Oslo [Cardigan] For the Weekend


The Pattern:

The Oslo Cardigan from Seamwork Issue 1 is a long and loose cardigan intended for sweater knits of various weights. It has a shawl collar, wide cuffs, and optional front buttons. There is slight shaping at the waist, but overall the cardigan has a lot of ease. It is ideal as a layering garment. If you subscribe to Seamwork Magazine, you can download Oslo for one pattern credit. If you don’t subscribe, you can still buy the pattern for $12.

The Seamwork patterns are designed to be relatively quick weekend projects and this is the first time that I have come close to the estimated seamwork pattern construction time. Not having to do a lot of fitting was a big time saver. (Yay knits!) I made this in a size small based on my hip measurements and I’m satisfied with the fit.

The instructions were clear and the illustrations made it easy to follow, with the exception of the cuff attachment. I’m still not sure if that confusion was because I was working late or if the illustrations were too similar. I sewed all seams with a serger, except for the hem which required a double needle on my regular machine.

The Fabric:

I was dazzled by the slight sparkles in this heathered-mauve lightweight sweater knit and originally planned to make it into a Mesa dress (also a Seamwork pattern), but after handling it I knew it would not have enough structure for a fitted Mesa dress. My next idea was a drapey Christmas cardigan to wear over black leggings. (The timing of that didn’t happen, but it is done one month later!)

It is a cozy sweater knit. It is like a lightweight french terry, with looped yarns on the wrong side. The fabric provides some warmth, but in drafty rooms it isn’t enough on its own.

I have concerns about the longevity of the fabric, which characterizes my feelings about the last 3 knit fabrics I bought from Joanns. On it’s first day in the world a piece of velcro caught the sleeve and pulled a yarn with very minimal force. Time will tell.

How it wears:

Using a lightweight sweater knit lets this drape and float around me. I don’t feel lost in the fabric. If I had been working with a heavier knit, I may have opted for a more fitted finished garment that could function more like a sweater coat.

So far I’ve worn it with semi-fitted and slim-fitting casual pants (cords and olive colored jeans), a fitted knit tee shirt and a lightweight boxy sleeveless blouse. I don’t think I should wear it with garments that are more voluminous than the cardigan. But I’ll experiment. I think it will also look great over fitted dresses and some airy skirts.

I mostly picture myself wearing this curled up on the couch with warm socks and pj pants or leggings, coffee and book or iPhone in hand. But the sparkling threads in the fabric insist this cardigan needs to go out into the world as well. It easily goes from home to work without much effort.

The shawl collar mostly stays folded behind my neck. The dropped shoulders give me a lot of room for movement and because it is lightweight knit fabric, the extra fabric folds don’t impede me. Seeing it from the back reaffirms my decision to choose the pattern size based on my hips instead of bust measurements. There is no awkward tightness around the hips and butt and no bunching at my lower back.

Low-Waste Fabric Cutting and Pattern Modifications:

I bought a yard and a half of fabric. It was an impulse purchase and I didn’t really know what I would make with the fabric. The amount of fabric recommended for a size small (which I made) is 2 3/8 to 2 3/4  yards (depending on your width of fabric). By all accounts I was one yard short. I knew I could probably fit the pattern pieces together like a puzzle. I was also motivated by what I’ve learned from “Zero-Waste Fashion Design” – that nearly 6 billion yards of fabric are wasted during the garment manufacturing process. Put another way, 15% of the fabric is “scrap” when you cut out a pattern. Many of use save the larger scraps for smaller projects, but there are always those really small “unusable” pieces.

I am committed to being mindful of my sewing sustainability in 2017 and I challenged myself not just to fit all the pattern pieces on the available fabric, but produce a very small amount of “unusable” fabric scraps in the cutting process. I know that pattern designers (indie and commercial) are not out to waste fabric. But the priority is the pattern pieces, and then you figure out how much fabric one needs to complete that garment. I look at the pattern layouts and see a lot of negative space, a lot of unused fabric. I used to over estimate, out of fear that I would mess up. This has left me with a stash full of scraps.

First I cut out the front, back, and sleeve. I placed those on the fabric to see what space I had left. Only one pattern piece required modification in order to fit on the cutting table, the shawl collar. I didn’t really like the super wide collar to begin with, so I was happy to lose some of its width. If you want to make a double breast coat-cardigan, then you should probably retain the pattern as it is designed. I played around with a couple options, and ultimately decided to reduce the width by 4.5 inches (the piece is folded in half, so in the final form, the collar is 2.25 inches thinner).

It all fits!

As you can see, I placed the pattern pieces as close to the edge of the fabric as I could, while still maintaining the proper grainline alignment.

My rotary cutter was the MVP with pattern pieces this close together. In the end, I didn’t even waste that much fabric.

L-R: Cut pattern pieces, fabric scraps that are still useable, fabric waste that is unusable (except maybe as stuffing for a plush)

Considering that I am working with a whole yard less than recommended and I still have enough fabric leftover for some fun scrap projects, I feel very proud of myself.

Now, what do do with the extra fabric? Maybe I’ll add some pockets to my cardigan or a belt.

Question for you: How do you use up your fabric scraps??



10 thoughts on “Oslo [Cardigan] For the Weekend

  1. Thanks for writing about your process for making less waste! I’ve always wondered how zero-waste is supposed to translate into modren clothing that has curved lines which don’t naturally nest with each other (unlike, say, a kimono which naturally has no waste!) This makes sense to me though! (Oh, and I didn’t say yet: Cute sweater!)

    1. Thank you! I will be doing more experiments with low-waste and zero-waste pattern cutting. Stay tuned! I kept thinking about you and your coatigans when I worked on this sweater. I also appreciate your summary of poly knits. I am quick to dismiss polyester – based on bad RTW experiences with static cling and because of the oil used to make it – however, you made me think. If a poly knit is good enough and is made into a garment that will have a long life of use, then it really (for me) could still fulfill my sustainable objectives for sewing.

  2. I plan on making an Oslo soon and will definitely be following your low-waste cutting layout! (I prefer the look of the thinner shawl collar as well – yours turned out so cute!)

  3. What a beautiful cardigan. The colour is fabulous and you really suit it. That was great to be able to manipulate the cutting layout to fit your fabric. Sometimes you read them and think that there must be a lot of wastage when they recommend things like 3m for a blouse (even in my size). Are you familiar with the “Boro” a wonderful traditional Japanese way to make fabric from scraps? I was just introduced to this technique by a designer that I know who always has her finger really on the fashion pulse. It is a gorgeous way to reuse things and very inspiring. I have a ton of silk scraps that I can’t bear to part with and they might end up worked into something inspired by this. Xx

    1. Thank you for your compliments. I had never heard of boro textiles, and I am not surprised that the Japanese developed it (considering that they also made an art out of repairing ceramics and mending stitches). I am going to look into this. I have so many fabric scraps from costumes, I think I could combine them into some fun fabrics.

    1. Thank you for asking Jonathan. I am glad you enjoyed this post. I enjoyed making the cardigan.
      I am not particularly fond of the reblog feature on WordPress and I would prefer you did not reblog my content. Thank you for understanding.

  4. Great post, and I look forward to hearing more about ways to reduce waste.
    I’ve discovered that making hot pads (potholders) is a good way to use up wool scraps, since wool makes good heat-resistant batting. The loftier the wool the better, and felted sweater knits work particularly well, but thinner wools can be layered. I piece the wool scraps together without worrying too much what it looks like, and then cut out the shape I need for the inside of the hot pad. Quilting cotton scraps form the outside. There are a bunch of tutorials for making hot pads around, since I’m sure that explanation made no sense.
    I still don’t know what to do with scraps of rayon jersey, or small scraps of thin wovens like cotton or silk. Knits and spongy fabrics work well as stuffing, but other fabric scraps make for some really heavy pillows.

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