Fitting And Fabrics For The Toaster Sweaters Sew-Alongs!

Hello there!

Welcome to my very first sew-along well..... pre sew-along. I'm so excited that I'm rushing ahead of myself. You see it's been such a long time coming and I can't believe this one is actually going to happen in a timely manner - shortly after the Toaster Sweater pattern launch that happened Sept 30. The gathering supplies post publishes on Monday the 10th and the sew-along for the Toaster #1 is on Friday Oct. 14th and Toaster #2 is on Saturday Oct. 15th. Each sweater is so quick and easy that the actual sew-alongs will take only one post each.

The sew-alongs will be done by guest host Kelly Hogaboom. You can visit her website to see that she conducts many sew-alongs and is an experienced sewist and tailor. The sew-alongs will be posted on this blogsite however. I'm really excited to have Kelly helping me out. She can lead you through the sewing process and even show you some alternative ways of going about these patterns. Today however, I'm going to talk about fit, fabrics and getting ready to sew-along with Kelly.


So, let's talk about fit. When I worked in the apparel industry, we had one fit model that we fit garments on and strict grade rules to follow. With my own patterns, I find it difficult not to bend the grade rules when I see something isn't fitting a number of people during my pattern testing. That being said, sometimes I regret those decisions and sometimes I live by them. My patterns are never going to fit everyone perfectly and that is the beauty of sewing for oneself - knowing how to adjust the fit to make it just the way you want it. So anyway, I made the Toaster Sweaters XS - XXL because that just seemed like what you do with sweaters and knits. In hindsight, I wish I would have graded them as individual sizes to give more fitting options but it shouldn't be a problem the way it is now. The patterns are based on a 5' 6" model with a full B cup and square shoulders. Things to think about when choosing your size.


This pattern is supposed to be short but not cropped. It should hit at the high hip. If you are long waisted, you may want to add length to your sweater however, if you are making the larger sizes, XL & XXL but you are on the shorter side, you may want to shorten your body. 

I also graded the waistband height because on the larger sizes, it looked out of proportion not to. If you are making a size XL or XXL but are on the shorter side and are shortening your body, you may also want to shorten the waistband to the height of one of the smaller sizes to keep the proportion looking good.

Also, I am now finding the sleeves to be long (I added length at the last minute before going to print as the sleeves were short on some people). If you have long arms, this is great, if not, you may want to shorten the sleeves some.


This pattern also has longer sleeves for the same reason I gave for Toaster #1 but also because someone had suggested putting a thumb hole in the seam. I was thinking about doing that but abandoned the idea at the end. If you like thumb holes, there is room in the sleeve length to add one. If you don't and your arms are on the average to shorter side, you may want to shorten the sleeves a bit. 

This pattern is also supposed to be somewhat short - kind of cropped but not too much. If you are larger in the bust, you may want to add length. If you like your sweaters longer - again add length. You will want to determine length before cutting out your pattern because of the way the bottom hem is constructed. 

For both sweaters: It is always helpful to look at the finished garment measurements to determine what size to make or whether or not to add or subtract length. 


In my last post, I suggested some beautiful fabrics for both sweaters. I found these fabrics on-line so be forewarned that I haven't actual seen and handled most of them in person. Most of the suggestions were wool (I've been on a wool kick lately - maybe from my days at Pendleton). I realize that many of you aren't keen on wearing wool, are allergic to wool or it's too expensive. I tried to find some alternatives such as ponte and cotton. Whatever your preference, keep the following tips in mind:

Try to choose something that is fairly stable meaning that it isn't too slinky, drapey or stretchy. You need the stability of the fabric to uphold both necklines although, Toaster #2 fabric doesn't need to be as stiff as the fabric for Toaster #1. Toaster #1 has a neck that is doubled over but it needs to be able to stand up. Toaster #2 needs to be firm enough that it doesn't completely drape down in the front.

Both sweaters require fabric with 20% stretch. There is a stretch guide in your pattern instructions (the back envelope of the printed version and page 2 of the pdf versions). If you are a beginner, you won't want too much stretch in your fabric as it will be easier to sew if it's more stable.

Some fabrics roll. The neckline on Toaster #2 is self faced and some fabrics cause the facing to roll. I found most of the wool fabrics I used to be quite nice but saw more rolling with the cotton fabrics. You may choose to edge your facing to help with this or possibly try using a very narrow strip of interfacing along with machine edging along the edge of the facing. This is tricky however, as the interfacing restricts the stretch - you may want to experiment.

Remember that the fabric often makes the garment. A beautiful wool can really elevate your sweater however, many of those beauties are quite spendy. You may want to make up a test fit garment in something cheaper first to perfect the fit. Sometimes when I do that, I loose interest in making a second garment because the fit garment doesn't do it justice - probably due to the cheap fabric choice. I applaud those who see the potential in a pattern and have the patience to sew up another after a disaster. The beauty of this pattern is that both sweaters sew up very quickly so it's not a time suck to make up another.  


Many of you have been sewing with knits with no problems and don't need any tips from me. This pattern was rated beginner level so I'm going to talk a bit about that to address those folks. If you are a beginner interested in trying your hand at knits, I believe this is a good pattern to try due to the stable fabrics it requires and the simplicity of the patterns. Toaster #1 may be a little tricky for a beginner using a serger only because of the thicker fabrics it requires. You don't need a serger to make these garments and I often don't use a serger if I'm using delicate or expensive fabrics. You can double stitch or use a stretch stitch if your regular machine has one. If you do want to use your serger, Allie at Indiesew has a great blog post here about sewing with thick, bulky knits. I actually learned a thing or two reading it as I am not as proficient with my home serger.  


Lastly and sadly, I should report some of my pattern errors. You think I would have fewer errors as time goes along but it seems to be the other way around. I have found a few errors with the Toaster Sweater however, nothing that should effect your garment. They are more the type of mistakes that will make you wonder, "What was she thinking?" Here they are posted below however, you can always check my pattern errata at the bottom of my website before sewing - just to make sure there are no important errors you should know about. 

The paper printed version of the 110 Toaster Sweaters has two pattern errors and one instructional error.

1.BOTTOM BAND (E) size Large and XLarge  - should have double notches on both sides of the BOTTOM BAND however, the double notches on the bottom side of the size Large were accidentally moved to the XL. The bottom side should look identical to the top side.  

2. The Sleeve (I) size small - the line is a solid line and should be dashed like the rest of the small lines indicated in the key. The pdf files have been corrected.

3. Page 10, step 2 of attaching the cuff - Where the instructions state, "Because of the small circumference of the sleeve opening, you will need to be able to fit the CUFF around the arm of the sewing machine." This is an incorrect statement for a few different reasons - please disregard it. 


I hope you will join us for the sew-aong. Remember that the gathering supplies posts tomorrow. Thanks for reading!