Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year – I spent mine with Netflix! I was just so excited over the fact that they had added all the Indiana Jones movies plus The Addams Family and both of the Ghostbusters movies! Some of my “white noise” movie choices. Lol. Yep, that’s what I listen to while I’m drafting patterns or sewing. Speaking of patterns and New Year, I’d like to present my first pattern of the year, the ABC sweater.
I also want to add that starting with this pattern, I won’t be adding any seam allowances to my patterns anymore. The reason being that I usually end up changing the seam allowances around based on the fabric, the design, or the machine I’m using and also everyone has different amount of seam allowance that they like so now you can add whatever seam allowance that you want. Yay!
I’m also sewing this entire sweater using my home sewing machine, the JanomeHD1000. I love my Janome to pieces! If you have a serger, go ahead and use that but with this tutorial I wanted to focus a bit on how easy it is sewing fleece on a regular sewing machine. Some home sewing machines have built-in overcast stitches which can look confusing because they don’t look anything like the stitches made by a serger but they will essentially do the same thing which is to have the stitches stretch with the fabric and to keep the edges from fraying. My Janome doesn’t have many fancy decorative stitches, to me it’s more like a basic workhorse which is definitely fine by me. After looking at the manual, I decided to use the knit stitch – according to the manual, it’s ideal for sewing swimwear and stretch velour because it gives the most amount of elasticity and strength. I also used the straight stretch stitch for the top stitching. I’ve never really used the knit stitch on my machine before so this project was a nice chance to try out something new out.
If you haven’t explored all the stitches on your sewing machine, take a minute before you start this tutorial and try them out – do some tests on the same material you will be using because each fabric has a mind of its own!
Alright, let’s get to making the sweater.
Things You Will Need:
Self fabric – Sweatshirt Fleece or fleece fabric
Ribbing – Any knit fabric (I used jersey knit)
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1. Preparing the pattern – Put the pattern together with some tape. Add the seam allowance – I added 3/8” seam allowance all around. If you are adding cuffs and a waist band you will have to shorten the sleeve and body pattern pieces by folding the pattern up to accommodate the length of your bands. Don’t forget to add your seam allowance! If you are not adding the cuffs and waistband, just add a wider seam allowance to the pattern to fold up and hem.
Also, be sure to notch the should seam when you’re cutting the sleeves out- the front of the sleeves are shorter than the back. I forget to add notches to differentiate the front from the back along the sleeve cap but you can mark it so you don’t get confused later. I just clipped the back part of the sleeve cap twice so that I know later which is which.
2. Front & back body – Put the front and back pieces right sides together and sew the shoulder seams. I like to sew the neck band right after this step because I find it much easier to work with the pieces flat.
3. Attaching the neck band – The neckband is 2 1/2” wide including 3/4” seam allowance. Here is how I do my neckbands with this easy no math method to figure out how long it should be. Fold the front and back pieces in half matching the shoulder seams.
The 4T neckline is 19 1/4” so I marked 8 1/2” on my folded neckband (8.5 x 2= 17). Then I pinned one end of the band to the center front and the 8 1/2” mark to the center back overlapping the band and the sweater by about 3/8”. I pull the overlapping neckband over the neckline and pin it. If the measurement is too big, the neckband won’t stay flat so I reduced the neckband’s mark to 8” and then pulled it over the neckline again and it sat pretty nicely. Basically, you just keep reducing the length little by little until it looks flat to you. I hope that made sense. This process is in my video tutorial and I think you will be able to see and understand it better. The video tutorial should be up hopefully by next week – I’ll include the link here but if you’ve been following me on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll see me posting updates as soon as I’ve uploaded to Youtube.
My jersey knit neckband is 16.5” long which included 1/4” seam allowance. Sew the ends with a straight stitch to make a ring. Open the seams, fold the band in half and press with a warm iron.
4. Sewing the neckband to the neckline – Divide both the neckline and the neckband into quarters. Pin the neckband to the right side of the sweater and sew with your choice of stretchy stitch.
5. Topstiching – To keep the seam along the neckline flat, topstitch on the sweater side with a small zig zag stitch or you can use twin needles. I used a straight stretch stitch. You can even try something different and use one of your machine’s decorative stitches, as long as they stretch nicely with the fabric.
6. Attaching the sleeves – I find it easier to sew the sleeves flat so start by pinning the sleeves to the armhole. Don’t forget that the front part of the sleeve cap is shorter than the back. I sewed with a 3/8”. You can cut the excess fabric off if you like.
7. Sleeves and side seams – Fold and match the underarm seams first and then pin along the sleeves and body. You can use a second wider zig zag stitch along the seam allowance to keep the edges from curling and then possibly causing tickles to the cute wearer later. I speak from experience. LOL.
8. Cuffs & Waistband (Skip to step 9 if you’re sewing regular sleeves and waist) – Unlike the neckband, the cuffs and the waistband don’t need to be laying flat. It depends on how large you want the opening to be around the wrist and at the waist. I usually just subtract 2” from the sleeve and waist measurements. My cuff measurement for this sweater was 6 1/2” which also includes 1/4” seam allowance. My waistband with the seam allowance was 25 1/2”.
Fold the bands and sew with a straight stitch. With a warm iron, press the seams open. Fold the band in half and press again.
Divide the bands, the sleeves, and the waist into quarters. Pin them together and sew with a stretchy stitch.
I like to turn the sleeves inside out when I’m sewing it to the cuffs.
Do a topstitch with a small zig zag stitch, twin needles, or a straight stretch stitch. If you are cutting off the excess fabric after topstitching, be careful not to cut the stitches.
9. Regular Sleeves & Waist – Fold up whatever seam allowance you had added to the sleeve and body pattern. I always use my twin needles for this part but you can do two rows of the small zig zag stitch as well.
And that’s it! What kind of fabrics did you use to make the ABC sweater? Leave a comment below, I love to hear from you!