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cozy raglan sweater, sort of, finally

black wool raglan (2)

Happy new year! A little belated, but I’m wearing my new (store-bought) sparkly skirt in honor of 2016! I think it will be a good one. I hope you all had a lovely holiday celebration, and rest and good company and good food. But don’t be distracted by the sparkles – it’s actually the black sweater we’re here to look at!

Fabric: 1 m black wool terry
Pattern: Raglan t-shirt, Design #4 in Ottobre magazine 5/2013. I cut a size 38.
Techniques: bias binding, understitching, overlocking.

black wool raglan (8)

First off, pictures of this project is inspired (again) by Gillian’s newest post for better pictures, on taking indoor pictures. It is cold outside, even on my veranda, so getting good indoor pictures until it warms up would be nice! The main tip I took from this post was to find a spot perpendicular to the light source. This means however that my stuff is all visible in the background. Paired with the fact that even at two pm the light is fading here, I opted to use the aperture priority setting with a small aperture (f 1.8) that would let in the most light, and blur out the background the most. I don’t know if this affected the autofocus, of if it was where in the frame I was standing, or my sweater being black, but I’ve never had to delete so many totally out of focus pictures! This was a hard one for my camera, poor thing.

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black wool raglan (3)

This fabric is crazy cosy. I got a metre of this stuff at a school where I taught sewing as a substitute teacher this spring, and it’s from a local factory that produces wool clothing. I really like the slight horizontal striations, it gives what is really just black jersey a little bit of texture. The fiber is pure wool, and I would call it a terry – it has all those little loops on the backside,  so it’s super toasty! I knew right away that it would turn into a casual Grainline Linden-like sweater. (Or, as I like to put it, the fabric told me what kind of garment it wanted to be!)

I like to be able to use patterns from my stash when possible, so while I don’t have a huge stash, but I did find a raglan top in an Ottobre magazine that I chose to use. The pattern, #4 in the autumn/winter 5/2013 issue, is really a t-shirt pattern, so I knew I needed to make a couple of changes to get the casual sweater fit I wanted. For one, I had to add my own cuffs, hem and neckline bands, and I decided to size up to get a roomier fit than the t-shirt was intended for. Also, the pattern had a dart at the shoulder for shaping, which I didn’t want, so I slashed and spread. I messed this bit up. I ended up adding length at the front between the armpit and shoulder – length that wasn’t appropriate to add, and got a funnelneck thing going on! Not good. I unpicked, overlapped, and trimmed the neckline down, and that helped. I could not get the neckband to look decent though, so I finally just attached it as a binding instead. I eased the shoulders in especially during this step, which also helped, but I can see the binding makes the neckline a little bulky, and it still wants to stick up a little bit. I have the same thing happening on my ikat Hemlock dress – I’m thinking binding in a lighter weight jersey like on my recent Bettine dress is a good solution. Oh, and also note the little piece of ribbon I put in. It’s mainly meant to help me quickly tell the front from the back, but I also think it’s a nice little touch!

black wool raglan (1)

black wool raglan (4)

Take notice of my face in the picture above – it’s my “seriously camera, will you focus and take a picture now, if I move a little to the left?”-look. But it also shows the back raglan sleeve, which I think has a nice line (nicer than the front, but that’s mainly my fault). While I was making this I was not really pleased with how the sweater was looking. I thought the sleeves were too slim, the neckline and shoulder fit was a mess, and the sleeves were really long after adding cuffs rather than folding and hemming them. And don’t I actually look better in dropped shoulder styles rather than raglan? The width of the hem band was due to how much fabric I had left, and it doesn’t look entirely proportionate in my eyes. The fabric isn’t the stretchiest, so cutting the cuffs and hem band from a narrower width of self fabric is only partly successful. I mean, it works, but not super well. For example – I can’t pull the sleeves up more than 2 inches above my wrist – the cuff is then stretched to its maximum! Oh well.

For all my hesitations and second-rate solutions I have ended up with a perfectly wearable and undeniably cozy sweater. I actually like slim sleeves; the extra length is something I really love in sweaters; and the neckline would probably look a little constricting with the added band, as was the original plan. It’s not perfect, and this post certainly contains a fair amount of what Karen cleverly dubs ablogogising (oh how I enjoy Karen’s writing!) – pointing out the errors in my make. But, it is cozy and warm. And I’ve worn it for three straight days. Let’s call it reluctantly, eventually, finally a success, shall we?

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  • I took indoor photos today and had trouble getting autofocus to work too! I wonder why that is? If you figure out anything to make it more reliable, let me know! Your apartment looks lovely – I always like getting a peek at where people live!

    For all your ablogogising, I’m glad the sweater is getting worn lots! Looks great!

    • Oh how strange! But ok, it’s not just me. I think the lighting situation makes it more difficult – I feel like the auto-focus struggles in low light, low contrast and backlit situations. Also, my remote control isn’t currently working, and the timer setting seemed to struggle more than the remote control. I’ve noticed the portrait setting locks the focus point in the dead center, which is rarely where I need the focus to be! That’s why I went manual, so I could alter the focus point – how well that turned out for me, haha!

      Thanks, I really like the space I’m in right now! The ceiling height is really good, and I’ve been able to fill the rooms with my colors, so it feels nice and personal. :)

  • I love this garment! Good French terry is so hard to find, and I love how neat and classic yours is, including the ribbon tag!

    • I was trying for that holy grail of comfortable and flattering without looking too dated one way or the other (trendy can end up looking old real fast). It’s funny how the combination of things like sleeve length, width of bands, amount of ease and width of necklines can end up looking decidedly 1993 or 2015, or some other year! So thank you, Elle!

  • Lovely garment and nicely photographed – black is the most difficult indoors so there turned out great!

    • I think this photoshoot had the higest ratio of usable vs. horrible pictures, including the light falling on the black sweater in the right way, haha! Thank you Katie. :)

  • Donna

    Indoor pictures are definitely a challenge! But this of time, it’s difficult to get motivated to go outside unless you’re in a Wookie costume! Sweater success – comfy and classic – it looks perfect :)

    • Haha, Wookie costume! 😀 Thank you so much Donna!

  • Great job on the photos. They look good and black is always hard to photograph, even in the best light. I love the sweatshirt too. It looks so cosy!

    • I’m wearing it again right now – perfect for a lazy Saturday! :) I was happy I had some pictures that turned out, but I had to make sure I was actually standing in the light from the window so the sweater wouldn’t be both black and in the shadows! :)

  • Yay for cozy sweaters! I actually like how the neckband sticks up a bit, and your indoor pics turned out really nicely. Love the sparkly skirt, too!

  • Wool terry! How lovely. Looks great and I adore your sparkly skirt – must make one myself!

    • Thank you Sarah! It is cozy – like a piece of my winter survival kit! Oh, and you absolutely must make a sparkly skirt. It puts you in a good mood wearing one!