Warmest, comfiest sew - ever.
It's been a while since I’ve been able to get some sewing done for me, never mind sitting down and writing about it. Now that the Christmas craziness is over and winter seems to be in full swing in Hong Kong I decided it was about time I did some selfcare sewing and while I was at it, share it.
All of my sweaters are getting old and worn out, I don’t buy them often. They tend to last me years given Hong Kong winters only tend to last all of a month, sometimes two. Then the rest of the year it is humid and boiling hot. I don’t think I’ve had a new sweater in at least 4 years.
I’ve had my eye on our warm waffle knit since it came into stock. It is so soft, sometimes I just sit in the office and pet the swatch cards. My problem was, I couldn’t settle on a colour. I love them all.
Inspiration finally struck when I found the Oaklynn colour block pattern by Made for Mermaids. (Click the photo below to view more details and purchase - no affiliation for me, just sharing my sew )
I use Made for Mermaids quite a lot, I like that their patterns are layered, no trim PDFs and not only that they tell me which pages to print for which parts of the pattern so there’s little paper and ink waste. Nothing irks me more than having to print all the sizes I don’t need and all the parts of the pattern I don’t intend to use!
I made the Oaklynn in a size blue - I am usually a size 8-10UK in ready to wear tops. I have narrow shoulders and wide hips, but I didn’t need to make any grading adjustments as this is a relaxed look sweater.
Made for Mermaids patterns are drafted for someone who is 5’5 and I am 5’9. I have long arms and long legs, so I can rarely get away without adding length. I added 2 inches throughout the pattern by cutting the pattern at intervals and adding half an inch to each part and then taping it back up (often called slash and spread)
Made for Mermaids give quite clear instructions within the patterns on how to make adjustments for lengthening and shortening. Just be prepared for lots of cutting and taping! It’s worth it in the end though to have clothes that are made to my measurements and fit perfectly.
I strongly advise arming yourself with a good sharp rotary cutter and a cutting mat before attempting to cut knit fabric. Cutting through knit fabric with scissors can lead to the fabric stretching or the pieces moving around as the scissors ‘lift’ the fabric as you cut. Once you get the hang of a rotary cutter you’ll never go back to scissors for stretch fabrics. They make everything so quick and easy, just mind your fingers!
Clips are super handy for holding seams together as they won't leave holes in the knit or move around as the fabric moves through the machine (take them out as you get to your blade or needle!)
I chose to sew this up on my serger because it's quick and my seams will be finished and strong. It is totally possible to sew this up on a regular household sewing machine with a stretch needle and a zig zag stitch so don’t let the fact I used a serger put you off trying it if you don’t have one.
I used Mettler Seracor thread in the colour eggshell as it worked with all 3 fabric colours that I'd chosen. I will never go back to cheap thread from the fabric market after using these babies. These tiny little cones pack a whopping 1000 meters of thread per cone, which given the lack of storage space in most Hong Kong apartments is awesome. The thread feels strong and didn’t snap once whilst I was sewing. I often find that the cheaper threads seem to snap in my left needle especially when serging through a few layers regardless of my tension settings.
I set my serger tension to 3,4,4,4 and upped the differential feed to 1.7 after I few test runs gave me wavy seams on my regular setting of 1.0. I press every seam after sewing with a hot iron to ensure crisp lines. Please, please make sure you protect your fabric with a pressing cloth, it’ll save you lots of tears and frustration in the long run. Nothing worse than getting a perfect seam and then scorching or melting your hard work!
This knit is lovely to sew with, it feels lofty and thick but it's not heavy at all. It doesn’t move around or slip as it goes through the machine, so much so that I stopped bothering with clips after the first couple of seams. I used the Ham Hot Method for my neckband, cuffs and waistband to reduce bulk in those seams.
From cutting out the fabric to finished product, it took me around 40 minutes. As soon as my daughter saw it she requested that I go straight back to my machine and make her an exact copy, which luckily for her I promptly did with the scraps from my sweater. The colour blocking means it's an ideal pattern for using up smaller pieces of fabric, I think for my sweater I used roughly half a meter give or take for each section. More perhaps for the grey as there was a waistband and cuffs to get out of the fabric as well.
I have lived in this sweater the last few days. It is just so comfy and soft. It’s warm without making me feel like I am wearing a massive heavy jumper, it’s thin enough to comfortably put a jacket over it or a vest under it. I think this might end up being my most worn, most favourite make this winter. I have plans for another already in the lotus red, dark heathered grey and black, but I don’t think I will bother to colour block the sleeves.
All in all I’d give the pattern a 9/10 I will for sure make more, it’s a great pattern for beginners or those who are not confident enough or can’t be bothered (no judgement!) to try drafting their own colour block patterns. The only annoyance I have with this pattern is that the blocks don’t line up between sleeve and bodice. I thought I had done something wrong but I went back and looked at other people’s Oaklynns and they are all the same. I guess I just overlooked that when I chose the pattern!