Let me take you back to mid-December, Christmas preparations are in full swing, and I’ve given all my good present ideas for my husband Mike, to other people. Starting to panic ...
Thankfully, I remembered that one of our lovely pop up customers had bought some of our Discovery Knitting fleece-backed sweatshirting to make a Finlayson sweater for her husband. Reader, I shamelessly copied her took inspiration from her wonderful idea and set out to do the same. I was a little nervous about making a Christmas present but it was a great excuse to work with a higher-end, more expensive fabric and I loved it.
The Finlayson Sweater by Thread Theory is a boxy sweater with a squared neckline and can be made with a shawl collar or hood. There is an excellent Sew Along blog series on the Thread Theory website that really brought the instructions to life and provided some extra tips. The fleece-backed sweatshirting is very stable, with little stretch, so it was a great match for this pattern. The designer has even drafted an alternative, longer cuff piece for use with low stretch fabrics – so helpful! Not sure why she didn’t do the same for the hem band but I was able to increase the length of this piece by 13cm myself.
The fabric is tubular and once cut, measures extra wide at 176cm/69”. I kept the tube intact for pre-washing and cutting so it was really easy to keep it on grain. Also, the extra width meant I used less than 2m length, whereas a 150cm/60” fabric would require more like 2.5m.
One of the most helpful things pointed out in the Sew Along is that the overlapped collar creates quite a few layers (5!) to sew through at the centre front. I was concerned that my entry-level sewing machine wouldn’t be able to manage 5 layers of sweatshirting so I needed a lighter weight fabric for the upper collar. Mike wanted to keep the design nice and simple, so I used a similar coloured T shirt which was relatively new but couldn’t be worn anymore as the lettering had started peeling off – I suspect it had a bad experience in the tumble dryer. I also used this for the decorative facing. You might spot in the photo that when cutting out, I accidentally mixed up my under and upper collar pieces, which are slightly different sizes. I just had to fudge it!
I really enjoyed the little details on and around the decorative facing. The custom label, hanging loop (salvaged from an old hoodie drawstring) and tape made for a really special garment – exactly what you want when making a gift.
Based on Mike’s measurements, I traced the Medium size using Swedish Tracing Paper. I love using this paper as it’s very easy to pin or clip the pieces together and ‘try it on’. I was expecting to have to lengthen the sleeves and body as Mike has a relatively long back and arms but these were fine. The fit at the shoulders was good but it was only just big enough on the chest and snug on the tummy so I slashed the bodice front vertically down from the middle of the shoulder seam and spread it by 5cm. I’m sure there are much fancier ways of doing a full tummy adjustment but with such a loose fitting garment, I think I got away with it!
The final touches were made on Christmas Eve night once the kids were in bed – cutting it fine as always. I am so pleased with how it turned out – the fabric is so soft and warm, and I think the little flecks of colour elevate it from a basic navy sweater. Because of its stability, this sweatshirting could easily be used for a non-stretch woven pattern if you’re after serious snuggle factor.
I couldn’t recommend the pattern highly enough and a confident beginner could happily tackle this, particularly with the sew along blog series to hand. I have already passed it on to my cousin, who tried Mike’s sweater on and immediately decided that she had to have her own!