The pattern that kept on morphing and other stories: Make A Garment A Month (MAGAM) sewalong

This is the story of a dress that became a bolero that became a sweater that became a cardigan. I’m no good at building suspense, so I’m going to jump right in with the finished result, and then give you its “origin story”!!

I don’t know which I love more: the cardigan, or the autumn colours in the garden!

Not long after I opened my Instagram account back in the Springtime, I noticed a challenge called MAGAM (Make A Garment A Month), hosted by Sarah Liz. The idea behind MAGAM is to provide a monthly theme that participants take as inspiration: it seemed a lovely supportive way to foster slow sewing by focusing on one garment every month, so I finally took the plunge and joined in for September.

Happily for me, the September theme was Shirty Skirty” (make a shirt or a skirt). This is non-UK use of “shirt”, i.e. any kind of top (I don’t often wear what I would call a shirt, which elsewhere would be called a button-down, so the language slippage suited me well). So I eased myself into MAGAM with the McCalls M7542 pattern from Sew Now magazine, using a rayon jersey and following my own tutorial for adapting it to a knit fabric. Well, I say “following my own tutorial”, but I didn’t really – I thought I could remember it so I went ahead and kept only the original instructions in front of me, which meant I attached the sleeves as if it were a woven! A bout of unpicking later, I returned to my tutorial with my head hanging in shame, and the rest went swimmingly.

My first MAGAM entry

The theme for October was more challenging: “Original October”. I mulled this one over for a good while. It did coincide with the development of our next pattern, which is obviously an original design, but it seemed too simple just to say “well I’ll make up one of our new dresses”.

First sneak peek of the forthcoming dress pattern!

However, the #cosycardichallenge was in full swing and for a while now I’ve wanted a lightweight fitted cardigan to wear over sleeveless dresses and extend their wearable life into autumn, and so I decided to adapt the dress pattern to become a cropped/ bolero cardigan. I did this without too much difficulty, just cutting off the pattern pieces of the scoop-neck version under the bust and drawing in a curve, but when I came to try it on I realised it would only really go with empire line dresses (it’s pictured here with my refashioned silk skirt) – with anything else it just sort of looked like I’d run out of fabric.

One of only two dresses I can wear this with!

Back to the drafting software (with my trusty sidekick aka technical department aka Rich beside me) and we went for a hip-length slightly flared look, with a high-low hem and a higher neckline. I started off by trying out the design as a sweater to test the shape before drafting the front placket, and I loved it (fully aided by the fact that I sewed it up in the softest jacquard ever, given to me as a birthday gift).

That’s more like it!

So I was ready to try it out as a cardigan, but not *quite* ready to cut into the beautiful jacquard from Lillestoff that I had earmarked for the project. My interim make was from a lovely floral French terry from Raspberry Creek Fabrics that I’ve been hoarding for a year now, and I liked the shape of the result BUT… ugh, well, it was just the wrong combination of fabric and style. I went for a scoop neck and standard hem, and the finished result reminds me of a housecoat or something.

You’ve got to love taking photos on a windy day!

I love the fabric, but this wasn’t the right project for it. I’ll see if I wear it, and if not I’ll scale it down into something for my daughter. And another reason to be glad I made this first version before cutting into my jacquard: I had ordered some interfacing online and the quality was just terrible. It didn’t move with the fabric at all, and if you look closely it has caused a couple of ripples in the front placket. Not the end of the world, but I would have been sad if that had been my precious jacquard.

So for the final version I decided to combine the higher neckline and the high-low hem, bought some more interfacing (never again will I stray from the goodness that is Vilene) and off I went…

The finished cardigan, origin story complete

I love this cardigan so much. Re-drafting was a good idea, as instead of just “chopping off” the dress pattern, we created an new line for this length, and it works much better. In particular, I really enjoyed thinking about the construction process, and how to make all the finishings look professional. I do love a garment that looks as pretty on the inside as it does on the outside!

Close-ups of the details: front placket, high-low hem, hem meeting facing, and inside the placket.

I used KAM snaps for the closures – I had always previously used the kind of snaps that you have to hammer on, but I was convinced by Sarah’s evangelising about the joy of attaching snaps with pliers and now I want to put KAM snaps on EVERYTHING!!!

In the end I think this particular version works better with jeans as the small pattern on the fabric means it doesn’t really go with a lot of my patterned dresses. But that could just be me falling back into my comfort zone, as jeans are basically my uniform! But it still goes well with these two sleeveless dresses:

Action shots (by which I mean “walking slowly towards the camera”). I like to photograph the movement of a garment so I can see how it looks when I’m not just standing facing a mirror!

The left one is a Deer and Doe sleeveless aubépine, and the right one is a maxi Dune from our own collection. The cardigan definitely helps both of these summer dresses transition into autumn. So either I need more solid dresses, or I need to make more cardigans in solid colours. Or both!!! And you know me by now, I don’t need much of an excuse to make a new garment…

So I’m really happy to be part of MAGAM, and I’m looking forward to the November challenge. As long as it’s not “sew a coat inspired by a classic French film”, because, you know, why do that to myself twice in one year?!!

In other news, encouraged by my lovely friend Diane, I’m trying to get my head round Pinterest at the moment, though it hasn’t synced to our site yet and I have yet to create any boards beyond this one image! But here is (I think?!) a link to my Pinterest page, which hopefully I shall work on soon! So if you have a Pinterest account do come and befriend me as I am LOST over there!

What about you? Have you joined MAGAM or the cosy cardi challenge? Any favourite makes/ stories to share? What about Pinterest? How do you use it efficiently and am I truly the last to join the party?!

15 thoughts on “The pattern that kept on morphing and other stories: Make A Garment A Month (MAGAM) sewalong

  1. Diane G

    I enjoyed this tale of the morphing cardigan 🙂 And I love the final design even more…and the new dress sneak peek has me interested for sure.
    Thanks for the shout out and yay for Pinterest! …I just followed you so feel free to browse my boards 🙂
    I use Pinterest a lot for all kinds of inspiration. And occasionally just for a good laugh I look at funny cat memes…be warned though, it’s addictive and I’ve spent hours down that rabbit hole laughing my head off!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Diane! I’m glad you like it, and that the dress has the thumbs up so far! Thanks too for the Pinterest suggestion. I did start to browse but I got totally overwhelmed by the quantity of images so I need to figure it out sensibly! Thanks for finding me on there, I’ll follow you back right now! And thanks finally for the advice about how cat memes could make my days disappear if I’m not careful ;D

  2. Kelly

    Great detail shots Helen! I most certainly agree when it comes to having a pretty inside. The interior craftsmanship is a thing of beauty. 😊 I’m glad you’re on Pinterest! Been working on it myself so I’m happy to follow your page and Diane’s too! 😄👍

    1. Valentine & Stitch

      Thank you Kelly! I think I spend as long admiring the insides o beautiful garments as I do admiring the outside! Thanks for finding me on Pinterest, I’ll log on later and follow you back! Looking forward to seeing what you do over there 😄💕

  3. Sarah Liz

    What a great post…you really do write about sewing very well. I love your progressive story here – but isn’t that what sewing is – a progressive story of ups, downs, hits and misses, winners and also rans. I think all these little cardigans are gorgeous – even the housecoat, but yes, it florals are not your thing (and you seem to go for a more classic look) it will make you feel that way. The jacquard knit is stunning – you were right to leave it until you found the perfect pattern – or rather, planned, drafted and polished the perfect pattern. The faced neckline looks wonderful – having made my first cardigans, I am not impressed with the neckband and front band techniques. And thank you for your lovely comments about me – not sure I deserve them! It’s a group that only exists because of all of us! And no, as far as November is concerned, a simple theme. December is going to be a special month, and I will let everyone know what is planned well ahead of time.

    1. Valentine & Stitch

      Thank you Sarah Liz, I’m so happy you like it! I think MAGAM is such a wonderful idea and although you’re right that it depends on everyone in the group, the group would not be there or have themes to sew to if not for you! I’m excited for the coming months, and December has me intrigued now (I suspect something Christmas-holidays-related?!) Thank you for your kind comments about my cardigan. I so enjoyed the process and probably wouldn’t have done it all had it not been for the MAGAM prompt. That’s a great point about the jacquard being perfectly suited to the project. I have another length of jacquard that I’m going to cut into to make the high neckline/normal hem combination next! Thanks again for being so welcoming with this challenge, I’m so happy to be part of MAGAM.

  4. Beck

    Love the jacquard fabric so much – I see why you were so careful to get things just right before cutting it! And I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who is totally lost over on Pinterest!! Before I was on IG, I used it more often to search for sewing inspiration, but since joining IG, I find it so quick and easy as a source for sew-spiration that I’ve started to ignore Pinterest…

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Beck! I love this fabric too, it’s 100% cotton so all the cosiness of a sweater without any of the itchiness! I have another design of the jacquard that’s destined to become another cardi. Thanks for finding me on Pinterest – I’ve just followed you back! At some point I’ll work out what to do over there – I can see what you mean about IG answering a lot of inspiration needs though! This whole online thing is so new to me – I thought I was doing well by having a blog and an Instagram account, and now there’s a whole new world of Bloglovin’ and Pinterest and so on – it makes me feel so analogue!!

  5. Maxine

    Like Beck, I used to trawl Pinterest for hours but that was before joining IG and there aren’t enough hours in the day for both! I do have a sewing account on there and I mostly use it for saving tutorials, pattern drafting, and things I’d like to make (you can have private boards too which is quite handy for anything non-related to sewing!!). I shall go and find you on there 😁

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Maxine! I shall go and find you on there too. It’s interesting that you and Beck both find that IG has replaced Pinterest. I’m obviously doing everything in the wrong order! Anyway, I shall try to use it a little to get some interesting boards together – maybe as part of the design process when we’re developing patterns? It’s a good idea to have a “things I’d like to make” board as well, thanks for that idea!

  6. Sew Sarah Smith

    Love this tale and especially love the resulting Cardi, it looks beautifully finished too! (Glad you’re loving snaps now too haha! ) Got to admit I’ve basically ignored Pinterest and now you and Di have inspired me to see if I can better utilise it too! Xx

    1. Valentine & Stitch

      Thanks Sarah! I am going to make sooooo many more cardigans just so I can put snaps on them!! Yay re Pinterest, I haven’t figured it out AT ALL yet but I will (she says…) I like Maxine’s idea of a “things I want to sew” board, as I always keep those ideas in a list and maybe something visual would be a nice change! Xx

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