This wasn’t the post I had planned to write to accompany these pictures. This, my first attempt at Megan Nielsen’s Briar pattern, didn’t turn out exactly right. I was going to fix it and then show you my before and after pictures. But I didn’t fix it. I might, but I haven’t yet, and I decided it was better to show you the shirt as it is and update you if I ever do alter it. Because I actually love it how it is even though it didn’t turn out the way that I planned.
So here are the details. I got this super-cool fabric at Pintuck & Purl in Exeter, NH a few months back. It’s a double layer combination of a wool knit (or it may be a wool-blend; I can’t remember) and a cotton jersey layer. It was originally smooth on both sides, but I took a small bit and threw it in the washer and dryer to see what would happen. It shrunk, but the wool layer didn’t completely felt, and the jersey scrunched up in a cool way due to the shrinkage of the wool.
You can imagine that this made for a pretty stretchy fabric, and I knew I was taking a risk with it, not only because of the stretch factor, but because the shrinking had really thrown the grain off. It just seemed like the perfect fabric for a super cozy Briar, though, so it had to happen.
The Briar pattern has been my favorite Megan Nielsen pattern since I discovered that company, and when I heard it was coming out in paper form, I bought a copy as soon as it was available. That’s pretty rare for me. I don’t have a ton of “sewing money”, so I tend to window shop for ever and buy very carefully. I knew I wanted this pattern, though.
I thought that a Briar in this fabric had a lot of potential for a relaxed, rough look with some exposed seams and unhemmed edges.
I really love knits and I sew with them pretty frequently, but despite that, I’m not really awesome with them yet. This is a pretty well-explained, straightforward pattern, but I ran into some problems with the neckline very quickly because of my fabric and what I thought I wanted to do with it. I didn’t stabilize the shoulders although I see now that I should have. I also tried to simply sew a strip of fabric cut on the cross-grain around the neckline so it would have a raw-edged look. The neckline seemed to sort of get wavy, though, and grow. That’s when the frantic internet-answer-searching began. I finally left a blog comment for Lauren (of the blog Lladybird) to ask about the wavy neckline, and she gave me some great tips, but it was already a little too late for this shirt. The waviness was there (because by that time, I had taken off the strip of fabric and just zig-zagged the edge) and I was afraid to mess with it any more. I do have to thank Lauren, though. I don’t know her at all. I just follow her blog, but whenever I have needed an answer (how to use Flickr for my blog photos; how to fix my knit fabric disasters), she has always gotten back to me. Thanks, Lauren!
At that point, I decided to leave the neckline alone and just finish. I thought about putting a sparkly zipper (also from Pintuck & Purl) in the back, but once I got to the point of adding it, it didn’t look right, so I skipped it. This is a really quick and easy pattern, so I just resigned myself to wearing the sweater with a tank top underneath until I could figure out how to fix the neckline. I bought twill tape to sew into the shoulders and around the back of the neckline after the fact to sort of hold things in place…but I haven’t done it yet……and I just love the sweater. It’s a little chilly around the neck when it gets cold out, but that’s a great opportunity to wear the cowl my friend knitted for me (thanks, Audrey!).
All in all, even with its “imperfections”, I love this sweater. I’ve already made a second one (still to be worn, photographed, and blogged), and this time I made sure to stabilize the shoulders. Gotta learn the lessons, right? I think more Briars (and mini-Briars) are in my sewing future.