What’s a surface design’s best friend? A mighty fine sewing pattern! Lately all we want to do is get cozy in fleece, so we decided to team up with Meg of Burdastyle for a 3-part sew-along so she could show us how to make one! This sew-along uses the Structured Sweatshirt pattern, which has a very on-trend, 70s retro geometric vibe to it. For the next three weeks every Tuesday, we’ll post a new installment of the Fleece Sweatshirt Sew-along, right here on the blog. Stitch with us, won’t you?!
Meg: The cold weather is here to stay for a while longer! The perfect, cozy fabric for the winter is fleece. When I was little, I remember being dressed up in lots of fleece before going outside, so I was really excited to sew something in Spoonflower’s fleece for my adult self. Before I started picking out surface designs and colors, I wanted to establish my sewing pattern and I’ve found the perfect one! I decided on BurdaStyle’s Structured Sweatshirt digital pattern. I love the paneling in the sweatshirt because it allows me to sew multiple designs together, and the high turtle neck will keep me nice and warm. Sew along and download your copy of the pattern here. Use code PULLOVER50 for 50% off!
Before any sort of cutting or sewing can begin, you’ll need to gather your materials and print the pattern PDF and instructions.
For my fleece fabric I chose three different designs. I love how they all work together and compliment one another. For the main body of the sweatshirt I picked Mod Mint Triangles, and then for the accent panels and bands I went with Arrows Light Grey and Starry Watercolor Dreams in Grey fleece.
You won’t need too many notions to make this pattern. To sew with this fleece on a regular sewing machine you need to use a stretch/ball point needle. Use a SCHMETZ 90/14 stretch needle. In order to pull this sweatshirt pattern over your head without totally ruining your hair you will need an invisible zipper to sew into the center back seam. You can use an invisible zipper that is 8″-16” long depending on how open you want your sweatshirt to go at the back. For sewing together you will just need a simple pair of snips and all-purpose 100% polyester thread.
If you want you can sew together 90% of this project on your serger (if you have one) since this fabric has stretch in it. If you want to serge your seams together make sure your serger is threaded up in an appropriate color thread. I suggest using a four thread instead of three. Don’t have a serger? No problem–just use a zig zag stitch on your regular machine.
Now that we have all of our fabric and materials gathered and ready to go, we need to first print and assemble our digital pattern PDF. Click here to download BurdaStyle’s Ultimate Guide to Digital Sewing Patterns ebook to learn more if this is your first digital pattern experience.
Get your tape out and start tiling and taping the pattern page edges together. Matchup like sides (i.e. 1a to 1a, 2b to 2b) and adhere together. You can choose to overlap, cut or fold one of the edges so the border lines are exactly on top of one another.
Tile and tape until the entire pattern is together. Refer to the first page on the pattern PDF to see the full layout.
BurdaStyle.com patterns do not have seam allowance included, so you’ll need to draw on your own to your size line. For this pattern to best determine your sewing pattern size line, look to the size chart within the instructions and base the size off of your bust circumference measurement.
From your size line draw a parallel line using a clear gridded ruler and colored pen your seam allowance distance away. If you are sewing with a serger, add ¼” to all seams except the center back seam where you should add ⅝”. If you are sewing the seams together using a regular sewing machine, add ⅝” of seam allowance. Draw small dashes along the curved edges of the pattern while shifting your ruler around.
On pieces 1 and 7 there will be different hemlines. Mark and add seam allowance to the Mod.124 line. Also, only mark seam allowance around piece 1 – 8 as these are the only pieces you will need to complete the sweatshirt project. The other pieces included in the pattern pertain to a different style.
Once you have added all your seam allowances to pieces 1-8, cut them out along the seam allowance lines. Use paper scissors or a dull rotary cutter for paper and mat.
There are several pieces that you need to draft yourself, like the hem and sleeve bands. You can find the dimensions within the cutting out section of the instructions. These pieces include a ⅝” seam allowance, so if you added ¼” for serged seams on your other pieces, you will need to accommodate for the difference. You can draft these piece directly onto your fabric or on a separate piece of paper. I always like to draft them on craft paper so I can keep them with the pattern for when I sew it again.
Once the pieces have been drafted, it is time to cut them out from fabric! The self-drafted pieces include the neck piece, hem band, and sleeve bands. I wanted these pieces from the Arrows Light Grey fabric, so I located the direction of greatest stretch and pinned my pieces so the stretch was going across the body. I also took into consideration the fabric design direction and made sure to lay out my pieces accordingly.
This pattern has intricate upper paneling, so I found it easiest to lay them out as they are to be sewn together. I then labeled them which alternate fleece fabrics I would cut them in.
For pieces 2, 4, & 6 I chose to cut them out in the Starry Watercolor Dreams in Grey. I placed all these pieces with the grain lines parallel to the selvedge edge of the fleece. The fabric was folded in half so each piece would cut out two layers.
The Mod Mint Triangles fleece fabric is my favorite print, so I wanted to cut the main body pieces of the pattern in it. I cut the front, back pieces as well as the panel pieces 3 & 5. I checked which grain had the direction of greatest stretch and placed the pieces accordingly on the fleece.
Since the fleece fabric has a decent amount of stretch to it, I knew I wanted to use my serger to sew it all together (which is also why I only added ¼” of seam allowance to the pattern). So I threaded up my serger in large polyester white spools of thread.
Before I sew anything, whether it be on my serger or regular sewing machine, I always do a test serge/stitch. I took a little piece of scrap fabric, folded it in half and gave it a go!
I had to slightly loosen the loopers since this fleece is thicker than the thin spandex I usually sew on it (like this swimsuit).
If you don’t have a serger–not to worry–you can still sew this fleece on your sewing machine. You will just need a 90/14 sized ball point stretch sewing machine needle.
I narrowed the stitch length a little bit to get a nice and staple stitch.
Now that we have all the pieces cut out and we’ve test sewn the fabric, we are ready to put this pullover together. Stay tuned for part two next week when we will start assembling the panels on the front of the pullover. Download the digital pattern here to start yours (and remember to use code PULLOVER50 for 50% off)!
Meg Healy began to sew at the age of 12, which led her to study Fashion Design at both Fanshawe College in London and Parsons the New School for Design in NYC while also interning for Vera Wang. Meg gained the technical skills in pattern making and advanced sewing that led to a number of awards for her design and construction skills. She is now is the editor, lead educator, and face of BurdaStyle.com, inspiring members with sewing projects, online sewing courses, & how-to videos. She thrives working from her downtown studio loft everyday with her giant Flemish rabbit and is regularly commissioned to sew wedding garments, textile art installations, and everything in-between.