Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Bowline & Linden Sweatshirt Projects

I ve been home with a slipped disc in my back for the last month and really shouldn't be sewing - sitting for long periods in the evening isn't good. So wanting only to wear cosy clothes and wanting quick projects that would provide a distraction for half an hour each evening, I decided to crack on with some sweatshirts.

First up the Linden.  I was tempted not to buy this pattern- I have a few raglan style patterns I could hack and frankly I find it expensive for what it is, but with so many Insta-sewers obsessed with it, in the end I thought I should give it a go- there must be some magic in it?!

So the good news- its super quick - I think I can make one in 1.5 to 2 hours- so sticking to my self imposed 30min sewing limit per day, I completed one in 4 days.  But I  have to say it.  Underwhelmed.  Its just a raglan and not a very well fitting one at that for me at least- I found the neckline way to wide (everything you wear under it shows) so I had to alter that.  I found you therefore needed to draft your own neck  facing too.  And for me,  I added more shape to the bodice.  I love the end product, but with hindsight could have saved a lot of money and hacked one from a raglan t-shirt pattern I have.  I have no issue in spending £10-£20 on a good indie pattern where I need good instructions and very well cut pattern pieces- the Closet Case Clare Coat/Ginger Jeans or Tilly Rosa Dress for example- but when a pattern is this simple, with limited variation, I struggle with it being retailed at £16 for the printed pattern.  Am I alone and do I sound very cheap saying this?!

But that Liberty fleece makes me smile every time I look at it.  Given its nearly £40 per metre, I bought half a metre (god I am starting to sound tight!!) and used it for front, back & cuffs- using a contrasting navy in between.   My second one was another Liberty fleece- this time off eBay and I had enough to do the whole thing- but I still chose a contrast as I liked the accent.

For my second one, I was aiming for a look a bit more like the Toaster sweater (after feeling like I spend to much on the Linden pattern I didn't want to buy another one when I thought I could get close to it from hacking the Linden ;) ).

I squared off the sides & bottom band (so bottom band is the same width as the bodice pieces) and same for the cuffs.  I made the cuff and bottom band much thinner and then I added a funnel neck - I used the altered Linden with higher neck, measured the neck line and cut the funnel neck -20% of that size.  Its just a rectangular piece double the height I wanted the neck to be and I added it as you would a neck band.  I really LOVE this version. It feels more cosy and more stylish at the same time.

So after these two, I gave the Bowline a go.  I bought this when it came out as I love the neck and obviously you need a pattern for this as I wouldn't know where to start (even with a pattern it is still a bit of a mystery how it works).  So good news, it actually is still a really quick sew!!  I thought it may be complicated - and well that neck takes some getting your head around, but once you get it, its also quick to make.

I discovered the most important thing with this is the fabric choice.  I trawled Instagram looking at other versions and found that some, in a lightweight jersey didn't hang in shape.  I loved  Rachel's version.    I would say you need something heavy enough and with not too much stretch so it will hold its shape (you also want something that will withstand a good hot iron for the press) but nothing too heavy as the steps and the bulk around the neck would get very difficult with say a sweatshirt.  I used a boiled wool I bought from Fabworks and actually it turned out to be a good choice.

Here is what the pieces looks like:
You sew a dart & fold at A & B respectively, then you fold the whole thing together into a 'burrito roll' and sew them together...

It look totally wrong.  Now you see why this would be tricky with a heavyweight fabric?!  

So it was all going swimmingly until I hit 2 related issues.  My first clue was that the sleeve didn't match up, I ended up with a huge amount of excess on one side...

And the neck didn't lie flat.

Cue unpicking.  I had misunderstood the instructions on how much overlap there should be on the neck joining the back piece.  Well I m still not sure exactly what the instructions want you to do, but I basically fitted the final piece together from bottom up- so sorted out the under arm meeting first, then basically judged the overlap of the pleat to what looked right on.  In the end I had to attach it at a really odd angle for it to look straight, cutting off a big triangle...  could be I stretched it so much working on it that the fabric had gotten out of shape.

But anyway, that sorted it, phew!!  I had one more adjustment.  I found it really hung down at the front (maybe made for someone with much larger assets than mine!) so i straightened that off before I added the bottom band.

And here it is finished.  You need a really good press to get the shoulder bit looking sharp.  The other top tip (not in the instructions) is don't overlock the steps associated with the neck fold ( that makes them too heavy) and do trim back the seam allowances at each stage- I found at first a lot of bulking in the pleat as I had excess seam allowance (and some overkeen overlocking) on the inside that was causing bulk, so I flipped it back inside out & trimmed it right back).

Nice isn't it?  This is a pattern worth buying and a nice skill stretch (you actually need to engage brain to work out the steps around the neck).  Its not rocket science- don't be put off, but you do need the instructions and the online sew along on the Papercut website was super helpful.

Ok I m now sorted for cosy clothes.  Off to make a skirt to match the Bowline next.
Messy Essy Makes


  1. No, you are not alone in thinking £16 is a lot to pay for a simple pattern and I'm grateful for your honest review. Love that Liberty fleece by the way, especially the floral one - I didn't even know there was such a thing!

    1. Thanks for your comment, I can highly recommend liberty fleece- you can get it direct from their store but can often find good deals on eBay!

  2. I know what you mean about the price of the Linden - I bought mine when there was a discount sale on Grainline patterns. I know what you mean about the neckline being quite wide - did you just lengthen the raglan and front / back bodice by a few centimetres to get a higher neckline?

    1. Glad I m not alone!!! On th first one (already cut) I just tapered in all the seams or the top 10cm which brought it all up and in a bit. On my second one I extended the pieces up and tapered in.

  3. Sorry to hear about your back, hope it mends soon. Super jumpers, that fleece is gorgeous! I've not brought Linden as it looks a shapeless for me but the Bowline intrigues me, it looks great on.

    1. Thanks Lynsey Jane for your thoughts and kind words. I can recommend the bowline

  4. These are both lovely. I haven't heard of the Bowline before but am off to check it out now as it's gorgeous, but unusual. Like you I already have a raglan pattern, the Sew U Home Stretch raglan sweater (which I love!) so I wouldn't buy the Linden anyway but I have noticed the Linden neckline is a bit wider than I'd choose to have it.