What to wear under cardigans

What to wear under cardigans

I promised you a post about tops to wear under cardigans, and it’s turned into a monster. I’m attempting to boil it down here and will expand on it over time, no doubt. Suffice to say: My favorite thing to wear under a cardigan is a sleeveless top with a non-plain neckline of some sort. If it is shirttail-hemmed and/or tunic length, even better. And the be-all end-all is pockets. (Especially since somehow none of my cardigans have pockets of their own.) The two tops I wear the most right now are 1) the Endless Summer Tunic my friend Alyssa Minadeo made for me in that Robert Kaufman dotted chambray the whole sewing world is quite reasonably in love with (seen here and here — I’d like another one about two inches shorter and a hair less flouncy), and 2) a natural linen sleeveless tunic I bought at Express twenty years ago, which I know for certain because I wore it to a concert with my now-husband in the summer of 1994. (I found it in a box of sentimental favorites under the bed when we were packing for the move.) It buttons all the way up the front and has, uh, half-kangaroo pockets — do you know what I mean? — and despite being linen I’ve been wearing it all winter. Like, I’m in jeopardy of wearing it out.

I like both of these because the fabrics go with everything, they both have something other than a plain round neck, and I’m really into that length right now; I think it’s great for layering over. In third place is a collarless, half-placket chambray shirt that I cut the sleeves off of. And right behind that is this, which I’m desperate to duplicate in a natural fabric.

It’s a matter of personal preference, but I don’t like shoving shirt sleeves into sweater sleeves if it can be avoided — it always feel too bunchy. The only thing that would make my existing sleeveless tops better as winter layering pieces (or even wear-alones in the milder parts of spring and fall) is if they were made of heavier fabric, or even a brushed cotton or flannel or boiled wool. So that’s where my head is at.

The photo above is my Instagram pic from the other day of Sonya Philip’s Dress Pattern No. 1, for which my sweet friend Marlee is hosting a sewalong. I believe it’s actually tunic length, and if I were to split the front and add buttons, and change the shape of the pockets, it would be my beloved linen tunic. So I might do that. But I’ll probably sew it as drafted first. Sonya has been a big influence on me in my desire to craft a handmade wardrobe, so I’m thrilled to be about to sew one of her patterns.

With all of that said, here are a handful of sleeveless sewing patterns that are simple and reliable (by all accounts) and that lend themselves to modifications of length, hemline, neckline, etc. All on my to-sew list—

What to wear under a cardigan: Or, sleeveless-top sewing patterns

Wiksten Tank by Jenny Gordy is the only one on this list that I have sewn before, and I can vouch for its being an excellent pattern and suitable for new sewists. It’s no wonder there are thousands of them on the internet. For my next one, I’m planning to sew a longer version and raise the neckline. (See also: Grainline’s Tiny Pocket Tank)

Sorbetto from Colette Patterns (free pattern) is another simple tank, but this one has bust darts. It’s easy to imagine adding length and/or volume to it, and I love the box-pleat detail down the front. I’m eager to hybridize this and the Wiksten Tank.

Alice by Tessuti is one that Felicia Semple has sewn multiple appealing versions of. Those gathers under the bustline would provide just enough interest if you’ve got a cardigan over it, and I love the sleeve-cap detail for when it’s worn alone. I also really want the dress version of this one for my summer closet.

Tova by Jenny Gordy is not a sleeveless pattern, per se, but one of my favorite Tovas I’ve seen is Sam Lamb’s sleeveless version (check out her Wiksten tank in that same post).

Sailor Top from Fancy Tiger is the next best thing to sleeveless. I think those little sleeves would layer quite nicely, and the wide neckband with gathers makes it an appealing layering piece to me. (By the way, there’s a Creative Bug class for this one.)

Endless Summer Tunic from A Verb for Keeping Warm, noted above, has lots of really nice details — including optional side-seam pockets — but is probably the most challenging pattern on this list. I’ll get there.

Just typing this up has me itching to grab my Fashionary and sketch out all the mods and hybridizations that are running around in my head, which I promise to share. And I’m sure many of you have other great suggestions, so please add them below!

This weekend I’ll be sketching, sewing, knitting and taking Bellows pics. (Yes, that is a glimpse of it in the top photo up there.) Love to hear what you’re working on—


The lovely Audrey

The lovely Audrey - free knitting pattern

This whole Fringe Hatalong Series idea was a good one, I can already tell. I finished my lovely Audrey hat — my third FO for the year — and feel confident it would not have happened had I not invited you all to knit along with me. I would have gotten sucked into the next sweater without a palate cleanser or quick finish to bolster me, as this has done. And I know I already said this, but it’s such a joy to watch hat after hat appear on the #fringehatalong tag at Instagram. (140-odd posts and counting!) There are far fewer listed on Ravelry — if you’ve made a project page for your hat, I’d love it if you’d add “fringehatalong” in the tags field so yours will show up with all the rest. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to see every color and pompom and modification. Meanwhile, I love this pretty little hat and am debating whether to leave it au naturel or toss it in a pot of avocado pits.

If you haven’t cast on yet, it’s not too late! The free Audrey Hat pattern is right here, and there’s no schedule. If you have questions, you can always ask them on the pattern post.

I also hope everyone has made the Seattle Children’s Hospital donation of a dollar or two that Anna requested in offering us the pattern for free. Part of my original idea for the Hatalong series was to feature a charity in each installment — a potential recipient for those of you who are knitting with the intention of giving it away — so I was very pleased that Anna was one step ahead of me in suggesting a small monetary donation for this round. From here on out, I’ll be directing attention to charities in need of hats. But if you are wanting to donate your finished Audrey, check with your local hospital hospice or chemo unit.


Jen Hewett for Fringe Supply Co. limited edition project bagUNRELATED NEWS YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR: The fourth and final installment of our limited-edition Jen Hewett project bags has arrived! As before, when they’re gone they’re gone! For this edition, we went back to the linen and jute drawstring bag from edition one. So if you’ve collected all four, you’ll have two linen and two cotton. The preorders have shipped and that left only about 70 bags available in the shop, so if you want one, don’t hesitate! We also got partial shipments of the amazing skim balm and Bento Bags this week, so see if what you’ve been wanting is there while you’re at it! If not, don’t worry, there’s more on the way.

First of the best of Fall 2015: Wool and Gang walks again

First of the best of Fall 2015: Wool and the Gang walks again

Following last year’s Eek hat for the Giles Fall ’14 collection, my friends over at Wool and the Gang had more knits walking the runway at London Fashion Week yesterday. This time they collaborated with Christopher Raeburn on his shark-themed Fall ’15 collection. As seen in the photos here (from @woolandthegang and @jade_harwood) the pieces include a pair of shark-shaped mittens plus a killer multi-color slouch beanie and big fringed scarf. The mittens, dubbed the Bruce Knitmitts, are available on their site straight away, both as finished goods and a knit kit, and they’ve promised to let me know when the hat and scarf patterns are available later this year. My compliments to the Gang on what must have been another thrilling ride. And to Raeburn, who looks pretty pleased with those mittens.

p.s. They were kind enough to send me an Eek hat kit when I was crying for a fast break from my four months with Amanda, but I haven’t knitted it up just yet. Love. That. Hat.

p.p.s. If I had the sewing chops, I would totally be making my own version of that olive-drab duffel coat with Grainline’s pattern. That is my dream coat right there.


Swatch debates

Swatch debates

Going back to my to-knit list from January, my Bellows is done. (Photos as soon as I can get them, but for now let me tell you I haven’t taken it off since the minute I attached the buttons on Sunday afternoon, and don’t foresee taking it off until April.) The idea of knitting a Uniform cardigan out of the army-green Shibui Merino Alpaca in my stash has been rethunk, and Channel is tabled for fall — I’m thinking it’ll be my Rhinebeck sweater, so I better not put it off too long. And meanwhile, along came the idea of the vest. So I’m swatching. And debating.

Up top is the Spiral-Spun Waistcoat from last week, and my Hole & Sons Wool swatch for it. I never would have thought to knit this DK-weight yarn on 5.5mm needles, but it totally works, and I’m getting gauge for the pattern. I’m just not 100% convinced about the garter rib. I knitted that little bit of stockinette at the top of the swatch and am so tempted to keep it that simple, but I think I might hate myself. Plus there’s already a lot of stockinette on my horizon. But do I love the look of it? I like it better in the sketch I did of the sweater, where it’s as baggy as this garment would be on me, but maybe I’d like it best if the garter rib was 1×1 instead of 2×2. Might have to swatch that before I cast on.

And the change in the army-green Uniform plan is to knit it in Knightsbridge instead of the Merino Alpaca. This is to replace a pair of J.Crew cashmere cardigans I had to let go of before we left California — one grey, one blue, both worn to shreds — and I want it to be as light and thin and soft as they were, without knitting a fingering-weight sweater. This Knightsbridge swatch is perfect. I’m thinking of doing the button bands and pocket edging in garter but ribbing the waistband and cuffs, so I’m debating between the 1×1 and 2×2 ribbing. The bigger debate, though, is whether it makes sense to cast this on right now. The only spring/summer sweater in my closet is a thin grey cotton cardigan in the same style (seen here), which I’m utterly dependent on for trade shows and such but which is not especially nice-looking. It might be better to knit a near-term Uniform out of a magnificent cotton-linen blend or something. So if you have any brilliant suggestions in that realm, I’d love to hear it!

New Favorites: Modified ganseys

New Favorites: Modified gansey sweaters

I’m always hearing people talk about the gansey — relative of the cabled aran jumper in the classic fisherman-sweater family — and its characteristic underarm gusset. One of these days I’ll knit one and understand more specifically what the traditional construction is like. But it might have to get in line behind these recent interpretations, which are both calling out to me —

TOP: Eastbound Sweater by Courtney Kelley has an “exploded gusset” and slouchy shape, looks like the perfect spring/fall sweater to me

BOTTOM: Alvy by Jared Flood might be gussetless (not sure) but borrows the gansey look for a nicely androgynous sweater


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Foldover mitts

Boxes out and boxes in

Boxes out, boxes in, boxes out

It’s been such a surreal week, being snowed in (iced in) for the first time in years, along with the rest of Nashville. I always loved that feeling of an entire community waving the white flag in the direction of normal daily proceedings and going sledding instead. But this week was more about cabin fever while working at home, and just trying to get the Fringe Supply Co. orders shipped in a timely fashion, which we were mostly able to do! I’m also happy to report that UPS and USPS arrived bearing boxes we’ve been waiting anxiously for:

– the sold-out Bookhou storage boxes and large pocket pouches are sold out no more!
– the Bookhou flat rectangle pouch is also back, in three prints plus two waxed canvases, and the large pocket pouch now also comes in tan wax — I’m in love with this!
Knitters Graph Paper Journal is back in stock
– the concave horn buttons are restocked, along with the cream bone version
– and the narrow-rim buttons are filled back in and also now available in cream bone too, in all three sizes

It’s also been a joy this week seeing copious Audrey hat knitalong hats appearing on Instagram (under #fringehatalong), along with a handful at Ravelry. If you haven’t cast on yet, no worries. There’s no schedule, so there’s no such thing as too late!

I’m jealous of everyone headed for Stitches West this weekend but am looking forward to sitting on my couch and knitting. How about you?


My classic British vest

My classic British vest

Despite the ice and snow on the ground, and as much as I want to get to the rest of my sweater queue (once I finish my neglected Bellows), my thoughts are starting to turn to my warmer-weather wardrobe challenges. Which brings me back to my Hole & Sons wool and my wish for it to become something quintessentially British: namely, a vest. It’s the perfect thing for spring, and if I want to wear it this spring, I better get started. I’ve been thinking I’ll just tweak a classic v-neck cardigan pattern but have been sort of dreading the stockinette, so I decided to conduct a little research for inspiration and/or a particularly interesting pattern, and golly, would you look at this gem?!

The Spiral-Spun Waistcoat is a WWII Jaeger pattern (a knit-it-for-the-troops design — “choose air force blue or khaki wool”), available as a free download from the Victoria & Albert Museum, with an allover texture that is just interesting enough while remaining timeless. It might be exactly the thing — I shall have to swatch and see.