Surely this has happened to you: you delve into a pattern that everyone is sewing and find that it’s just okay for you. So it has been with the Toaster Sweater #1.
As I tackle my #2017MakeNine, the top of my list is Sew House Seven’s Toaster Sweater #1. I’ve been really looking forward to this pattern!
This pattern seems to be the pattern of the year from all of the veritable love fest it’s been garnering. It has a lot of things going for it: a unique neckline, an easy style for cold weather, just a few pattern pieces and excellent directions that make this pattern a joy for a beginning sewist, paired with a current style. Check out these other boxy cropped sweaters from RTW:
The Toaster Sweater #1 absolutely keeps with these current sweaters.
That being said, I have to be honest. It turns out I’m not a fan of boxy, cropped sweaters. I hate saying bad things about someone else’s pattern that they’ve obviously invested hard work into. Still, there are times when you just end up with styles that you don’t like or simply don’t work for your body. Let me state clearly that the pattern itself is absolutely fine, it’s just not for me. I’m filing this is in my “recommended with modifications” category on Patternreview.
Peggy had warned me when we were talking about the prizes for the Day and Night Dress Challenge that the Toaster Sweater #1 and particularly the TS #2 are both drafted to stand away from the body. I had originally thought that this would make a really cute sweater dress from a nice chunky jacquard knit. Her thought was, yes, but you’d have to work to bring in the sides considerably. She was absolutely right.
My only experience with Sew House Seven patterns was this Mississippi Ave dress.
I had definite fitting issues with this pattern even though I really love my final dress. To be fair, I almost always have issues with sleeveless styles. I’m a shorty, and I’m specifically short between my shoulder and the bottom of the armscye. It’s why I tend to sew from Burda and Ottobre which are drafted with higher armholes to begin with. The side-flashing problem is what drove me away from RTW for good.
Grading down: what I should have done
The fitting chart states that I should in theory be within the size range on the low end. I should have read the finished measurements more closely. With a full bust measurement of 31.5″, I just don’t want to wear a knit top that measures 37″ at the bust. Everything is just too wide. I know lots of people love loose styles, and I am not one of them. Loose fabric hanging off me is really uncomfortable.
I should have done what I eventually did at the outset; I compared the pattern to Jalie 3245 and basically turned it into Jalie 3245 with a bottom band, long sleeves, and sleeve cuffs, and the neckline.
Attempt #1: Green sweatshirt refashion
In my first iteration of the Toaster Sweater #1, I cut it pretty much as is. I did adjust the length of the sleeve which I knew would be far too long on me. 2.5″ chopped off from the upper sleeve, it’s close to where I want it. If I lift my arms, the sleeves do pop up a little, exposing my wrist. I added 1/2″ back to the sleeve length in my second version.
I cut the top from a very heavy green sweatshirt. The ribbing is cut from a rib knit sweater. Dealing with limited yardage, I shortened the band by 1″ and used a hem facing to make up what I was missing. I really thought that 1″ was an appropriate length adjustment for my height to get that cropped look. The two layers of the hem band are quilted with a diamond pattern for some interest on an otherwise plain top.
That cropped look
It turns out when you’re 5’2.5″ a pattern that originally looks kind of short ends up being, well, pretty close to normal. It is a little cropped, but just barely. As I was cutting, I thought–wow, this looks short. Yeah, not so much. I know Heather had this same experience, and I thought it was as funny as she found it. The sleeves and the sides are taken in considerably–about as much as I could with the inflexibility of this knit would allow. The top does fit over my head, though I’d gladly trade for a zipper in the neckline and a closer fit.
I still like this top being that it’s one of my greens in my color palette.
Even paired with these crazy ponte leggings that are a wrinkle fest (Obviously what happens when you make knit pants from a knit with no recovery) I like it. The main issue with this top is that it’s drafty. That boxy look? It shoots in air around my sides in a very un-winter kind of way. It’s not totally in line with Rachel’s Fail February, but it’s not my favorite either.
Adjusting the fit
As I said above, I first compared the pattern to my Jalie 3245, using the Jalie for all of the fitting. Next, I used all of the style lines are from the Toaster Sweater #1. Effectively, the side seams and sleeves are narrower. I kept a little bit of the relaxed look without it being too boxy for me. The body is lengthened by 1.5″ and the original length of the hem band is intact.
A second version with the changes was born in about 45 minutes with various knits. The body is from the same poly sweater knit in these Hudson pants, the sleeves from more of the wool/cashmere knit that made up my winter Lillian dress, and the neck binding is from a lined lace t-shirt (ironically a Jalie 3245) that had outlived it’s wearability. I even added a kangaroo pocket to add a bit of sweatshirtyness.
A Mixed Bag
This second version is much more wearable. It’s warm, I can add a t-shirt underneath for extra warmth, and the length is a lot more practical in my wardrobe. So while I’m not super thrilled with this pattern, I’m glad I soldiered on to get a top that I really will wear.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.