have been. How serendipitous! The sewing gods were definitely smiling on me that day.
This fabric reminds me of a hacci sweater knit in terms of texture, as it has the appearance of a fine sweater knit and beautiful drape. However, it’s much thicker than the hacci knits I’ve sewn with in the past and definitely qualifies as thick enough for a winter cardie. Albeit one for our typically mild British winters. Here’s hoping this winter doesn’t get as cold as the doom-mongerers have been threatening!
The pattern specifies fabric with at least 40% stretch in both directions, but this fabric has 60% across the grain and 20% with it, so I kind of split the difference. I wouldn’t normally ignore the stretch specifications but after looking at how the cardie was put together, I couldn’t see any potential problem areas. At worst it wouldn’t be as long as it should be, but I figured there was plenty of length already so it should be fine. As it is I think it looks as long on me as it does on the model, so we’re okay there.
I was between several sizes for this one, as my bust measurement was X (39”), waist V (31”) and hips W (41”). Normally I’d go with the bust measurement for an open style like this as the hips don’t matter so much, but on me that means going with the high bust rather than the full bust as I have narrow shoulders and tend to get swamped in fabric otherwise. On some patterns I’d need a full bust adjustment too, but this style looked simple enough not to need one. In the end I went with a V for the whole thing, as my high bust measurement (36”) put me in U which was definitely going to be too small for my waist and hips. I’m pleased to report I picked wisely as this fits just fine!
This jersey was really easy to cut out with a rotary cutter and behaved itself pretty well. I do like working with jerseys where the grain is really obvious like it is with this looser knit, as it makes it much easier to line the pattern pieces up properly.
While Jalie instructions are fairly brief I’ve always found them thorough, and I like the way you can download them online even without purchasing the pattern via their website. The way this cardie is constructed is fairly straightforward. First you sew the pleats, then the sleeve heads, followed by the side and arm seam in one go. The collar is added last and it’s a really wide, doubled over piece with a seam at the centre back to give a shawl collar look. Finally there’s a bit of trickery with the hemming to get a really nice finish where it joins the collar.
I must say I was surprised with how the pleats are constructed. They are stitched all the way down with the bulk of the pleat on the right side of the fabric, so it gives a really structural feature—like you’re making tubes of fabric that sit on the surface, if that makes any sense. They’re like reverse pin tucks and I want to use them again in more garments, as I love the effect.
I wouldn’t say I had any particular difficulties sewing this one up, but I’d definitely recommend using an overlocker or some other seam finishing on this fabric, as it does have a tendency to ladder. I overlocked all my seams anyway, just using my sewing machine for the hemming and the pleats.
I think it’s fair to say that the hemming isn’t perfect as there’s a little bit of bubbling going on (see next pic of the back!), but I’m hoping that will sort itself out after a wash and quick press. If not, then I suppose I might unpick it and try again with some knit interfacing fused into the hem allowance. I was loathe to do this originally as I thought the interfacing might show through this looser weave jersey. You can see how it’s a bit transparent against the light in the last pic, as you can see the door handle through it. However, I doubt you’d notice black interfacing in the hem allowance.
Slight hem bubbling aside, I’m absolutely thrilled with this make. I put it on and straightaway felt perfectly comfy and “me”—I love it when that happens! I know that in this beautiful plum colour it will go with lots of my wardrobe, and this narrow cut with the geometric shapes of the pleats and the funky hemline is really flattering on me.
It’s also one of those really versatile makes that I reckon will work for casual and slightly more dressy occasions. I can see it working in the evenings over a closely fitted dress, but it looks equally good styled with jeans and a tee like in these pics. Honestly, I’m enjoying wearing this one so much I really don’t want to take it off! I’ve achieved that sewing nirvana of perfect fabric and pattern synergy. Woohoo!
I am definitely going to make this cardie pattern again in the future, and will be on the lookout for suitable knits. The only change I’d be tempted to make would be to add some inseam pockets. They’re not my favourite type of pocket in a knit as they can pull and distort the side seams, but I think they’re the only kind that would work here as patch pockets might spoil the look of the front.
Every make needs pockets, doesn’t it? It’s one of the joys of making your own clothing!
Happy sewing, everyone!
All materials for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!