I don’t get to sew a lot of cold-weather garments. First, because I am lucky to live in a place where winters are mild (if compared to, let’s say, the East Coast of the US); second, because I run hot. I’m the person who turns on the AC if the temperature goes above 74 degrees. The only time I really need warmer clothing is when I travel; even so, luggage limitations only allow me to bring one heavy coat. This is why still today, I’ve only made one proper coat—a real beauty that I’ve only worn a handful of times.
In an effort to keep myself comfortable, I wear lots of layers. As the temperature goes up, I start peeling them off. My idea of a winter garment is layer after layer of garments that I can easily take off as the day goes by. Cardigans and sweaters have a special place in my heart as they provide me with enough warmth and can easily go in a suitcase without too much weight. After a few Helen’s Closet Blackwoods and Peppermint Slouchy Cardis, I wanted something different.
The Sweater Cape by Rebecca Page is a loose-fitting poncho with optional sleeves. The sweater features a draped design with a deep funnel neck. The pattern will work with any knit fabric, but its loose look works best with light- to medium-weight knits. A list of suggestions includes textured knits, sweater knits, medium weight jersey, viscose, ponte, scuba, stretch velour, and stretch French Terry.
Amount of fabric used: About three yards
Use any knit, they said. So I found this poodle knit fabric from Joann and was smitten with the idea of an oversized furry poncho/sweater. The fabric is super fun, but the back of it looks more like the back of a rug and less that of fabric, and it sheeeeeeeeeeeds. There are little black fibers all over the house. Still, so much fun!
I had three years of fabric; that determined the size I selected. My bust size put me at a 10, but the sweater being so roomy, I knew I could downsize to the amount of fabric I had without issues. I selected a size 7 for everything but the sleeves, which I cut at as a size 7 with the length of a size 10.
This is a great pattern for anyone starting to sew with knit fabrics. It is really easy to sew, with no hemming at all. All hems are finished with bands, which add to the draped look of the sweater.
You start by sewing the hem bands to the front and back pieces. Then, depending on your option, you will sew the shoulder seam all the way (no sleeves) or follow the notches on the pattern to leave an opening on the shoulder seams for the sleeves. I messed up this step because I did not read the instructions. Read the instructions, people!
After unpicking the shoulder seams, I decided that I did not want to deal with setting in sleeves. I sewed the sleeves from the neck to the first notch and sewed the sleeves flat. I am a huge fan of the flat method unless it can compromise fit—not a problem here. Then, I sewed the sleeve seam and the side seam in one pass. I chose to add cuffs, which work just like the hem bands—no need to hem the sleeves!
This is my favorite detail on this pattern. The sides of the sweater are finished with hem bands, just like with the front and back pieces. It is an easy and clean way to do away with hemming knits—which can be trying depending on the fabric. You just sew the short ends together, wrong sides facing each other, and turn the bands inside out. Then, pin the bands of each side of the sweater, making sure that the fabric is distributed across the length of the side. Sew that baby, and you are almost done!
The best way to guarantee that the neckband will match the neckhole is to quarter the circumference of the pieces. To do this, you will place four pins or notches that are equidistant from each other—one marking the back, one marking the front, and two marking each side. You will match the pins on the neckband to the ones on the neckhole. This method will help you distribute any extra fabric on the neckhole to match the markings on the neckband.
The Sweater Cape
Bear costume and cozy sweater all rolled into one, the Sweater Cape is a quick and easy sew. This is a great pattern for beginner sewists who are uneasy about knit fabrics. If you are a beginner, be nice to yourself and do NOT use the same fabric that I used. I love the result, but I’ll be finding little bits of the fur hiding around the house for a long, long time!