Update: check the end of this post for an update related to this pattern.
It’s been awhile since we had a good ol’ Craft Fail on the blog, but this project was a complete and total loss. I would say that three-quarters of it was my fault–poor fabric choice, and silly mistakes were most of the problem. I also had some trouble with the directions.
I bought this pattern, the Tova Mittens, along with two hat patterns, from Last Stitch during the Black Friday sales. I was really excited about these patterns (and I still am), partly because it looked like you could use shrunken/upcycled sweaters to make them.
This seemed like a fun way to use up some of my favorite shrunken sweaters, which I save for interesting projects like this. The intended recipient and I went through and picked out a fun combination of sweater pieces so that I could make mittens that would sort of match in an offbeat way. I also had a few scraps of sweatshirt material (from this project) that I thought would be perfect for lining.
I think problem number one was the fabric choice. The shrunken sweaters, specifically the pink sweater, weren’t as stretchy as they probably should have been. Another VERY IMPORTANT thing that I didn’t pay enough attention to was the right side of that pink sweater fabric. In its shrunken state, both sides look really cool and could have been used as the right side. Sadly I wasn’t careful enough when cutting and sewing…and…I MADE TWO LEFT-HANDED MITTENS. Yes. I did. And to ice that cake, (and probably because of it), one of the lining pieces on one of the mittens is the wrong way out. Bad, bad, and worse. Also funny…once you stop being mad.
The pattern itself is interesting. I made the XS size. The seam allowance is odd if you use Imperial measurements. For those of us who use inches, it’s 1/5″, which I’ve never seen before, so I just tried to use 1/4″. I was tracking with the directions until step 5. I found the picture really confusing. I ended up sewing the thumb right sides together and then turning it right side out before doing the next step. Then everything was good until step 8. I stitched the front and back together with right sides together, which meant that my thumb was on the inside, and I had to be careful not to stitch it. This is different from the picture (adding to my confusion), but maybe I did step 5 wrong. I could also see that I was going to have a hole where the thumb joined to the side seam.
Once I got to the cuffs, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to use the fold line shown on the cuff pattern piece in step 9 or 11. It wasn’t shown in the picture or mentioned in the directions. Step 11 was very confusing in general. Was I supposed to fold in half what I had already done or fold half the cuff up so the seam was enclosed? It didn’t end up mattering, because the cuff I had made was never going to fit the mitten. This was undoubtedly my fault–I’m sure my fabric wasn’t stretchy enough, so I chucked it and used ribbing from the green sweater, which worked much better. Unfortunately, I attached the cuffs wrong-way-out. Yep. I did.
I think a big part of my problem in understanding the directions is that I’m coming at this from an American sewist’s viewpoint. We are used to having a lot of hand-holding. Even the Big 4 patterns, for as much as people complain about them, actually have a lot of information included in them if you take the time to read it. I think that sewists in Europe (where this pattern is coming from) who are used to Burda patterns are a lot more self-sufficient and used to figuring things out for themselves. While there actually are a lot of directions and illustrations, I found them hard to understand at several points.
I would try this pattern again in a fleece with a distinct right and wrong side, and I think things would go a lot better, although I do wish the directions (pictures and words) made a bit more sense to me. At this point, I have shoved these mittens in a corner, and will probably recycle them after publishing this post. On to the next thing!
Since writing this post, Johanna Lundström of The Last Stitch, creator of the Tova Mittens pattern, contacted me and told me she had read my review and was revising the directions to make them clearer. She added photographs and clarified the directions that I was unsure about. All the changes she made look really good, and are so helpful to someone like me who doesn’t have a vast amount of experience sewing with sweater knits. I think sewists of every level can have a successful experience making this pattern, and I’m looking forward to giving it another try.
On a more personal note, I was really nervous about writing my original review because I didn’t want to offend or hurt Johanna. I wanted to be honest about my experience with the pattern as well as my own mistakes. When she wrote to me and told me she had read this post and was going to work on making the directions clearer, even asking for my opinion, I was really amazed. I already had a lot of respect for her and all she does in the sewing community, but now I feel that tenfold. She really cares about her customers and her products, and I can’t wait to see she does next.