Saturday, 22 April 2017

Grey Merino Longley Cardigan

Long time readers of my blog may remember that I had three pieces of delicious merino wool from The Fabric Store last year that I spent an absolute age deliberating over what to make with. The green mid-weight knit I turned into a Neenah Dress and the lightweight black sweat-shirting I used for a Toaster Sweater. Both of these have been worn week in week out throughout the winter and I am very happy to report are holding up beautifully and with regular 30 degree gentle machine washes the fabric still looks good as new. The third fabric was another piece of the mid-weight knit this time in the silver. I actually sewed this up at the same time as the other two but it has been the slightly warmer spring weather of late that has turned this garment into a big wardrobe hit.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

I'd been after a draped front cardigan in a neutral colour for some time and spent quite a while deliberating on the perfect pattern. There's nothing like a beautiful piece of not-so-cheap fabric to force you to put some real thought into making the right choice is there?! I eventually settled on the Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan from MIY Collection and could not be more pleased with the decision now it's done. I spotted a sample of this design at the Knitting & Stitching Show a couple of years back and was intrigued then but it took me a while to take the plunge! I weighed up a couple of other options from Style Arc and Straight Stitch Designs but there were a few features of the design that saw the Longley win out overall despite the slightly more expensive price tag. Firstly the fact that all the edges are finished with bands which I will discuss in a moment but also the proportions of the style I felt would better suit me. I didn't want there to be too much fabric or length in the 'waterfall' as I think on someone of my size and proportion things can look a little off balance if you have too much bulk in the front. It really appealed to me that the front edge of the cardigan is quite short and there's a little more length in the sides so I wasn't going to feel overwhelmed by fabric.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

I had 2 metres of the merino and needed it all, that waterfall front is a fabric eater! It's such a lush fabric, I'd use it all the time if I could. It's soft and smooth with a kind of sheen to it on the right side which really does give it the silver quality of its name! Combined with this style the colour and elegant drape of the fabric feels super classy and luxurious. It's a great knit to work with as it really retains it's shape and responds so well to a good steamy press. As with any knit you do have to be careful about stretching it out of shape as you sew but it's definitely one of the most resilient I've worked with and you don't get any of those annoying curly edges going on. I sewed the whole thing using a narrow zig zag stitch on my regular machine and overlocked all the edges to keep it tidy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

The design is actually very straightforward to sew as once you've put together your shoulder and armhole you're dealing with a lot of straight edges and rectangular pattern pieces. A beginner with a little experience of working with knits could definitely tackle this one and get good results. Wendy includes a whole page of tips for working with knits in the instructions too. I really enjoyed putting it together and when the construction is as well thought out as this getting professional looking results is very satisfying.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

I think a key reason behind the cardigan feeling high-end rather than homemade is the weight provided by those wide bands finishing the top and bottom edges. The top edge (the piece which hangs around the neck and down the centre front) is 5" wide and the hem band is 3". The double thickness of fabric in these areas help everything hang beautifully. The ends between the two bands are folded back on themselves and secured in place with a line of stitching which when sewing I was a little unsure about as a finish but this edge actually disappears into the folds of the front when worn and it hasn't;t bothered me at all. I would recommend matching your thread colour carefully though as this line of stitching does show on the right side.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

Some other similar waterfall style patterns leave that front edge completely unfinished (when you are working with knits you can leave hems raw as they don't fray) but I don't like the idea of this at all. I think without the double thickness of fabric it would feel really flimsy and have the potential to stretch out of shape after not an awful lot of wear. The finishing of the Longley is a real selling point for me and I highly recommend it as a cracking pattern to try if you are looking for a similar style.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

As it is a knit garment with a fairly relaxed fit the pattern has just three sizes. I cut the smallest size as I know I like quite a slim fitting cardigan particularly in the sleeve as I have quite tiny wrists. I did end up slimming the sleeve down to fit my lower arm more snuggly although the fit around the upper arm and armhole is just as I would like. The shoulders fit really neatly too. I took out 1" on the double at the cuff and graded out to nothing at 9.5" up the sleeve. If you're going to do the same remember to take the width off your cuff pieces too! The sleeves did come up really long. I expected to need to shorten them a little but I ended up taking 2" off the cuff and 2" off the sleeve. A whopping 4" in total but they are now the perfect length for me. The length of the cardigan itself is great as is though.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

I had 2 metres of the merino and needed it all, that waterfall front is a fabric eater! It's such a lush fabric, I'd use it all the time if I could! It's soft and smooth with a kind of sheen to it on the right side which in this particular shade of grey gives it an almost silver quality. Combined with this style the colour and elegant drape of the fabric feels super classy and luxurious. It's a great knit to work with as it really retains it's shape and responds so well to a good steamy press. As with any knit you do have to be careful about stretching it out of shape as you sew but it's definitely one of the most resilient I've worked with and you don't get any of those annoying curly edges going on. I sewed the whole thing using a narrow zig zag stitch on my regular machine and overlocked all the edges to keep it tidy.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Grey Merino Longley Draped Waterfall Cardigan MIY Collection

The finished cardigan is so great to have in my wardrobe and definitely a garment I'll be wearing for years to come. It's perfect thing to throw on on-top of almost any outfit and it is going to be great in the summer when the temperature dips in the evening and you just need a little something over your sun dress. I recently bought a lovely piece of warm red merino in the same weight and am seriously tempted to use it to make another of these as it was such an enjoyable project. Another contender is the Papercut Patterns' Bowline Sweater as I love my linen knit version and think a snugglier version wouldn't go amiss in my wardrobe. Are there any other patterns you would recommend for merino knits? 

12 comments:

  1. Its lovely Fiona! Every year I say i'll order $150 worth of merino for the free delivery from Aus. I once owned a claret merino wrap cardigan that I wore to death. I think its worth the pricetag, your cardigan is really classic.

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    1. Gosh is it so worth the $150 for the free shipping! You can get fabric for a fair few garments for that amount. So worth every penny. I think I might end up with a cardigan similar to your red one soon! Thanks Stevie

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  2. I love the length you've made this cardi - I have a few drapey cardi patterns which are long (and I like that too) but shortening them to waist length hadn't occurred to me until seeing yours. Love your fabric and in gray I'm sure you'll wear it often. We're heading into "AC" weather here in the north and sometimes that can be really cold - this light knit sweater will be perfect for that cooler temp :)

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    1. Thanks Kathleen! Yes the length was one of the things that appealed to me about this particular pattern as I find the longer ones don't suit my proportions. Grey is probably my favourite neutral!
      Merino is so great for all seasons, I'm sure we could find use for it in any climate!

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  3. This is so lovely! I can hardly imagine how gorgeous the fabric is in person. So glad you've made a top you'll love for a long time!

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    1. Me too Kelly! With a classic style, neutral grey and a beautiful fabric you can't go wrong really can you! Merino is so worth every penny

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  4. It looks gorgeous Fiona and I love the sound of that fabric - they sound like a match made in heaven!
    I'm so happy you appreciate those design and construction details too, thank you.
    The sleeves are over long and slouchy but can appreciate not everyone's keen on that look, I think your shortened ones look really neat. Hope you enjoy wearing this Longley and make more 😊

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    1. Match made in heaven indeed! It really is a fab pattern.
      Yes I can totally understand the sleeve design, I just prefer a tighter and neater sleeve as I have tiny arms!
      I've already got fabric waiting in the wings for another. Thanks Wendy!

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  5. I like the way you took the waterfall style and made it your own.

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    1. Thanks Catherine! I'm really happy with how this turned out!

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  6. This is lovely Fiona. The colour and style really suit you I've never been crazy over waterfall cardis but this one is nicely proportioned - some of them are so exaggerated in their waterfall! I've sewn quite a lot of merino knits - I buy it straight from New Zealand because the Fabric Store, like Mood Fabrics, don't ship to Malta (this used to make me angry, now I realise it's their loss and have found other sources;) ) - I've made a couple of dresses - a moneta, another dress which is a combo of D&D's Ondee with the Lady Skater dress (this is my best one), what else - couple of ondees as sweaters but with a wider waistband like Colette's Astoria, one with a polo neck. I also have a self drafted pattern for a dress with cut on long sleeves and elastic at empire height and a flowy skirt which I've made in linen etc and it is perfect in merino. But my favourite make is sort of long johns:). I bought 5 metres of merino/silk this winter to make my sis and myself loose-ish leggings and long sleeved tees to wear as a base layer or for the house, whatever - best make ever! So comfortable and never itchy or too warm. It really is amazing fabric!

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    1. Yes that exaggerated look with a lot of fabric down your front is exactly what I was trying to avoid! This is a great balanced design.
      Your wardrobe sounds gorgeous! I hadn't though of a neat little sweater like the Ondee, that's a great idea that I might have to try as I'll have just enough! I would never have thought of making leggings with it but that sounds glorious, I bet they are so soft and lovely to wear. I might need to get myself some more merino so I can try out all your ideas!
      Thanks

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!