In a previous post I said this year was shaping up to be really difficult and it seems to be continuing in that direction. Last week was really hard because of several things going on in my personal life. I’m not sure if this is the correct way to go about things, but I’ve decided that staying busy is the better option for dealing with this as opposed to staying not busy, at least for now. I perhaps feel a bit of guilt entering the Bee given everything else that is happening, but I also feel like it might be good to have this sort of diversion, just to have something that is separate from everything else and something to look forward to. It might not have kicked off the way I envisioned, but the 8th Annual Pattern Review Sewing Bee has begun.
I told myself at the start of the week that I was only going to enter if I was interested in making the round 1 item, and not “just because”. The Bee is a lot of work (even if you only do a single round!), and last year I really over-exerted myself because the timing of the Bee was really tough with all of the other things I had going on with my schedule. This year, while it’s still happening during a busy time, it’s not the same craziness I was dealing with during Bee season last year, so I thought it might be worth it to enter if I was inspired by the first challenge.
Of course, this year’s “hoodie with an accent” challenge was right up my ally. I actually had several ideas for this round, but had to whittle them down based on the materials I had on hand. And now I want to make about 6 additional hoodies based on patterns I was considering before I settled on my final design. To get things done in time, I ended up using a cotton sweatshirt material and a Burda pattern from my stash:
I did have to order the hoodie drawstring, the sleeve zips, and the grommets, but the other materials were all from the stash. Happily, these came in time and I was able to sew up an embroidered hoodie:
I digitized the embroidery design myself, but it actually took a lot of trial and error to get it right:
I also had to learn to install grommets and needed to shorten some metal zips as well, so my sewing table was an absolute mess this week.
But I was able to get my entry done in time for the contest, and here is my entry pattern review:
Pattern Description: Pull over hoodie with drawstring hood, zipper sleeves, and curved hem.
Pattern Sizing: Burda Tall Sizes 72-88. I used a size 80 at the shoulders and graded out to an 88 at the hip. This corresponds to my normal 40/44 sizing the standard Burda sizes. I also did several fit adjustments detailed below.
Were the instructions easy to follow? I think these instructions were pretty good for Burda, and the magazine even included diagrams for how to insert the zippers into the sleeve. However, I suspected that the diagrams were shown upside-down (they were) and I wanted to confirm with another source for how to insert the sleeve zips. Ultimately, I found a YouTube tutorial for inserting in-seam zippers that was much easier to follow. The remainder of the construction was pretty straightforward, so while I did reference the instructions, I actually sewed things in a different order to be more efficient with my time between sewing and pressing.
Did it look like the photo/drawing when you were done with it? Yes! I think the overall shape of the hoodie looks a lot like the model photo and the fact that I added a lettered design to the front really makes it look similar to the magazine image.
What did you particularly like/dislike about the pattern? I really love the casual relaxed style, and the fun details like the curved hem and zipper sleeves. I always like the fit of raglan sleeves, and the hood is super deep, which is really nice. The zipper sleeves are also really great because it makes it easy to roll up the sleeves. As someone who always pushes up sweatshirt sleeves and ends up stretching out the cuffs, I think this is a super useful feature of the design, and helps this be a very transitional piece. I also think these details elevate the design from being too much like a generic style hoodie that could be purchased in a store. I don’t have any dislikes for this pattern.
Fabric and materials used: For the main hoodie fabric I used a cotton sweatshirt material from my stash that I bought from Fabric Mart many years ago. For the embellishment, I used an old remnant of silver Mystique spandex for the “Doctor T” lettering appliqué along with metallic embroidery threads from Sulky and Superior Threads for the other embroidery design. I also used grommets for the hoodie string opening, and 2 metal zippers on the sleeves. I ordered a hoodie drawstring because I wanted a color to match the hoodie fabric. For construction I used all of my machines; I used the serger to finish the edges, my sewing machine to do the construction, my embroidery machine to create the embellishment, and my coverstitch to do the hem finishes.
Pattern alterations or design changes you made: All of the design changes were made for fit. I did a dart-less 1” full bust adjustment by lengthening the front pattern piece and gathering it into the side seam. I also did a 1” full bicep adjustment by adding excess width along the top sleeve seam. Finally, I increased the width at the hip by 1.5” by adding additional width at the hip side seam.
Special techniques used: For the embellishment I used my embroidery machine to stitch out a “Doctor T Designs” embroidered design. I created this design in my digitizing software. It was the first time I used a technique to turn a computer font into an embroidered design, and it was a really cool technique to learn. However, getting the design correct actually took several tries and was definitely a significant part of the challenge for this project. I’ve included some photos of the testing process, where I was trying different stitch types, font styles, thread combinations, and appliqué fabric types to make sure I got a result I would be happy with. While I’ve used appliqué techniques in the past, this was actually the first time I’ve done an appliqué with digitized machine embroidery, so it took a lot of iteration to get the technique and design right. For some of the more subtle/utilitarian design embellishments, I had to shorten the metal zippers (which I have done before), and install grommets (which was a new technique for me). Overall I learned several new techniques to create this hoodie, including digitizing True Type font in my software to create machine embroidery appliqué, sewing in-seam visible zippers, and installing grommets.
Would you sew this again? Would you recommend it to others? I will definitely sew this pattern again. This version is actually quite heavy and warm, so next time I might try making a more lightweight version of this pattern just for more variety. I would definitely recommend this pattern; it’s a great style and super easy to put together!
Conclusion: When this challenge was first announced, I was super excited because I love wearing hoodies and I’ve never sewn a proper pull-over classic style hoodie before. I had several ideas, most of which were dismissed because I needed to order materials that I couldn’t receive in time for this contest. When I found my sweatshirt material in my stash I decided to go with a very classic hoodie, and thought that a “brand logo” type design would look very stylish. Although I had other ideas at first, I’m really happy I settled on going with my blog name/social media handle because of course it is very unique and personal to me. I love that my hoodie looks like something I could purchase, but also is something that I couldn’t get anywhere else because it is personalized with my embellishment design.
Is this garment a “Triumph of Individual Style”? I’m not sure if a hoodie counts as a “triumph” but overall I am really happy with this design and the result. It’s definitely something that’s going to get a lot of use!
I’m happy with how this garment turned out, but I’m also definitely glad for the down time during the judging period this year because I’m really feeling the need for a rest after everything that has been going on lately. I do think it would be exciting to make it to the next round, but even if I don’t I’m happy that I at least was able to complete the Round 1 challenge. I’m also happy to have something fun to look forward to over the next several weeks, even if I don’t move on and I’m only participating as an observer.