All sweatshirts are not created equal: I AM Apollon by I AM Patterns

Firstly, thank you so much for your touching reactions to my last blog post, both here and over on Instagram. I have felt overwhelmed (in a good way!) by every message.

I’m back today with a very different kind of post: I’m here to sing the praises of the humble sweatshirt! A wardrobe staple, and I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect pattern. The favourite of those I’ve tried so far is the Apollon from I AM Patterns (yes I know, my skills at building suspense are not getting any better!)

Apollon in all its glory (though please ignore the less than glorious creases from having been stuffed in a drawer since last winter).

But this is a tale of a quest, so back to the beginning we go…

At first glance, sweatshirts seem pretty simple: front, back, sleeves, cuffs, a neck band and a hem band. How do you go wrong? Well, pretty easily, as it turns out. Don’t we all have our own idea of what makes a perfect sweatshirt? For me it is: neckline reasonably high, but not too high. Probably crew neck. Length hitting at low hip so it doesn’t expose my tummy when I stretch or move. Slouchy fit but not shapeless. Definitely not too tight, especially on the sleeves and under the arms.

Quite a tall order, I know.

But I AM Patterns did it.

I almost didn’t buy this pattern, as I already had several sweatshirt patterns. But I wasn’t entirely blown away by any of them, and so I thought it was worth investing in another!

So why do I like it so much? Well, maybe I should start by telling you a bit about the ones I liked less. First up, and I know this will be controversial because it seems to be the undisputed favourite of the sewing community: the Linden by Grainline Studio. I did hesitate for the longest time over whether to buy this, and I must have talked about it so much that in the end Rich bought it for me a couple of years ago, along with the Scout tee pattern! The Linden is certainly a great pattern and well designed, but the reason for my tergiversating (I think I just won blog bingo FOREVER with that word) was the reason I was underwhelmed: the boxy style that Grainline is known for just doesn’t suit me. Aesthetically, I love it. But I don’t feel it does anything for me:

Linden sweatshirt… I wish I loved it more

I just look kind of shapeless underneath it! In fact the Scout tee I got at the same time is the ONLY pattern I have never even bothered finishing – it looked so awful on me that I never hemmed it, just recycled the fabric. It’s such a shame as I love the look of Grainline patterns, especially the Driftless cardigan and the Morris blazer, but my body shape is just all wrong for them. The one way I do think the Linden has worked better for me is to combine the long cuffed sleeves with the shorter bodice: the length and the very subtle high-low hem is more flattering to my body shape, so I can make it out of regular jersey, like this lovely lilac floral, as a twist on a raglan t-shirt:

Feeling the Linden love more styled this way!

And speaking of raglan t-shirts, next up is the Lane raglan by Hey June Handmade. This is advertised as a t-shirt, but the designer suggests that if you size up it can be made as a sweatshirt. As a t-shirt it wasn’t quite the shape I was looking for, though it looked better when I removed 2 inches from the bodice (my standard adjustment is to remove 5/8”). So I sized up for the sweatshirt version, took out my 2 inches, and it was all pretty straightforward.

Lane raglan made as a sweatshirt

I LOVE the neckline of this top and find it very flattering, but it doesn’t work quite as well on a sweatshirt because it’s lower than I would like and so leaves me a little chilly on a cold day. I do wear this top a lot though, and I think that the addition of the sweatshirt hem creates a lovely shape.

But back to the Apollon, because in addition to the standard sweatshirt length shown at the top of this post, you can also make it as a dress! Well, they call it a dress, I am obviously either taller than the women they design for or way more prudish, because I’d call it a tunic. Though when I was 20 I’d have called it practically knee-length, so I am prepared to accept that I’m the one with the issue, not the pattern nomenclature! (Look at that, I got “tergiversate” and “nomenclature” in the same blog post. I am on a ROLL).

Dress? Tunic? Either way, I love it! (Excuse the year-old creases again!!)

Anyway, I do love the Apollon at this length, it’s perfect to wear with leggings (though in my pics I’m wearing it with skinny jeans, as I took all these photos on the same day and it was enough to run indoors and change my sweatshirt five times without adding leggings into the mix too!!) I also used the same blue sweatshirting I’d used for the shorter length, as I bought loads of it. But at least it’s plain and easy to wear, don’t even ask me how much of the purple roses fabric I have left even after making countless garments in it…

With both lengths of Apollon I graded between size 36 at the bust and 38 at the waist. The sizing is European, so I chose based on the table of measurements. The sizing was generous, but generous is good in a sweatshirt, I’d say. The grading also gave it a bit of shaping so it wasn’t straight up and straight down, and I like the result.

I also think the neckline is perfect – not too high, not too low, but just right, and the hem band is just the right proportion too so that it’s not cinching in too much and pulling in the bodice but it’s not hanging loosely either. Not too loose, not too tight. Just right. Let’s just call this my “Goldilocks” sweatshirt! I AM Patterns describe it as a “feminine version of the classic sweatshirt”, and it’s as good as it sounds.

I’m going to leave you with a montage so you can see all four together and judge for yourself whether or not you agree with me about the one that suits me best! I’ve tried to do the same pose for all four shots so that you can get an accurate comparison. And also because that is basically my “camera pose”.

Which is best? Are you with me on Apollon, or do you see something I don’t with the others?

Tell me what you think! Have you tried Apollon? Do you have particular requirements in a sweatshirt too?

22 thoughts on “All sweatshirts are not created equal: I AM Apollon by I AM Patterns

  1. Diane G

    Funny, but I’m not a sweatshirt wearer. I’ve never owned one…is that weird? Oh well..

    Anyway, back to yours…out or the four pictured together at the end of your post I think my two favourites are the bottom two. I think its a combo of fabric weight and proportions that I like. I do see what you mean regarding the Linden. It’s like the length on you is in a kind of no man’s land and its doesn’t hang as well.

    It’s amazing how something like the humble sweatshirt can vary in style so much. Thanks for an interesting post.

    Reply
    1. Valentine & Stitch

      I was about to gasp in horror at you never owning a sweatshirt, but now that I know you had a pink velour one, all is right with the world again!! I love them for wearing round the house and on my days off, but will only make them in cotton and will only wear them if they feel flattering (even lounging around I don’t want to feel like a shapeless blob!) I do remember when I first started reading your blog that you said you don’t particularly do casual wear/ lounge wear; I’d be really interested to know what your “comfort” patterns are – stylish comfortwear is something I’m always in pursuit of!

      Reply
  2. Diane G

    Hehe, yes you can sleep soundly tonight knowing I once owned a sweatshirt 🙂
    Home comfort wise for me? Well, I don’t wear jeans much so it’s usually some memade trousers in a fabric with a little bit of stretch or perhaps a jersey tube skirt (secret pj’s). I have two pair of RTW trousers that are a checked ponte knit and they also get a lot of use. For tops it’s often a jersey knit memade top, or one of my RTW sweaters. I’m comfy all day long in this type of wear. I also like sweater dresses and have been known to be perfectly happy wearing a woven skirt all day too.

    Reply
    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Wow, you have a very versatile comfort wardrobe! I wish I could find so many things comfortable! I can’t stand wearing tights at home, if I can I pull them straight off when I walk in the door 😳 Ditto wovens. I don’t even get dressed in “proper” clothes first thing in the morning – I ease myself into the day in sweatshirt or t-shirt and joggers, then change before I have to head out! I think I might be the weird one Diane, your “don’t own a sweatshirt” confession sounds perfectly normal compared with this 😂😘

      Reply
  3. Hayley

    What a fab selection, Im just diving into sweatshirt making, I had no idea there are so many different types! I just made simplicity 1072 and as i liked the front panels to jaz it up a little but it turned out to be huge so i am rethinking my next option. I have to say my fav out of the 4 is the lane raglan. Im still swooning over that print! That said all 4 look great for different occasions and look super comfortable. I do think the Apollon has the best neck line though. p.s. I love you camera pose, i might have to steal that one!

    Reply
    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      I don’t think I’ve seen your Simplicity sweatshirt have I? I’ve seen your Toaster sweatshirt – I so nearly bought that pattern but I get the shudders if clothes brush my jawline (don’t laugh! Ok laugh, it is slightly bonkers!) I think that with something slouchy the cut has to be just right, otherwise it can look like a sack. Hehe, glad you like the purple roses, because I suspect they’ll be making more appearances – try as I might I can’t get through it all 😂

      Reply
  4. Maxine

    Interesting post Helen and I’m just about to try my first raglan sweatshirt, I think it’s a McCalls pattern. I have a rtw one that I love so I know I like the style. I like the bottom two best on you but not feeling it for the longer tunic version but that’s based on my style, it works for you! I’m also feeling the need to read the dictionary as I have never heard of these words before, my husband will be horrified as he has read the dictionary and loves nothing more than educating me 😂

    Reply
    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Maxine! I’ll be really interested to see how your McCalls sweatshirt turns out, I’ve always got my eyes open for sweatshirt patterns. It’s funny how you feel about the longline one – I thought the photo wasn’t too flattering, and wondered if maybe that’s actually how it looks to other people! I had spent enough time taking photos that day to try and get another pic 😂 Hehe re my blog bingo, the thing about speaking French is that there are words that are quite normal in French that have an English equivalent that is less common, so even though English is my dominant language bits of French creep in! But next time you can’t make your mind up about something, tell your husband you’re tergiversating and then he’ll never be able to laugh at you again 😉😂😘

      Reply
  5. Beck

    Not only have you introduced me to a new pattern but to a new word! Tergiversate indeed!!! It’s really interesting to see how the subtle differences can make such a difference, especially with simple patterns. When you compare the Apollon and the Linden photos side by side, it’s very clear that, while they’re quite similar, it’s all a bit the proper fit with the Apollon. And I looove the “dress/tunic” version. I kind of want to live in something like that and tights around the house for the rest of winter…

    Reply
    1. Valentine & Stitch

      So so true about the subtle differences. I was really interested in your post on the Driftless cardigan by the way – I skimmed yesterday and shall return to it today – because it’s not that the Linden is badly drafted at all, just that the shape does nothing for me. One day I’ll get around to placing the pattern pieces for Linden and Apollon on top of one another to see where the differences are, then geek out and share my findings… I think you’d love Apollon to add to your casual wear, I’ll try to get a better photo of the tunic/ dress version at some point in case you need further convincing! When I had a cold last winter my two longer ones and leggings were all I wanted to wear. And yay for tergiversate! I love these words that are fairly standard in French but less common in English. I rarely get to use them in conversation, I don’t know why it popped out in the blog post but it made me laugh!

      Reply
  6. Kelly

    I have to agree that the Apollon suits your body type and style best! Not that the others don’t look nice on you because they do but you seem most comfortable in Apollon so that’s more important. I also think it’s interesting how there can be a variety of subtlety different patterns available and they all won’t work for everyone. I hope that because of that designers will keep creating their own versions even if there is a popular go to already available. There’s always room in the market! 😄 (By that I don’t mean you should create one lol unless that fits into your brand just that I hope others aren’t afraid to design something that is already out there as every pattern doesn’t work for the whole community 😄)

    Reply
    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      😂 love it! I’d love to work on a sweatshirt one day, but already our next 4 patterns are agreed, so it may be a while away! You’re so right that there is always room for more. I’ve stopped thinking “well I won’t buy that pattern because I have a similar one already” and just think instead “do I love it, will it suit me, will it fit with my lifestyle?” I’m really happy you can see the differences between them, I did wonder whether to outside eyes they would all look like “well it’s a sweatshirt, and another sweatshirt, and another sweatshirt…” so thanks for letting me know what you think, and I’m glad Apollon gets the thumbs up from you!

      Reply
      1. Kelly

        Yay! 4 more patterns! 😄 If you ever do create a sweatshirt pattern I’ll be sure to give it a go. I agree with you on buying a pattern even if we have something similar because it will fit our lifestyle better. After all, we do this without a second thought with RTW so it only makes sense with me mades as well. I’ve been eyeing the named clothing sloane sweatshirt pattern myself so I’ll be trying it very soon! 😊

        Reply
        1. valentineandstitch Post author

          I never thought of that about approach to RTW being connected. That’s a really good point! I am going to hold on to this idea as I’m trying to sew more mindfully. Thanks Kelly! Also, I can imagine the Sloane looking amazing on you!!

          Reply
  7. Sarah G

    I’m with Diane on this one as I don’t own a sweatshirt and can’t remember ever having worn one. Neither do I possess lounge wear, usually just undoing a couple of buttons later in the evening. I much prefer to wear clothes that are fitted rather than boxy. My favourite of your makes is definitely the Appollon, which looks great in the tunic length. Great blog post Helen

    Reply
    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thank you Sarah! I think I might have an extreme relationship with loungewear – I wear it first thing until I have to leave the house, and last thing until I go to bed! It must have built up gradually over the years. I can’t get out of the shower and put on “proper” clothes, I hate how it feels… Have I invented a whole new syndrome?! Loungewear addiction… Anyway, I’m happy you like the Apollon even if it’s not your kind of thing, and despite the sweatshirt love I do agree with the fitted rather than baggy preference you have! My absolute favourite loungewear would be fitted sweatpants and a fitted top. “Not embarrassed to answer the door” would define it (I don’t attain this every day!!)

      Reply
      1. Kate

        I’m totally with you on loungewear, my mister calls it “house clothes” – there’s nothing better for me than sweats, tee and hoodie. The other day he asked me if I would still wear house clothes if we lived in the forest! (Resounding yes of course). Anyway back to the sweatshirt – I would also love to love Grainline patterns but alas the boxy shaping is all wrong for me and the straight up/down side seam of the toaster sweater was just as bad so maybe this one next. Have you tried the Astoria?

        Reply
        1. valentineandstitch Post author

          Hi Kate! “House clothes” is such a good term for it, since I change into this kind of clothes almost as soon as I step in the door! I’d really like to design some sweat pants at some point as I haven’t found any I love (so many ideas, so little time!) It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone with the boxy shape – I wish I could wear it better but I just can’t. I have indeed tried the Astoria, and had several issues with it. One is simply that it doesn’t suit my body shape at all (short torso, so the cropped fitted look is not great on me), but also I found the sleeves extremely tight and the neckband sat proud, so it’s not for me. I’ve seen some beautiful versions of it around though, and I can see why it’s such a favourite for so many people. I do have the Deer and Doe Ondée pattern but I’ve never sewn it up as I’m worried it might be just a better fitting version of Astoria! But one day when I have less in my sewing queue, I’ll go for it! Also, I’m with you on forest wear. House clothes forever 😉

          Reply
  8. PsychicSewerKathleen

    I had the same experience with the Scout! I love this pattern but after I’d made it up in a beautiful Liberty cotton and put it on – well let’s just say it was AWFUL 🙂 Like you say, just too boxy for my shape. So I went at the pattern using it like a basic block – added french darts in the front, fish-eye darts down the back and a curved, banded hem. It came out just brilliant 🙂 but honestly not really a Scout at all 🙂 This year I made my very FIRST EVER sweatshirt and love it. I used the Toaster Sweater (can’t recommend this pattern enough). It’s the warmest, coziest sweatshirt and am now wearing it under my gortex jacket daily (I live in Victoria BC and all we have these days is RAIN 🙂 ) I see many more in my future for sure!

    Reply
    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Hi Kathleen! I’m so relieved I’m not the only one who can’t wear the Scout – when I see so many lovely versions of it, it makes me think I must have a strange body shape indeed to be the only person who looks terrible in it! Ditto the Moneta dress… your modifications sound fantastic, though as you say, no longer a Scout, more your very own design! It’s funny you should mention the Toaster sweater – I almost wrote about this in the blog post. I’ve *almost* bought it so many times, as I do love the look of it, but fear the neckline might be too high for me – I don’t mind a fitted high neckline, but I don’t like a loose one. Though since you recommend it so highly, maybe I should give it a go! Sorry to hear about the endless rain – hope the Toaster is making it more bearable for you!

      Reply

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