Much as I love a hand-knitted woollen jumper it has to be said that I love Polartec fleece just as much, for its practicality, its washability, its dryability and its many-togs of warmth, so I wear quite a lot of it. This winter two of Bookhound's man-sized jumpers that almost reach my knees thus keeping a lot of me warm, but I also have two favourite fleece cardigans that have been wardrobe staples for longer than I can remember. Bought from American company Eddie Bauer, in the days when they had shops here in the UK, I was surprised to find that the company still exists, though the shops here are long gone. I have always kicked myself for not buying more of the boxy, popper front cardigans and had actually suggested to Land's End, a few years ago, that they might like to make these. I thought it might perhaps give a more varied edge to their collection (we don't all suit a lapel or shawl collar) and I even sent pictures, but they took acute umbrage and I think missed a trick with a very nice, simple design that I would have bought even if no one else had.
So as my two cardies started to look ominously thin around the elbows I decided to go for it...they didn't look that hard to copy and make for myself... squarish shape, short length (this is their star quality) I'd find poppers somewhere, and surely the Bernina would have a stitch in its armoury that could cope.
Rather than waste new fabric I found an old red fleece that I felt I could spare...it's tomato red, not really my colour any more, and so I set to drafting a pattern from the cardigan and then chopping into a perfectly good jumper. I have to say it is watching the GBSB that has given me the courage to try this...to turn one thing into something else...
Oh ye of little faith... I decided to keep the lower edge hems on the jumper in place for the cardigan and also the cuffs on the sleeves thinking that there was no way this would work...it would probably slip and slide from under the machine foot and be a complete disaster...
There's also the neat addition of cotton facing along the inner popper edges and around the inner back neck edge so the chance for a bit of contrast if I was feeling bold, and by the time I had finished hacking into the jumper here's what was left... a sort of elfin cape
With the Bernina manual to hand I strayed far into unknown territory and stitch No 16... never been there before, Stretch Overlock Seam with a bit of No 13 Super Stretch Seam thrown in. Well what a revelation... who needs an overlocker when the machine can manage this.
I was whooping and hollering like a thing possessed as this went together, realising both that fleece is the easiest of fabrics to stitch (why on earth did I think otherwise?) and also the most forgiving. It can be eased and stretched into place with ne'er a pucker in sight and the seams are things of unfrayable beauty. almost dare I say professional and proper, which all makes me want to wear it inside out and say ' Will you just look at this...'
Did you notice I said 'wear', because I have actually ended up with an almost exact replica of my original beloveds. The only alterations to the pattern I will make are around seam allowance because an overlocked seam needs a scant 2/8, not the usual 5/8 that I had allowed and I have also figured out the best method for the popper facings (the best one on the left as you look at the picture)
Once I have sourced the poppers it will be action stations, even if the colour doesn't suit me...the garden won't mind, and I expect we will then have a heatwave, but I am thrilled with the end result. These will only need about 1.2m of fabric so roughly £10 - £12 to make...