The Jarrah Sweater Again

I can’t believe how many times I’ve sewn the Jarrah Sweater from Megan Nielsen Patterns. I first came across this in 2020 when I wanted to try out my new (second-hand) overlocker and I found this. It’s a great beginner pattern especially with my limited experience with knit fabrics and overlocking. The first time I made the pattern, I used a Jacquard Knit Fabric. It was a quick sew and it’s a nice thick sweater, great for really cold days and quite oversized so it slips easily over t-shirts.

Last year, I made another version, but I experimented with a drapier, lighter weight jersey fabric and added a thicker ribbed waistband and a brushed cotton knit version. Both were worn on repeat, but I really loved the lighter weight sweater. It was easy to throw on as a top. Perth is quite Mediterranean in climate which means our winters are cold in the night and mornings but can get quite sunny and warmer in the daytime. It’s great to have a top that is versatile enough to cope.

So, since I got so much wear out of my lovely magpie jarrah sweater, I decided to make another one from this beautiful Vanessa Holliday designed jersey fabric from Spotlight Stores. I was thrilled to also find this thin pink ribbing to match. I really love how soft and luxurious the fabric feels.

View A was used to make my top and this time, I did not widen the waistband. In fact, I didn’t make any alterations. I made the size 12 which was comfortable for my frame of 37-inch bust and 33-inch waist. There have been recommendations to size down if you’re unsure of the fit, but I personally love an oversized sweater. There’s been a real appreciation for loungewear since the pandemic. I think it comes from appreciating home and the comforts it provides us. We now love the time spent together, no longer needing to seek excitement and entertainment at every turn. Time together is enough.

Sewing a pattern multiple times also allows me to reflect on technique and helps my progress in sewing. Sewing isn’t just a hobby about making the same thing over and over. There’s a skill set that must be practised and different techniques to master. I was reminded of this when attaching my collar! In my first attempt, I had not used the marking from the pattern (I was winging it!) and as I was attaching the collar, I could see that I had not stretched the ribbing enough at the beginning and was going to end up with some puckering from over stretching the second half, so I stopped and I unpicked all the overlocked stitching. Yes! It is possible but not something one wishes to do too often.

The better way to attach the collar is to mark the centre front, centre back, right shoulder and left shoulder in quarters once you have the short ends joined. It will then be easy to match this to the body of the garment. Also, I find it better to have my ribbing under the jersey fabric to make sure that I only stretch the ribbing and not the jersey fabric. 

Now that I’ve had my “warm-up” knitted fabric sewing, I’m keen to tackle a few patterns that have been on the back burner. I’ve been meaning to sew up the Pattern Scout Cozi Jacket and True Bias Marlo Sweater. Just need to track down the right fabric!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em

Reef Camisole and Shorts

Christmas holidays arrived and here in the Southern Hemisphere, we found ourselves in sweltering summer heat. Needless to say, it was too hot to be at the sewing machine but I managed to sew up the Reef Camisole and Shorts Set from Megan Nielsen Patterns. It was my final sew for the year just in time for my favourite time of the year. I’ve always loved the time after Christmas and the start of the new year where there is a quietness and a temporary lull to give us a bit of respite before the whirring of busy-ness begins again. It was a good time to finish making the Reef Set so I could have my pyjama day.

Motivated to finish by coffee and panettone

As usual, if you’re looking after a comprehensive sew-along, you should look at the Megan Nielsen Blog Site. This was my own sewing process. Before heading into that, I wanted to talk about the fabric that I used. I bought this lovely muslin from Spotlight Stores. It caught my eye because of the beautiful mustard colour and the pattern is reminiscent of a field of dandelions. Muslin is such a thin fabric; it’s often used for children’s clothing or baby wraps and for good reason. It’s soft, made of cotton and is such a breathable light fabric which is why I’ve thought to use it for summer pyjamas. 

I remember when I had just started sewing, I tried to sew with muslin fabric. I ended up cutting it up for cleaning cloths because it did not even survive the first wash! The best way to prepare muslin fabric for sewing is to overlock the raw cut edges before washing on the cool cycle. This preserves the integrity of the muslin fabric which has a loose weave otherwise you would risk your washing machine unravelling some of the thin fabric. After washing, I gave it a light iron and went on the cut out the pattern pieces. Another beginner tip is to check your needle. I made sure I had a 10/70 needle to ensure that I wouldn’t damage the delicate fabric.

Starting with the camisole, which is cut on the bias, watch that you don’t handle the fabric too much and lay it flat as it will stretch if you hang the fabric before sewing. I also made sure to staystitch where needed as this helps to stabilise the fabric. I love the look of bias-cut garments as it drapes beautifully especially with silky materials. 

The crossover back yoke is the distinguishing feature of this camisole. It’s a really satisfying construction. It’s also so comfortable to wear. I’m tempted to sew this camisole as a top if I can find the right fabric like silk. Once the crossover back yoke is completed, it comes together very fast. Topstitching the neckline and armscye was my own addition to help secure this fragile fabric. I tend to wash everything in the machine and have little time for hand washing so this will go a long way of preserving my Reef Set. I also secured the facing by stitching in the ditch at the side seams and stitching down the back panel.

Onto the shorts, I made the View B option which is the mid-rise. The hemline is curved and again an interesting construction with the attachment of facings. It elevates the piece from basic elasticised waisted shorts to luxurious summer pyjamas shorts. It doesn’t stop there; it also has pockets!

A quick note on sizing, I made the size 12 for my measurements of 37-inch bust, 33-inch waist and 38-inch hips. The sizing was a great for the shorts, but I could sew up a size for the camisole top. The camisole has very narrow seams except for the side seams which returns to 5/8 inch. I narrowed the side seam to allow more room in the armscye. It still fits me in the size 12 but there are some horizontal fold lines where the front straps meet the bust line. The other option would be to make a full bust adjustment but I would also like to lengthen the camisole so I feel the best option would be to size up.

Now that the busy Christmas holiday period is over and we have turned over to the New Year, I have a few days of lounging around in my newly minted pyjama set. I’m really enjoying my new book which is the second book by Named Patterns titled, “Building The Pattern”. This is my first sewing book and it’s a gem.

Thank you for reading and wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

X Em

Matilda Dress

How is it the end of October already? The Matilda Dress caught my eye in the recent re-release by Megan Nielsen Patterns. I loved the version with sleeves, and I felt that it would be a great dress for the autumn or spring seasons where you can have warm days and cold nights. This has been a bit of a marathon sew and like all marathons, some parts were challenging but it felt like a satisfying achievement in the end.

The challenges mainly came from the fabric I chose. Firstly, the fabric I chose was a cotton blend linen but the weight of it might have been too heavy. Secondly, the fabric was a bit shifty. I think the weave must have been quite loose and without a walking foot, the fabric shifted quite badly when sewn. The loose weave also meant that the fabric frays quite easily. Next time, I will be looking to sew the Matilda with shirting fabric as suggested in the pattern! Despite this, I do love this soft fabric and as it’s slightly thicker, it will be getting a lot of wear until the weather warms up properly.

Packed full of features like pockets and collar

Okay, so onto the features of the Matilda Dress. Basically, I would describe it as a fitted shirt dress. It has two types of pockets, a yoke, collar with collar stand, has a waistband and princess seams. It was so interesting to have so many features in a dress and I was so grateful for the clear tutorials included with the pattern. I needed to refer to it when I was sewing the breast pockets and pocket flaps. I also referred to it again when I was installing the collar and the collar stand. I find that every time I’ve sewn a Megan Nielsen pattern, I learn something, and my skill level grows.

For my measurements of 37:33:38, I sewed the Size 14. No modifications were needed. Interestingly, in the past I’ve usually sewn the size 12 from Megan Nielsen Patterns but the size 14 fits better. I can still wear my other dresses made in the size 12 so I’m not sure if there have been some changes in the drafting? If you know then comment below. 

I managed to get all my pattern pieces from a 3-meter length fabric (I think it was 130cm in width). There were a lot of pieces, so I spent quite a lot of time playing pattern piece Jenga! The linen fabric was from my stash which was why I wanted to spend the time fitting all my pieces in. 

Full length of the dress

I’m not sure I’ve mastered this pattern yet. It will definitely need revisiting in the future but I’m happy to have made the attempt!

Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

X Em