Every since testing Sally from Capital Chic's White Russian Sweatshirt pattern back in the spring I knew that I wanted to make a couple more for this autumn/winter. I love that the cut is more slim and feminine than perhaps a traditional sweatshirt might be, it's got a really contemporary look to it. With this in mind I set out to look for some interesting loop-backed or fleece-backed sweat shirting or quilted fabric when I was with Sally at the Goldhawk Road meet up when Lladybird was in London. I was thinking black as I wanted to it be a warm layer I could pull on over a variety of outfits and my first version of the sweatshirt is a grey marl. Luckily I found just what I needed in Fabric House which is one of my favourite shops on that street for customer service and a good bargain!
I nabbed the last bit of this diamond quilted fabric for my first version. It's quite spongy and warm but feels more like a neoprene than a sweater knit to touch. It's got a smooth sheen to it on both sides and has a softer drape than a fleece backed fabric. It was perfect for this pattern. Sally pointed out that I wouldn't want to use the quilting for the bands so I needed to find something else for there. I ended up buying a metre of plain black fleece backed sweat-shirting along with a metre of the quilted stuff for the bargain price of £12. What makes it even more of a steal is that when it came to cutting I realised I had just enough fabric to make a second sweatshirt from the plain black fabric as it was quite wide. The pattern does suggest you will need 1.5m but if you are cutting a small size and get a bit creative with it on a wide fabric you can just about make a metre work.
I was wondering what I could do to the second top so that I didn't end up with two which appeared to be plain black. I was considering using one of the quilting designs that come with the pattern or adding some gems around the neckline as I've spied a few tutorials for this recently. Then I spotted the jumper below in French Connection and remembered Rachel's recent DIY project in which she used iron on transfers to add a slogan to a RTW sweater. Obviously the F on the inspiration sweatshirt is for the brand but I was instantly excited by the idea of a sweatshirt with my initial on the front. Coincidentally the pattern designer herself was recently inspired to customise one of her charity shop finds with an appliqué letter S which I love!
I bought my letter F transfer from Tee Transfers. They had a good choice of fonts, colours and sizes and for reasonable prices. Mine was the largest size (20cm) in burgundy in the 'Retro' font. I was pretty tempted by the metallic gold or silver too! Ironing on the transfer was really straightforward, it came with clear instructions which are also available on their website. My fabric couldn't take much heat so I just kept the iron over the transfer and paper for longer until the backing peeled off cleanly. I've since washed the sweatshirt a couple of times and while the letter looked a bit wrinkly when it first came out of the wash a quick iron from the reverse smoothed it out again.
I used a twin needle to finish the edges of the neck, cuff and hem bands and had success with both! I've had rather mixed experiences with a twin needle so was apprehensive about attempting it on these as they were looking pretty good without it. It actually handled the thick layers of the fabric really well considering it was dealing with two layers of band and two layers of the main fabric as the seam allowances are pressed together towards the body of the garment. I sewed using my standard straight stitch settings, with one needle stitching 'in the ditch' and the other through the main fabric catching the seam allowance as I went. I'm really pleased I decided to go with this technique as I think it adds a professional finish and also keeps the bands sitting nice and flat as they were bouncing back after just pressing and looking a little puffy.
I am so delighted with how these turned out. It took about 45 minutes to cut them both and then I made them in tandem in about 3 hours! I finished them about three weeks ago and have quite seriously worn one or the other nearly every single day since then. They look great with jeans or skirts and keep me nice and warm without feeling like the Michelin man when I've got my coat on top! I'm seriously tempted to make a whole load more as they are so satisfying to sew but how many sweatshirts does one girl need?! If I spot a perfect fabric though it might be quite hard to resist...