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Hello Everyone! It has been a while since my last blog post but I’m excited to get back on track and dust off my keyboard. Seams Sew Lo is hosting a blog tour featuring the Seamingly Smitten Catherine’s Cowl Neck Poncho for Women pattern and I got the chance to review the pattern. This is my first blog tour so I was so excited to participate and get in on the fun with the other bloggers listed below. Head over to Seamingly Smitten to check out their patterns and get 40% off with code: PONCHOTOUR valid December 3 – 17th.
Seamingly Smitten was established in 2011 and their motto is “Sew Fashion. Simply.” Their patterns are targeted to help other moms sew! I am a mom who loves to sew for my son and myself so I was immediately drawn to this pattern company. I’m also a beginner who doesn’t have a lot of time to sew so I’m all about simplicity. Jenny Hall, owner and designer has a wide variety of cute patterns for women, girls and boys. Even though I love to sew for my son, I’ve become a more selfish sewist so I love the cardigan, tops, dresses (and so much more). Also, if you are interested in mommy and me patterns, you should definitely check out Seamingly Smitten as they have a great selection of CUTE mommy and me patterns to choose from including this poncho.
As winter approaches, this poncho is great to keep warm and it is perfect for layering. I am not a big fan of ponchos or cowl necks but I was excited to sew something different and out of my comfort zone. This pattern is marked as a “beginner sewing pattern” and I have to agree that this is the perfect project for a beginner. I like the fact that the Catherine Poncho pattern comes in a wide range of sizes from 0-26 (XS – XXXL), petite, regular or tall length options, as well as curved or straight sides options. Another fun option to choose from is the cowl hood or cowl neck. If you haven’t sewn up a hood before, this is a good option to get you familiarized with sewing up hoods.
The pattern requires 2 & 3/8 yards of knit fabric, DBP, flannel, French terry, flannel and many more drapey fabric options. I had 3 yards of distressed asphalt gray solid baby cotton jersey I purchased from Girl Charlee in my stash so I decided to go with that option. Since the pattern has the option for a kangaroo pocket, I knew right away I wanted to use a contrasting fabric for the pocket so I choose a scrap of pink floral grey double brushed French Terry purchased from KwikKnits. The kangaroo pocket and hood are perfect if you want to use up any of your scraps.
It took me about 3 days (3 hours per night) to complete this project from printing the pattern to sewing the garment. I downloaded the PDF pattern and not having too much experience with PDF patterns I wasn’t sure of the printing requirements. I didn’t see any instructions on how to print the pattern (actual size, fit, custom scale) so I printed the pattern and hoped for the best. I selected Actual size and did the one inch test and it was perfect (phew). I would suggest you print out one page first and make sure the printer parameters are set correctly before printing the whole pattern. Save some money/ink and don’t print the instructions but rather have your computer/laptop next to you if possible to reference back to. There are 16 pages to print out and the assembly is easy. Before you get into assembling the pattern pieces, make sure you have the supplies needed, which are listed on the pattern instructions. I didn’t realize I didn’t have scotch tape so I used masking tape (ugh) to assemble my pattern. If you’ve never used PDF patterns, don’t be intimidated. The instructions have a diagram on how to assemble the pieces and the sizes are highlighted in different colors. Make sure you read the instructions thoroughly and understand how to cut the fabric. However, the pattern pieces do have cutting instructions printed on the pieces itself so make sure you pay attention as you’re cutting. I didn’t pay attention so I didn’t cut the hood pieces as mirror images so I had one hood piece sewn on the wrong side. I didn’t mind because the wrong and right sides look very similar and you can’t tell my mistake (I hope).
The problem I found with the pattern is that it didn’t indicate to cut on the stretch of the fabric. Maybe this is a known fact but when I started sewing last year, I wouldn’t have known to cut on the stretch or I’m not sure if pattern for this particular pattern. Nevertheless, I cut on the stretch. The main piece when assembled is rather large so if you don’t have a large surface to cut on, you may find it a bit difficult to cut into your knit fabric. Keep in mind I chose the XL size, regular length and curved sides so I was working with a lot of fabric. Once you’ve cut your poncho, the kangaroo and hood pieces are a piece of cake and you can move on to the fun part, SEWING! The instructions have 15 steps to guide you through the sewing process. I personally have a difficult time understanding instructions so I have to read the instructions several times to understand what to do. I was a bit stumped on the part of pressing and sewing the slants of the kangaroo pocket. The instructions had one picture and instructions of pressing the slants back on the kangaroo but it would have been helpful to me if it had another picture showing how the wrong sides would have looked with the slants pressed back. Again, I have a hard time following instructions and I’m a visual learning person so I need as many details as possible. I also think it would have been helpful to note on the instructions to mark the centers of the front poncho piece and the kangaroo pocket. When sewing the pocket onto the poncho front, you are instructed to measure down from the center of the neckline and pin the top of the pocket. I would have found it helpful to mark the center of the neckline prior and the center of the pocket so that you can just place it and not worry about it being off center. What I did find very helpful is that the instructions tell you how far down to measure if you have chosen a regular, petite or tall option (if you don’t want to try it on).
After sewing the shoulder seams you then have to hem the entire poncho. This was especially tedious for me because I HATE hemming and this is a lot of fabric to hem. I’m not good with keeping the seam allowance even so pressing the seam (as instructed) would have yielded a better result. I’m seriously thinking about investing in a magnetic seam guide. Also, the fabric I used, cotton jersey knit, is very slippery so it’s hard to fold over if it is not pressed. It is very important not to skip this step like I did. I was avoiding hemming the poncho until the very end and moved on to sewing on the cowl hood and sewing the armhole slits, without hemming the garment first. This means that your raw edges will show on your armhole slits and you won’t be able to hem the garment after. So I had to unstitch the sewn arm hole slits and proceed to hemming my garment. Do not be like me and please, follow the instructions.
Sewing a hood can be intimidating but I’ve had a bit of experience sewing on hoods that I knew what to do. I would have liked to see a picture of the hood upside down pinned on the neck hole. I was a bit confused with the top stitching picture thinking that was the picture of sewing the actual hood onto the neckline. As I mentioned, I had sewn a few hoods before so I used my experience to sew this cowl hood and there were no issues. I think if you use your common sense and past experiences you can get through any hesitations. I followed the instructions on sewing the arm hole slants measuring 7 inches from the top of the poncho and 7 inches from that point down to secure the side. I tried on my poncho once again and it fit great. Finally, I hemmed the cowl hood using a stretch straight stitch and I was done!
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the final garment. I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I did. I don’t own a single garment that has a cowl so I was hesitant but I love my new poncho. I love that it can be layered and it is flattering (it hides my belly). As a beginner, this pattern is easy and fun. I loved that it didn’t take me too much time to complete; it has detailed instructions and pictures, as well as many options for lengths and sizes. I will definitely be making this pattern again with flannel and other types of fabrics. Keep in mind that you can use lighter or thicker fabrics depending on the season. The instructions do provide feedback if you opt to use a drapier knits or a more structured fabric like flannel. I can’t wait to sew up some more ponchos and if you’re a beginner or experienced sewist, definitely give this poncho a try!
Please see all the Catherine Poncho inspirations of all the wonderful ladies on the Seamingly Smitten Catherine Poncho Blog Tour hosted by Seams Sew Lo: