Do you have some of those patterns that you love, but they hang out in your pattern collection for one reason or another? I have several of these that linger because I’m waiting for just the right fabric. The Newcastle Cardigan by Thread Theory Designs is one of those for me. I bought it at Pintuck & Purl several years ago, because despite the fact that this is a men’s pattern, I could envision a comfy, slouchy women’s version for me. I like the cozy cardigan look with the rolled collar, and I’m always a fan of a shoulder/back yoke where I can use a contrast fabric or add in some nice topstitching. I just needed the right fabric and some modifications…
I finally found the fabric I was looking for on the Mill Yardage website: a Polartec Classic 200 Sweater Look Strie fabric that was warm, moderately thick, and had more body than drape. I could use leftover fabric from my Burda 6471 joggers for the yoke and any other accent areas.
Other Materials and Stitching
After a lot of deliberation, I decided to skip most of the interfacing and only include sew-in interfacing in the button placket areas. Although I found some ideas on how you could adhere iron-on interfacing to fleece, I didn’t want to risk it, and the fabric was thick enough that it didn’t need much support anyway. I decided to use some anorak snaps a friend had given me rather than buttons. For more give in my seams, I used stretchy Eloflex thread as my top thread, and woolly nylon in my bobbin.
Because I modified this pattern to be loose rather than slim-fitting and because of the thread I had chosen, I was able to use a straight stitch (rather than a zigzag, which would have more stretch). I used a slightly longer length (3.0), a 90/14 stretch needle, a walking foot, my normal tension, and my lightest presser foot pressure.
There were a lot of pattern modifications that I made to get this just how I wanted it! My measurements put me at a medium chest size. This pattern says it is slim-fitting, but since I wanted a looser fit, I traced a large. However, after measuring and tissue fitting, I realized I needed more arm and hip width, so I decided to trace an extra large. I was really worried about the width, due to the positive ease I was after and the fact that this 100% polyester fabric only has a little bit of mechanical stretch, so I used the side seams of Simplicity 4109 (which I used to make my railroad denim jacket) as a guide.
After this, I planned to add a little sleeve width. In fact, after measuring my arm and the pattern and consulting The Perfect Fit, I decided I needed a full upper arm adjustment, and I added 1.5 inches to the arm pattern piece, giving me a wider circumference.
I had considered shortening the arms by as much as six inches (the pattern explains that they are drafted quite long), but after sewing the back to the front of the cardigan and holding up my shortened arm pattern piece, I didn’t like it, so I let it out to the original length. Long and cozy sleeves seemed preferable to too-short sleeves in a garment that was supposed to be warm and snuggly.
I wanted elbow patches, too, so I added the ones from the Plaintain Tee, a free pattern from Deer & Doe.
I made version one of this pattern, and was originally going to use the larger collar from version two, but it almost completely covered the yoke, so I recut it and used the smaller collar that went with version one originally.
I wanted a bottom band on this cardigan, so I made one! It’s a rectangle and, just before I finished installing it, I added a little gusset at the bottom of the side seams and some extra little rectangles to my bottom band for just a little more hip width.
I added in extra topstitching anywhere I wanted to flatten the fabric or add detail or definition. This was usually a good idea, but where it did not work, was the edge of the collar. It exacerbated the collar’s tendency to flip up. I took that topstitching out but kept what I did in other areas. (You can see the collar after I tried topstitching it below. See how obvious the flip-up is?)
Like I mentioned before, I opted to install anorak snaps instead of making buttonholes and using buttons. My friend had given me some that had been in her mom’s stash and I used every single one I had left. Unfortunately, I didn’t hammer two of the top pieces in quite right and they don’t grip the bottom parts of the snap strongly. It’s a not a big deal for one of them, but the other gapes, so I have to go on a little search to see if these are still available or if they are now considered vintage.
Most nerve-wracking of all, I decided near the end of making this to add self-welt or stand pockets using the instructions in my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. Yes, this was a little bit crazy, because I really liked the cardigan without them. I just knew I would like it much more with pockets.
I tested out my idea with scraps to see if it would be too bulky and if I liked using the green for my pocket, and it turned out pretty well.
So, I went for it! I just took it step by step, deciding at the outset that they didn’t have to be perfect to be good. And it worked! They aren’t perfect, but they are good, and I was even able to tack the pockets to the facings, which helped to keep the facings from flipping out.
I even added a Thread Theory label, which came with the pattern, and one from Kylie and the Machine, that I purchased at Pintuck & Purl.
I love this cardigan. While I can’t say this about every one of my projects, I really feel like I got the fit I wanted on this garment, and I love it in this fabric. It’s so warm and nice. If I did it over again in an equally thick fabric, I would consider skipping the facings. Except for the benefit of tacking them to the pockets, they are kind of annoying. It would be different in another fabric, I’m sure. The length of time this took and the adjusting while sewing were frustrating for me, but I’m glad I persevered and finished before spring. When I wore this to work, one of my coworkers said she thought the cardigan was from L.L. Bean, which was so nice of her! I often look at their clothes for inspiration. So, it was a struggle, but I’m happy, and I love the finished product. And I’m also happy it’s done. On to the next thing!