In my wardrobe, I have a very small selection of RTW clothing that is quickly dwindling to nothing. Out of those pieces, the majority of them are lightweight knit cardigans. You know the kind I’m talking about – sewn, rather than knitted, lightweight enough to throw in a purse, wearable for all seasons (I dunno about y’all, but I wear my cardigans throughout the summer – air conditioning is tooooo cold for me!). As I’m quickly replacing all my clothes with handmades, the one major hole – other than undergarments (which I’m working on!) – has been those damn cardigans. I love knitting cardigans, don’t get me wrong – but those take loads of time, not to mention even the lightest fingering weight yarn can’t compete with how lightweight a knit fabric is, you know?
I’ve been on the lookout for a good cardigan pattern – not even really for the pattern itself, but rather, the instructions. Y’all, the one time I tried to sew button holes on a knit, it ended up being slightly traumatizing. Then there was that time recently that I tried to use an old RTW cardigan to copy into a handmade one (cutting it apart to use as a pattern – same concept as how I made my striped hoodie). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out at all. Clearly I can’t hack this on my own. I need someone else to do it for me.
Also, that cardigan I chopped up? As much as it wasn’t really my favorite – it was the one grey cardigan that went with basically everything. And here it was, chopped up into little bits and, uh, I kinda needed it back.
Anyway, all that being said – right about the time I realized I was making a huge mistake (chopped up cardigan and all), Kat emailed me, saying she’d just launched her new pattern company, Muse Patterns, and would I like to try and review the Jenna Cardi?
HI GUYS, LOOK, DREAM CARDI PATTERN RIGHT OVER HERE.
The Jenna Cardi comes with a few different options, so you mix and match to create the cardigan of your dreams (I’m not the only one who dreams about cardigans, am I?). You can choose a cropped or waist length version, sleeves ranging from full, to three quarter, to short, and then there’s also an option to include a beautiful curved yoke detail.
I’m a boring person with no imagination when it comes to wardrobe basics, so I chose something plain and simple for my first hurrah – cropped length, long sleeves. The thing about this cardigan that makes it so special, though (I mean, other than the fact that I SEWED IT MYSELF yaaaay for not buying RTW!), is the fabric I used! HOMEGIRL GOT HER HANDS ON SOME MERINO WOOL.
Are we all still freaking out about merino wool or has that ship sailed? Whatever, *I’m* still freaking out over it! Ever since Katie started pushing it on me like an extraordinarily effective drug, I have been trying in vain to locate a US source. That stuff isn’t cheap, even in the best of times – and to ship it all the way from NZ obviously adds some dollarz to the cost.
So where did I find this
golden merino ticket, you might ask? Surprise – Organic Cotton Plus, of all places! They are starting to branch out to include other natural fibers than just cotton, which is all kinds of awesome. When they asked me if I’d like to try a little piece of whatever caught my fancy from the website, I stumbled across the merino wool and, forreal you guys, my heart stopped for a nanosecond. There aren’t a whole lot of options on the site at the moment – just the black I have here, as well as a natural colorway (which I almost got, but then the idea of dying that shit seemed too overwhelming. Plus, black is so useful! Even if it photographs like crap). At $33 a yard, it is not cheap – but it’s worth it. That black merino is a whopping 61″ wide, plus, IT’S MACHINE WASHABLE WOOL. Oh, and you don’t pay NZ shipping prices! Win win!
Having used both merino wool from Organic Cotton Plus, as well as the stuff straight from New Zealand – I can confidently say that this is pretty good stuff. It’s soft and lightweight without being see-through, it has a nice stretch and drape to it, and it cuts and sews like a dream. Wait till you see the topstitching on this baby – it’s ridiculously beautiful. Ahh I just love this fabric.
The only downside I can think of is that it does wrinkle up a bit, as you can see in these photos (it’s not nearly as noticeable in real life – otherwise, I would’ve steamed things up before taking photos. Womp whomp, deal with it). Kind of the same thing as linen – just natural wear wrinkles. If that bothers you, you’ll want to stick to something with a poly blend. For me, though, wrinkles are an ok trade-off for natural fibers!
Anyway, I loved my Jenna cardigan so much – I immediately made a second one!
This one is pretty boringly similar to the black merino one, except it’s longer. It’s not quite the longer version – I cropped some off for my proportions – but it does look better with the shirt I’m wearing underneath it, ha :) Instead of using merino wool, I used some wool knit that I picked up at Mood Fabrics when I was recently in the store. This stuff is less drapey than the merino – it’s almost like sweatshirting, except without a fleecy side. It’s also not machine washable, so there’s that. I’ll have to handwash it like I do all my hand knits, oh well.
Sewing both of these was ridiculously easy, by the way. My second version took me all of 2 hours – not bad! I made the bust 32″ and took in the sleeves a bit because they were a little wide. I also had to shorten the sleeves by a couple of inches.
As I mentioned, I was pretty apprehensive about the button bands – but surprisingly enough, the button holes were way less problematic than I was anticipating! I made some test button holes – experimenting with interfacing, tear-away stabilizer, no interfacing – but ultimately went with the instructions, as I figure Kat knows more than I do when it comes to knit button holes :) The button band is stabilized with woven fusible interfacing, and it’s sewn on with a 1:1 ratio (meaning it’s not stretched at all). This gives the knit fabric enough heft to tolerate a button hole stitch without getting eaten into the bobbin area (my former experience with this sort of thing). For the black merino cardi, I also used tear-away stabilizer in addition to the interfacing. For the grey cardi, I skipped the tear-away stablizer and just kept things purely interfaced. Both worked out splendidly!
Another thing I’ll point out is that, while these cardigans are somewhat fitted, there’s just enough ease included to keep the button bands from gaping open. Always a plus in my book!
I’m thrilled that they both look just as good unbuttoned as they do buttoned – which is important to me, as a cardigan-wearer. I usually button things up, but it’s nice to have unbutton options:)
Here are some ~extreme~ close-ups of the merino wool cardigan. Check out that topstitching! Ughhh it’s so beautiful! I did add a little more topstitching than called for in the pattern – I wanted to tie in the topstitched button bands and button holes, so I included it at the shoulder seams and along the bottom band. Plus, it’s just beautiful. Seriously.
Also, how bout them buttons? These are also from Organic Cotton Plus. I know black and brown is generally frowned upon as a color combination, but I like it :)
Grey cardigan close-up :) Boring buttons are from my boring stash.
So what do you think – are you team sew-your-own-cardi yet? I hope so, because Muse Patterns has hooked me up with an extra pattern to giveaway! :D
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
To enter to win your very own Jenna Cardi, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you plan on makin’! Which view? Any particular fabric? Do you have a wild card up your (cardigan)sleeve? Inquiring minds want to know! :) This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 7:00 AM CST. Good luck, y’all!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
**Some disclosures now – I was given the Jenna cardi pattern from the patternmaker herself, for free, to try and review. I was *also* given the organic merino wool fabric & butons from Organic Cotton Plus, again, for free to try and review. The grey wool knit was purchased at Mood Fabrics NYC out of my own pocket. No one paid me for this post – I’m just doing it for the freebs! As always, all opinions are my own :)