Thursday, March 31, 2011

Making a Sweater Coat Part 4 Cutting Fabric Patches

Yeah! I found another cashmere sweater in the pile, the lime green one!  I’m saving the dark bright blue cashmere sweater for the hood and lining.  If there’s any left over, I’ll use it for the back neck facing and the top of the front facing so it will be soft and cozy around the neck and face.

I’m cutting all of the front and back (not sleeves nor hood) pieces first, altogether because these are the largest pieces.  The sleeve and hood pieces are smaller and will be easier to cut from the scraps. 

I numbered my colors from 1 (lightest) to 8 (darkest, black).  I have two sweaters for color 4 and two for color 5, and I added the lime green sweater to the light end, which makes it color 0.  The lime green extends my color palette and gives me a little more fabric because I think I’ll need it.  That’s 12 sweaters for one coat.  Certainly, if I hadn’t shrunk them all in the wash, I would have used significantly fewer sweaters, but I like the feeling of the felted wool, and now I don’t have to worry about washing the finished coat.  It’s already pre-shrunk.

I mentally sorted my sweaters by color number, and I sorted my pattern pieces onto their numbered sweater.  This way, I could see if I had too many pattern pieces on any of the sweaters, which I certainly did.   
I moved the pieces around, looking at my sketch to check the sequences of colors, like A1, A2, A3, and A4, to make sure they progression of colors was in sequence.  I tried to keep the sequences in all gray or all blue, but sometimes they switch mid-sequence from one to the other, but not back again. That should give the columns of diamonds some unity.
I pin all of the pattern piece to each sweater before cutting. I find that I can safely cut the sleeves off of the sweaters, right along the seam, because I’d never want a patch to go over one of those seams.  The fabric is decidedly not flat at the sleeve seam, so it’s safe to cut there.  I also cut up the lateral sleeve seam to make the sleeve lie flat.  Then I pin the pattern piece to the sleeve.  When cutting my patches, I avoid the seams in the sweaters, ribbing, collars, and hems.  This way, each patch will be uniform in thickness and stretch.
Cool!  I found a little pocket on the aqua sweater.  It will go on the lower front hip.   I have to settle for some pieces being off grain, but so far, only 1 in 20, so that’s not too bad. 

As I cut the pieces, I put them into their lettered piles A, B, C, D, K, L, M, and N.   
I put the large scraps in one big pile.  I’ll use these to cut the patches for the sleeves, hood, and front facing.  I put the small scraps in another pile.  I’ll use these to test the settings on my serger sewing machine.  They’re practice scraps (I might make a pillow case out of them later; there are enough of them!).   
The itty bitty scraps get thrown away, so far, three handfuls.  Next time, I'll design and cut the hood and sleeves and add my taylors tacks...  


  1. Clearly staying organized is MOST important here. I was wondering about cutting things on the grain and am surprised you were able to accomplish this with so many pieces on the grain. But I think that with the sweaters felted that's less important than it would be if you hadn't done that, right?

  2. Sally, indeed, staying organized is important with all of these pieces, so many of which look very similar. I'm keeping the pattern pieces pinned to the fabric patches so that everything stays labeled.

    I agree with you that I think the grain is probably less important since the pieces are felted. Some of them, it's very hard to tell which way the grain goes, or even the front and back. Most of them seem pretty similarly stretchy in every direction. In any case, I'm trying to cut on grain when I can, since it couldn't hurt. The main reason that I can cut most of my pieces on grain is that they're small enough to fit on the sweaters.


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