A little while back Brighton based Wendy from MIY Collection contacted me to see if I'd like to try one of her kits, specifically the one including pattern, fabric and thread for sewing up the Brightside Shrug. I'd long been meaning to try out one of Wendy's patterns (and had in fact been severely eyeing up the Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan at the Knitting and Stitching Show last year!) so jumped at the opportunity. I actually had it sewn up a matter of days after the parcel arrived but the last few months have been so chaotic with moving, holidays and working away from home a lot I've only just got around to taking pictures. At least it means I've had a good bit of wear out of it so when I say it's comfy, useful and the fabric wears well you can believe me!
It arrived in such a beautiful little parcel and the whole thing had a real personal, handmade feel to it. It would be a great gift for someone who wants to learn to sew or has just bought their first machine. The pattern is printed on standard weight paper (I know some people prefer tissue and I very much like that for more complex patterns but for something simple like this I like the sturdier paper, especially if using pattern weights not pins. The instructions are printed into an A4 colour booklet, nice and big and clear to read with bold illustrations.
As I was saying, it's the fastest thing I've ever made! Including cutting it was about an hour and a half total. The shrug itself is one large piece, folded in half and sewn up to create sleeves. The long raw edge next to the body is finished with a band, as are the cuffs and you're done! It was kind of fascinating to me that interesting clothing can be made up so quickly and simply and it's got me intrigued about what can be achieved by draping a few pieces of fabric.
As it's a knit you don't even need to finish the raw edges but I like to keep things looking as professional as possible on the insides so whilst I sewed it up with a narrow zig zag stitch on my regular machine (with a ball point needle) I finished everything with black thread on my overlocker. As the fabric is a loopback terry knit it does shed little pieces everywhere when cut so I'm pleased I had the option of overlocking.
There are three sizes and I cut the smallest one despite being on the cusp of two as I prefer my clothes fairly fitted and it's described as a 'fairly loose fitting style'. I'm really happy with how this hugs my shoulders but as the fabric that comes with the kit is quite stable without a huge amount of stretch I perhaps could have gone bigger for a more exaggerated drape and shape across the back.
The only thing I'm not 100% sold on now it's finished is the fabric itself, but that's just personal choice about what I'd most like to wear. There are three colours to choose from and I'm happy I went with a stripe as I like the way that these work with the band and cuffs but I think it's the drape that's bugging me most. It's a thick cotton rich french terry in a sweatshirt weight so it has quite a but of body and creates quite 'full' folds which does work for the garment but isn't quite what I had in mind. It is top quality and washes up lovely and actually the stability of it makes it very easy to handle so that's great for the beginner that I think the kit is aimed at. I was really taken with the texture of the loopback of the fabric and almost used it wrong side out!
While I was sewing it I was unsure about whether this type of shrug was really my style but since making it I have found a whole heap of garments in my wardrobe that this style is perfect to throw over. Made up in the thicker knit that comes with the kits I think it's more of a winter weight but I'm thinking about making one up in a lighter weight, softer knit (possibly a linen since I made my Bowline Sweater and discovered how gorgeous it is to wear!). I'd also consider making it in a size up in a more drapey knit for a more slouchy and relaxed feel so I can wear it over all my summer dresses to take the edge off the mornings and evenings.
I'd highly recommend this pattern for a beginner seamstress or a newbie to knits. There are only three pattern pieces, not much to worry about in the way of fit but it's a great way to practice adding bands and cuffs and it you wanted to push yourself you could play around with pattern placement quite easily. The instructions are really thorough too for such a simple garment and include a couple of pages on how to work with knits and cut your fabric. Thanks Wendy for giving me the opportunity to try out one of your patterns...I'm off to see what else you've got in your shop!