January can be a cold and bleak time for many. The rush of holiday activities is over, yet the weather is still deary and frigid. By this time, I'm pretty much tired of people and just want to snuggle up in a warm sweater with a hot beverage.
Paro Cardigan, new TODAY from Itch to Stitch ticks all my "warm sweater" boxes.
✔ Long, but with a defined waist
✔ Front and back feminine pleats
✔ Roomy enough to wear over blouses and tee shirts
✔ Optional front closure where you can show off those over-sized buttons in your stash
Paro Cardigan is the same precise pattern you expect to see from Itch To Stitch Designs. Every notch matches and the step-by-step instructions are simple to follow. There are Lengthen & Shorten lines on all the major pattern pieces making it really easy to customize the proportions to your own figure. I removed just a couple inches from the sleeve and bottom pieces, plus a small swayback wedge, to adjust for my super short stature.
In fact, here's an example of a detail I only appreciated when I went to cut my plaid version. (yes, I have a plaid version!) The grain line on the front top and bottom line up with the edge of the first pleat...and each other!
This means I can line up my print perfectly on the top and bottom pieces.
|don't look at the hem. don't look at the hem.|
Despite the complex look of the finished cardigan, Paro Cardigan comes together, from print to finish, in about 4 or 5 hours. During the week-long test, I assembled a muslin version without hems/button hole; I completed the rust sweater version seen throughout my post; I completed a plaid version using a rib knit and black ponte (not yet photographed due to weather); Plus, I made one using black crushed panne velvet that just needs the hems stitched.
I know I spend a great deal of time sewing, but I promise that the Paro Cardigan really does come together that fast! Of course, if you are like me and you decide to deviate from standard button holes and machine hems, it will take longer. I know I talk about my button hole issue a lot, nearly as much as I express a preference for hand stitching hems, so isn't it fortunate that I can discuss both of them here?!
The beautiful wood button I found at Joann's was absolutely perfect for the rust colored ombre sweater knit I used for my first finished version. At 2 inches in diameter, it was too big for any buttonholer I have, and as you can see, my attempt at making a large "manual" button hole was less than successful.
Naturally, that led me to ask myself, "Could I do [my favorite] Spanish Snap buttonholes in knit fabric?" The answer is YES, a thousand times yes!
The process I used is the same as the Spanish Snap buttonholes on my Fari Coat. For the sweater knit version, I interfaced the part of the band where the hole would go and used a scrap of lining weight silk as the hole facings for both the front and back. On the black ponte band, I used black fusible woven interfacing for the 1.5 inch hole. Both were very successful and there is no bulk!
I finished up all the hems and cuffs with a neat little catch stitch. It's totally invisible from the front side and retains all the stretch of the fabric.
The pattern is written to use low-stretch medium weight fabrics like ponte. Equally important, I feel, is the recovery and drape of the fabric. If you have a sweater knit without good recovery, you will have a slouchy, possibly frumpy outcome. If your fabric has more body than drape, your pleats will stand out stiffly. These aren't necessarily bad things, but you'll want to keep them in mind to be sure you achieve the look you are after. In all cases, I would recommend avoiding fabrics that have vertical stretch. That will only cause droopiness. The variety of finished looks created by the other testers is always amazing to me. You can check them all out and see how different fabrics look in the launch blog post here.
Paro Cardigan is available now over in the Itch-To-Stitch pattern shop. Normally $10, you can grab your copy today for 20% off!