Tag Archives: Malden Mills

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

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Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Hey, friends!  I missed you last week.  My plans to take some outdoor pictures for my ‘Outside in January’ post were thwarted by family sickness, so that post never happened.  Thanks to my ‘Instagram Husband’ photographer and some nice weather on Saturday, though, I’m back with another sewing post for you.  Today’s creation is the new Toaster Sweater by Sew House Seven.  I was severely tempted to make a sweater for my toaster or pose with a toaster, but I resisted and went for something more basic.  😉

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

This creation is brought to you by my getting caught up in the wave of cozy versions of this sweater floating around the sewing internet.  I often get caught up in these things, but rarely give in.  This time, I not only got caught up, I bought the PDF version of this pattern, something I almost never do!  I’m not a big fan of PDF’s from a user end.  They are a great way for a new company to get their patterns out into the world for a lower start-up cost, but from a sewing perspective, I’d always rather have a paper pattern.  Sometimes I will even pass on a pattern I like if it doesn’t come in a paper version.  This time, though, I realized that I could buy the PDF of the single view that I wanted (the pattern comes with two views) for less than the price of the paper or full PDF pattern, and I could have it NOW.

I already had my fabric, some Polartec Power Stretch (at least I think it’s Power Stretch) that I bought this past summer at one of my favorite fabric stores in Michigan, Field’s Fabrics.  It was just waiting for the right pattern.  And this was it.

The Details

This is a great pattern and a fast sew.  There aren’t too many pieces, and the instructions are great, which makes the construction feel really simple in a good way.  I made this before making the Coppelia Cardi from Papercut Patterns, and I’m glad I did.  The helpful advice about double stitching is something I’ve been using in all my recent knit projects.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

I had all these plans to alter the pattern before getting started.  I wanted to lengthen it and grade the hips out to a larger size, etc., etc., but in the end I made a straight size large for the first version.  I had two colors of fleece, so I figured the first could be a wearable muslin, and I could change things up for the second if I wanted to.  In the end, all I changed for number two was to add another inch in width to the bottom band so that, hopefully, the sweater/sweatshirt would hang down over my hips, rather than sort of sitting on top of them.  I’m not sure that this made a huge difference, but the good news is that both versions are really great.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

Here are some knit sewing construction details for anyone who is interested.  I used a 90/14 stretch needle (Schmetz brand) and a walking foot with Gutermann polyester thread in the top and wooly/bulky nylon in my bobbin.  Normally I just use wooly nylon for swimwear, but I wanted to see if I could get a better stretch stitch, and this turned out to be just the thing.  I used a straight stitch with a length of three for my first pass and a three-step zigzag stitch next to that in the seam allowance for my second pass on each set of pattern pieces.  For the zigzag, I used a width of 6 and a length of 1.  My tension was at 4 and my presser foot tension was at 3.  I did not use a serger.

To figure out my stitch length and width, I used the suggestions that came printed on my machine and tested them on fabric scraps.  Then I stretched each test to see if any of my stitches popped.  The straight stitches will pop if you put enough stress on them, but I think it is worth doing both because the straight stitches give you a clean join in your pieces while the zigzag provides extra strength and stretch.

I used a universal twin needle since I didn’t have a stretch twin needle at the time (I’ve since gotten one, and it’s great, but the universal did work as well).  I didn’t press my seams since I was sewing Polartec and I didn’t want to melt it, but I used the twin needle even in spots like the vertical neck, cuff, and bottom band seams to hold my seam allowances to one side.  I think I finally have the hang of the double needle now, and I’m so happy about it.

Toaster Sweater #1 in Polartec Fleece

So, in conclusion, I really like this pattern.  I don’t think these are the world’s most flattering tops on me personally, but I don’t really care.  I love them and I wear them a ton.  They are so cozy in fleece and just perfect for winter.

Recommendations

  • I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again:  fleece from Malden Mills (Polartec brand fleece) is awesome for cold weather.  I love natural fibers year-round, but Polartec fleece is cozy and technically fascinating.  Reading their website really gives you an appreciation for all the innovation in these fabrics.
  • I found this article really helpful:  How a Sewing Machine Works, Explained in a GIF.  I could never picture the inner workings of my machine before.  Thanks to Maggie from Pintuck & Purl for this one.
  • Thanks to this show, I learned that the internet is actually housed on top of Big Ben and if you are really, really lucky, the Elders of the Internet might let you borrow it for big speeches.  😉

A New Favorite Fall Shirt–Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

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It will come as no surprise when I tell you that I’m really excited about my latest creation.  For so many sewers, the last thing they’ve made is their favorite and this is pretty much along those lines.  It is hard for me to top last week’s pants, so maybe this isn’t my absolute favorite, but it’s a pretty close second.

I present to you my new favorite fall flannel shirt:  Simplicity 1538 made in Scarlet Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I am IN LOVE with this shirt (at least as much as you can be with clothing).  Like the time I made my husband Thread Theory’s Jutland pants, I feel that the value of this shirt far exceeds what I paid for the fabric.  What I think really clinches it for me, though, is the feel of this flannel.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

When I felt it initially, I was actually somewhat disappointed.  It seemed much thinner than I remembered this line of fabric feeling.  Still, I had wanted to sew with it, so I bought my yardage, took it home, and washed and dried it.

And that’s when the magic began.

Once it had been washed and dried, it fluffed up into a beefy, cozy, heavenly bit of fabric.  I loved sewing with it, and I love wearing it even more.

This shirt also marked my first real foray into plaid matching.  I had sort of done a bit of it when I made a shirt in Cotton + Steel’s Paper Bandana print, but this time I got serious.  I looked around at advice on the internet and in some of my trusty sewing books and tried to pick some reference points I could use to match things up.  My goal was to try to do a good job without letting myself slide down the slippery slope of perfectionism.  And I think I achieved my goal.  Not perfect, but really, really good.  And, (dare I say it?) it was kind of fun!

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I see now, from experience, why you really want to have some extra yardage when you are matching plaids.  I really like setting my cuffs, yoke, and button bands on the bias, but there just wasn’t enough extra fabric to do that anywhere except the yoke; however this gave me the chance to work on some pattern matching across the front.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

 

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

I used my current favorite buttons from Jo-ann’s.  They look like pearl snaps.  Real pearl snaps are on my list of things to try, and a little birdie told me that Pintuck & Purl just got those in along with some Robert Kaufman flannel (plus a bunch of other great stuff), so I think there’s a pretty good chance that another flannel shirt will make an appearance on this blog in the future.  Actually, I love this flannel so much that I want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS IN FLANNEL!  But I’m going to try to hold myself back…a little.  Once winter hits, I’ll feel the same about fleece so, you know…

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

The adjustments on this pattern are as follows:  major broad back adjustment and lowered darts (as discussed here) and for this version, I also added two inches to the length.  I knew I wanted to add 2-4 inches so the shirt tail would cover my backside for wearing with leggings and 2 inches was a good amount.  It doesn’t cover completely, but it almost does.  I’m happy with it.

Additional Note: I completely forgot to add this when I first published this post until Monique brought it up in the comments–all my seams that aren’t automatically finished/covered (like in the collar) are flat-felled.  I wasn’t sure I could manage to get the sleeve seams done on my machine, but after reading a few posts on other blogs, I became convinced I could do it.  In order to make it work, I put my sleeves in flat.  Rather than sewing up the side seams and then setting the sleeve as my instructions directed, I sewed the sleeve on with my flat-felled seams first and then sewed up the sides and sleeves in one fell swoop, flat-felling those seams as well for a nice clean finish inside.  It’s a bit tricky to do, but if you go slowly and have patience, it’s completely possible, and the end result is strong and beautiful.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

And that’s it.  If you know me in real life and notice me wearing this shirt and last week’s pants every time we see each other for the next month, don’t be surprised.  I think I’ve finally found my tried ‘n true button up shirt pattern and a much loved fabric company.  I highly recommend both.

Simplicity 1538 in Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel

Recommendations

  • First on my list is a long-time favorite of mine:  Harney & Sons Bangkok Green Tea.  It has a subtle coconut flavor that I really like.
  • Polartec fleece from Malden Mills.  When the temperatures dip, this fabric can’t be beat.  It’s great for outdoorsmen and it’s great for the everyday.  It also has some pretty amazing science behind it.
  • Along the lines of the last recommendation, if you live in West Michigan or plan to visit, Field’s Fabrics is a great place to find Polartec in various forms along with all sorts of other great fabrics.  I love going to Field’s and always try to visit if we are in Michigan.
  • You guys know I like to watch surfing, especially in the winter since it reminds me that it won’t be freezing and snowy forever and, as we head into the cold season in this part of the world, I’m keeping an eye open for good surf videos.  I can’t vouch for the whole movie (since I haven’t seen it), but the trailer of View from a Blue Moon about surfer John John Florence, is stunningly beautiful.