Hello friends! I have something a bit different to share with you today!
As sewists, I’m sure we’re all inspired by rtw (ready-to-wear) from time to time and happily modify amazing patterns to suit our vision. While I don’t do this too often, I’m certainly no exception. And admittedly, as much as I love drooling over the high-end runway designs, when it comes to actually making something, shops such as J.Crew are much more suited to my lifestyle. They had an open-front sweater blazer not too long ago, that caught my eye for its practicality and slightly elevated take on a slouchy cardigan.
But, I have a sewing queue as long as my arm (and the other arm… and both legs haha), so it wasn’t until Alina Design Co introduced her Fulton Sweater Blazer, that a J.Crew-inspired cardigan shot up my list. Alina’s design is already so great as is, and I have plans to make it up as designed as well, but sometimes once you have a project in mind, you just have to see it through as you intended. For a classic navy (I chose this Navy Blue Stretch Midweight Cotton Jersey), I really wanted the higher, turned-up-collar look (and a little extra sun coverage never hurts). And, since the Fulton Blazer already had such similar lines to the J.Crew version, I knew it would only take a few tweaks to create exactly what I’d been imagining. So, if you had your eye on a J.Crew sweater blazer like me or if you’re just curious to try one with a higher collar, read on!
If you haven’t already done so, cut out your pattern in the size recommended on the size chart, blending sizes if needed. This collar mod will not affect how the body of the sweater fits, so start with the size(s) you normally would.
I started my modification with the front body piece (A), since that’s where one of the two main changes will take place. From there, you simply adjust everything else to match.
Narrowing the Front Neckline
1. Draw a line, parallel to the grainline, extending from anywhere on the shoulder seams, between the seam allowances, down to the hemline.
2. Cut along this line, splitting the pattern piece into two. Spread the pattern by ¾” (or the amount you want to bring the neckline in toward center front) and tape a strip of paper in the gap (hint: use the lengthen/shorten lines to ensure the pattern pieces are lined up across the gap). Smooth the shoulder seam and trim excess.
Raising the Front Neckline
3. Next, draw a line, parallel to the grainline, just to the right of the collar point marking, which is noted by a circle on the pattern piece. Extend that line down by ~5”, then draw a perpendicular line to the front edge of the pattern (note: the length of the first line isn’t particularly important – just be sure your perpendicular line hits below the slanted portion of the front edge). Cut along both lines.
4. Move the newly cut portion 2” (or amount desired) up the neckline, along the edge of the collar line. Secure the right side of the adjusted piece. Then, split the adjusted piece by making a cut parallel to the grain, and realign the left hand portion with the front edge of the body pattern piece. Fill in the gap with a scrap of paper. For me, this gap was ~¾”.
Altering the Front Facing
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the front facing pattern piece (D), matching cuts and measurements.
6. Optional: It isn’t necessary to alter the width of the front facing shoulder seam; however, you may want to add the same width added to the front body piece, particularly if you expect to fold the collar down and lapel back at any point. To do this, draw a smooth line parallel to the facing’s inner edge and spread the same amount added in step 1.
Narrowing the Back Neckline
7. Since the back (B) is cut on the fold (rather than open like the front), it is not necessary to alter this piece down to the hem. Instead, draw a line, parallel to the grainline, from the shoulder down a few inches (3-5”) and then a second line from that point over to the center back edge. This box should be large enough to contain the entire back neckline. Cut along both lines.
8. Move the neckline piece to the right, opening the shoulder seam by ¾” (or the same amount added to the shoulder in step 2). Insert a scrap of paper to fill the gap and tape to secure.
9. Trim the excess from center back and smooth the new shoulder line. (Note: don’t forget to remark your notch by measuring its distance from center back.)
Altering the Back Facing and Reshaping the Collar
10. On the back facing piece (E), draw a line, parallel to the fold line, ¾” (or the same measurement used in step 8) from the center back edge. Cut along this line and discard the excess. (Note: don’t forget to transfer the notch!)
11. Repeat step 10 for the collar pattern piece (F).
12. Next, to ensure the collar matches the new neckline created in step 4, make two parallel lines, approximately 2 1/8” apart (or measure the amount removed along the slanted neckline in step 4), on the shaped end of the pattern piece, ensuring the lines do not run through the collar point (the circle indicated on the pattern). Cut along the line closest to the shaped edge and move the cut piece to the second line, taping to secure.
13. Lastly, since we’ve added ¾” to the lapel at center front, we need to increase the height of the collar by the same amount to ensure the points look proportional (and this provides the high collar look of the inspiration piece). To do this, tape a scrap of paper to the unnotched edge of the collar piece and draw a line ¾” above, and parallel to, the original pattern line. Then, continue the center back fold line up to the new edge and repeat with the collar front edge. Trim any excess.
And you’re done! You’re now ready to create your high collar sweater blazer (following the pattern’s instructions as usual)! For an added touch, I topstitched the front and around the neckline instead of understitching. If you give it a go, I’d love for you to share below or tag me @jenny.maker on Instagram! And, of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Happy sewing! x