Who doesn't like free stuff?! I know I do! Especially when the free stuff in question is sewing patterns. A lot of pattern designers release free products and I'm guessing for a variety of reasons. Some do it to showcase their drafting and instruction writing skills, some want to garner Facebook 'likes' and newsletter sign-ups. And some do so just to get something 'out there' without the extra pressure that would be heaped on top if the products were to be bought (which was very much my own motivation when I released my free patterns).
Having been crushing pretty hard on Brindille and Twig designs recently (see my independent children's sewing pattern post here), I was thrilled to learn that they had released a free pattern for download. Particularly because I really can't justify buying any new patterns at the moment whilst I have so many children's sewing patterns already in my possession that I haven't used yet and cash is tight at the moment, in no small part due to the recent demise of my last sewing machine and the purchase of another.
The free raglan hoodie pattern is great because it'll look super cute on both boys and girls. The options for clever combinations with contrast cuffs and hem bands, hood lining, sleeves and shoulder seam detail are near-endless so you could make this pattern up lots of times and it always look like an entirely different garment.
I was thoroughly impressed with both the drafting and the instructions. The latter were as clear, bright and easy to understand at the website lead me to expect. I made the size 90, which indicates the height in cms and is meant to correspond roughly to 18-24 months. Dolores is almost 18 months now but I was expecting it to be way too big as she measures 81 cm at the moment. I was happy with that as I thought it would be fine for her at the end of the year going into autumn, however it actually fits her well now.
I used my regular sewing machine to apply and topstitch the front pocket and to baste on the shoulder seam detail strips, and my overlocker for everything else. It was a little more involved than my usual knit projects for Dolores, but that was almost entirely because I was trying to match the stripes at various points. One negative thing I have to say about this pattern is that the seam allowance is a scant 6 mm / 1/4". I would have liked it to be at least 8 mm, preferably 1 cm, as I think that would have made including the shoulder seam detail easier and in general I like to shave off a bit when sewing with my overlocker rather than trying to position the raw edges so that nothing gets trimmed away at all. I also think such a tiny seam allowance might be make a beginner sewer balk a bit when otherwise it's a pretty easy, beginner-friendly pattern.
The pattern recommends this pattern be made in medium weight knit fabric, like cotton/lycra jersey or french terry. In that case I assumed regular sweatshirt knit would be too thick and bulky, but personally I didn't feel a jersey would have the right look or weight for a hoodie. I'm happy with the compromise I found in this organic cotton interlock. Interlock knit is effectively twice the thickness of jersey but behaves in a similar way. It has the right look for this little hoodie but with the correct amount of stretch required by the pattern. I had a small piece in my stash left over from making a Moneta dress for Annie, owner of the Village Haberdashery. They don't seem to have it in stock at the moment, but you can see it on their website here, and they have similar available.
This organic interlock is ridiculously soft and cosy. Having already made a pair of leggings for Dolores in it, I knew that it would be appropriate for children's wear, but I also knew that it will grow a bit as the garment gets worn and laundered as it has no lycra/elastane/spandex content to keep it taut. Knowing that this hoodie is going to get a bit bigger over time and usage actually feel like a plus in this instance, as the hoodie's lifespan will increase as it grows along with her for a while!
Matching the stripes at the side seams, on the pocket, across the hood curve and a bit at the shoulder seams gave me a mild headache, but it was worth it for a nice, neat looking that my mother-in-law said 'looks like something you'd buy in the shops'!
Keeping the organic theme going, the hood lining and shoulder seam detail strips are made cut from some cream jersey (actually it may also be interlock know I think about it) from Offset Warehouse that I was given to try out for free last year. It's the same stuff I used to make this breast-feeding friendly Coco top and these fancy pants.
The pattern suggests cutting the cuffs and hem band from rib knit or 'other stretchy stuff'. I decided to use the same stripy interlock but with the stripes going in the other direction. The cuffs actually came out quite a bit tighter than I was expecting and I was prepared to remake them a bit wider, but once she tried the hoodie on I found that they are actually fine.
In general I love this pattern and the finished garment I made for Dolores. But for a fully balanced review I will share all my niggles, even though they are pretty tiny ones. So, aside from the seam allowance issue, I also think the neck hole is a bit too wide. If I am making the next size up next time, I will probably still use the neck hole and hood from the size 90. I will also stitch a row of stay-stitching around the neck hole just incase any stretching occurs and baste the hood onto the neck with my regular machine before going over the seam with my overlocker, incase I stretched it out a bit by stitching the hood on only with my overlocker as the instructions directed.
I also think the shoulder detail strips should have been a tiny bit wider. It annoys me that they are slightly narrower than the white stripes of the interlock. This is my fault for cutting the too narrow, but it was also hampered by trying to attach them within the tiny 6mm seam allowance.
But as I say, overall I'm extremely pleased with this make. Plus I'm happy to have acted upon my recent musings that I need to stop making Dolores light-weight clothing and summer dresses and instead focus more on things that she will not be restricted in at all and are more suitable for our climate. I'm very grateful to Melissa from Brindille and Twig for sharing this pattern for free. I was more than happy to hand over a Facebook 'like' and sign up to the newsletter in exchange for it! I'm sure I'll make many more of these in the future when appropriate fabric comes onto my radar.