I first began making the Katwise sweatercoat four years ago. It was more to give me something to do whilst I was off on long term sick from my teaching job. I had already downloaded the tutorial for making the Katwise armwarmers and had made a few pairs for friends and family, and I felt like I was ready to tackle a bigger project. I had caught the bug! Trawling my local charity shops, I hunted for woollen jumpers until I had enough to tackle my very first sweatercoat. Here is one of the early ones. Little was I to know back then, that my adventures with sweatercoats would become my new business as ill health would force me permanently out of teaching.
If you haven’t already come across Katwise, or Kat O’Sullivan, then do check out her website. She has an almost cult following over in the States, and her jumpers and sweatercoats sell out as fast as Glastonbury tickets. She sells the tutorials for making them as downloadable PDF files, and says to folk that it’s fine to make and sell them, just a long as they mention her name and charge a reasonal price so as no to undervalue hers or others’ work.
I used to be a bit embarrassed about owning up to the fact that my sweatercoats were not my original design, but were a Katwise copy, but I soon got over that! Whilst the design of the sweatercoat may not be my own, there is still a lot of skill involved in selecting the right combination of colours, textures and weight of recycled knitwear to use, not to mention the skill of putting them together with an industrial overlocker.
I have made sweatercoats now for four years as The Woolly Pedlar in many combinations of colours. Here is the Eco Wedding Sweatercoat that is made soley from ivory wool sweaters. I have added a maribou feather trim and it has some sweet embroidery on the cuffs. It took months to collect enough ivory sweaters, and white certainly didn’t look right at all!
As I write this, the eco wedding coat is still for sale, but head over to the Sweatercoat section of the shop to check out this and all the other sweatercoats that are still for sale.
The starting point for making a sweatercoat for me, is always the bodice. This needs to be thick enough to take the weight of the full skirt, and so preferably made from a felted wool jumper or cardi. If is is too lightweight, then it will not hold its shape. I use a mannequin and place the bodice on it, finding the natural waistline and cut it off there. The waistband then needs to good and thick to really keep the shape of the coat. To give an even more cinched in wasit feel, then add a tie belt. This is all explained in more detail in Katwise’s tutorial.
After the waistband is on, I add the full skirt, made up of panels which I often cut from the sleeves of jumpers, and then the hem lines – the more of these you add, the fuller and longer the skirt.
I then make the hood. Now, I find that hood are a bit like Marmite. You either love them or you hate them!
I have made my fair share of wacky, pointy hoods, but I do get asked to make sweatercoats without hoods. For some, the coat is wacky enough, but the hood is just one stage too far! For others, the longer the hood, the better. Though I do warn folk when going to the loo to lift the hood over their shoulders! Sorry to be gross!
I do, therefore make sweatercoats with collars like this, but as with all my creations, what I make very much depends on what I can find, old jumper wise. For that reason it is all very serendipitous, but it keeps it exciting!
After the hood is made, add a button band, sleeves and pockets, and after all the ends have been sewn in by hand, you have your sweatercoat!
I’m heading off to Woolfest soon, and am hard at work making lots of new sweatercoats for this year. Woolfest is held in June, the 26th – 27th to be precise. It is set in stunning scenery on the edge of the Lake District at Cockermouth and is held in the Farmer’s Mart. When I get there, I will be given an empty cattle pen that has been hosed down, and then have the afternoon to transform this into my stall. This is last year’s stall, though I’m pleased to say I will have double the space this year.
I love Woolfest! It is a gathering where wool is celebrated in its every form, and has a very high class of exhibitor. If you are coming to Woolfest, do come and say hello. You’ll find me in row K at the far side of the Mart.
This was the sweatercoat that caused the biggest stir last year. I’d posted a pic on the Woolfest Facebook page of this sweatercoat and there was something of a rush when the doors opened on the Friday morning! I made a mental note to self – #makemorenextyear!
So, with this in mind, I’ve been busy collecting piles of jumpers in lovely, bright colourways, as well as monochrome, in blacks and greys. My only problem is there are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week!
Whenever I make a new sweatercoat, I generaly list it for sale online, on this website in the Women’s Clothing/Sweatercoats section of the shop. I also show it on all the other social media, You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram – just search for The Woolly Pedlar, but make sure you spell it right! There are 2 l’s in Woolly!
I don’t generally take orders for sweatercoats, as it is so hard to predict what jumpers I can find, but if you do have a special request, then get in touch, and I’ll see what I can do.
Thanks for reading, and if you fancy making yourself a Katwise sweatercoat, then go for it! Let me know how you get on, and I’d love to see a photo of what you make, and as Katwise says, if you do end up selling them, then best of luck – just give me a mention from time to time 🙂