Monday, 20 April 2015

Leopard Print Jenna Cardigan


Using the forth-coming Me-Made-May challenge as a catalyst, I finally got round to doing something I've been wanting to do for ages: make a cardigan. I wear cardigans ALL THE TIME, usually secondhand fine knit type ones. I would love to start introducing some handmade ones in there as well because A) I want to have made as much of my own clothing as possible, and B) I hate relying on shops, even charity shops, for any particular type of garment because the joy of having complete design control is hard to give up once you've tasted it!


The first ever self-made cardigan I had was the infamous Saint cardigan (RIP) which saw soooo much wear in its lifetime. Back in 2010 I self-drafted that pattern because at the time there weren't any great cut-and-sew cardigan patterns out there. If the Jenna pattern had been available then, I probably wouldn't have bothered, so I was forced to exercise my pattern making skills despite my lazy nature!


Returning to 2015: rather than referring back to my pattern cutting skillz to come up with a new cardigan pattern, I wanted to have the thinking done for me this time. I already owned the Julia cardigan pattern from participating in Perfect Pattern Parcel #6's blog tour, which I went as far as printing out and sticking together. I then stopped to google other people's experiences of the pattern to help me decide which size to cut out. Looking at the images of many of the versions out there, I started to feel that perhaps it wasn't really 'me', and therefore a risky choice for the rather precious piece of fabric I planned to use. I'm pretty sure I'll use that pattern at some point, but at this stage, the search for a great cardi pattern resumed.

It didn't take me long to think of the Jenna cardi pattern. A quick google search brought up many many versions, ALL of which I loved. We had a winner!


Pattern:

Style options: It was difficult to decide which combo of features to make; do I go for hip or waist length, plain or gathered yoke shoulders, full-length or 3/4-length sleeves? It's still bloody cold and damp here at the moment, and my fabric is on the thicker end of what would be suitable for this pattern, so I decided to go for the most coverage: hip length with full length sleeves. I adore the gathered yoke shoulder detail variation included in this pattern, but I thought it might not be very noticeable with a fabric that has a busy design, so I promised myself that I'll try that option next time and keep things plain for now.

Alterations and fitting: There were some fit issues that I encountered, which is not a criticism of the drafting, more some personal changes that I need to make to suit my body and style preferences. I can see a long term relationship developing with the Jenna cardi pattern so I (uncharacteristically) bothered to physically write a list of tweaks and alterations that I'm going to make for my next version:
  • For this version I cut the size 36 which related most closely to my measurements. I found that the shoulders were way too broad, it kind of looked more like a jacket than a cardigan, so I shaved off some of the armscye with my overlocker. Next time I think I'll actually blend between the size 34 for above the bust (including the sleeve) and the size 36 for below the bust, as the rest of the fit is pretty spot on time terms of dimensions. 
  • The jacket-effect was exemplified by how wide the sleeves came out. I pinched out and shaved 2 cm off the sleeve width (so about 4 cm in total per sleeve) from the cuff to about level with the elbow. Next time, as mentioned above, I'll start with the size 34 sleeve and then see if further width needs to be removed depending on my choice of fabric for the next version. 
  • The sleeves were comically long. Well, actually they weren't but they would have been. This is because I tried on the work-in-progree to check the fit before the cuff bands were added, and at that point I could easily have just hemmed the sleeves and called it done because they were so long. However, I really like the look of cuff bands, so I removed 6 cm from the sleeve length before adding them. 
  • I didn't make this alteration on this first version, but I think there's something a bit extreme and angle-y about the side seam shaping, particularly where it meets the waist band. I'll address that by smoothing that curve and angle out a bit going forwards. I also might make a really boxy version at some point that has little-to-no shaping around the waist at all.  

Fabric:

Ah, cutting into this fabric was hard! It's been languishing in my stash for about three years, having scored it second hand. It was almost as precious to me as the striped stuff that became my 1960's Breton top and equally difficult to know what to do with. Spurred on by the success after finally using the stripy stuff, I felt it was probably also time to set this one 'free'! I'm pretty sure this fabric was some kind of sample length, but it didn't come with any kind of label or tag so I have no idea what it is comprised of. I do know that it's some kind of stable double-knit with a woven-in (rather than printed) leopard print design and has a really lovely, soft feel. 

This fabric could have become many things, but seeing as I wear cardigans every day it made so much sense to use it for that purpose. It would be a real shame to make this fabric into a garment that doesn't get worn hardly ever so it isn't enjoyed to the fullest.


Thoughts:

I haven't worn this cardigan yet but I'm pleased to have it in my arsenal. Me-Made-May will help me figure out how to incorporate it into my current wardrobe and which outfits I feel it works best in. I'm excited to use this pattern again, and my head is brimming with ideas for it, like adding piping round the shoulder yoke when I make that version, or making a must wider button stand to use some of the epic larger buttons in my stash. Boringly, I had to buy the plain back buttons that feature on this leopard print version, as I don't have many sets of eight or more buttons.

What about you? Are you in the throws or on the brink of a long-term relationship with a particular sewing pattern? Hmm, maybe this'll be my One Week One Pattern contender next time... 

18 comments:

Minnado said...

The cardigan looks very good. I'd like to sew one but always hesitate as I don't have the right fabric to hand and am not sure where to buy some. I wear cardigans almost daily and like you buy them second hand so making one would fill a gap. X

vintagerockchick said...

I want this pattern! (Actually, if I'm honest, I want this very cardigan). I've never made a cardie, but this definitely looks like a pattern I should try - and as I always moan that sleeves are never long enough, comically long sleeves are a bonus x

Marie said...

Love it! Looks like there's a good lot of variations with the pattern as well. Funny I had intended to draft a cardi myself in the next few weeks as I also live in them but now I'm tempted to save myself the effort. Still have a last few (non panic sewing I promise!) makes to squeeze in before May and thinking a cardi would tick off half my week in one blow!

Jenny said...

If ever a leopard print were a neutral, this one definitely is. I think the cardigan was the perfect choice for this fabric. Lovely! You'll definitely get tons of wear out of this.

dkswife said...

Love the cardi. It looks great on your.

Kimmy Rocket said...

I think you may have just helped to fill a little hole in my pattern library. I, too, am a serial cardigan wearer, but I was yet to see a pattern that took my fancy...until now! Jenna is gorgeous. I love the version with the gathering on the yoke. Definitely one to add to the list, and your leopard print version is a beauty!

Metalmom37 said...

Looks great!!! What a great choice of fabric.

Shannon said...

I love your version! I've made the pattern a couple times now and love it, but I had the same fitting problems with the shoulders and the sleeves. I think they're designed for someone taller and broader, although I've made one of their more recent patterns (the Natalie top), and the fit was better. With those modifications I think it's a great pattern, and I wear both of mine tons!

Elizabeth Made This said...

This looks like it'll be a great cardigan to have for MMM mixing. I love the versatility of cardigans. I have one that I wear all the time; I love how finely it's knitted and that it's outlasted about a million washes at this point with no sign of wear. I do have a really lovely too big for me cardigan that's a candidate for refashioning. As I consider MMM, it's probably a good goal to relook at that one. Thanks for the inspiration!

Nayla said...

I love the neckline and the fit. It looks amazing and comfortable!

Ginny said...

Absolutely outstanding cardigan Zo --- love that classy dark cheetah print fabric too! I've had the Jenna pattern for ages and you're inspiring me to get busy and sew one already :D!

navybluethreads said...

Thanks for alerting me to this pattern, and modelling it so well :-) Like you, I wear a cardigan most days due to changeable temperatures at work. This would be a great addition to my pattern wardrobe.

Tanit-Isis said...

Super cute! I've been living in cardigans, lately, too---mine have to be teeny and super-shrunken, though ;) This looks great! Great use of a precious fabric. :)

I'm on my fourth version of a Jalie Patterns dress in the last couple of days... I'd call that an obsesssion! :)

gingermakes.com said...

Super cute! I love love love this print!!!

Shirley Ann said...

This looks fabulous on you!

Gillian said...

THat's gorgeous! I just made a Jenna myself (my 32nd, after the giving the first to my sister because it fit her better...) I still haven't got it fitting like I want, so I'm not sure if I should keep trying! Your's turned out perfectly though - it's just what that fabric wanted to become! :)

Vanessa J Turner said...

Zoe, this is such a fantastic cardigan. Great fabric, great shape and great on you!
I imagine you are going to get so much use out of it.
It's definitely a keeper! Quick! Make another before you wear this one out! :)

Jodi Wade said...

The cardigan looks so great! Wonderful fabric.

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