Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Miss Lotta Bundles Up: Ottobre 05/2018 -- Autumn Warmer Cardigan

Good morning, kittens! I'm taking a break from Kibbe ruminations today to share my latest project, the Autumn Warmer sweater from the latest issue (05/2018) of Ottobre Woman. This was the last project I cut out before tumbling into wardrobe revamp plans, but it actually aligns nicely with some of my forthcoming style changes. 

Over the past few years, I've increasingly turned to sewing magazines for both inspiration and patterns. It began with Knipmode, when they expanded their sizing to a European 54 on every pattern published, and has continued with Burda, as they've improved their plus size (EU 44-52) collections. Every time I review a pattern from those magazines, however, someone always comments with how much they love Ottobre Design. The Finnish family-owned magazine mixes what I like about the other two publications--they have an English version (Knipmode doesn't) and they publish every pattern in every size, up to a EU 52 (Burda doesn't)--then adds a modern, practical design aesthetic on top of it. This fall, I finally gave in and purchased a subscription to Ottobre Woman

Y'all, I'm so glad I made that decision! This issue has quite a few patterns that caught my eye, from the elegant pegged pants to that simple surplice dress, and one that I absolutely loved. Their cover pattern, the Autumn Warmer cardigan, rocketed up my to-sew list. The hood/shawl collar combination is such an interesting design feature, elevating the pattern from just another sweater to something I desperately needed in my closet. 

I wasn't alone. My fellow Curvy Sewing Collective editors, Michelle and Megan, also fell hard for this pattern and we all agreed to make it for a "Same Pattern, Different Bodies" post on the CSC. Even better, right after we committed to this plan, winter arrived early in Texas. Our first freeze this year was in October and it's been cold front after cold front ever since. We actually have snow chances in our forecast, later this week! In Central Texas! This is definitely the year for all those cozy, snuggly projects that I usually put off.

I ordered a few sweater knit options from Mood, then settled on this gorgeous red bamboo French Terry as my first version. Let's be honest, the moment I see a hood in my future, my thoughts drift to Little Red Riding Hood and red is a foregone conclusion. Fairytale archetypes live large in my fashion sensibilities, it seems. Now that I've made it up, I don't think this was the right fabric choice. While it's a gorgeous terry, it's also a bit too much of a classic sweatshirting for this project, bagging out with wear. A sweater knit with better recovery is an ideal choice for this draping silhouette. Not all sweater knits are created equal and terry really is better suited to something boxier, like a Linden Sweatshirt.

I also made a mistake in choosing my size. Having never sewn with Ottobre before, I erred on the side of caution and made this up based on my full bust measurement, which puts me in a size 50. Like with Burda, however, I would've been better suited to a 48. I had to take in the shoulders considerably, the sleeves are much too baggy, and the whole thing just feels big. If I don't pay attention to how it's laying, the sweater shifts around and looks messy, because there's too much excess fabric. With this combination of fabric and the wrong size, this sweater can easily look too messy, which is a shame because with other choices it would be gorgeous. 

This is actually a problem I always have with sewn sweaters. I've had legions of failed sweater projects that haven't made this blog, y'all. I never go with my instincts and size down, then am disappointed with the baggy, saggy, shapeless results. A few years back, I made a Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater that almost sent me over the edge with sizing rage. Finding the perfect combination of pattern and appropriate fabric is key to a wearable sweater, but it's a balance I rarely find. This sweater is actually pretty close to ideal, when compared to those past failures. 

Red Riding Hood or...Handmaiden? It's a close call. 
All that being said, this sweater is not only wearable, but beloved despite its problems. There's something about the brightness of this color and the way the hood opens up into that wide shawl collar that I adore. One of Kibbe's recommendations for Soft Dramatics is a large open neckline like this and it's easy to see why. The proportions of that collar are rocking my world and reiterating how desperately I need to sew up the Butterick 6604 coat.

Additionally, this terry is cozy AF. Throwing this sweater on over jeans and simple blouse looks dramatic and daring, but feels like I'm wearing a bathrobe out into the world. It's not nearly as warm as a merino wool version would be, but perfect for the crisp, blustery days we keep having here. 

Let's quickly talk construction, shall we? For a magazine pattern, this was a joy to assemble. Ottobre's pattern sheets are less cluttered than their competitors and it was easy to find my pattern pieces and size. Twenty minutes later, thanks to the dynamic duo of bee paper and a double tracing wheel, I had a traced off a pattern with seam allowances. (Seriously, get a double tracing wheel if you trace off patterns! It makes adding seam allowances to magazine patterns infinitely easier. That, or  use my shoddy, but reliable method: tape two classic Sharpies together for a perfect 1/2" seam allowance.)

Like most knit patterns, this was a really quick, easy pattern to make up. I used my sewing machine (a Janome Magnolia 7330) to do all the seams and hems, deploying a lightning bolt stitch on the seams and a decorative stretch stitch on the hems. The neckline and shoulders are reinforced with clear elastic, to keep them from stretching out, and the bottom hem is stabilized with wonder tape. My only complaint about the construction is that, because the hood is part of the collar itself, cleanly finishing the neckline is a challenge. There's a pivot from the shoulder line to the back collar that I needed to redo three times, before I got it right. Baste it first, then sew a stretch stitch once you're happy with how it lays. 

All in all, this pattern was a moderately successful introduction into Ottobre, and one that I'll make again before the season is out. With the right fabric--ideally a drapey wool knit with springy recovery--this can be such a chic, unexpected twist on the classic hooded sweatshirt. For me, this was also a nice entree into Kibbe's recommendations for my body type. If I ever doubted my ability to pull off bold color and large details, this sweater would quiet those doubts. 

Next up, I'm taking on a dress for the holidays! If you're interested in the Autumn Warmer pattern, be sure to check out Megan and Michelle's great versions over at the CSC blog. I always find it enlightening to see different sewists try the same pattern and share their thoughts. 

Note: Any Amazon links on this or other posts are affiliate links. 

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