Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Sewing the Seventies – A Stripy Sweater


It seems I haven’t written about a make for a while. I have been busy sewing, but just haven’t blogged anything yet. This is because I always find this time of year difficult for taking photos and I’ve chickened out and gone for the inside shots. Unfortunately, the dehumidifier is lurking in some of the pictures and I’m not sure I like the bright yellow walls as a backdrop for my makes!


This is my first make for “Sewing the Seventies”. It is quite a simple project, and there will be more to follow. I chose to make the top from Simplicity 5196 in a sweater knit. The pattern is from 1972. There are actually three patterns in this envelope and it seems to be one of those great whole wardrobe packages – a jumper, a shirt, a skirt (in different lengths) and they are all wearable designs.


The fabric came from Barry’s in Birmingham and is 100% wool. It was quite expensive (about £20 a metre I seem to remember), but it has a really luxurious feel to it.

Although it came with that dreaded “dry clean only” tag, I did gently hand-wash it prior to cutting out the pattern and it seemed to cope well with that. I expect it will cope with repeated hand-washing. I never get anything dry-cleaned and generally so long as the water isn’t too hot and the wool isn’t agitated too much, a hand-wash is fine for wool.

I suppose that the jersey knits of the 1970s were quite different from modern knits in terms of their capacity to stretch. The pattern has a back seam and a zip inserted in the collar so that it can be easily pulled over the head. My sweater knit is very stretchy and I felt confident that I could do away with this back seam and attach the collar as a whole to the body. This new approach did make it harder to fit the pattern pieces onto the fabric, as I now needed to place the back piece on a fold rather than create two back pieces, but I managed somehow to squeeze everything on.

Initially, I cut out a standard size 12, but I soon realised that this was actually far too big! Again, probably a reflection on the lack of stretchiness of 1970s knits. I wish I’d realised that before, as I wouldn’t have spent so much time trying to get my pattern pieces to fit on to the fabric, it would have been much easier! So after a little trimming at the shoulders, on the side seams and arm seams, I finally got a fit I was happy with. It is still somewhat larger than the pattern envelope shows, my version isn’t tight fitting, but I wish to wear long-sleeved t-shirts underneath this sweater and a more relaxed fit is required for that.

My next problem was with how to finish the sleeve, body and neck hems. I decided to read the very helpful information in this guide from Seamwork on sweater knits. One of the suggestions was to use interface with a strip of stretch fabric and catch-stitch the hem by hand. I used some of the remaining tissue knit to do this and sewed this into the hem with catch-stitching and then finished with the hand catch-stitching. This made quite a satisfactory finish.


I also used a trick that I saw on a RTW sweater knit for the collar. The lower portion of the the collar, where it joins the body has the seam directed to the inside, but higher up the seam shows on the outside. I sewed it like this to make sure that the seam doesn’t show when the collar is folded when it is worn.



Altogether this was rather a quick make and has made a much-needed new winter jumper for me. I’ve also expanded my frontiers on knit fabrics. I really enjoyed sewing the sweater knit. It was a very amenable fabric – there was no curling and it was easy to cut out too. It’s difficult to find 100% wool sweater knit fabrics in the shops. I suppose it is because of the price, which some might consider a little steep, but compared to a ready-to-wear jumper the expense doesn’t really compare. I shall keep an eye out for more fabrics like this.


What do you think? A good adaptation of a seventies pattern?


Don’t forget, you still have until Sunday lunchtime (Midday GMT) to enter the Seventies Giveaway. Please take a look.


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

5 thoughts on “Sewing the Seventies – A Stripy Sweater

  1. It looks very modern – amazing what different fabrics can do to a design.
    That’s a really good pattern. You should get a fantastic wardrobe out of that.

  2. Pingback: My Seventies Pattern Stash | Steely Seamstress

  3. Pingback: Sewing The Seventies – The Deep Purple Shirt | Steely Seamstress

  4. Pingback: Child of the Seventies – Simplicity 5196 | The Monthly Stitch

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