Passiflora Caerulea Sweatshirt – pt 2 – construction

I’ll admit that it’s occurring to me now that maybe I should’ve stay-stitched the neckline before hauling the front around doing all that embroidery? Does one stay-stitch knit necklines? Either way, I’ll be gently gathering it into the neck ribbing, so it shouldn’t matter. Making a mental note to pay attention how much gets gathered into the front vs back.

As I write this, I’m having a great deal of issues figuring out the twin needle, as the left hand needle is skipping every or nearly every stitch, and then the threads get looped up and tangled

until I took this photo I didn’t even realised the threads were getting twisted and jumped around the needle screw as well
  • tried loosening top tension – seemed maybe it helped slightly? but still can’t get through more than 6 stitches without tangling
  • lengthening stitch made a bit of a difference
  • rethreaded and rethreaded and rethreaded very carefully. I am using the same thread in all 3 points (guetermann CA02776 Sew All)
  • cleaned out bobbin case etc and rethreaded again. checked bobbin tension
  • I read that the spools should unravel in opposite directions so I tried that, and switched which one was anti or clockwise, and then switched physically which one was on which spool pin. None of that seemed to make any difference
  • checked the manual – nothing I wasn’t doing already
  • interestingly nearly all the stitches manage not to skip when I turn the crank by hand, rather than using the motor. No idea what that means

Finally, after triple-checking the manual, I pondered my fabric/thread/needle combination. So I tried the twin needle on a scrap of quilting cotton, and it worked perfectly. HUH. So the needle or the thread must be disagreeing with the fabric. This is Guetermann Sew All 100% polyester thread and 4.0mm size 75 twin stretch needle. My best guess is the needle is too small a size for this fabric, given it worked fine with the cotton. (I also don’t know if this was affecting my embroidery troubles – I was trying that with a size 80 ballpoint and then a size 90 sharp. I’ve been told to size up needles if having embroidery trouble as the thread needs a lot of protection). I don’t have another twin stretch needle to hand, and I want the sweatshirt to wear to travel, so I’ll try sewing it up with a single needle zigzag instead. I was excited to use the twin needle but it remains a mystery for another day. The lesson for now is, if it really won’t work, something is wrong.

I sized up to ballpoint 90 needle for the single needle zigzag to see if that helps, and it does seem to go smoothly. No hints of an occasional skipped zigzag I was getting when embroidering. For archive’s sake, I’m now at my usual 3.6ish tension, 4 width, 2 length. Here we go, construction time (finally). Let’s see how many mistakes I can make!

I was afeared I might need a walking foot for this weird nap (I had a bad time with creeping poly corduroy before) but the shoulder seams at least go together like a joy. Didn’t bother top stitching (as was done in the RTW sweatshirt I’m copying) as I didn’t think it would be attractive in a zigzag stitch and didn’t want to put in a straight stitch line that might pop. I also haven’t finished the seam (yet?), partly because it’s a knit and won’t fray, and partly because I’m not 100% sure of my cutting skills and I don’t know if it’ll need letting out.

Neck cuff next – I’m working with slightly too short ribbing, and banking on it to stretch. We’ll see. Either way I wanted to stretch it around the neck proportionally (remember that mental note from earlier? nearly didn’t). So I measured the front of the neck at 35cm and the back 23.5cm, decided that was close enough to 5/12 and 7/12 of a whole, used pins to mark the cuff into twelfths, and then stretched 5/12 of the cuff along the back of the neck and 7/12 along the front. I used 7 or 8 pins to divide sections and then stretched it out whilst sewing.

It worked!! Not my neatest maybe, or best practice, but it worked. I pressed the seam lightly toward the body although with these fabrics it didn’t make much difference and it didn’t really seem to need it.

Sleeves – I’m putting them in flat so I attached them to the body first. Now I did have some problems with creeping fabric, so I started from the shoulder point and sewed down each side. It was surprisingly tricky to avoid catching tucks of the underneath fabric in the seam. Possibly due to the nap on each piece interacting with itself? Or also due to the way you have to swing the body round to meet the sleeve.

On the left sleeve the sleeve was longer than the armscye by more than 1.5cm – I’ll need to transfer the pattern to paper and check the SA and the measurements before I cut it again. In retrospect it also would have been smart to fold the original sweater piece (ie, what functioned as my pattern piece) in half to check it was symmetrical and so I could cut on the fold, and to have checked the sleeve pieces against each other. When I convert this to a paper pattern for storage I’ll do that.

Wrist cuffs – for these I am using upcycled cuffs actually from the ankles of a pair of RTW trousers, which wore right through at the inner thighs (twice), but the rest of the garment is totally fine. I did narrow them a bit, although not a huge amount as I nearly always wear my sleeves pushed up my arms. I probably should have opened up the original seam/sewn with a straight stitch so I could press the seam open, but at this point 11:30pm on a schoolnight, I just wanted it done, so I didn’t – forgive me. I did at least sew the new seam with the cuff folded open, so it’s hidden inside when folded in half and attached to the sleeves. And I did manage to get two cuffs the same width!

It’s cold as I type this so I’m thinking maybe I should have narrowed them a bit more (they were 5.5″ across as opposed to the 5″ across ones I deconstructed on the original sweatshirt), but I’ll try to wait and see how it wears day-to-day before I go hacking back in.

Post mortem (post nativitatem?):

  • Neckline ribbing really needs to be wider (as well as longer?), and I’d like the crew neck to be slightly narrower. My newby imprecise SA and cutting skills possibly affected this somehow? (can’t quite wrap my head round if I added half an inch to the neck line on the front and back pieces, whether it would make the neck hole smaller or larger. My gut says smaller but I confused myself looking at tips for fitting crotch curves earlier)
    • Possibly also a wider ribbing would narrow the neckline sufficiently anyway
  • The drape/hand of fabric has quite a structured fold to it (because it was a curtain…who could have foreseen this…) – a cushier fabric would be better
  • The sleeves could stand to be an inch longer (possibly due to the fabric only bring slightly stretchy), but the body length is good.
  • Sleeve cuff width bears future consideration
  • Embroidery bunches up the front – this might be different on a different hand, but it also would have been good to interface/stabilise the whole section of embroidery, possibly even just interface the whole front pattern piece (to stop it folding/bunching around the interfaced section). I need to check how they do this on RTW.
  • Otherwise the fit is pretty good, and very gratifying for something I cut from an old deconstructed garment, and given I’d never sewn knits before
  • Grey might not be my colour, though I think the navy neckline just about saves it.
  • The velour is LUXE and I love it. Hug me if you see me.
  • (*Addendum 25/12/21. I have just learned that the large amount of fabric under the arm is likely related to the sleep being ‘low-cap’. This has the effect of giving you more room to raise your arm, without your shirt

And then I made a matching scrunchie. I was raised in Essex, what can you do.

The scrunchie just involved cutting elastic to fit my wrist, cutting a rectangle of fabric a couple inches wide and slightly longer than the elastic at extension, sewing long sides together right sides together, turning out, inserting elastic and sewing elastic ends together, and closing up the fashion fabric by hand with a simple ladder stitch. Next time I would double up the elastic for strength (ie, wrap it round my wrist twice), but it’s great fun as is.

Now to percolate on what project comes next….I have all the stuff (including pattern taped and cut out and adjusted) to try a Blanca Flight Suit, but that seems very ambitious in terms of fit to be my 3rd garment from-scratch… Merry Christmas!

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