Hi, I hope you’re enjoying some warm weather wherever you are. Here in northern California it’s pretty warm, for March anyway. It may seem odd to write about a cardigan with the spring equinox coming at the end of the week, but I finally made a version of the Newcastle Cardigan that my husband really likes. In fact, he liked it so much he even volunteered to model it! We took photos a couple of weeks ago. This is my third attempt at making this Thread Theory pattern for my husband.
Why three? Well, way back in October 2013, I saw the version Ginger Makes made on her blog post Dude Sewing and I was excited to make one for my husband. I bought and downloaded the Newcastle PDF (you can also buy the tissue version).
Warning: This is a rather long post with info on my pattern adjustments. It took me two more tries to get all the pattern adjustments right: bicep, armhole, waist, back, and butt. Below you’ll see the various adjustments and mistakes I made as I attempted to figure out how to make this pattern fit my husband and still retain the design. If you want to make this pattern and your guy is bigger than the largest size, compare the pattern pieces against a cardigan that he fits him well. Then you’ll know right away how much you’ll need to adjust. I didn’t do that with my first one. Lesson learned!
The PDF was easy to put together. I like the little pointing hand at the end of the grainline marks.
I made a muslin for size XL using double-sided black fleece I got on sale at Discount Fabrics in San Francisco. I quickly discovered that the Newcastle Cardigan is for slender guys. My man is 6′ 3″ (190.5 cm) and weighs more than 200 pounds (90 kg). On him, size XL was more like an L and was too tight everywhere. It’s a fitted pattern with not a whole lot of ease unless you are a svelte guy. My husband was disappointed and thought I could just whip up another one pronto. Uh, no.
I explained that it would take a lot of pattern adjustments and that I had zero experience adjusting patterns for men, let alone doing bicep, back, belly, etc. adjustments. Yikes. All my previous pattern adjustments had been fairly minor ones for myself: wide shoulder, small bust adjustment, adding ease to the hips,and that was it. I told him it would take me a while to figure out how to adjust the pattern for his figure. (I decided to keep the first one as an oversize cardi for me but it is still a UFO (unfinished object) because I felt obligated to first make and finish one that fit him. The UFO still needs button holes and hemming.)
A few months later, through trial and error and then actual help via email from Morgan Meredith of Thread Theory, I was able to figure out how to accommodate his broad upper back and large biceps (slash and spread!). I made my second Newcastle Cardi from blue fleece I had in my stash.
Here’s how I added width to the bicep area.
I also decided to apply the same principle to the front and slash and spread to accommodate his not-so-flat waistline. BUT what I neglected to do was to true up the side seam. You see how the side seam at the bottom doesn’t go straight down from the armhole? It tapers in to the center. I should have straightened that line out. My man has a shapely bottom (OK, let’s be honest here, he has a nice ass!) and I needed more ease there, not less. But I didn’t notice this because all of this was new to me. It looks so obvious now. Go figure.
Meanwhile I consulted Sandra Betzina’s Fast Fit book (I got a used copy from Half Price Books. You can find buy it on her site here.) for additional tips. The sleeve was tight around the armhole so I needed to drop the armhole.
I slashed through the top of the sleeve head to add about an inch and then did the same to the front and back pattern pieces. I also added an inch of width to the front pattern piece as you can (sort of) see below. The front had three adjustments: slash and spread for the waist, 1 inch longer to accommodate longer sleeve head, 1 inch wider for his broad shoulders and a looser fit.
Before I cut my pattern pieces out I checked the front pattern piece front and button placket against a RTW cardigan sweater of his to see if it was wide enough. Check.
I cut out my pattern pieces from the blue fleece fabric.
… including some patch pockets, which I attached before I began sewing it up.
Apologies for the blurry photo but I wanted to show you the grading and clipping of the collar.
Warning: When you sew on the collar, you’ll be sewing many layers – the body of the cardigan, two layers of collar and the facing – for a total of four layers of fabric! It’s super thick and broke a needle when I made it the first time with the double-sided black fleece. Here’s the body, the collar, and the facing being sewn.
Here’s what it looks like with the collar and cuffs attached and buttonholes done. I added a bit of ribbon – sewn through the facing and back – to keep the facing down. It’s slightly off-center. Oops!
Here’s what version 2 looked like but as you can see the arms still needed more ease but the fit was much better. However, it turns out that he really wanted one in black and he wanted it to be a little longer. He was reluctant to tell me because he knew how much work I had put into sewing this one up. I also realized that my pattern adjustments still weren’t perfect. It didn’t fit well over the lower back/bottom – because I neglected to adjust the side seams after I did my slash and spread. It was too snug back there and it looked short.
Fast forward to December 2014, I had him try on the blue on again and made couple more pattern adjustments so I could make a third version – this time in black fleece. I fixed the front and back side seams, which should have been perpendicular to the bottom (see the extra paper added near the pink highlighter for the pattern notch?). This is why it didn’t fit well in the back.
And here’s mistake number two – I thought if I curved the back down like this, it would accommodate his bottom. Uh, wrong! What was I thinking? All I needed to do was fix the side seam. I later cut this curving bit off – but not before I sewed it up.
Here’s a side view of the third Newcastle Cardigan.
… and the back view.
See the band at the bottom? I added that because when I made my pattern adjustments, I forgot about adding length. And remember my pattern adjustment for the back wasn’t quite right. I didn’t need that bottom curving thing at all. My side seam fix was fine. Unfortunately, I had already added the band when I realized the curve looked funny. Sorry I didn’t take a photo of it before I cut it off (no way to unpick stitches from black fleece!). Yep, I removed that curving bit, made sure the back piece just went straight across, and added a new band at the bottom. I cut another strip of fleece folded it in half and attached it to the bottom.
Because I had to cut off the bottom, I lost my seam allowance and the bottom band is really close to the last button as you can see below.
At least it looks deliberate – matches the cuffs. If I make it again, I’ll just be sure to add length to the pattern overall. I’m so thrilled it’s done and he likes it! He’s proud to wear it out. Whew!
Have you sewn any menswear? Did you need to make any pattern adjustments? How’d it go?