top-halfs wardrobe

Sew House 7 – Toaster Sweater 2

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

When I was 19, I had been sewing clothing for at least 5 years and was just starting to produce clothing to sell at a local boutique. My sewing machine at the time was an entry level Janome that I had brought back from Japan, a single needle machine that included an optional, fold-away blade. Together with the zig-zag stitch, it allowed for “serging” while sewing, which is something I had insisted to my parents was necessary for creating “professional” looking clothing. When I decided to start an independent clothing line of one-off items (an endeavor, by the way, that hardly provided sufficient financial compensation), I came to the conclusion that I needed a real serger, with 4 threads, to produce real professional looking clothing.

My parents generously gifted me with a serger for a combined birthday-xmas gift that year, and despite me using it obsessively, it didn’t elevate my clothing in the way I had really hoped. I still cut corners, and I left hemlines unfinished intentionally, claiming it was part of my aesthetic. My clothes weren’t ugly then, but they were nowhere near as clean as they are now. I had this notion that a serger would be the tool that made my clothing beautiful and well constructed, when in reality, it takes focus, patience, and skill to make beautifully crafted garments, regardless of what machines you have. Using a serger as a crutch wasn’t doing me or my clothing any favors.

In the following years, as I started to feel like a career in Fashion wasn’t for me, I stopped sewing for months at a time. Eventually, my machines moved to a closet, and it became a chore to unpack both the sewing machine and the serger when I wanted to do a simple thing like hem pants or make curtains. I stopped unpacking the serger entirely, and eventually, I packed it up indefinitely to live in my parents garage.

And that’s where I found myself last Sunday afternoon, years later, scanning the garage for that old cardboard box, (hoping that the serger still actually worked,) so that I could sew the first of twelve garments for Project #SewMyStyle . And, after a couple hours of dusting, reading the manual (for the first time), threading, rethreading, and stupid amounts of tweaking the tension, I was able to make my serger serge.

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

I have to admit a couple, perhaps obvious, things here.

1) I haven’t used a serger for several years now. When I took a hiatus from clothing, it wasn’t as necessary, and even when I went back to sewing clothing a few years ago, I wasn’t as heavily committed to the clothing, so I actually just left most of my seams raw. It wasn’t until two years ago that my love affair with the technical aspects of sewing blossomed: the finishing techniques, the clean and bound insides, the hand-sewing and basting. There is something that makes me inexplicably happy about the way a garment looks on the inside when not a single edge of raw fabric is visible. Thus, none of the clothing you’ve seen so far in this blog has been touched by a serger.

2) I have never made a knit garment before, and making a knit garment is something that has intimidated me for a while now. As confident as I am with working with a wide range of fabrics (from silk chiffon to leather), I’ve always been afraid of knits. I just imagined myself investing money and time into clothes with wavy seams, and I held a (totally irrational) belief that I just couldn’t do it. So, I signed up for Project #SewMyStyle because there are several knit garments in there, and I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone.

Let me just say that I’m pretty darn proud of myself and can definitely feel all those happy chemicals bouncing around in my head. I did a thing I thought I couldn’t do, and I’m super pleased with the result! Hurrah!

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

The Pattern: Toaster Sweater #2 by Sew House 7
The Fabric: Cotton-elastane blend Striped Double Knit from Mill End
The Size: XS
Adjustments: none

The Toaster Sweater #2 is a pretty straight-forward pattern. It has just 3 pattern pieces which makes it a pretty quick sew; as a notoriously slow sewist, it only took me one full afternoon from cutting and taping the PDF to the last step of hemming the sleeves. I even made myself dinner in-between!

To be totally honest, I wasn’t sold by Version #2 at first and debated whether or not to veer from the version chosen for Project #SewMyStyle and sew Version #1. As evidenced by all the hacking I do to patterns, I’ve got a habit of making something exactly how I want to make it rather than making something someone else tells me to make. It’s the main reason why I commonly turn down commission work; I just want to keep sewing as a hobby and passion for now, until I figure out the direction I truly want to take. With that said, I think it’s a really good challenge for me to not have my way on every single detail. Gosh, am I making myself sound super spoiled? We’re all guilty of Selfish Sewing, right?

Anyway, I’m so glad I went with Version #2, for many reasons. One is that it’s super beginner friendly, and let’s face it, I’m a beginner with knits. Second, after wearing it around for a day (I’m wearing it as I type), I actually love this cut. It’s a low cropped length, and the flared fit is flattering on many body types.

The Toaster Sweater comes with a 5/8” seam allowance, which I’ve heard annoys some people when sewing knits (since the serger stitch is supposedly a standard 3/8” width —mine is 1/4”— and it’s easiest to line the edge of the fabric up with the blade), but I actually found the extra seam allowance helpful, since it allowed me to use a narrow zigzag stitch on all the seams and then follow up with a serger edge finishing. Plus, my serger comes with a marker for 5/8”, and I can’t imagine why this wouldn’t be standard on most sergers.

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

Because this sweater is entirely overlocked on the inside, I didn’t bother taking photos of it. One thing I do love about this double knit though, is that it’s almost completely navy on the reverse side with just the texture of stripes. I’ve got a bit of this fabric leftover, and I might make a T-shirt with the reverse side visible for contrasting sleeves. I’m also tempted to make an inside cuff out of the solid navy, so when I roll the sleeves up I’d be able to hide the overlocked seams.

This sweater also marked my first time using a twin needle, and let me tell you it’s so much simpler than I assumed it would be. You literally just thread the machine twice.

sew house 7 toaster sweater - sakijane.comsew house 7 toaster sweater -

And even more firsts on this sweater; it was my first time pattern matching on a knit. I can see how knits would make it both easier and more difficult to pattern match. On the one hand, there’s more give to work with when matching stripes, so it can be more forgiving. And then on the other, since knits have more give, it can slip and slide and unmatch itself just as easily. This shows in my sweater; in some places, the stripes couldn’t be matched better, and in others they are a little off. I do think that using a narrow zigzag first and following up with a serger helped with going slow and matching the stripes, though.

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

Basically, I LOVE this sweater and have been wearing it responsibly non-stop (i.e., I had to take it off to do yard work). My only gripe is that the neck “facing” might be a bit short since it keeps wanting to flip out if I’m not watching it, so I’ll either have to tack it down lightly or in the future extend the facing so it hangs a bit lower. But I’ll almost definitely be making more of these and, of course, Version #1 as well.

I hope everyone has had an awesome weekend! I’ve been loving seeing everyone’s #SewMyStyle Toaster Sweaters on Instagram!

sew house 7 toaster sweater -

13 Comment

  1. its gorgeous, perfect weigh, I made 2 versions of this sweater both fine but one is a fine knit and the other a heavy knit, I think a double knit really shows off the features of the pattern best (and this is now verified after seeing yours!) I never had a serger and only started using the one in the sewing room where I volunteer and I am now a convert especially for knits, that is a good point on the 5/8 seam allowance. I am thinking of getting my own serger in the next few months so I will now include the seam allowance guage in the feature list!

    1. I agree! It’s been so fun seeing everyone’s versions in different fabric types and weight, and I think a heavier knit works best with this pattern. I’m now thinking of making it in a sweatshirt knit as well 🙂
      You know, it’s been so long since I’ve been “in the market” for sergers, so i’m not sure what’s standard nowadays, but I think that seam allowance gauge is something that could be modified with a piece of tape and sharpie if you find one you really like that doesn’t include that feature! Anyway, happy shopping! I new machine is always exciting!

  2. This is great – combines three of my loves – stripes, funnel necks and mitred hems! You’ve done a beautiful job. I almost always baste my knits anyway before using the overlocker (serger) as I feel I have a lot more control and there’s no risk of cutting a pin with the blade!

    1. Sarah— Thank you so much for that little tip! I’m doing some patch pockets on a knit right now and they are turning out wonky. I had the thought of basting it in and it seemed over the top for something as casual as jersey, but I think I’m gonna try it from your suggestion!

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