Blue Sunday Bertha

It’s been a week since I made the Billie jumper dress in the cable knit, and since then I had decided with my Mum’s input to order some of the blue cable knit to make a cardigan to go with the Grace dress for those summer evenings where it starts to feel a bit chilly. I’m definitely dreaming of summer – can you tell?

As always, Textile Express were great with their service, and I received the blue addition to my collection in the middle of the week. It’s a really gorgeous colour, but hard to describe the shade; I’d perhaps call it dusky in tone. I couldn’t wait to get making something with it.

I’d settled on making the Bertha Cardigan from the TATB Make It Simple book, just as something easy to have a go at from those patterns, but also because I’m a little bit obsessed with making cuffs and hem bands with this knit fabric. No matter what you do with it, it just looks stunning and I knew this cardigan pattern wouldn’t let me down.

Saturday Prep

On Saturday afternoon, I decided I would get some patterns traced. Bertha was the first one on the list, but I noticed that on the same page are some pattern pieces for the Olive pinafore which is also on my list to make soon. As I had everything set up and a clear dining table, I thought I might as well trace both patterns and at least then I’m ready when I have ordered some snaps for the pinafore.

I reviewed the measurements and fit for the Bertha, and in this one I opted for an all over size 3 (UK size 10), given that it doesn’t do up and is very relaxed in style. This did then make tracing the pattern a lot easier than the Pinafore, which I’ve graded ever so slightly at the hip again. With both patterns primed and ready, I knew then that I could crack on with Bertha on the Sunday, or at least get the pieces cut ready for some mid week sewing.

Blue Sunday

Sunday felt blue in more ways than one. I had been woken up early by the cats wanting an early breakfast, so decided I might as well concede and go and give the pair of them what they wanted. Whether it was this, the cold weather, or just lockdown in general I don’t know, but I felt really low in mood all morning. I couldn’t settle to anything, and found myself looking for housework to do. At that point, I knew what I needed – some sewing therapy!

I was going to make a start on my Billie dress in Pink, but I tried on my mint green one and decided I wanted to grade it to a smaller size at the top of the bodice and sleeves, so I had to retrace part of the pattern and cut it down. It didn’t take long at all, but then the thought of tackling something big like that didn’t appeal, so I knew the best option would be to make a start on the Blue Bertha.

It was really simple to cut out compared to Billie as the pattern pieces are a lot smaller (meaning lighter in weight too in this cable knit!). I still have around 1/2 a metre left to try and do something with. The fluff volume was somehow still on par with the green though!

Not ‘sew’ sad

I still find cutting out pattern pieces the worst part, but as soon as I’d done that and sat down to make a start, I felt instantly lighter. I don’t know what it is about sewing; maybe it’s just that it is a distraction from what is going on in the world right now. I even had a matching Gutterman thread in my stash which was also a great mood booster (I think duff thread would have led to the machine going out of the window!). I put on a Spotify playlist and cracked on.

I’d decided that after the mint green Billie, I would take the time to “overlock” the seams as I went before cutting them down. I found that my Janome Sewist has a great stitch for finishing knit edges (G) so I stitched my seams with the narrow zig zag, and then stitched alongside this with the knit edge stitch. I should point out here that I intended to use some general rubbish polyester thread for the edge stitch in a navy blue, so I could see it enough to trim the seams down after I had stitched them. I had a couple of mini disasters at this point though, but in doing so realised that all of my past problems with skipped stitches weren’t due to my awful ability to sew – it was the stupid thread!

Problem 1: I found a navy polyester and a navy in a bobbin which looked like it matched. Only when I started sewing did I realise that the navy in the bobbin was a Gutterman thread and didn’t match at all. User error!

Problem 2: After winding a new bobbin with matching polyester thread, I tried the edge stitch only to keep snapping the top thread. Definitely not user error but poor quality thread and, in identifying problem 1, I realised just how beautiful the Gutterman is in comparison. It’s really strong and about half the weight of the polyester and as I’ve mentioned before, is like sewing through actual butter!

I opted for a double Gutterman and the edge stitch (G) and bingo! I was whizzing through finishing the seams, trimming afterwards and pressing them so that overall it looked like it could have been over-locked. Who needs an overlocker anyway?!

Under construction

Bertha is a really simple make. The sleeves join to the back bodice, and then the front bodice joins the sleeves. Follow that with a nice single stitch from the end of the sleeve to the base of the bodice, and then you’re into band territory – hem band, neckband and my all time favourite cuffs.

All in all, I think it took me around 3 hours in total, but this was including finishing the seams, trimming and pressing. I generally took more care and time on it as although it was a quick and easy make, I wanted it to look professional. Apart from the thread bloopers which will never be repeated as I am now a complete Gutterman convert (if I wasn’t already), there’s nothing I’d change on this one at all. Ok, well maybe I’d read the instructions in more detail to make sure I pressed the seams in the right direction, but no one will see those and the weight of the cable knit hides all!

My plan this week is to make some more masks, and then to move onto my Pink Billie sweatshirt dress. Here’s to a less blue Monday and rest of the week as we head into February!

Happy sewing

Em x

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