Look! I sewed something that is not a shirtdress!
This is the Jasper sweater from Paprika Patterns. I sewed it up in black sweatshirt fleece, which photographs terribly, but is something I will actually wear. Better to make something that will be worn than something that only looks okay in blog photos, right?
This pattern comes with a few different variations: you can sew it sweater length or dress length, & you can use the collar I did here or a hood. Honestly, all the options are pretty cool. I chose this one because it’s the simplest, & because there is a bit of a hole in my me-made warm outer layers selection. One thing I really liked is that the PDF comes with a print guide that tells you exactly what pages you need for the look you want, so you don’t have to print out thirty pages of pattern you’re not even going to use.
The sizing is also fairly inclusive. It’s designed to be fitted at the bust & hip & roomy in the waist. I cut a 6 in the shoulders/upper bust (I could have gone even smaller, but the pattern is split into two sizing nests & the 6 was the smallest available in the waist/hip I needed) & graded out to a 9 at the waist & hip. I really like the fit. There’s nothing that feels too tight or too loose, & it’s exactly as long as I like my sweaters as well. I was amazed at how great the fit was with no alterations aside from grading. The bigger sizes are designed for a bigger cup size, & the length is designed for someone who is 5’7″ (I’m 5’5″), both of which helped.
Bit of pooling there in the back, but that’s partially the way I am standing. When it comes to a sweatshirt, I’d rather have a little too much room in the waist than too little, honestly.
One thing this project made me think about is the fact that you can customize the clothes you make for yourself to flatter your unique proportions. I wear A LOT of sweatshirts. I am pretty much never without a hoodie, even in the summertime. I tend to buy men’s sweatshirts because women’s sweatshirts try to be all shapely in a way that doesn’t work for my figure, & the fleece is usually lower-quality to boot. But obviously a men’s sweatshirt is going to be pretty shapeless, & a size that fits my bust & waist is going to be way too big in the shoulders. I generally don’t mind, because I’m wearing a hoodie more for warmth than for fashion, but I love the way the Jasper sweatshirt fits my bust & my waist & also my shoulders! I’m starting to realize that I have kind of narrow shoulders for the rest of my torso, & I need to be cognizant of fitting everything so I don’t end up looking kind of lumpy & misshapen. That’s not a dis on my body. My body is fine. It just has proportions that are not often accommodated in RTW.
The big design details with this sweater are princess seams & this little epaulet situation. I attached my epaulet with this multi-faceted black button, originally purchased for my winter coat. It’s a perfect match for this sweater: interesting enough to draw some attention, but not so garish as to prevent the sweater from being an easy basic.
& this leads me to construction. The construction of this sweater is a little bit odd. The epaulet, for instance, is two pieces of fabric sewn together & turned right side out. It’s then looped over the collar & the button is sewn through all the layers to hold the whole thing in place.
Why not cut it from one piece of fabric doubled over? & especially why not sew it into the inside (you could even sew it into the collar seam when you’re attaching the collar to the neckline), add a buttonhole, & make the whole thing functional?
The pocket was also a little confusing. You’re supposed to match up the dots on the front of the sweater with the dots on the welt pocket pieces, but my dots had worn off by the time I got around to sewing this thing. The welts are parallel to the side seam, so why not just say something like “line up the welts an inch from the side seam” or whatever? That would be especially useful for people that are grading between sizes. I just guesstimated where the welts should go, & luckily, I got it right.
The interior pocket pieces are also longer than the front of the sweater. Which makes sense. If they were exactly the same size, it would be hard to fit anything in them! But the instructions say to just leave the bottom of the pocket hanging loose. This really didn’t work for me. When I put something heavy-ish in the pocket, like my cell phone, it dragged the pocket out under the hem band. I whipstitched the bottom of the pocket seam allowance to the top of the hem band seam allowance to keep it in place (you can see in the above photo that it gathers a bit, but it’s all hidden inside), but it seems like it would be easy enough to do this in one fell swoop when attaching the hem band.
& speaking of that hem band…the instructions have you cut one piece of fabric that is the length of the front of the sweater, & one that is the length of the back. Then you sew these strips together at the short sides, fold in half the long way, & attach all around the hem of the completed sweater. Why not just have the hem band be all one piece? It would avoid unnecessary lumps where the seamlines converge.
& the last thing that is baffling is that apparently you’re supposed to sew the whole thing with a straight stitch? I guess the pattern is for fabrics with minimal/no stretch, but my sweatshirt fleece does have a bit of stretch to it & my machine HATED sewing it with a straight stitch. So much birdnesting. I really should have gone with my gut & used a zigzag stitch, but having never sewn this pattern before, I was holding out for there being some ultimate reason for using a straight stitch.
Ultimately, I really love how the finished product came out. I’ve been wearing it almost non-stop since I finished it. I’m not 100% sure I’ll make it again, just because it has such distinctive style lines, I question how many I really need. I might make the hooded version one of these days. But if I do, I’m going to go my own way with some of the details & finishes.