A Classic Knit Cambria Duster

As soon as this brushed sweater knit fabric arrived from Minerva it completely jumped the cue for 'next make'. This is a wonderfully soft knit with a brushed geometric finish on the right side and a smooth basic black on the reverse side. Perfect for a classic unlined wrap jacket to keep you warm on a winter's day. Just the kind of jacket that makes your feel comfortable and cozy, but has style and custom design elements.

This sweater knit gifted to me as a Minerva Brand Ambassador is a perfect material for outerwear or a heavier weight winter garments. The wine, dark and light grey colour combination makes it a versatile fabric to go with any of your winter wardrobe basics. It is 90% polyester with a viscose and elastane blend make it easy care, warm and durable. It is a 4-way stretch blend that comes in a 155 cm width which is important when using the Cambria pattern as the shawl collar piece is quite wide and you need to cut 4. The pattern is abstract enough that you don't have to worry about pattern matching which is a treat! It is a medium weight fabric which makes it a good choice for winter dresses, sweaters and cardis. Here on the West Coast we definitely need an extra layer of warmth this time of year but the heaviness of the knit would have made it too warm for a dress, so a wrap jacket it was!

The Cambria Duster from Friday Pattern Co. was the perfect pattern to combine with this knit. It offers a dramatic, wide draped shawl collar and a tie belt making it perfect for layering. The belt can be cinched in at the waist or tied loosely at the back for a cleaner look. It is definitely a versatile, wardrobe staple for fall and winter wardrobes.

I made a size XL based on bust measurements which allowed for plenty of cross over for more of a wrap effect and layers. The jacket is designed to be have a longer duster but once I had it pieced together I decided to shorten it to knee length. My version was cut to just above the side slit of the original duster. Since I chose to use a knit fabric the longer version made it feel too much like a house coat for my liking. Shortening it did the trick, it feels more chic and polished, combined with the comfort of the Cambria. The longer version of the Cambria is a jacket I would like to try and sew, but using a woven fabric which is what the pattern was originally created for will eliminate the "house coat " vibe.

With using this particular sweater knit I added interfacing to a few of the pattern pieces to give them more body. I used iron-on interfacing on the shaw collar facing pieces, on the back of the pockets and on the end of the sleeve before I rolled them to create the cuff effect achieved by double top stitching. I lengthened the sleeve by 4" so that I had plenty of length for my longer arms as well as enough to fold under for a the heavier cuff hemline.


As an unlined jacket The Cambria is designed so that several choices of seam allowance finishings can be used; overlocking, hong kong seams, single bias binding or flat-felted seams. I used bias binding on the top of the pockets. I did not add binding to the edge of the facing, instead I hand stitched it to the inside seam so that it would remain anchored and not droop if the jacket is worn open. I also added a vintage button to fasten the jacket and keep the top lapel in place before tying the belt. None of these finishes are necessary but I preferred to use them to keep the lines of the jacket clean and simple. I added a double row of top stitching around the front opening and shawl collar. This gives it nice detail and also prevents the knit fabric from 'creeping" after you have pressed it. It helps the collar to lie flat and look polished.



All in all, with minor adjustments for sizing and creating a shorter version than I had originally planned, I am really pleased with the finished product! The fabric is a winner and will keep me warm all winter and the pattern is a classic, chic style that will be a wardrobe staple for years to come. After all.... There is Sew Much To Design.


Happy Sewing,

Lou Sheffer

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