Seamwork Astoria Sweater

Seamwork Astoria Jumper

Here is my #wardrobebuilder project for January; the Seamwork Astoria. I decided to try to make a sweater that edged more towards formal than full on slouch fest. The Astoria is shorter than most patterns which I think adds to the more formal look, and I've made it in a silky jersey that works well for evening wear. The plan was to make something that I can wear out in the winter, and now that I've made it I'm looking forward to next December as I think it's quite festive!


I had some fabric leftover from my make for #thelittlereddressproject, which turned out to be the perfect amount for this pattern (it was less than a metre). It's a beautiful John Kaldor ritual jersey that I got from Sew Essential. It's less than £8 a metre too so I think quite good value. I like a lot of the colours in the range, and think that another Astoria in dove grey might end up on the make list too. As I was making a little red dress for Christmas I chose this bold scarlet red.

The fabric itself cuts and sews nicely. I'm not a fan of cutting knit fabrics because they are trickier than cotton and leave more mess, but thankfully these pattern pieces are straightforward. The pattern states at least 25% stretch, which this fabric does have, though I wasn't planning on having it very tight. The pattern does specify a thick knit, which this isn't. It seems to have worked though and I'm glad I used this's so soft to wear, and wasn't at all see through either.

[I also forgot to change my needle to a ballpoint for at least half of the construction, but didn't notice because it was sewing together fine, if that means anything to you].

Pattern and Instructions

This is the first time I've used a Seamwork pattern. I thought I'd try a subscription to Seamwork magazine this year; each month you get access to the online magazine and credits for patterns (enough for two a month). The patterns are also meant to take 3 hours from cutting to finishing which sounds good to me! I'm far too impatient to do anything other than immediately try one of these patterns now that I'm subscribed, and this pattern was one of the reasons I signed up so really just had to be my January #wardrobebuilder. (If bought on its own it costs $12, which today equals about £9).

Having cashed in my credit I downloaded the instructions and pattern pdfs. There are two versions of Astoria - one has full length sleeves whilst the other has cropped sleeves. Both versions are included as separate pdfs, or you can download one pdf which has both variations on it. There are only 5 different pattern pieces and they are all straightforward shapes so the cutting out was pretty quick.

The instructions booklet features everything that I would expect from a Colette paper pattern. It has sizing charts, layplans and lots of helpful information explained clearly, with links to other more detailed articles. I find the instructions very easy to follow, and the diagrams are clear too. I am fairly inexperienced at sewing with knits. I've made a couple of tops on my sewing machine and this pattern didn't require me to learn any new skills, which was appreciated.


A few....mainly because I didn't read the instructions properly before cutting out my pattern.

I cut out a size S even though my measurements matched the size M. This was an intentional choice because I've found that almost every time I make something I have to take it in, and would have been better off cutting out the size smaller than my measurements indicated.

What I didn't realise when I cut out was that this pattern is designed to have negative ease and will be finished to at least 2" smaller across the bust than the bust measurement. I know that knits normally do have negative ease but this looked like it might be a little tight (especially as I was using a thinner knit fabric too). The waist would be okay, but I didn't want this top to be skin tight (it is just after Christmas after all!)

No problem, I thought. I'll just use a 1cm seam allowance instead. That will add a bit more room.

Wrong. I also had not read that this pattern has a 3/8" seam allowance instead of the 5/8" that I am used to working with. This is because 3/8" is the standard seam allowance for overlockers, which many people use for sewing knits. This is a brand new thing for me. I have only just got the hang of finishing seams on an overlocker. I am definitely not confident in using it to sew knits. Luckily the instructions do say you can use a regular sewing machine, which is what I am used to. But this meant that I was still going to have a top that was too tight.

I could have reprinted and recut to a size M, if I had a working printer (which I didn't). So I bodged it instead. I figured that it was the bodice that I wanted more room on. From the pdf waste it looked like the size M was about 1cm larger so instead of placing the pattern pieces on the fold I placed them 1cm away from the fold (front bodice, back bodice and neckband). I added 1cm to each side of the waistband when it was placed for cutting too. I didn't add anything to the sleeves. Having looked at the instructions (carefully now), I didn't think these were going to need to be altered and should fit still - the armholes were still matched against the S size.

Then I used a 3/8" seam allowance.

I did alter the length of the sleeves a little. I wanted a sleeve in between the two versions so I extended the 3/4 length sleeve lines a bit more, just following the cut lines on a little further.

There are options for finishing hems. I used a simple narrow zigzag on the sleeve cuffs and to anchor the neckband because I was running short on time and didn't want to thread up a twin needle.


I'm quite happy with how this jumper turned out. It definitely looks smart enough to wear out, I think largely due to the slinky fabric. The cropped length is definitely a winner. The alterations I had to make were successful in the end as they left me with the fit that I had been looking for when I started out. If I was making this in a thicker knit I would be tempted to go straight ahead with the size S now too.
What I like about this pattern is how quick and easy it is to assemble - it does take 3 hours and is really simple to put together. I like the silhouette with the large waistband and 3/4 length sleeve options.
What I'm not sure about with this pattern is the length. On the one hand I really like the cropped length but on the other hand I can't wear it with most of my jeans and trousers because they sit too low. (Don't forget I'm only 5ft and this is where it sits on me!) If I was making this again I might lengthen the bodice by an inch, or try a much longer version and lengthen by about 4 inches, so that I can wear this with my jeans.

I definitely recommend this pattern, and will be making another shortly (I have already sourced my fabric so just need a couple of hours to do it now!). I don't know if I can count this as having achieved my #wardrobebuilder aims because it is currently too short to wear often with the trousers and skirts I have already. I'm either going to have to make a longer one, or some higher waisted trousers!

*apologies for the awful pictures....not a lot of sun around this January. 

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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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