• MingMakes

Stella Hoodie

This is the fourth pattern in the Tilly and the Buttons book Stretch!, written to teach people how to sew with knits. It is paired with a jogging bottoms pattern which I will tackle at a later date. I was excited to sew up the hoodie as this is an item I don’t have enough of in my wardrobe. Here is my full review.

Front view of a young Asian female wearing a Stella Hoodie sweatshirt by Tilly & the Buttons with burgundy maroon sleeves and hood, grey bodice and kangaroo pocket and wide flat white drawstrings

Fit

Fabric

Construction

Overlocker

Hood

Drawstring

Kangaroo pocket

Sleeves

Side seams

Hem

Summary


Fit

Since this is a loose-fitting garment, I was hopeful I wouldn’t need much in the way of adjustments. I very quickly realised this was a pipe dream and soldiered on with another epic fitting journey as documented in this post, with photos of all my toiles and details of the adjustments I made.

Back view of a young Asian female wearing a Stella Hoodie sweatshirt by Tilly & the Buttons with burgundy maroon sleeves and hood, grey bodice and kangaroo pocket and wide flat white drawstrings

I had a similar issue when fitting my Freya dress where if I raised or hunched my shoulders, the fit at the back looked much better and so part of my journey on the Stella was figuring out how to correct this. This involved doing a sloping shoulder adjustment but only on one of the pieces.


Here are the before and after photos of the back:

Back view of a young Asian female wearing a toile for the Stella Hoodie by Tilly & the Buttons

See all my fitting details in the post here.


Fabric

I fancied trying some colour blocking or mixing prints having seen a few examples online. I really liked the look of this one from Shein:


However, being new to knits I’m not experienced at sewing together two fabrics with different properties, and what considerations are needed to help it retain its shape, avoid puckering etc. The next best thing was to use the same fabric in two different colours which I ordered from Guthrie&Ghani. I used the Cosy Colours Multi Fleck Fleece Sweatshirt Fabric in burgundy and dark grey. They contain multi-coloured flecks which are much more obvious on the burgundy fabric and beautifully subtle on the grey.


It’s also not too thick so I was confident my modest sewing machine could handle it. It is 95% cotton, 5% elastane with 30% two-way stretch, 240gsm.


Having read so much advice about not tumble drying sweatshirt fabric, I just knew that air drying it would be a hassle for me and so I put it through on a low temperature cycle. The book mentions that sweatshirt fabric can shrink a lot so I washed and dried it 3 times just to be sure.

Left view of a young Asian female wearing a Stella Hoodie sweatshirt by Tilly & the Buttons with burgundy maroon sleeves and hood, grey bodice and kangaroo pocket and wide flat white drawstrings

Construction

Overlocker

About a week before I started making this hoodie, I attended a beginner’s overlocker workshop at Guthrie&Ghani. I have used my overlocker to finish seams but wasn't confident enough to sew a garment with it. This workshop went through the basics and then we made a simple t-shirt (see my newsletter here for photos and more details). This was so useful because it included sewing a neckband on without quartering and pinning, but by getting a feel for how much to stretch the fabric as you sew. I don’t think I would have tried this myself if I hadn’t been to the workshop.

Sideways front view of a young Asian female wearing a Stella Hoodie sweatshirt by Tilly & the Buttons with burgundy maroon sleeves and hood, grey bodice and kangaroo pocket and wide flat white drawstrings

I decided to use my hoodie as a way to practice my skills, knowing that any dodgy seams may not show very obviously. It did take a little courage to make this decision because there was a large part of me that knew I’d make it neater if I used the sewing machine, but I also wanted to gain experience with the overlocker for future garments.


Hood

The instructions describe sewing buttonholes for where the drawstrings enter/exit the front edge of the hood, but I was quite keen on the look of my niece’s Bristol Uni hoodie which has a large eyelet and a wide flat drawstring (20mm wide).

Close up of Bristol University maroon zip-up hoodie showing large gold eyelets and wide flat white braid

I therefore decided to put eyelets into my hoodie, using the Prym 14mm silver eyelets. I did a practice one which turned out really nicely. Moved onto the real ones, managed to do one inside out and the other had a funny lip on it like the inner collar had not bent over properly, shown in the section just underneath the curved white line in the photo below.

Close up view of Prym 14mm silver eyelet installed, with white semi-circle indicated where the lip has not bent in place properly

I decided to remove them and turned to the internet for advice on how. I used the method in this video by Lucy’s Corsetry at around 1:00.


I was feeling a little sorry for my fabric with all of this going on, so steamed it back into submission after removing the eyelets. Before redoing them, I had another practice go which went beautifully. Onto the real one - ugh! Funny lips on both of them. OK one more go - ugh! Again! Maybe my angle’s not right or something is slipping but by this time I had run out of eyelets so this was going to have to stay. It's not at all noticeable, and my back up plan should they fall out in the future is to try an embroidered eyelet.

Close up front view of a young Asian female wearing a Stella Hoodie sweatshirt by Tilly & the Buttons with burgundy maroon sleeves and hood, grey bodice and kangaroo pocket and wide flat white drawstrings

When sewing together the hood and lining on the overlocker, I had to contend with the bulky seams. I had followed instructions to press the seam allowances to the centre of the hood which meant there were 6 layers of fabric altogether. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have mattered to press the hood seams one way and the lining seams the other to reduce bulk but for some reason I felt the urge to follow through with the original plan. This was a bit tricky on the overlocker, along with having the eyelet passing under the presser foot near the start and end. I tried the hump jumper which helped but I didn’t get a terribly neat result.

Uneven overlocking stitching when approaching bulky hems as shown on the hood of the Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie sweatshirt

I pulled at the seam to make sure it was secure, and then left it as is. On the inside of the hood, I’d never see it again!

Front view of a young Asian female wearing a Stella Hoodie sweatshirt by Tilly & the Buttons with burgundy maroon sleeves and hood with the hood up, grey bodice and kangaroo pocket and wide flat white drawstrings, her hands in the kangaroo pocket

Since I chose large eyelets and wanted a wide braid, I stitched the channel for the braid 3cm wide instead of 2cm, using washi tape as a marker line at 3cm from the needle.

Janome needle plate with blue washi tape with white polka dots acting as a seam allowance marker

Drawstring

For the drawstring cord, again copying the look from the Bristol Uni hoodie, I ordered some 20mm wide burgundy shoelaces as I couldn’t find braid in the width I wanted. The colour didn’t quite match so I considered ordering it in white instead, or covering it in the burgundy sweatshirt fabric to make it really match. However, I did like the texture of the braid and so decided to go with the white shoelaces.

Big Laces 20mm wide white laces

I cut off the ends and doubled them up, sewing the two shoelaces together along their edges to thicken the braid. To secure the raw edge where I cut off the ends, I folded them over 2.5cm, put the folded ends facing each other on each shoelace, sewing them together to enclose them. I secured the folded ends with a Sewline fabric glue pen before sewing.

Two wide white shoelaces with the ends folded under by 2.5cm and raw ends facing each other

I used my edge guide foot to sew in a straight line down the edge of the shoelaces. This has to be one of my favourite presser feet, it is so helpful for topstitching neatly.

Janome edge guide foot as used for sewing the two wide white shoelaces together

To help secure the ends, I sewed a cross within a rectangle. I love the look of the finished result.

The two drawstring ends made of two white shoelaces sewn together, with a cross inside the rectangle to secure the raw ends

Kangaroo pocket

I decided to add the kangaroo pocket option. When looking at the photo in the book, the opening seemed a little tight and I wanted to be able to get my whole hand in easily.

Photo of the Tilly and the Buttons book Stretch! showing the Stella Hoodie sweatshirt dress with hands in the kangaroo pocket

I put my hand over the opening and it seemed tight after taking into account the seam allowances. I had already cut the pocket by this point so I angled the pocket openings adding an extra 3cm or so by cutting along the ruler in the photo below on each side (the pocket is upside down).

Omnigrid ruler over the wrong side of the Tilly and the Buttons Stella hoodie sweatshirt showing where to cut to enlarge the opening for hands

Here is the pocket with my hand laid over the opening on the before and after pieces.


This meant remarking the new pivot points for sewing the pocket and lining together, shown by the black dots.

Wrong side of the kangaroo pocket for the Tilly and the Buttons Stella hoodie sweatshirt showing where the new pivot points are marked after widening the pocket opening

Here is a photo of the pocket on the lining before that was cut to the same size to compare the shape.

The Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie sweatshirt kangaroo pocket, showing the widened pocket opening over the lining piece before it has been adjusted to show the difference in shape

I could have sewed the pocket and lining together on the overlocker but I thought the corners might be bulky when turning it out, so I used the sewing machine and clipped the corners as described in the book.


When sewing it on, I put a little bit of give in the pocket i.e. not flat on, so this would allow for hands or phone etc. to go in the pocket without pulling on the bodice piece so much. I remembered this from the Love At First Stitch book when it described adding a patch pocket onto the pyjama bottoms, creating space in the pocket by putting a hand in and pinning after that.

Hand in the kangaroo pocket of the Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie sweatshirt, to give space for the hand in the pocket before pinning it in place

I used 2-needle coverstitching to secure the pocket to the bodice.

The finished kangaroo pocket on the Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie on grey sweatshirt fabric, with the kangaroo pocket and hem coverstitched neatly

Sleeves

Sewing the sleeve cuffs on with the overlocker was a little fiddly as the circumference was small. I used the technique described in this SewEssential video at 1:57 for cutting a section of the seam allowance out to start sewing.

Section cut out of the seam allowance of burgundy sweatshirt fabric in order to start overlocking more easily

I then used this video by experimental_sewist on Instagram to start and end overlocking in the round neatly.

Screenshot of the video my experiemental_sewist on Instagram showing a video of how to start and end overlocking in the round neatly

The finished cuffs, one shown inside out.

Close up of the cuffs of the Tilly and the Buttons Stella Hoodie, showing one inside out in burgundy multi fleck sweatshirt fabric from Guthrie&Ghani, with overlocked seams

Side seams

Since my sleeves and bodice were a different colour, I changed the thread in the left needle on the overlocker before sewing down the side seams. I added a little Kylie & The Machine side label that came in their 2021 advent calendar, securing it with the Sewline fabric glue pen before sewing.


Hem

I finished by coverstitching the hem which gave a lovely neat finish.


Summary

I’m really proud of this make as I learnt a lot and tried a few new things. I’m a little closer to figuring out my fitting issues which undoubtedly will be a journey that continues, and sewing it on the overlocker has given me more confidence in using it.


I really like the look of the colour-blocking on the finished garment, the eyelets give it a professional look and I love the wide flat drawstring. It’s such a wardrobe staple, I can see this being worn a lot.

Front view of a young Asian female wearing a Stella Hoodie sweatshirt by Tilly & the Buttons with burgundy maroon sleeves and hood, grey bodice and kangaroo pocket and wide flat white drawstrings with her right hand on her hip


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Links

I have no affiliations, I'm just a keen buyer and user. A UK supplier may be linked, please try to source items from your favourite independent stores.

Tilly and the Buttons book Stretch!

Guthrie&Ghani

Prym 14mm silver eyelets

Big Laces - 20mm wide laces

Sewline fabric glue pen

Janome edge guide foot

Kylie & The Machine

Video by experimental_sewist for overlocking in the round

SewEssential video - 7 Clever Overlocker Tips


Related blog posts

Fitting the Stella Hoodie

Freya Dress

Fitting the Freya knit dress


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