Penguins, penguins everywhere!


If you’re feeling a tiny bit down, due to the hideous weather we’re currently having in GB, then I hope this garment will brighten your day a little bit. Who doesn’t like penguins, after all?

Penguins and igloos: geographically inaccurate?


The pattern

This is the Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt. Again. And my latest attempt to convert it into a sweatshirt for my 5-year old son. I used this tutorial from the O&S blog, and on balance, it kind of works… but not entirely.

My little boy is a size 8 in O+S at the moment, so I cut the 10 to compensate for the less stretchy fabric.  (The pattern is designed for fabrics with >=20% crosswise stretch.) Going up one size might work for adult patterns but when you go up a size in children’s patterns you gain more length than width. So I ended up with body pieces and sleeves that were too long, but still not quite enough width in the sleeves. Plus the seam allowances are only 1/4″, so there’s no margin for error there.

I had to chop a fair bit off both the sleeve and body length, and then another 2″ off the sleeves to add the cuffs. The sleeves narrow as they go towards the hem so cutting them shorter gave me a teensy bit more width, but it’s not ideal. And looking at these pictures, I can see the neckband is slightly too wide/too long for the neck opening in this fabric. So I think next time, I would use a pattern designed for sweatshirts instead.

The fabric

How brilliant is this penguin-print French terry? I love everything about it: the random print means no pattern matching, the blue background colour matches my son’s eyes, and it’s just really, really fun for boys or girls. I bought it from Juberry Fabrics at the Knitting And Stitching show back in the autumn. I don’t see any more in their online store at the moment, but it’s available on the manufacturer’s website at £18.95/m. That is steep but it’s 140cm wide so you don’t need much for a child’s sweatshirt.

You could class this as a Christmas jumper if you wanted to (anyone else’s kids’ school do a semi-compulsory Christmas Jumper Day?),  yet it’s not so obviously Christmassy that you have to put it away after Twelfth Night.

Although thinking about it, igloos are an Inuit thing, so I suppose they’re only found at the north pole, whereas the penguins… oh never mind!

The two-tone grey ribbing came from Stone Fabrics in Totnes several years ago. It’s quite thick, but it’s perfect for a sweatshirt and I like the extra interest from contrast bands. I have some of the rainbow colourway too, but that took attention away from the penguins so I opted for the grey here.


I sewed this up on my regular machine this time, for a change, and just used the overlocker to finish the seams only. This worked well, as my overlocker copes better with more than two layers of French terry if the seam has already been stitched down first, and it also allowed me to unpick fit the jumper along the way.

I used a twin needle to finish the neckline and the hem, and for once, that went smoothly too!


I expect I’ll definitely sew more sweatshirts for children, but I’d probably try another pattern next time. And  I think I’ve hopefully (!) nailed the best construction process for me and my machines.

With snow on the way this week, cosy clothing is absolutely where it’s at right now – is your machine full of fluff at the moment too?!

The title of this post is taken from Curious George at the Aquarium. I don’t like Curious George – he’s not a ‘good little monkey and always very curious’; he’s a complete liability. But this line from the story always makes me smile.

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