Welcome back everyone to A Beginner Sews! After a crazy few weeks at the studio, amidst lockdown and flooding and just about everything else you could imagine, I have emerged the proud maker and owner of my very own Jarrah sweater. So read along to hear all about the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of this instalment of the Beginner Sews series.
This all began when I saw this kelly green terry cotton on The Fabric Store. Something about that jewel-like green scratched a very specific itch in my brain, and when I saw that it was on sale, I knew I had to snap it up. I’m very pleased to announce that this colour was everything I’d hoped for, and that I have enough left over to make a matching bucket hat/pair of lounge shorts/honestly anything because this fabric is stunning.
Next on my shopping list was some of the organic cotton ribbing we have in our studio. I decided to dye the ribbing myself (more on that later), so plain white ribbing was perfect. I also dived into my box of embroidery threads to add a little embellishment to the collar of the jumper. I did this before adding the ribbing to the neckline, cuffs, and hem, and would probably advise using a bit of fabric stabiliser or fusible interfacing. Since my fabric wasn’t too stretchy, I was able to get away with leaving it unstabilised (but am probably going to add a fused backing to seal the backside anyway!).
Now, onto the construction. If you’re a confident beginner/intermediate sewist like I have become, then this will be the easy part. You can use an overlocker like I did, or a zig zag stitch to sew and finish your raw edges at the same time. Piecing together the garment like this makes for a quick sew, and if you were making the Jarrah without the ribbing pieces it could definitely be a one-day project.
Now, here’s where things go pear-shaped. Not the make itself, but literally everything else—Perth goes into a snap lockdown, all whilst facing absolutely torrential stormy weather. Faced with lockdown at my mum and dad’s, I was very grateful to have a sewing project to take my mind off things. Over on the blog, Meg joined the amazing team at The Skill Collective to share lessons and tips in crafting moments of mindfulness. I think as a maker and sewist, it can be easy to want to push through the process of making something and have it whipped up as quickly as possible—after all, you want to see the product of your labour! But I took my time with this Jarrah; I made sure to enjoy each embroidered stitch I added to the collar, mapped out my design with care, ensured that the ribbing pieces were cut evenly, pressed the garment regularly and thoroughly. It was a very intentional make, and I’m very glad I had it (and a Lord of The Rings marathon) to keep me company throughout lockdown.
Okay, onto dying the ribbing pieces. I wasn’t too particular with matching the kelly-green shade of the fabric, I just wanted in the realm of cool-tone green. Well, the teal dye didn’t seem to take for whatever reason, so the ribbing pieces came out a much warmer, brighter green than I had intended—but I’m not mad at it! I think it’s a cute little contrast. What I am mad at is the fact that whatever teal dye didn’t rinse out in the first wash all rinsed out when I washed my finished Jarrah make for the first time, staining everything else in the wash in the process. A good part of my wardrobe now has a lovely green tint to it, as does some of the embroidery on my Jarrah. It’s a pain, but it isn’t the end of the world; after all, green is one of my favourite colours.
Back to the Jarrah make. Adding the cotton ribbing was easy enough; my advice is to go slow and take your time pinning the ribbing onto the raw edges. I redid my pinning three or so times before I was happy that the neckband was properly aligned and eased onto the unfinished neckline. The ribbing pieces are always going to be smaller than the raw edges of the garment, so making sure they’re eased on evenly is key! It’s also very helpful to align the seams of both your ribbing pieces and the sweater, along with the notches on the pattern. Again, going slow is the key. I don’t have an overlocker at home, so instead I used a straight stitch to attach the pieces and a zig-zag stitch to finish the raw edges. Hey presto, my Jarrah was done!
I’m so, so proud of my Jarrah, even with the dye stains and little quirks. This project got me back into embroidery and gave me some much-needed peace amidst what was a really stressful week. I definitely see more Jarrahs in my future, and already to have plans to make myself a matching loungewear set using Jarrah and another one of our patterns (stay tuned!).