I’ve often finished a project and thought, “I should sew that again right now”. But, there is always another project or two calling my name. The allure of something new always wins.
Not this time.
The Juniper Cardigan is the first time I’ve actually done it!
The moment I finished my first juniper cardigan, I cut out and sewed another. It certainly helped that this make only takes a couple of hours!
There was just something irresistably captivating about the juniper cardigan. It’s so simple, but the divine curved shoulder lines and colour blocking opportunities make it special!
Ever since I was lucky enough to do a pattern review of the laneway dress this summer, I’ve been crushing on several Jennifer Lauren handmade patterns. The juniper cardigan was one of them. So when the #cosycardichallenge came along, the stars were aligned.
I dream of merino jersey
Speaking of star alignment, I also gave in to one of my long held fabric fantasies by ordering some merino jersey from The Fabric Store for the classic black and white juniper cardigan.
I usually avoid ordering fabric from outside Europe because customs and shipping can make the price ridiculous. The good thing about The Fabric Store is that international shipping is included (for purchases over a certain amount – it would have been crazy not to have shopped beyond this threshold…).
So it felt more manageable to just have to pay customs and taxes.
The shipping speed was totally amazing. I ordered on a Monday and had my fabrics in hand by the end of the week! Not bad for traversing half the globe!
When the fabric first arrived I wouldn’t say I was disappointed ,but there was a part of me that though “it just looks like a regular jersey”. Although I’m not really sure what else I was expecting!
Touching it was a different story. The quality was evident at every touch. But the true test was when it came to wearing this fabric. I think I can honestly say that I’ve never felt something so warm and light and wonderful against my skin. I now have fantasies about remaking every single basic item in my wardrobe, T-shirts, singlets, plain tops, out of merino jersey. So in the end I couldn’t be happier with this fabric and it was absolutely perfect for a juniper cardigan.
I used the 180 gsm jersey for the black and white juniper cardigan but I’ve also purchased some of the 200 gsm for future projects. Both are equally lovely and luscious.
I was in the mood for a bit of a lazy sew when I made this one. So I did almost everything on my overlocker. The only thing that I used my sewing machine for, apart from the the buttons, was attaching the cuffs.
While being overlocker happy was definitely possible and made for a very fast project, do it at your own risk. Using only the overlocker on the merino version resulted in the neck band stretching out a little bit during the course of attaching it. This means that one side of the front of my cardigan is maybe about half an inch longer than the other. When the cardigan is buttoned up, it’s not visible, but when it’s unbuttoned, it’s pretty obvious.
But that’s what I deserve for being a lazy sewist.
So, even if you’re in a lazy mood, take the time to first use a sewing machine to attach the neck band.
Stablising the shoulder seams
Just a little tip if you are using an overlocker to sew your seams. The Juniper Cardigan pattern recommends that you stabilize the shoulder seam after you’ve sewn it with clear elastic sewn into the seam allowance. But if you’re overlocking, there is no seam allowance to speak of. The shape and curve of the shoulder pieces however makes it a little bit tricky to stabilize with clear elastic at the outset. I found that what worked well was actually sticking the clear elastic down onto my pattern pieces (about 1cm from the edge, right where the seam would be sewn) using wonder tape and then incorporating this directly into my line of overlocking.
And a few other tips and tidbits
Another handy tip is that the cuffs of the cardigan are very narrow. I love this feature, it makes it feel very cozy and warm. However the free arm on my sewing machine wasn’t actually able to sew such a narrow cuff in the round. This made a simple step unnecessarily tricky. So for my second juniper cardigan I attached the cuff while the sleeve was still flat and this made things much easier (although it is slightly less neat looking, of course…).
The great thing about sewing two of the same item consecutively is that all the “lessons learned” the first time are fresh in your mind!
This project was the first time that I’d made buttonholes and installed buttons into a knit fabric. It required a few practice runs to get my machine’s automatic buttonhole settings right but this wasn’t any different than in a woven.
The pattern offers useful advice to use a cross grain ribbon to stabilize where the button holes are going to be sewn. However if you don’t want the stitching that attaches this ribbon to the cardigan to be visible, the only option offered by the pattern is hand sewing. And handsewing was not in line with the lazy sewist aesthetic guiding this project.
However I figured out for my second cardigan that if you attach the crossgrain ribbon with your machine before you install the neckband the stitching holding the ribbon in place will only be visible on the inside. Which is just fine with me. Also, if you have sufficient fabric you can cut your neckband as one piece on the fold, which I did the second time round.
The sporty striped Juniper Cardigan
My black and white version is the unmodified pattern. It hits right at the natural waist, making it ideal for wearing on top of dresses, like my laneway dress.
For my second version, I wanted a length better suited for wearing with jeans. A true crop is just inviting muffin top on my body but I didn’t want anything as long as the hip-length version. So, this striped version is lengthened by 2.5 inches from the cropped length. If you lengthen, remember to also lengthen the neckband and the neckband interfacing!
Lengthening is a piece of cake because every pattern piece has lengthen lines marked.
When I lengthened, I forget to also grade out slightly at the hip to account for the fact that the cardigan no longer hits at the narrowest point of my body. So the striped version is a little tight at the hip when I do up the buttons. But no biggie, a casual cardigan is more a wear open piece in any event.
The second one is made out of some super warm and cosy fabrics – a ponte Roma and a double sided fleece.
I love the way this longer length and heavy knits give this one almost a cropped bomber jacket feel.
I predict already that this will be my go-to weekend casual item of the season!
And that’s a wrap
These cardigans were a real pleasure to sew. I’m such a lazy sewist that it’s actually pretty rare for me that all my notches match up, so it felt a bit like magic when it did. Just like with my laneway dress, the quality of the juniper cardigan pattern is exceptional.
All in all, I feel that these juniper cardigans are wins all round. It also reminds me of one of the things I love about sewing. The exact same pattern can make two totally different items depending on the print, fabric and design choices you make.
I feel totally in control of my own cardigan destiny!
And I can’t wait to try more of Jennifer Lauren’s patterns!