A Pair of Toasters

Last winter I bought the Toaster Sweater pattern, expecting to make and wear the toaster 2 variation heaps during the cold weather. I did wear the striped version I made a bit, but there was something about it that I didn’t love. But during a bout of particularly feral weather this winter I pulled the pattern out again and decided I was going to make the first version in a boiled merino knit I had in my stash.

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I know that its hard to see what’s going on here, it being a black knit and all, but I really love the shape of this one. The wide cuffs and hem band and the shape of the wide turtleneck make it really comfortable and snuggly, especially in this thick squashy merino. I really like the proportions of it, it’s slightly cropped and hits me at about my mid-hip, which I find a really flattering length on me. One of the things I found I disliked about my Toaster 2 sweater was that I always thought it was a bit big, so this time I sized down from a medium to a small, despite my measurements indicating I should be in a medium. I think the size is spot on this time, so I’m happy with that decision!

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I feel like I wore this thing a couple of times a week during the cold parts of winter! It’s so warm, and the neckline is wide enough that I can tuck my chin into it like a turtle if I feel the need. I even found it was a good thing to layer over my Rise turtleneck that was giving me trouble with what to wear over it. Double turtleneck, double warmth! I liked the shape of the raglan sleeves and the general proportions of it so much that I decided to make a warmer weather version of it in a gorgeous cotton sweatshirting I got from the Fabric Store last month.

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I made a few changes for this one, the most obvious being cutting down the turtleneck to a standard sized neckband. I also halved the width of the cuffs and hem ribbing, because I thought the super wide cuffs would look a bit weird in a rib. I basically turned it into the Linden Sweatshirt, but I think this one fits much better than the Linden’s I’ve made in the past. I prefer the higher crew neck, and the raglan sleeves fit better around the bottom of the armscye.

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To compensate for using a rib for the neckband rather than self fabric, I trimmed two inches from the length before sewing it up. I probably could have taken off a bit more, it doesn’t sit as flat as I’d like, but I’m not keen on unpicking it to make it shorter! I left the cuffs and hem bands the drafted length, I don’t love tight ribbing cinching in my sleeves. I do love this sweatshirt though! I’m really happy with how my ‘sweatshirtifying’ mods worked out, it’s kept all the proportions and fit from the original which I really liked but has made a nice casual top for spring.

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I really love this fabric and ribbing combination, I love a matching ribbing! I find it really hard to find any good rib knit for cuffs and neckbands, so when I saw this coordinating sweatshirting/ribbing at The Fabric Store I was all over it. They’re both organic fair trade cotton, just to make things even better! I’m not usually that fond of polka dots, but these random, abstract paint-y dots are really nice. I feel like I should go back and buy some of the navy and white colourway, but I’m really trying not to stash fabric at the moment, things are getting a bit out of hand… The boiled merino for my first version was from The Fabric Store too, and both fabrics have worn really well so far. I think the wool might pill after a few more washes, but I’ll run the de-piller over it and I’m sure it’ll be fine! Now I just need to not spill anything on my cream sweatshirt…

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A toasty sweater

Well, winter has arrived a month early in New Zealand! There’s snow on the hills around Wellington, and a savage southerly is whipping through the city. Time to sew some of my stashed merino!

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I really wanted to make the Toaster Sweater pattern from Sew House Seven after seeing so many versions made up during the northern hemisphere winter, I love the split hem with its mitred corners and the funnel neck of version 2. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to the online sewing community, but I really hate turtle necks. I just hate having anything snug around my neck, even tightly wrapped scarves make me feel like I’m suffocating. I thought the funnel neck on this pattern would be wide enough not to freak me out though, and I was right!

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I used some merino interlock from The Fabric Store, and it is the softest, cuddliest merino I’ve ever sewn with. It has a bit more heft than most merino jersey I’ve sewn (obviously, as it’s a double knit), so I thought it might have enough body to keep the shape of the neckline but still drape nicely. I think I was mostly right, the funnel neck does sag a bit in the centre front, but I think if I had interfaced it it might have ended up too stiff.

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I cut it out in a single layer so that I could match the stripes, which was pretty successful. The merino is so soft and stretchy that it was pretty forgiving, but it was a bit tricky to keep it square as I was cutting it out. It also wanted to grow and shift as I sewed it, so I used about 15 times as many pins as I usually would when sewing a knit!

That mitred hem is possibly my favourite part. It was simple enough to sew, but looks so nice and clean! I think I’ll definitely be borrowing that part of the pattern for other tops, it will be easy enough to graft onto another hem.

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So there were a few things about this pattern which I found a bit odd. I had never heard of a double stitch before, which is the method recommended for constructing this top, but it’s when you sew a row of straight stitches and then a row of zigzags next to it. I’m sure it probably works (otherwise it wouldn’t be in the instructions, right?), but I was weirded out by it enough that I just used a narrow zigzag stitch to sew the shoulders and neckline, and then overlocked the side seams and sleeves. the hems are all top-stitched with a twin needle, as usual. I also thought it was weird that the neck facing which folds under to give the funnel shape didn’t extend to the shoulder seams, it means that it’s a bit messy around the shoulders on the inside. Its also super short! I’m really short waisted, and this is the shortest length I would want it to be. Tall sewers beware!

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If I make another Toaster Sweater 2, I think I’ll extend the facing piece so that I can catch it in the shoulder seams when I sew in the sleeves, just to keep it neat and hold down the facing a bit more securely. I think I might go down a size as well. This is the Medium, which is where my measurements put me, but I wonder if it would be a better fit in a Small. In this drapey knit I think the slightly oversized look is fine, but I have a more structured cream wool tentatively earmarked which I think would be a bit tent-like in the bigger size!

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I do like the slightly 1960’s beatnik vibe this top has, especially with my Safran Jeans and some flats. I just need to find a poetry slam or something (I wish I could find a poetry slam, does Wellington have such a thing? I so desperately wanted to see Kate Tempest in September, but she’s only doing one show while we’re in the UK and its the day before the only other thing we have tickets for. Such a bummer!) Zelda also gives it the cat-fur seal of approval, so it must be good. A few more snuggly wool tops, and the southerly can come at me!