Linen Knit Bowline Sweater
Let me introduce you to my new favourite top! This little number was one of those projects led by the fabric. For some reason my favourite handmade garments always begin like that and this one has pretty much only been off my back to be washed since I finished it. I found this Theory Linen Knit in store at Mood Fabrics NYC on my trip last month. Can’t find it online but there are a handful of other gorgeous linen knits or the full Theory range of lovely unusual neutrals.
I love a good browse of the Mood website but I find it’s only when I get a fabric in my hands that I work out exactly what I want to make with it. I knew I wanted to make the new Papercut Patterns Bowline Sweater as soon as it was released and purchased it just before my trip. I had various iterations of it made up in my head in sweater knits and merinos. It wasn’t until I spotted this bolt upstairs in Mood that I realised the pattern’s full potential. It was a real ‘ding ding jackpot!’ moment. Out of what must be thousands of bolts in store this linen leapt off the shelf at me screaming to be made into that top.
I think this particular fabric might have passed me by online as I’ve never come across a knit quite like it so wouldn’t have been able to imagine it correctly. It’s quite an open knit (you can see the loops of the knit which gives it it’s texture and semi sheer quality) but yet doesn’t have a vast amount of stretch. It’s quite fine with a textured hand and soft drape which is ideal for the pleat front and loose fitting drape of the design. Being linen it does crease like crazy and that’s the only thing I’m not 100% happy about when it comes to the match of pattern and fabric; that front pleat is pretty much impossible to press nicely because of the way it is constructed. I took these pictures after a few wears and washes and I have to say that pleat looked a whole lot better when I had first finished it! My dissatisfaction with this is more than made up for by how lovely it is to wear though. The linen is airy and breathable and feels gorgeous against the skin.
The areas which are easier to press come up beautifully though. As well as liking the slim style of neckband I was really pleased with the finish I got on it because of how well the linen responds to a steamy iron. I gave it a good hot pre wash so now I can throw this in the machine without worrying about shrinkage. It was really straightforward to sew with. I used a ballpoint needle in my machine and constructed everything with a narrow zig zag stitch before finishing all the seams on my overlocker. I’ve never experienced a knit which frays before but this one shed little pieces everywhere when you cut it!
It was difficult to decide which colour thread to use as there are so many colours within the weave of this fabric. It’s kind of hard to see in the pictures but it’s a lovely mixture of greens and greys, the mottled finish of which is a lovely combination with the organic texture of the linen. The right side is a dark green/grey and the reverse more of a light grey. In the end I stuck with trusty grey; I’ve never forgotten the tip that grey thread works with most colours of fabric and my overlocker is almost permanently threaded with grey!
Despite being beautifully behaved most of the time this was tricky to cut. It took me quite some time to get everything laid out with the grain nice and straight. It kept wanting to twist all out of shape so I’d definitely recommend cutting in a single layer which for the front piece of this sweater you have to do anyway because of the asymmetric design. My cuffs I think did end up slightly off grain as whenever it first comes out of the wash they look a bit twisted. Nothing a good press can’t sort out though! Does anyone have any tips on truing the grain of a wonky knit like this?
The pattern itself I absolutely adore. It’s exactly the kind of thing I need more of in my wardrobe. A casual basic which goes with lots of other things in my wardrobe but that has interesting design details that stop it from being boring. I think I really need to carve out some time to try draping as this kind of style really appeals to me at the minute and I’d love to be able to create some unique pieces for myself. I cut the Papercut size XS and am really pleased with the fit straight out of the envelope. It’s like it was made for me. The height of the neckline is exactly what I like. The length is spot on for with jeans or skirts. I love the slim sleeves, where the cuff hits and the amount of ease around the waist. High fives all round. I bought a yard and a half of fabric which was plenty. I’ve been able to squeeze previous sweatshirt patterns out of a mere metre but I would recommend getting more for this one.
|The pleat forms part of the neckline|
I was apprehensive about the construction of the pleat as I had a feeling it was one of those details which looks lovely and simple on but is actually quite tricky to get looking like that! It actually wasn’t too bad. There was a bit of head scratching and re-reading of the instructions when it got the burrito point but it turned out right in first try. I would recommend being reasonably confident working with knits if you are going to try this one as you kind of need to take the plunge at this point and trust your instincts and the instructions. It was definitely one of those ‘I’m not sure if I’m doing it right’ projects!
Overall I am delighted with how this combination of fabric and pattern turned out. It’s a perfect lightweight summer sweater to keep the chill off those gorgeous London summer evenings which I hope we get to see a lot of this year!