reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

I’m still sewing furiously to get everything done for Patternreview’s Wardrobe Sudoku contest, and today, I’m introducing you to item #3.  Here’s my reverse applique drop pocket cardigan.  There’s a lot of work here, so let’s get to it!

Reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

The pattern

Jalie’s Drop Pocket Cardigan is a pattern that I made a few years ago and kind of shrugged off.  My fabric choice was not terribly interesting, and as such, I never wore my version.  I recently found it among my sweaters and have been wearing it around the house a lot.  It really is a comfortable sweater, and it’s a great choice for an extra layer when I’m playing violin because it adds warmth without inhibiting movement.

The pattern is a perfect vehicle for reverse applique because the front pieces are made from a double layer that folds back on itself towards the side seams to create the pocket.

Leaf motif

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

When the mood strikes, I occasionally sit and sketch flowers and leaves and other things that I might want to use for blockprints.  In my small catalog, I had a rather large leaf that I thought might make a good reverse applique pattern.

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

First I traced 2 copies of the fronts of the cardigan onto soil separator cloth.  Next, I taped my leaf pattern to a window and traced copies of the leaf all over one of the fronts.  After flipping the pattern, I traced the first front onto the second one so that they would be identical.

Hand embroidery vs. machine embroidery

My fabric choice for the cardigan is a heathered blue poly sweater knit leftover from the fall version of this dress.  I had just enough for the fronts and backs and some sleeve cuffs, but not enough to line the fronts.  To line the fronts and for the sleeves, I used a dusty blue ITY cut from a RTW top.  The two fabrics contrast each other just enough for a tone on tone effect.  They were made for each other!  Next I had to decide if I was going to use machine embroidery or hand embroidery.

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

I traced a small sample with two leaf motifs.  One is stitched out with hand stitches and embroidery thread, and the other with my machine.  If I had used a triple straight stitch like I did with the hummingbird tee, I might have chosen the machine route.  I do think the stretch of the fabric would have made a mess of machine stitches.  In the end, the hand embroidery was the clear winner.  The texture of the thread makes the leaf pop out and is a better contrast against the very smooth fabrics than machine thread is.

Prepping for the reverse applique

Before starting, I sewed the cardigan up until the pockets were constructed.  At this stage of the pattern, the sleeves are sewn to the back and fronts, the only thing missing are the side seams.  This leaves the fronts free for any kind of embellishment.

I took my traced copies of the fronts and hand basted them to the fronts around each leaf motif so that they would stay put while I was stitching.  The soil separator proved to be a good stabilizer for this fabric which is rather drapey.

Slow sewing

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

Reverse applique is not a fast sport.  It’s a lot of slow, repetitive work.  Working with ivory embroidery floss, I began the work of backstitching around all 26 motifs.  I did all of this over 2 weeks a little bit at a time when I thought about it.  The bulk of it I did on a couple of weekend days while watching way more TV than is prudent.  After watching both series of Grantchester (beautiful costume work), some Doc Martin, Audrey Hepburn’s Sabrina (Givenchy was a genius!), McClintock and probably more that I’m forgetting, I powered through the stitching.

After the motifs were stitched, I pulled off the soil separator.  A hand needle perforates the soil separator well enough that you can pull it right off with little fuss.  With embroidery scissors, I cut around the inside of the leaves to expose the second layer of fabric (hence reverse applique).

Because of how the pockets are created, the lining fabric becomes the outside part of the pocket.  I like how the motifs change from the main body to the pocket with the applique.

reverse applique drop pocket cardigan

This is my first large scale venture with reverse applique, and it won’t be my last.  I’m especially encouraged to try this technique again after Bianca wrote about Terial Magic.  A wash out stabilizer that turns the knit into something as stable as a woven, this stuff would make much easier work of the reverse applique process!

What about you?  Have you ever done any reverse applique?


colorblocked workout top
Yay, Essentrics!

It always takes me a while to get back into my sewing/writing/doing life routine after having a baby, and this time I’ve been trying to not be hard on myself about it.  I went through so much sickness after my youngest son, I’ve been careful not to go overboard.  After 3.5 months, I think I’m finally gaining enough energy back to do something beyond the absolutely necessary, so you can consider me back from maternity leave as it were.  And what a way to get back in the swing of it all than with a colorblocked workout top?

lace tee

Some time ago, I spied the Daisy Lace tee at J. Crew.

lace tee

I liked the idea of it so much that I went to the store and tried it on and realized that I am not the type of person to shop at J. Crew as the thought of paying $68 for a tee shirt (even one with high quality cotton lace) is cruhaaazy.  Plus the fit was terrible.  $68 for a bad fit?  No thank you.

jalie 3245

On my last trip to Denver Fabrics, I had all 3 boys with me, so I had to move quickly, and decisively if I was going to get out without too much fuss.  I needed stretch fabric to muslin pants and they always have multiple yard cuts in the 50% off solid color flat cuts.

I moved through the store in about 15 minutes which is near impossible.  But on the way out, I spied not one, but 2 lengths of cotton knits on the $2/lb table.  There wasn’t enough in either for an actual t-shirt, but plenty for Jalie 3245 in the tank style.


Whew, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  We had a good time at my in-laws in super ultra northern CA after the massive road trip that it requires to get to them which included a stop in the Bay area for a Giants’ game (so fun) and some good fabric shopping at Stone Mountain and Daughter and Eureka Fabrics.  I won’t take the time to sort out my purchases–you’ll see them as I sew them up I’m sure.

Back at home, it’s taken me a couple of weeks to get back in the swing of things, but yesterday I was able to crank out a badly needed tee.  To boot, I’m back on track for the t-shirt project!

Criss-Cross Top pattern showdown:

I’ve been eyeing Jalie’s Criss Cross top pattern for a long time.  Years probably.  I love anything mock wraplike in nature, and the x design is really flattering.  I loved it so much that cheap me decided to “replicate” it in New Look 6729

criss-cross top

criss-cross top

It has a similar look–the x design across the front, but it’s a cut-on sleeve, and as I found out when I made this version, the smallest size is too wide for me across the shoulder, and the side seams have an absurd amount of ease.  The criss cross was all droopy, it didn’t cover the gap in the underlayer, and I had to put in a little triangle because it crossed too low.  I remember taking the side seams in about 4″ to help the drooping issue and even then, they flare out at the hips considerably.  I didn’t even write about this top when I made it about a year ago it was so weird.  I first considered it a wadder, but it’s worked out well for me as a maternity top.  In fact, the silly side seams have so much ease that I’m comfortably wearing this at nearly 24 weeks pregnant no problem even after my 4″ seam monkeying, and I could still pinch out about 4″ of flare from the hips.  And the X still sits funny.

t-shirt project

So I guess I’m getting to April’s knockoff here on May 10th.  I will aspire to be more on top of things in the future.

At any rate, I sewed up 90% of this at my last fitting group meeting.  Maybe I’m getting more efficient, but t-shirts really are becoming a quick sew for me–a mind cleanser from big projects like jeans–but I think I’ve said as much before.

Boden Twist Jersey Top

On the board is a Boden Twist Jersey top.

Boden Twist Jersey Top

I’ve been puttering around kind of wracking my brain over a jacket and making a skirt way more difficult than necessary.  I was just thinking that I needed to just take an hour or so and make a knit top to give my mind a break but still give my creativity a boost.  At that very moment, I came across Trena’s post about leap day and wearing yellow and blue (leap days’ official colors apparently) and inspiration struck.  I was not only inspired by her yellow, but by the opportunity to colorfully celebrate the 220th birthday of Rossini, who is in my top 5 of favorite opera composers.