Built by Wendy “in the hoodie” from Sew U Home Stretch

Soon after I started sewing, I started getting all ambitious with making dresses – which I’ve only worn a couple of times each, if at all. I’m not a dress wearer generally speaking, and besides,  i wanted to start sewing in order to make the simple designs I always wear with beautiful fabrics – like this hoodie. I picked up 2 metres of this fabric – a thin, non-stretch cotton jersey knit – for $5/metre off of a clearance table at Fabricana in Richmond BC, not quite knowing what to do with it. I just thought it was incredibly beautiful – and a good quality knit (the ends don’t curl up… I’ve learned the hard way to just walk away from those!) I thought the pattern repeat with the strong horizontal elements was too much for a dress, and the no-stretch fabric can’t really be made into a t-shirt. It wasn’t long before I realized it’d be perfect for a hoodie. My hunch was affirmed when my best girlfriend saw the fabric and also said, “hoodie.”

(damn if I can’t get the hood all aligned well; my sweetie who usually takes my photos is out of town for a couple weeks so it’s me and my self-timer.)

The pattern – a raglan sleeved hoodie – comes from the book “Sew U Home Stretch: The Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics” – also a clearance table find – only $5 –  also in Richmond. This was also my first serger project – my serger also being a bargain… I still feel a little bad for scoring a barely used Brother 1034d off of craigslist for $140 (the girl was a recent grad and needed $).

I simplified the pattern a little by not adding the front pocket – which would have been stripe matching nightmare (getting those stripes to match along the zipper = no fun).  I also cut out the ribbing, and simply lengthened the front, back and sleeve pieces by a couple of inches each, and did narrow hems. I did a size small to ensure it would be nice and snug; I muslined it to ensure the size would be okay through the chest. Nevertheless, I wonder if I might have done the medium size, to get the hoodie to fall a bit more beautifully.

The most difficult part was the stripe matching – natch – and I couldn’t get them all to match completely – happily the non-matching pieces are concealed by hood. The main body serging took about a half hour – and this being my first serged garment, I was going slowly. Of course, the hemming and zipper were a bit more time consuming. I barely squeezed this out of 2 metres – but I self-lined the hood, and had to do the sleeves twice; the first time, I serged off too much, and the left one was uncomfortably tight. I actually had to piece together one of the sleeves – at the wrist – but I don’t even notice it while wearing it. The only thing I’d change – make the hood a bit bigger.  My only letdown is the zipper; I couldn’t find a zipper to match the pink in a 20″ separating zipper, and so I went for a cream – which I find does make the overall hoodie look more casual than I was hoping for. Before the zipper I was pretty confident this was my first garment that really looks like higher end RTW; Separating zippers – at least in my local haunt (Dressew in downtown Vancouver) tend to be so bulky as well; I’d rather a neutral but narrow zipper than a matching one with big clunky teeth. I don’t have another fabric store with good notion selection than isn’t a half hour bus ride away, and I’m just not doing that for a zipper.

Sew U Home stretch is a good book, and I’ve enjoyed reading it. It seems so many of the sewing books coming out now are for total beginners with a toe in the DIY craft movement, and this one is no different. Except that it illustrates Bernina sergers and talks about using your coverstitch machine – neither of which I think any of her target audience would have. But aspirations are good, and I guess it looks better in print than your grandma’s old Babylock BL-4 (the little green tank… I almost bought one a while back). It has three basic patterns (a raglan – which I used;  a crew neck tshirt; a dress), and 5-6 variations for each. That’s the strength of the book – it shows you how to easily manipulate pattern necklines and such, and with no real fuss. The instructions are also well laid out and exceptionally clear.

Like the patterns she did for Simplicity, and her own RTW line, Built by Wendy’s patterns here are pretty loose and unstructured; the hoodie is apparently “streamlined for the female figure,” but I’m not really seeing that. It’s the simplest hoodie you can find, and so perfect for any fabric with directional prints. For my dream cashmere hoodie that I very much want to make this winter, I think I’ll try Hot Patterns 1058 – the Classix Nouveau Sportive Skirt Suit – which has nice princess seams, and cute side slant pockets.


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