Sweatshirts: Hacked Skipper Pattern

This project was so nice, I made it thrice! A while back, I sewed three sweatshirts, and had a lot of fun – and good luck- with doing so. Never mind that this was the project I was working on when my serger broke. I was literally at the final step of sweatshirt number 3 when it decided: “You know what? I could also just… ~not~ work” . Yet, considering the fact that by then I had already finished 2.9 projects in a row, it wasn’t too bad!

Most of my sewing projects start with the concept of what I want to make, then I find a suitable pattern and then fabric. I don’t often use the fabric as the starting point, but that is exactly what happened with these sweatshirts. You see, the fabric I made these tops with are some of the oldest pieces of stash fabric I have (not counting inherited or second hand fabric). I bought them together at the start of my sewing life, way back in 2014-ish, a time when everyone was making sweatshirts (specifically, the Linden sweatshirt from Grainline Studio). I thought it would be a good introduction into learning how to sew with knits so I decided I too wanted to try it. As you will have gathered from this, that did not in fact happen. Lately though, as with my yarn scraps and stash, I have been making more of an effort to use up some of these fabrics that have been in my stash for such a long time.

In the years that it’s been lingering in my stash I identified some of the reasons why I just wasn’t working with it. One of the reasons is that the background colours of the fabric don’t actually appeal to me that much. The light and pale grey isn’t a colour that works terribly well in my wardrobe and I don’t think it suits me that much. Additionally, at that point of my sewing development I was very much into prints, both in what I sewed with and what I wore in retail wear, now though, I’m much less of a print wearing person. I’ve not banned them from my wardrobe completely, but I’m definitely more picky in my choices.

The most important reason why it just didn’t get made at the start of my sewing life is that I’m just not an everyday sweatshirt type of wearer. I certainly wasn’t at the time, I didn’t even own a single sweatshirt! Now sometimes sewing something that you don’t have serves to fill a gap in your wardrobe that you didn’t even know you had, buuuut other times there is good reason why it’s not there. At the time I was a fledgling sewist and Linden was on everyone’s blog and I possible got swept in by their enthusiasm. All of this is discovering your own preferences, which is as much part of the learning process that is making your own clothes as learning the techniques is. It’s also a never ending learning process, as style changes over the years. Now that, my friends, is Chekov’s gun right there.

Recently I realised something has changed from the time that I first brought these fabric pieces home. I now do wear sweatshirts, on an almost daily basis even… I still don’t wear them in my everyday wear, but I wear them over my pyjamas as I get up, and in the colder seasons I keep them on to sleep in. I also wear them on sick days, or whenever there’s another reason to keep pottering around in my pyjama’s… I mean, you get the gist. For the past few years I’ve been using two RTW sweatshirts for that, but they have been getting a bit ratty over time of use and I have needed to mend them here and there. I still wear them, but it won’t hurt to have some extra into the mix to give them a bit of a break in between wears.

I briefly looked at the Linden sweatshirt, mostly because I would have a good laugh at myself if I made that very shirt after all these years. I quickly scrapped that idea though. Linden is drafted to be a smarter version of a sweatshirt, but that is not the kind of thing that I was after. I decided that I had the best chance of it being a wardrobe success as it resembled the sweatshirts I was already wearing; oversized, long sweatshirts that prioritize cosiness over flattering. I considered just tracing one of my RTW shirts and work from that but then I compared them to the Skipper Sweatshirt from Seamwork (the only other sweatshirt pattern I knew the existence of) and it matched well enough, particularly in neckline and sleeve inset, to use as a starting point.

After taping and tracing the Skipper pattern I compared it with my rtw shirt and found that the neckline and shoulders where pretty much identical, sleeves where equally pretty spot on so that was really good as it meant I didn’t have to thinker with the main framework of the shirt. I did make some other mods to make it match what I wanted better.

First up, I added length to the sweatshirt, I just added some at the shortening/lengthening lines on the pattern. I cut the pattern piece open there and stuck in a piece of paper of the length I wanted to add. I only increased the length with 4 cm on body, which was less than I expected to need, judging from the project photos of other makers (this tells me that most sewists, as well as the seamwork model of this project, are taller than I am!).

Another change was to make the body slightly more a-line shaped and flare it out a bit. Both body pieces are cut on the fold, with the neckline having a lower cut on the front piece, than on the back piece. To not mess with the armhole shape, or make the neckline wider I added the with at the fold by placing the pattern pieces slightly at an angle, adding a really slim triangle of fabric at the fold. The width added at the neckline was 0, whereas at the hem (it’s widest point) it added up to 3 cm per half, so 6 per body piece. If you do something similar you should keep in mind that you’ll need to add this increased width at the hem band as well!

My final mod to the pattern was to add a kangaroo pocket. This was not a feature I had on the RTW, but just thought might be a nice thing to add. I looked at a couple of RTW sweatshirts online to decide on the shape and proportions that I wanted the pocket to have. I decided I wanted mine to be big! There were practical reasons, but I also prefer the looks of it. I drafted the pocket piece myself, and stitched the sides and top of the pocket on the front piece before starting the first step in the pattern. The bottom seam of the pocket is sewn shut when attaching the hem band for a clean finish.

I first cut the pieces and finished sewing the first sweatshirt (with the blueish/green triangles) to see how the changes to the pattern would pan out and ultimately was so chuffed with the end result that I immediately batch cut the same sweatshirts out of the two other fabrics and sewed those up as well.

The fabric for the sweatshirts with the green/blue triangles and the red/pink selection of triangles is the same French Terry fabric. It’s a more supple jersey fabric, and incredibly soft on the inside because of the loops on the wrong side of the fabric creating a soft plush texture. I used the same fabric for the neckband, cuffs and hem band as for the main fabric. The other fabric, with the rain clouds, is more of a traditional sweatshirt fabric. It’s more heavyweight, lacks the soft plush insides and also a bit stiffer. I used a black contrasting rib fabric I had in my stash for the cuffs, hem and finishing. This rib piece has a lot more stretch than the self fabric, so I did shorten the neck and hem band a bit to get them to look nice and flat. I think the contrasting ribbing gives it a bit more of a professional look. I also think the black accents on that sweater, with the ribbing and the clouds, makes it suit me a bit better in terms of colours nearest to my face, but I’m pleased with and have been wearing all three of them already.

Note on fabric amount: I was able to get an entire sweatshirt, including the changes and the pockets pieces out of 1.5 meter (by 150 cm width) which is less than the pattern states. I even have some fabric left of all of them, though obviously, more of the rain cloud fabric where I used contrast fabrics than of the other two.

I sewed all these entirely on my serger, except for attaching the upper side of the kangaroo pocket. They are exceptionally fast to sew as you sew and finish the seams in one go. It’s one of those projects that you could see through from start to finish in one sewing session, if so inclined. I think if you are in a bit of a sewing rut, or had some projects that didn’t quite work out, this could be a very rewarding project to make to get things going again.

I’m happy with how these turned out and mega chuffed that the changes and mods I made to the pattern pretty much made it turn out exactly as I wanted it to. It’s not the most show stopping thing I ever made, and I won’t wear them out a lot out as I’m doing in these photos, but that never was the purpose I made them for anyway. They are nice, cosy garments and I will wear them a bunch, probably daily once the summer is over. That alone makes them probably some of the most rewarding things I ever made.

This won’t be the last of my sweatshirt sewing escapades as they have been such a household hit that my partner has asked for one as well. So I’m going to to that soonish too (cannot wait to deliriously laugh at how much faster it will be finished than any of the gift knitting I ever did). I will be using another pattern for that, but I have the fabric at hand already so I think I will start on that as a honorary first project once my serger is up and running again.

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