Walmart Collection: The Long Shrug

The second Walmart purchase  I want to copy is this shrug:

I spotted it across about 60 feet of clothing displays as I was headed towards the freezer section, my last stop before departing Walmart and heading home.  I turned my basket immediately and upon reaching, selected the purple-navy.   I immediately liked the way it felt on me.  A nearby mirror confirmed that it looked pretty good. At least from the front and side.  I promptly put it back on the rack. I mean this is Walmart.  Its $20 price tag assures me that the cushy, acrylic, knit fabric will pill and snag rapidly.  Unbeknownst to me,   DH had been tracking me down and saw the entire ‘show’.  He was incredulous that I was putting it back.  In his words ” It looks so good on you and you obviously like it.”  DH doesn’t get fantasy sizing at all and is completely incomprehensible at how cheap for women can be worse than cheap for men. However as we stood there talking, I realized that I’d paid as much for patterns and besides this was done. It was not a cut of fabric that could be waiting on my shelves for  days, weeks, errrrrr   years. Nor was it an untested pattern needing alteration to look this good. It was done. Ready to wear right this minute. So I bought it.

In my few weeks of ownership, the long shrug has been worn a half-dozen times. Enough for me to be fascinated with its fit and comfort.  It is the perfect layer when I first venture into the basement sewing room.  It is adequately warm;  roomy and non-movement restrictive like a jacket or sweater would be. Also, the sleeve length is perfect. A jacket or sweater would make me too warm very quickly and then I would be cold after removing. This elbow length shrug remains comfortably warm for a long time.  But I’ve also been proved true in my estimation of its lifespan.  Already I see white pills and 3 or 4 snags.  I suspect it will be ugly before the end of South Dakota’s winter (April).

I call this a ‘shrug’ because of its simplistic construction which is very similar to most shrugs and almost identical to CLD’s short OTM (dimension and shape are vastly different from the OTM).    ‘Long’ because most shrugs just cover the shoulders and arms; maybe a little of the back and not much of a body’s front.

This long shrug covers a lot; especially with that 4″ fringe which reaches nearly to the knee of my 5’3″ frame.  Its slight overlap covers lots of the front too.

I knew I wanted a copy and possibly would want to keep replicating this garment for my wardrobe. I began by measuring and sketching the back.

Umm let me describe by starting with the first draft of the back:

The back is essentially a 29″ tall by 17″ wide rectangle. The sides, hem and center back are all straight lines.  The center back is to be placed on the fold so that after cutting fabric the shrug will be 34″ wide.

The neck/shoulder point is 4″ away from the CB and, at this time, the neck pattern is 2″ deep and curved to meet the shoulder. The shoulder slope is drawn from the highest point ( at the neck/shoulder point which is the full height of the basic rectangle) to a point on the side seam which is 6″ down or 23″ above the hem.  That’s a really big angle, completely unlike anything you will ever see on any simple shrug.  A side seam will be sewn between the hem and a point 10.5″ above the hem.  The armscye is formed by leaving the side seam open between that 10.5″ point and the shoulder.

The front is more complicated]

I did a sketch as well but I think it’s easier to explain then see through all my lines and points.  This time I started with a rectangle 29″ high and 19″ wide. That is 2″ wider than the back. Unlike the OTM and most shrugs, the Long Shrug can overlap slightly in front. The hem and side seam are again straight.  The underarm point is the same (10.5″ above the hem).  I copied the shoulder slope from the back pattern piece . Just lined up the side seams, traced that slope AND marked the neck/shoulder point of the back onto the front. Front and back neck/shoulder points must meet when sewing the garment together.  The front slope is a bit tricky.Measuring from the front, neck/shoulder point down 13″ and then over 13.5″  from the side seam,  mark a point.  I used my french curve to eyeball and then draw a good neckline from neck to the 13″ point.  From that point to the hem, I angled a straight line.

Believe it or not, that’s what my measuring told me.  I knew this shrug had to have different dimensions, different shapes  because it fits my body so differently from any shrug, scarf, poncho, or any garment I remember.

My next step was to choose fabric.  I thought the fabric needed to be soft and drapey. The knit fabric of the original clings to my body but not in a 50’s Sweater Girl fashion. It’s like a cacoon that drapes closely around the body. I scanned my shelves until my eyes fell upon a machine knit lace which has a crochet appearance.

It was advertised as ‘crochet’. I wish they wouldn’t do that. I prefer accuracy in the description and besides this fabric is the result of some complicated hold, tuck and transferring of stitches.  It deserves to be recognized in its own right and not mislabeled.  I thought it was beautiful on the web. I  loved the clay color.  I loved it even more when it arrived. How to work with machine-knit lace has been an issue. My last attempt here was fraught with tests and frustration. The final ‘success’ has since been tainted as after only a few wearings the lace has managed to escape its binding and I now have little loose wiggly things all over. However I  thought this pattern with its simple shape was meant for a beautiful but possibly fussy fabric.

I decided to use the lace knowing I had to make some procedural changes.  I didn’t trust the 1/4″ serged seams used with yellow lace (link above) So I would need large seam allowances and they would probably be raggedy.  To neaten the edges and perhaps reinforce them, a binding would be necessary.  Bind with what? Self fabric. I tested that idea with the yellow lace and didn’t like it. Commercial bias? Possible but I think beneath the beauty this lace deserved. I pulled out various fabrics to consider:

I decided I wanted a close match tone-wise.  Nixed the center print because I didn’t want to limit use to blue fabrics. Which is what I would do.

I really like the black and clay knit except again I knew I would limit the final garment to wear with black. Besides,that print is kind of casual whereas the lace has a romantic, delicate disposition in my mind. Which left me with

the Jacquard brocade on the right.  I also opted to use the reverse side (shown at the top) because its tone was closer to the lace.  I wanted the lace to be the star and the binding merely a supporting player.

I chose my threads. Loaded the Dream and the serger. Then cleaned both rooms and went upstairs just a bit early. Ofttimes, I will cut fabric before going upstairs.  I like being ready to sew vs prep for sewing at the beginning of the sewing session.  But I want to think through my choices a bit more. I’ve learned that my left brain, the creative side, speaks softly and is often best heard at 3 A.M.  I wanted its input and left the fabric uncut; not even laid out with pattern pieces on top.


..of course, this is to be continued. But hasn’t this post been  too long at this point?