Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Finished Emily's hoodie late Monday night/early Tuesday morning. I didn't really mean to stay up till 2 am, but the momentum plus the post-bedtime peace were like heady wine that dulled my better judgement. I told myself, "I'll just sew the sleeves to the lining and then go to bed." Then, "Well, now that I've got the sleeves on, what's another five (snort!) minutes to sew up the side seams?" And before I knew it, it was "What - only the sleeve cuffs left? I should just put those out of their misery right now!"

It only took me about 5 CDs - time is measured in different units in my  sewing room - to make it: one CD to make the pattern and cut out the fabric, half a CD to do the pockets, and three and a half CDs to sew it up.

Let me tell you about the pattern, though - because, for once, I didn't make it from Emily's sloper (now slightly out of date). Emily has one store-bought hoodie that she's dangerously close to outgrowing by the end of this fall and I decided that, since it fits her now, it would be a great shortcut pattern to adapt. The sloper method was going to give her a better fit, of course, but I rationalized that we were making a baggy sweatshirty thing. And Emily was going to be wearing it over another layer of inner clothes, and have an inside lining layer besides, meaning that either I re-measure her in her inner clothes or just work with her old hoodie and alter that to accommodate growth and inner bulk. So I had Emily put on her old hoodie, and I scrutinized it, making mental notes like
  • Hood and neckline-good - keep as is
  • Lose the ribbed sleeve cuffs and hip band
  • Hip- 1" lower and 1/4" wider at each side seam
  • Armscyes and sleeves - oh dear. Oh dear.
How are commercial armscyes and sleeves drafted, honestly? I mean, which particular sub-culture of the human race are they designed to fit? I understand the difficulty in getting a nicely-fitting woman's armscye in a commercial pattern, given the wide variation in adult women's bodies, but children? From what I've seen of the armscyes and sleeves of so many store-bought kids' clothes, I can't help but envision a strange race of small people with sagging armpits, conical biceps and almost-horizontal shoulders. Sad.

Anyway, I traced around Emily's old hoodie and made my alterations, checking it against the vital points of her sloper - the neckline, the shoulder slope, the armscye etc. Then I cut out the outer fabric and made a muslin. 

I used the longest stitch length my machine had to offer, so I could pull everything apart after the fitting and re-sew the pieces properly.

I used regular fleece from JoAnn for the outer later. This was the fleece that was supposed to be a fall coat in 2010 but got rejected in favor of superior polartec fleece bought in 2011. As a fall coat it would've been floppy and useless, but as a hoodie, it was perfect. I lined the hoodie with knit. The overall result: very soft, slightly stretchy and more robust (and warm) than regular sweatshirt fabric.

Making hoodies is very easy, if the speed at which the muslin came together is any indication. Adding a lining and hiding all the seam allowances between the layers made it quite a bit more interesting. I didn't need to serge or bias-tape anything; I just left an opening in the lining of the hood and turned everything right side out through it, then stitched that opening shut. So, in theory, had I used a reversible zipper, this would have been a reversible hoodie. 

If you can find a commercial pattern for a fully-lined hoodie, it should offer this method for putting it together, so I'm not going to do a tutorial. I will, instead, just give you the construction sequence, sans photos:

Step 1
Separate the zipper and sew it to both the lining and the outer fabric (front bodice pieces) simultaneously, so that the two layers of the hoodie are attached at the zipper. Do this for both sides of the front bodice pieces.

Step 2
Working separately with the lining and outer fabric layers, add the back bodice pieces i.e. attach them to their respective front bodice pieces at the shoulder seams. So you'll now have two separate sort-of-flapping vests, joined to each other at the zipper.

Step 3
Again working separately with the lining and outer fabric layers, sew the side seams together to form a complete vest, and attach the sleeves. Or attach the sleeves first, and then sew the side seams together all the way from the wrist, through the armpit and to the hip. Either way, you will now have two complete sleeved bodices, separate but joined to each other at the zipper. They will have open wrists, open necklines and open bottom hems.

Step 4
With the entire garment inside out, sew the bottom edge shut from one side of the zipper to the other, going around the back, attaching the lining to the outer fabric layer. Now only the wrists and necklines are open.

Step 5
Sew the center back seam of the outer fabric hood pieces together to make a complete hood. Repeat separately for the hood lining, but leave an opening in this seam big enough to turn the entire garment out through it later. 

Step 6
Turn the entire garment right side out and baste the two layers of necklines together. Turn the hood pieces upside down so that their lower edges (not the edge that frames the face) is lined up with the neckline of the garment and
  • The right side of the outer fabric hood is touching the right side of the garment (but the hood is upside down)
  • The right side of the hood lining is touching the right side of the garment lining (but the hood lining is upsides down too)
You will now have a hood sandwich - with the two-layered neckline between the lower edges of the hood layers. If you are familiar with attaching collars to shirts, this is exactly the same thing, except the hood is much bigger.

Step 7
Sew along the neckline to attach the hood layers to the neckline layers between them. When you get to the point where the top of the zipper joins the hood, turn the corner and sew along the edges of the hood that frame the face (let's call this the hood opening). You will have to ball up the rest of the garment and shove it in between the hood layers, so the entire garment is now stuffed into the hood, turning it into a fat bundle. Sew all around the hood opening, attaching both layers of the hood to each other.

Step 8
Turn the entire garment out through the opening in the hood lining. Sew up the opening and top-stitch wherever you'd like the layers to lie flat together, like around the base of the hood, the opening of the hood, the bottom hem of the garment, and along the sides of the zipper.

With the natural bulk of the fleece, the stretchy knit and the multiple layers, expect the seams to be thick, the result of which is that your top-stitching might be imperfect, especially in the zipper area where the pockets are. It's not the end of the world.

Step 9 
Tuck in the seam allowances of the wrists and sew around the wrist opening, attaching (for each sleeve) the outer fabric layer to the lining.

I wanted the sleeves to have the option of a turn-up cuff so I left the wrists simple. 

I've left out the pocket bits, because they are not essential to the construction of a basic hoodie. You can find a tutorial for the kangaroo pockets here. I edged the pocket (also lined completely with that knit fabric) using the method from here.

So, in theory, it is possible to make almost any garment reversible. And, therefore, it is also completely possible to sew clothes without a serger!


  1. Absolutely beautiful; and have you looked at commercial topstitching? Not always "perfect" either. Thanks for sharing your talents.

  2. Wow, you're so amazing! What I like best about the clothes that you make is that it all looks store bought!

  3. I get in the same momentum trap. "Okay, I'll just finish X" and then I just keep going and going, and pretty soon it's 3am! lol

    Haven't attempted a hoodie for the LO's yet . . .maybe next fall, but thanks for the clear written directions!

  4. She looks so much older all of a sudden! Great hoodie!

  5. What a cute hoodie! Emily looks immensely pleased with it =)

  6. So cute! It looks so nice and snuggly-warm with that knit lining in there! And just in the nick o' time... although a winter jacket might hit the spot tomorrow morning! What am I saying? I wore one THIS morning... and a knit cap, too! And they felt mighty good!

  7. so cute and neat. Always loves your tutorial and instruction. so clear. Hope I can also try this in future when my skills are up to it!

  8. Great job LiEr, the best hoodie I have ever seen. PS is that smile is why you sew? Beautiful garment and model!

  9. @KJ@letsgoflyakite
    Thank you! And yes, that smile IS one of the perks of sewing!

  10. Really cute hoodie! Even cuter child!! Emily is soooo engaging - the camera really loves her. The first photo, in particular, is a "killer." Those eyes!!! She is going to be quite the temptress. I can see all the little boys in the neighborhood falling under her spell. :)

  11. That looks so warm and snuggly, and I absolutely love the polka dots!

  12. very nice! I do that all the time. Tell myself I will be in bed by a certain time, but then end up finding all sorts of excuses to just finish this one thing which leads to another piece that needs to be finished....

  13. warm and cute Love it & Thanks for sharing!

  14. "I didn't really mean to stay up till 2 am, but the momentum plus the post-bedtime peace were like heady wine that dulled my better judgement."

    hahah - this is SO TRUE for me too! And I'm more of morning person to begin with!

  15. this is so neat! Love her reaction smile. I actually bought some laminated cotton online because I want to make my little girl a lined raincoat but I'm stuck with the drafting... I'd like to make a smaller version of a belted one that I have (like a trench, pieced in the back) but it is going to take a lot more energy and evenings than I have at present -- all too often those two things don't intersect!

  16. Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you for posting...a little too hard for me now...but, I'll get there! :)

  17. Все так аккуратненько!


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