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Colour Block Retro Sweater Tutorial

Recently I brought some cool Retro Tapes print Cotton Knit from OTY Fabrics NZ. I had dreamed up a design for the fabric once it arrived. I intended to do adult versions of this but wanted to test the theory works first so I decided to use the FREE Brindille and Twig Hoodie in size 5-6 years as a test. I think this theory will work no matter what pattern you use as long as its a basic non

shaped raglan or set sleeved sweater pattern. You could add a hood if you wanted to but I chose to omit the hood and add a simple ribbed band to the neckline. I chose the B&T Hoodie because its easy and was already printed out sitting around, its a good basic pattern that most of us can find and sew easily. So without further waffle lets get on with how I did the Colour Block Hack.

What You Will Need:

  • A basic sweater or hoodie pattern (I used the Raglan B&T Hoodie in size 5-6 years. Its available up to size 14 years too HERE)

  • Tracing Paper, Pen and Sellotape if required

  • Clear Ruler

  • Paper weights

  • Fabric ( French Terry, Sweatshirting, or Cotton Spandex - the fabric needed depends on the pattern you use to create your colour block - I recommend OTY Fabrics lush FT)

  • Overlocker or Standard Sewing Machine

  • Pins or Wonder Clips

  • Thread

  • Iron

Lets Get Started:

  • Trace out your Front, Back and Sleeves patterns and set aside

  • First grab your fabric you are going to use for Colour Blocking, this could be your contrast fabric for the centre panels, if it has a set 'striped' design you will need to measure the amount you want the central panel to be. In my example the Retro Tapes were approximately 10cm wide for 2 strips of tapes to comfortably show on my top. Each Tape strip was about 5cm wide. So I intended to cut my panels 12cm wide from the Retro Tapes Fabric. You could variate this depending on what size you are sewing for yourself and what fabric you are using as a contrast.

Ruler measuring fabric print
Measure print to figure out width of panel

  • Take your Front pattern piece and measure from the top of the Shoulder/Neck about the centre of your pattern piece. Measure down as far as you want the centre panel to start. I chose 15cm to start with then decided it was just a little too low and revised it to 14cm down on my size 5-6 years top. There is no 'Rule' on where you start your colour block panel, its personal preference. Make a few marks across the front of your Pattern Piece and join to draw a line from the front fold to the side seam.

  • Measure down from this first line depending on how wide you want your colour block panel to be. I chose 10cm as that was the average width of two strips of the Retro Tapes. Mark another line across at that measurement.

Measure down from neckline/shoulder and draw two lines to create your panel

  • Grab your Back Pattern Piece and overlay the Front Pattern piece so you can join up the armhole corner and necklines mark the same lines on your Back Pattern Piece tracing the lines from your Front.

  • You now have 2 pattern pieces with colour block strips marked out.

Repeat panel markings on the Back Pattern Piece

  • Grab your sleeves pattern piece and fold in half to join the inner sleeves seam. Crease the fold so it can be seen easily. Open back out your pattern piece and smooth. Mark the centre line with your pen. Measure out from this centre line to create your Centre sleeve panel markings. My tapes were 5cm wide so I placed the ruler at 2.5cm on the drawn sleeve centre line and marked a mark each side 2.5cm wide from the centre line. I continued to do that until I had made two lines each side of the centre line. This gave me a 5cm wide centre strip.

Create Centre Front Line and then measure out from that line

Draw lines each side of centre line for panel

  • Alternatively fold the sleeve pattern piece in half, crease, mark centre line and measure down from the top centre mark of your sleeve pattern piece the same amount down as you did on the Front Pattern piece, mark a line across your sleeve pattern piece, and a second line again the same width as your Front Pattern piece. So 10cm in my example.

  • You can now choose to cut all your pattern pieces as I did into separate pattern pieces at those cutting lines, marking each pattern piece as shown in my example.

Cut and mark up Body Pattern Pieces
Cut out and mark Center Sleeve Panel

  • Cut your centre front and centre back panels on the fold (making sure to add 1.5cm seam allowances on each long edge) from your contrast fabric (I used the Retro Tapes for mine)

  • Cut your Top Front, Top Back on the fold in the colour of your choice ( I did mine in Black). Add seam allowances to the long bottom edge of these pattern pieces.

  • You can either cut your Bottom Front and Bottom Back pattern pieces in another contrasting colour/print or the same fabric as you did for the Top Front and Back. Make sure you add 1.5cm seam allowances to the top long edge of your Bottom Pattern pieces.

Add seam allowances to long edge of Top Front & Top Back

Add seam allowances to sleeve inner panel edges

  • For the Contrast Central Panel Sleeves cut 2 x each side Front sleeve pattern piece and each side Back Sleeve Pattern piece from your contrasting colour (I did Black)

  • Or if you are doing the 3 part Panel Sleeves, cut your Top Sleeve Panel and Bottom Sleeve Panel x 2 in your contrasting colours (I chose Black) and your central Sleeve Panels x 2 in your main pattern piece (in my case the Retro Tapes)

  • You should now have the following:

- Top Front, Centre Front, and Bottom Front Pieces

- Top Back , Centre Back, and Bottom Back Pieces

- Side Front Sleeves x 2, Side Back Sleeves x 2, and 2 x centre sleeve strips

(Note: I suggest cutting notches to the tops and bottoms of your pattern pieces so you can work out which way up the grain goes and how to align all the pattern pieces together)

Sew up your Top:

  • Clip or Pin your Centre Front to your Bottom Front pieces and sew together

  • Clip or Pin your Centre Front to your Top Front piece and sew together, Press with iron

  • Clip or Pin your Centre Back to your Bottom Back and sew together

  • Clip or Pin your Centre Front to your Bottom Back piece and sew together, Press with iron

  • Clip or Pin your Centre Sleeve Strip to your Front sleeve piece and sew together, repeat with your Back Sleeve piece, Press with iron

line up your pattern pieces

clip all your panels and pieces together and sew

Finished Sleeve Center panel strips

  • You should now have a complete Front Body Piece, Back Body Piece and 2 sleeves

  • Sew up your top as you would normally following pattern instructions.

sew up your top as per pattern instructions
  • For the B&T Hoodie I chose to make it a crew neck sweater by omitting the Hood. I measured a 40cm x 3.5cm strip of ribbing and sewed into a loop, quartered and clipped to the neckline and sewed in place. This is correct for a size 5-6 years. For your size measure the neckline once the top is sewn together double that measurement and times x 0.8 to get the centimetres needed to cut your neckband. The average width of neckbands for sizes NB-10 years is approximately 3.5cm above that 4cm.

  • You could choose to sew on the hood as per the pattern if you would like.

And there you go, one finished colour block sweater with a feature panel. These steps can be used with ANY standard Raglan or Set Sleeves Sweater or Hoodie pattern but you will need to use your judgement to measure the panel sizes you need to create your colour block sweater. Always remember if you cut panels from the original pattern to add SEAM ALLOWANCES otherwise the fit will be wrong.

thanks for stopping by and trying one more of my Sewing Tutorials. Feel free to share and tag me on the OTY Fabrics Facebook Group or Instagram.



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