Heavens! It has been almost exactly a month since I last blogged. March came in like a lion and despite the arrival of lambs, it did not go out like a lamb. It raged and roared all month long and it proved a tough 31 days to get through! Now as the Easter weekend is with us, the daffodils are finally beginning to flower and we have actually had two or three dry, sunny if cold days. On one of those unexpectedly nice days we finally had a long overdue photoshoot so that I could finally prepare for the launch of several patterns. One of those is my Land Army Jumper.
I’ve teamed the jumper here with my reproduction land army dungarees from Apple Tree Lane Costumery which I absolutely love. I wear them regularly for farm ‘duties’. They are comfortable, warm and very practical. I opted for a ready made pair rather than custom made but now I have this pair and understand where I may need little fitting tweeks, I may very well get a second pair made to measure.
The completed pattern for the Land Army Jumper should be available in a few days time but as part of the Finish A Long on my ravelry group I promised to share some of the details of the finishing techniques involved in sewing up a jumper knitted in flat pieces.
The Land Army Jumper has four pieces. The back, front and two identical sleeves. Because it is a cable and rib pattern there is no need to press the pieces before starting to sew up. In fact you would flatten out the pattern if you did so.
The first step in the finishing process is to sew together the shoulder seams. The shoulder shaping in this pattern is created by casting off a percentage of the shoulder stitches at the beginning of each of the next 8 rows creating a sloping cast off edge going downwards from the back neck to the armhole edge. By creating the seam in this way small ‘steps’ occur along the length of the shoulder seam. There are a number of alternative ways to approach the shoulders but for today I am going to simply look at sewing together this type of stepped shoulder.
On this particular pattern, one of the things to look out for is the obvious pattern of knit stitches and purl stitches. It is essential when joining the front and back pieces together that the knit stitches are matched to each other and the same with the purl stitches. No matter how neatly you may sew up the seam if the stitches are out of line the shoulder will look unsightly. In the first instance I always pin the seams with right sides together so that I can adjust until everything is lined up correctly. Most importantly for a neat seam is to create a smooth diagonal sewing line – DO NOT follow the contours of the steps. If you are in anyway unsure about your sewing abilities sew a line of running stitches along this line using sewing thread and fairly large, easily removable stitches. Remove the pins as you go. Now you can follow this nice, straight line when you sew up properly. For a garment of this weight I would always use the same yarn as I knitted with. I cut a length of the yarn sufficient to complete the entire seam and thread it through a ‘sewing up’ needle.
I have a whole host of sewing up needles of different lengths and eye sizes, some sharp and some more blunt. I have one or two favourites however which I use for most sewing tasks. One of the most important things to remember when sewing through your knitted pieces is not to sew through the stitches. ALWAYS take the needle between stitches. If for any reason you have ever had to take sewing up out after breaking through any stitches you will know how dreadful a task this can be! This applies regardless of what stitch or technique you are using.
For shoulder seams of this type I would always use back stitch. It creates a very strong seam which gives the rest of the garment strength and structure. As a rule I start at the back neck edge and work downwards towards the armhole. Leave a length at the beginning to reinforce the first couple of stitches. Start by working a couple of stitches in the same position then remembering to follow a straight diagonal line, begin to work your way along the shoulder.
Take your needle down through both layers of knitting between the stitches and come back up one stitch along. Pass your needle back down through the work half a stitch back, and come up half a stitch ahead. Continue in this manner all the way along the seam. Reinforce at the end in the same way as at the beginning then weave the end in back through 2 or 3 stitches before cutting off. Rethread your needle to the length left at the beginning and weave this end through 2 or 3 stitches then cut off.
And voila, your shoulder is complete. Now follow the same process for the second shoulder. Our next step is picking up stitches around the neck which I will take you through in a couple of days time.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will spot similarities between this jumper and ‘The Warm Jumper’ in A Stitch in Time volume 2 and indeed the Land Army Jumper is based on this, with a different cable pattern and some tweeks to the fit, construction and number of sizes available, but I’ll have more on this when I publish the pattern shortly. We had an absolutely fantastic time on the photoshoot for this jumper and got so so many beautiful photographs that its going to be hard to choose just a few for the pattern pages. In addition we had ‘publicity’ photos of the two of us on the farm done and I just wanted to share this photo from the shoot with you. Here’s me and Gavin having a chat over the farm gate during the shoot with me in my Land Army jumper and Gavin in his Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover. This photo just makes me so happy!
‘sew’ for now
All images Copyright ©Susan Crawford Vintage 2015