By: Brad Schultz
Cliché or not, fall is one of my favorite things! The weather, color, tastes, smells, the coziness of it all...and without hesitation, the clothes! I am a sucker for fashion trends, but one of the comforting things about fall is that the ‘trends’ don’t seem to fluctuate much, what we make this year will hold its fashionable value for years to come. Fall styles are somewhat evergreen; boots, hats, sweaters, flannel-we see them year after year. Category is...cozy fashionista!
But, who doesn’t like something new, right? There has been an overarching trend of mixing it up-mixing prints, colors, textures, and level of formality in clothing has been a style trend that seems to be taking a stronger hold each season. So, let's ‘mix it up,’ shall we?
Consider the Possibilities
Let’s get the obvious detail out of the way first: to make a sweater, you need a sweater knit fabric. The not so obvious detail, however, is that sweater knit fabrics come in innumerable content combinations, weights, and textures. So where do we begin?
Truthfully, I am not a purest when it comes to fabric content. However, when it comes to combining different fabrics, like we are doing in this project, make sure that at least the care instructions are similar for each. Once they are sewn together, they will need to be cleaned and cared for as one. If you decide to really get creative and use fabrics that require different care, I would always err on the side of caution and choose to care for the garment in the gentlest way advised.
While I’m not a stickler for matching fabric content; fabric weight does hold more importance. In this project we will be combining three different sweater knit fabrics. In order for the sweater to be balanced and hang correctly, each fabric should be of similar weight. This is not exact, but a lightweight knit may lose its shape if being combined and pulled by heavier fabrics.
You’ll notice later in this post that I actually used a double layer of my middle grey fabric (Telio Topaz Hatchi Stretch Knit White Speckled) to give it more weight and structure because it was a lighter weight knit compared to the other two fabrics. fabric.com’s website does a great job at listing each fabric’s weight description and measurement. Each of my fabrics are labeled as medium weight and around 6 oz. However, I always recommend ordering swatches of your fabrics.
Texture and Color
Here’s the fun part! Mixing it up and choosing the combination of textures and colors you want to use for your sweater. With so many options available this can seem somewhat overwhelming, but begin by searching for inspiration online and let your creative heart lead you.
When working on this project I found fabric.com’s ‘design wall’ feature to be a huge benefit! The design wall allows you to ‘pin’ fabrics to the board and manipulate them to get a sense of how they will work together.
After consideration, I chose to use:
- Telio Topaz Hatchi Stretch Knit White Speckled
- Telio Carson Cable Stretch Knit Camel
- Telio Cable Fable Quilt Stretch Knit Ecru
TIP: While the fabric description and design board give you information about the fabric, nothing compares to the insight you get from holding it in your hand. Fabric.com has a great swatch service and offers generous sized swatches so you can get a true read of the fabric options. Do yourself a favor, plan extra time into your garment making schedule and order swatches to be sure the color, texture, weight, and stretch of the fabric is exactly what you are looking for.
Pattern choice couldn’t be easier for this project. The pattern itself is not important, it’s that you like the silhouette and fit of the pattern you choose that is important. Don’t worry about the paneled design, I’ll show you how to do that. I chose an oversized sweater pattern, but you could just as easily use a long sleeve t-shirt pattern as well.
Cut-and-Sew Pattern Hack
Achieving the paneled design consists of four simple steps.
MarkingMeasure the front hem of the shirt pattern. Make marks dividing the bottom hem measurement into thirds. Choose where you would like the panel to meet at the shoulder seam. Connect your left shoulder mark with your left hem mark with one straight line. Repeat process for the right side, and both sides of the back.
TIP: Make sure your shoulder mark is the same place for the front and back, so the panels meet at the same place along the shoulder seam. Also, the pattern I used has a slightly dropped shoulder, so I chose to have my panels meet one inch away from the sleeve. This way I didn’t have to worry about the bulk of extra seams all meeting exactly on the armscye shoulder point.
SeparatingCut your pattern apart along the recently drawn line, separating the front and back into three pieces each.
AddingOnce cut apart, make sure you add seam allowance to each side of the cut lines. This is very important. If you do not add seam allowance, your shirt will be drastically smaller when sewn back together.
CuttingUse your newly created pattern pieces to cut out each section in fabric. You should have three pieces for the front, three for the back, two sleeves, and a neck band (this may be different depending on your chosen pattern).
TIP: Take caution when trying to match certain colors across the shoulder seam. You may need to play around with it a little to make sure that the correct color will end up in the correct place. I’ll let you in on a little secret...you may notice that the fabric on the side panels of my finished sweater do not match from front to back, well that wasn’t my initial intention. I accidentally cut the back panels opposite from what I wanted, and sometimes you just have to go with the flow. I just kept hearing Bob Ross in the back of my head saying, “mistakes are just happy accidents;” and honestly I couldn’t agree more-at least on this project anyways. I love how the three fabrics and textures all play together at the shoulder seam and sleeve, especially from the side view. It’s like having a little taste from each chocolate in the box.
Putting It All Together
Now all you have to do is sew it all back together! I began by sewing each side piece to its corresponding center piece. After that you can carry on sewing the garment as normal, following the pattern directions.
TIP: As I mentioned earlier, I used a double layer of the grey fabric for each center piece because it was a lighter weight than the other two cabled knits. To do this, I cut two center front (CF) pieces and two center back (CB) pieces. I laid the two CF pieces on top of each other and treated them as one, then I repeated the same process for the two CB pieces. You could baste these pieces together, if you’d like. I found it wasn’t really necessary since the knit texture kept each piece from moving around much.