Thursday, 30 August 2018

A Trio of Blackwood Cardigans

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Maxi Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Teal Merino from The Fabric Store

Ever since I made my first Longley Cardigan in silver grey merino about 18 months ago I haven't felt the need to add another cardigan pattern to my handmade arsenal. That cardigan and the subsequent maroon patterned version I made work with my entire handmade wardrobe and are ideal to throw at any time of year. It is a fantastic pattern and really fun to put together. I didn't think any other cardigan could steal my affection until I met the Blackwood Cardigan from Helen's Closet. A pattern I liked so much on first sewing that a month later I owned three!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Maxi Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Teal Merino from The Fabric Store

I started looking at cardigan patterns because I got the idea into my head that I wanted to sew a dramatic maxi length cardigan for wearing over simple jeans and tee combos. Lengthening the Longley wouldn't work as that waterfall front would overwhelm me with fabric. I looked at the I AM Patterns Artemis for a while before deciding that the cocoon shape wasn't quite right and I wanted something a little more slimline and lightweight. I can't remember who but I spotted a slightly lengthened version of the Blackwood (which comes with both hip and thigh length variations already) on Instagram, liked the neat look of the close fitting shoulder and thought it would definitely suit being lengthened all the way down to the ground.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Maxi Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Teal Merino from The Fabric Store

In the end my cardigan doesn't quite reach the ground as I was restricted by the amount of fabric I had. But its a much more practical length now, who wants to drag beautiful merino in the London dirt?! I settled on adding 38cm to the length as it was long as I could go while still having just enough fabric to squeeze out another Nikko Top. I would have needed more fabric to make it any longer anyway as I cut the Nikko around the cardigan pieces to fit it all on. I had two metres of this deep teal premium merino from The Fabric Store. If you're making a longer version of this cardigan don't forget to add the extra length to the front band pattern piece too. I almost forgot which would have been a disaster as I was using every scrap for my Nikko!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Rose Pink Merino from The Fabric Store

I cut the size small from shoulder to waist and then graded out to a medium at the hip continuing with that size down to the hem. I did think as the cardigan is designed to be worn open I could get away without changing size but it is a fairly close fitting style I didn't want it too tight across the bum. I added the extra length to the hem of the front and back pattern pieces just above the hem band and made sure to draw the lines straight down at the side seams rather than following any flare so that the hem band would still be the right size. I'm really happy with the fit even the sleeves which I am usually quite particular about. I wasn't sure I would like the 'extra long sleeves' but I do and they are nice and slim.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Black Merino from The Fabric Store

So my first try with this pattern was in fact a hack; but a straightforward one that turned out just as I had hoped! Making this highlighted the careful design choices of this seemingly simple cardigan and I realised a shorter version would definitely be of use to me. Along with the teal I'd ordered a couple of metres of black in the same premium mid-weight (because lets face it, that is ALWAYS going to be useful) and I decided to use some of it for a practical black cardigan. I got this little black number, using the hip length view A, out of just 90cm of fabric. That counts as a stash buster to me, especially considering that the Longley needs 2m to accommodate those big pieces required for the waterfall front.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Black Merino from The Fabric Store

Knowing how little fabric was needed next time I ordered from The Fabric Store a metre of the rose pink ended up in may cart and my third version of the Blackwood was born. I've never been much of a pink wearer but current trends must be infiltrating my subconscious. I think I placed the order around the same time as I made my blush pink Ogden and rust orange Erin combo and was firmly on board that colour palette train. This pink has actually ended up being my favourite of the three! It is surprising how well this colour works with the majority of my wardrobe. I'm almost treating it as a neutral.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Rose Pink Merino from The Fabric Store

I think part of the reason I made so many in quick succession is that it is such a speedy sew. I've had a really busy summer at work and the gratification of being able to make something useful for my wardrobe in under two hours proved impossible to resist. As always the merino was a dream to work with too. No unexpected nasty surprises slowing down my speed sewing there. As the construction of this cardigan results in three layers of fabric at a lot of the seams (along the front and hem bands as well as the cuffs) a fairly lightweight knit such as the merino is a great choice to stop things getting bulky. It also presses beautifully so the cardigan hangs well and those seam allowances stay where they're supposed to be. When choosing fabric for this pattern make sure to pay attention to the stretch requirements too. There's negative ease to achieve the close fit around the shoulders so it needs a good amount of stretch.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Rose Pink Merino from The Fabric Store

It was my first time sewing with a Helen's Closet pattern and I was impressed. So impressed I bought the Winslow Culottes pattern soon after. Her instructions are well thought out and leave little room for error and the drafting was spot on for me, although obviously a knit cardigan doesn't test the sizing as well as a more fitted garment. She has a complete sew-along posted over on her blog if you want any additional guidance.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Maxi Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Teal Merino from The Fabric Store

I like the way the cardigan is put together. The only construction technique I was a little unsure about was topstitching along the front neck band seam allowance to finish. I was concerned I wouldn't like the look of it and worried about keeping it neat but it has turned out beautifully and doesn't bother me at all on the finished garment. Make sure to be careful not to stretch anything out as you sew this though as you don't want to end up with a wavy front. Another area to be careful about is matching up the bottom edge of the front band correctly at the hem as it will be very visible if you end up with the step there. I'm a couple of millimetres out on some of mine and it bugs the perfectionist in me!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Rose Pink Merino from The Fabric Store

This is a very different cardigan pattern to the MIY Collection Longley. I think in the winter I'll still be reaching for the Longley more often as you can wrap that waterfall front around you for extra warmth and cosiness! I slightly miss being able to do that with the Blackwood which is purposefully cut to sit open at the front but I really like this feature over summer dresses, cami tops and tees as it feels less cumbersome but still provides enough coverage when there's a chill in the air. I think could be a great combined with the mock turtleneck of the True Bias Nikko Top or Dress in winter. I've now got a contemporary twist on a twinset of these two patterns in the teal! Overall there is a place for both styles of cardigan in my wardrobe and I now feel well and truly kitted out for the onset of cooler weather. Well until I spot another shade of merino I can't resist that is...

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Helen's Closet Blackwood Cardigan in Merino from The Fabric Store

11 comments:

  1. I love the Blackwood cardigan. It's really great for maternity and nursing as well because of the open front. I love all your merino colours. The rose is very on trend too. I always feel rose makes me look sunburned though. You've reminded me to put the Blackwood on my fall sewing list.

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    1. O yes I hadn't thought about that, it must be great that it doesn't get in the way of bump or feeding.
      I actually feel quite tanned in the rose one! Its amazing the effect different colours can have on skin tone isn't it
      I hope you get around to making one, its a great pattern

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  2. love your maxi cardigan and shorter versions!

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    1. Thanks very much! I'm so delighted with them

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  3. I couldn't stop grinning when my most stylish friend said she loved my Blackwood cardigan. I have two of the longer version and planning a shorter black one

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    1. I'm not surprised! It is a really sleek little cardigan!

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  4. This looks like such a great pattern to whip up! I love the colour of the blue one.

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    1. O yes it is such a satisfying little project! The blue is probably my favourite too!

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  5. Your sweaters are beautiful - inside & out! I've been eyeing your lovely merino knit makes. What type/weight (less expensive) knit would you suggest for a knit novice to 'practice' on?

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  6. As for me, all cardigans are great! Cool colors. Such very practical! So what I like the most! I really like your job and I will visit your blog more often!

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  7. Hi Fiona, I want to make the Blackwood in the merino from the Fabric Store but I'm wondering about costs due to import tax from NZ to the UK. On the Fold Line group they advised me to ask you about it, as you seem to buy a lot from them! Do you know how much I'd have to pay in tax if I buy say £50 worth of fabric? Many thanks!!! Elisa

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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!