Slash-neck Astoria

For sheer relentlessness, you can’t beat Seamwork. I pretty quickly realized that I couldn’t keep up with the deluge of new patterns, but I still have a few from way back when. Of those, one of the ones I most wanted to sew again was the Astoria sweater.

I was inspired by the relaxed Astoria I saw over on I Think I Can Sew It; my first version of this sweater (never blogged) has a tighter, preppier, sweater-bunny kind of fit. It doesn’t layer over things and it tends to creep up. I didn’t want to recreate that look, so I sewed a size L, slightly up from my measurements. And as you can see I altered the neckline to be a slash neck!

I don’t have any patterns with that particular feature, but I thought I could figure it out, and it seems to have worked. This polyester sweater knit was perfect for proof of concept (that’s my diplomatic way of saying “cheap”). I had to buy the end of bolt so I have a strange amount left over, but it was still a bargain.

Steps are below – next time I would use a more generous belly-up curve for the line that bridges the neckline, instead of cutting it almost level, but this worked well enough for a trial run! The most important thing to remember is that you need to finish the edges of your neckline fabric separately, if you decide they need finishing, and not together.

And here’s how it went!

The front is okay, but my stitching is decidedly wobbly on the back neck! It’s a) basically impossible to photograph and b) not a fabric that was particularly happy to be stitch picked, so I’m living with it. I’m mostly jazzed with the fit I got by sizing up, but next time I’d remove a wedge from the center back neck, as it’s not only wobbly, it’s gaping. I suppose it’s due to a nascent dowager’s hump (now if only I had a nascent dower house).  

I felt best using a zig-zag stitch for my topstitching, but of course a double needle is always an option, and you could possibly get away with a straight stitch if you have a wide enough neckline (or a small enough walnut).

The size L sleeves were a little long; I could have trimmed them but in the end I just folded the wide sleeve hems over twice, because I thought sleeves that were slightly too short would be better than sleeves that were slightly too long, especially in cream fabric. It turns out I shove them up to my elbows either way, but they are neater looking inside as a result!

I finished my neckline edges with a serger and sewed my sleeves in flat. I avoid serging in the round whenever possible, so instead of constructing the shirt and the shirt band as two units and joining at the waist, I sewed each unfolded band to each shirt piece, then sewed the side seams from sleeve end to the far edge of the band, making sure the shirt/band seams were pressed down. After folding the band in half I topstitched from the right side to trap the second, inner edge of the band, which I left raw. I could have sewn them as two units, joined them, and then left all the seam allowances raw since I’m so leary of serging in a circle, but that literally just occurred to me now. Oops!  

There’s excess fabric in the armpits but that’s the style now, grandpa! Or actually, that’s not something I feel is a problem comfort-wise, nor a fit issue I notice on other people, and it doesn’t bother me here. Loose-ish = extra-ish fabric, that’s just the deal.   

I had to reprint my Astoria pattern (I lost my last copy), and the Illustrator file wasn’t locked, which I love. Not only was I able to select just the lines for my preferred size, I could also arrange the pattern pieces in a new document to print as efficiently as possible, and I fit the whole shebang onto 12 8.5”x11” sheets of paper. I don’t expect pattern companies to supply individual ultra-efficient print layouts for each size, but I’m really happy when the files are editable and I can do it myself.

I like this sweater more than I expected to. I’m not troubled by high necks, so I just feel very cozy! Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the fabric will age ungracefully. If I make another, with higher-quality fabric, I might do away with the separate band altogether and just integrate it into the shirt front/back. It’s not impossible to tuck it in as-is – my high-waisted bottoms are generally high enough to cover that seam – but it could be better.

I’ll probably stick this in a drawer for the next few months – we went for a weekend away in the Berkshires, where we took these pictures, and it was 45 and raining the whole time (it was amazing, actually, I read a book and ate scones and watched Midsomer Murders), but one week later it’s about to be 90 forever. Blergh. Holler at me if you find more pattern gold in that swift-flowing Seamwork river!

Pattern: Seamwork Astoria sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: L

Supplies: 1.75 yards of polyester sweater knit in Cream, Sewfisticated, $8.73; thread from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $8.73

10 thoughts on “Slash-neck Astoria

    1. Thanks! After 2 days of 90+ temps I’m finding it hard to believe I was wearing a neck this high a week ago!

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  1. I love this pattern ! I have just made a couple in Merino of our winter. They are perfection! Seamworks block fitted me well before they messed it up. Have you found any other gems in their range? Everything I’ve made hasn’t fitted me very well.

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    1. Disasters: Ariana bodysuit, Elmira wrap top, and Lisbon nightgown. Mitigated successes: Almada robe, Ruth dress, and Natalie blouse (the Natalie is actually totally fine, I just finished another and some design choices I made have me down on it, so that’s on me). And this is the only other Seamwork pattern I’ve sewn! 😬 There’s others I like the look of but that’s not terrific odds.
      Also, despite the fact it is very much summer now in the Northeast U.S. I have merino envy! 💚

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      1. I just transformed an Elmira into an Astoria! The Astoria and the Paxson were the only patterns that worked for me. The Natalie has always been on my list but the Grainline Archer has replaced it.

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      2. Nice safe! Every fall I say I’m going to make a plaid flannel Archer, maybe this is the year I actually see it through.

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  2. Hi Lia, I might make my next short-sleeved Astoria with a slash neck, too! As for other Seamwork patterns, I can recommend the Mel Joggers (I even made some for my husband), the Jo and Rory Tops and the Gretta Tank (if you are prepared to take it in at the side seams quite a bit). I also made a successful Kimmy.

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    1. Ooh good to know! I actually have the Mel joggers, never printed! I like the leg shape but I’d have to raise the rise. The Jo top is super cute too. I wonder if my guy would like some joggers…great idea, thanks!

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      1. In case you attempt the joggers for your guy, the measurements didn’t correspond with my husband’s in any way, so I picked a size that roughly matched his hip measurement and then slimmed down the legs considerably. I think I made a size 12 for him (he is a size small in RTW).

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