Monday, 6 May 2013

The Copy - Simple Cardi Jacket

Sometimes you find a garment that is just right. It looks good, goes with everything, and its hard to imagine you ever did without it. 

So you wear it, and wear it and wear it. 

And one day you realise, its looking tired and old.

And that's what happened with my little black cardigan.
I love this cardi. I love its shape, the way it sits. 
I wore it with everything for years.

But it got old and a little bit faded. I thought about dying it to refresh its colour. But it seemed a bit risky. So I just held on to it. I kept it, and brought it to the UK with me, even though it probably might only have a couple more wears in it at best.

Then it occurs to me that I might be able to copy it. The original is a fine knit, and has delicate shaping around the sleeve, and a rib band, which I will not be able to replicate.

But can I create a close approximation?

My first step was to examine the original. I laid it out over the ironing board, and drew up the pattern shapes as best I could. I then measured and compared to see how close my versions were. 

I then remade it in a 'warm feel jersey' which I had left over from a dress. I love this fabric because it feels fabulous. It is warm and soft and drapey. I would buy a bolt in every colour - but the shop only had this one print. 

This is the result.

I am really happy with the sleeves. I did put one cuff on back to front but after fixing that, I was really impressed with them. The sleeves were a feature on the original garment that I really loved. The shoulders sit well, and while it won't help much for the next version, the fabric drapes beautifully.

There were a few bits that needed attention during construction, and a few things I would do a little differently next time. I stabilised the shoulder seam to stop it slipping. I later realised I needed to stabilise the cuff so the sleeve gathers in rather than the cuff stretching out, so I went back and hand stitched that to reinforce it. Next time I will use elastic. I also needed to trim the bulk out of the seam on the bottom of the front panel, as until I did that, the seam created a stiff strip that interfered with the drape. I didn't organise my order of construction quite well enough, and I will make more of an effort with neat finishes next time, as the jacket will be visible on the inside from time to time. I hand stitched my seams to lay flat in the front, but next time I will make sure those seams are inside the collar. These are all fairly straightforward things I can fix.

The biggest issue was the side seams. The back of the jacket is too narrow on me, so the side seams pull towards the back quite considerably. I think if I had compared this to my existing sloper block first, I would have realised something was wrong. Or not. Part of the problem is that my figure has probably changed a little since I first bought the jacket, and a bit since I made my sloper too :( . When I put the original back on, I found that those seams pulled back a bit too, although not quite as far. I had never noticed, so I don't know if that was always the case or not. I guess the moral is to take a moment to check the fit of the existing item for areas of potential improvement!

The other part of the problem is that I had measured from the line where the ribbing joined the stocking stitch. I compared the measurement to my pattern, and I had made mine about 4mm smaller (whoops) but that wasn't enough to make as much of a difference as was apparent. The ribbing has more stretch, and on closer examination, the stocking stich above this line gathers in a bit more than I took into account.

I have increased the width of the pattern to what I think it should be (Based on the fit on my body rather than the original garment).

It doesn't make for as sexy a pattern piece, but I think it will look better on. Now I'm not sure whether I should create a separate, tighter band along the bottom. I'm a bit worried it will swing out too much.
I'll need to make another one. :)

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