I first encountered Paprika Patterns via their adorable folded mini skirt tutorial, which has since been released as an official pay-what-you-want pattern. Late last year, I was just thinking that I should give it a try, when I received an invitation to test their next pattern: a sweatshirt / sweaterdress with a unique collar/hood. Up until then I'd been very good at telling myself that I am NOT purposefully avoiding my first set-in sleeves. Nooo sir. I just so happen to only like patterns that have cap kimono or no sleeves. Really. *gulp*. But as I learned with the Ginger Jeans, the best way to face your sewing fears is to promise someone else that you will. With a deadline. 

Just to be clear, my comments are based on testing the unfinished product and the final version of the pattern is a bit different from what we were given. For example, rather than separate side panels the pattern now has princess seams. So take this post with a grain of salt (by the way how did this expression come to be as a sign one should be cautious? To me everything tastes better, not worse, with a grain of salt! :)).
One of the my favorite articles of clothing is this military jacket from Express. It looks dressy yet it is made of the softest, comfiest, slightly stretchy sweatshirt knit. As a result, unlike virtually all RTW jackets, it doesn't have that pulling restricted feeling in the underarms. Whenever I get compliments on it, I extend my arm and giddily exclaim "Touch it! See? It's a sweatshirt! Isn't that the coolest eeeee-ver???" 
I've always yearned for clothing that combines casual chic designs with the comfort and softness of lounge and sportswear. I know exceptions exist, but as far as I can tell (and afford), the two rarely meet. 
Which is why I was pretty excited when I saw the Jasper Sweatshirt. The hooded version looks closer, in my opinion, to a traditional sweatshirt (though the hood is cut crosswise which is atypical), but the collared version was something else. I felt like it came pretty close to the rare symbiosis of style and easy comfort that I am always lusting after. 
What I loved about the Jasper pattern
1. I love that I can dress it up or just wear it with jeans. Not very many sweaters in my closet that I can say that about. It is true that I wouldn't wear it to a club or a swanky bar (as if I go to those anymore, haha!), as it is too casual for that. But I do think it is more versatile than 90% of sweatshirts out there. I even hesitate to call it that.

2. It wasn't as difficult as I feared! There were more pattern pieces than I expected but they fit together well and the instructions were mostly clear. It's probably even easier now that it's got princess seams. I am a total beginner (albeit one constantly tackling "intermediate" patterns because spending 12 hrs on a task that should only take 2 hrs is totally SO MUCH FUN!). So if I can set in sleeves so well (look! no wrinkles!) then anyone can!

3. You can wear the collar buttoned down on the side (and I do think different button choices can give this a very different feel). Or you can go bold and wear it up for a more chic, distinctly European look. 

Sorry for the artsy filter. I don't have an excuse for myself. 
Where I had difficulty (and made a few, but not sew many, mistakes)

1. The pocket instructions were so confusing to me that I decided to skip them entirely. This could be because I've never made welt or side pockets (my only experience with pockets was on the Ginger Jeans). But honestly I am not sold on pockets for this pattern anyway (by the way they do feature in the final version of the pattern. 

Since I am hoping for a dressier look I am reluctant to add any extra fabric in the sensitive tummy area. Plus I rarely keep my hands in my pockets. Though I have to admit that when taking the photos I kept making a futile "hands in pockets" motion, as if my mind really wanted pockets there. But that could just be because whoever knows what to do with their hands in photos? Not me!
2. I am getting some wrinkling in the lower back, probably due to a sway back? It actually looks worse in the photos than it really is. In fact my bf specifically said that it fits nicely in the back when I first put it on. I am only mentioning it because I am trying to be maximally critical (I am tired of pattern testers that just endlessly sing the pattern's praise. I believe the designers need our honesty, and so do the rest of the sewing community). So there. I am dilligently bringing up anything I could possibly complain about :).

3. Because it's so fitted it can be a bit hard to put on and take off. And the sleeve cuff barely fit around the free arm of my serger. But that's really my own fault for buying a fabric with no stretch, but still wanting it to fit pretty close. I don't know what I was thinking!

Actually I do. I was thinking that this project will likely fail (because Set-in sleeves AAAAAAHH!), so I bought the most basic sweatshirt knit I could find at JoAnn's and it didn't stretch. Lesson learned. I am now on the hunt for soft and stretchy sweatshirt knits in interesting colors and prints. And I am failing miserably! Apparently sweatshirt knits only come in solids and with no stretch, boooring! I might try a French terry knit, but those seem so thin and almost too stretchy. If you have any suggestions, please halp!!!!

In short the "issues" I encountered were either super minor, my own fault, and/or hardly noticeable. I rate this pattern a solid A and you should totally give it a try! I'll be definitely making more as soon as I can find some fabric options that don't make me fall asleep! Love love love!


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