Wool Double Knit Sweater for My Dad
O, Autumn!, fairest of seasons, when the air is crisp and clear, lattes are pumpkin-spiced, and a sewist’s heart leaps at the thought of wrapping herself in wool from head to toe! I hit the wool section at Mood Fabrics NYC determined to find the perfect cocoon to shelter myself from autumn’s advances and boy, it did not disappoint! The only thing is, when I found this luxurious wool double knit, I knew immediately I had to make a sweater for my dad. He’s always cold, but lives in a cool climate, so he layers up nearly year-round!
(Special thanks goes out to Man Friend, who graciously volunteered to model the cardigan for these photos despite the fact that it’s a good size and a half too small. He was a lovely model, so much so that I’m tempted to delve deeper into the world of menswear sewing to make him something special!)
The fabric is perfect for my pop– it’s warm and soft, but without any of the itchiness that often deters people from wool. It’s got some heft, but it’s still drapey, which seemed like just the right weight for a cardigan (Mood has lots of wool knits available online.) To help it keep its shape, I used a fusible tricot interfacing for the collar, plackets, facings, and yoke pieces, and I stabilized the shoulder seam with twill tape (topstitched from the right side on either side of the seam). The fabric is stretchy, but not CRAZY stretchy, so I used a ballpoint needle to avoid skipped stitches, but stitched the vertical seams with a regular straight stitch. I used a zigzag stitch on anything that needed to stretch horizontally (like the cuff seams), and I used my Janome’s special stretch zigzag stitch for the hem to make sure it had plenty of give.
The major difficulty of using a fabric like this for this pattern is BULK. In some places, like where the collar attaches to the neckline, you’re sewing through six layers of fabric (not counting interfacing!)– whoa, Nelly! My poor sewing machine was pretty sad trying to chomp through that much fabric. I graded the seams and notched them aggressively, but there’s still a bit of bulk in some of the seams that just couldn’t be eliminated. If you’re making this pattern or something else with a shawl collar, it might make sense to cut facings or the undercollar out of a lighter-weight fabric, something I routinely do when sewing with wovens but didn’t consider on this project.
I used Thread Theory’s Newcastle Cardigan pattern and cut a size small. The pattern comes together quickly and is pretty fun to sew. I chose version 1, with front and back yoke details, but cut them in self fabric as my pop’s a pretty conservative dresser and probably wouldn’t appreciate any extra “flair” in his garment! I opted for the larger shawl collar as it seemed cozier. The topstitched yokes are a really nice detail, even if they’re mostly covered up by the shawl collar. I added an extra button (pretty arbitrarily… six just looked better than five!). If I made this for someone else, I would lengthen the body a bit– it seems a little short, especially in comparison to the length of the sleeves. Luckily my dad’s pretty short-waisted, so it won’t be a problem for him. I would also draft a waistband for the cardigan, I think. I feel like a hem band would look a little nicer and is a more common finish in RTW sweaters of this type.
How about you– are you a wool enthusiast, or does it take a special fabric to convince you to sew with it? Are you a fall junkie? What’s on your sewing table these days?