Knitting

A Summery 1940s Fashion Bow Sweater

Ankany wearing the 1940s Bow Sweater

It’s summer, and what could be better than knitting a woolen jumper? Sounds crazy at first, doesn’t it? But knitted sweaters don’t always have to be super warm and made for winter. 1940s fashion offers some short-sleeved knitted sweaters, and you can also find many knitting instructions for them. I was particularly taken with a 1940s sweater with three bows at the neckline, and since I was looking for a summer project anyway, I got straight to work. It was also a good opportunity to use up some yarn from my stash.

Originally I had seen the jumper on Instagram, made by “zebuhcow” and just liked the idea of the bows. However, I had a problem with the idea that I don’t actually find 1940s fashion that beautiful, and I was pretty sure it wouldn’t suit my rather curvy body. Still, I wanted to give it a try at least for once to either confirm or shatter my concerns.

The instructions are scanned from the original magazine and are easy to understand and follow. Only the conversion to a larger bust size caused a few problems for me: The widening itself was no problem, as there is no stitch pattern, and it is easy to add the necessary stitches. However, I didn’t consider that this would not only add more material to the bust, but also make the shoulders wider. It was only after I had sewn in the sleeves that I noticed that the shoulders clearly ended too far outwards, giving the impression of drooping shoulders.

Close-up of the knitted shoulder pad
Close-up of the knitted shoulder pad and the replaced seam.

I didn’t want to open the jumper again, so I moved the upper part of the sleeve seam to the inside and thus solved the problem. This created a seam allowance on the inside, which is not really necessary for knits, but since the sleeves are also slightly puffed sleeves, this is not noticeable. In the end, the excess material only adds to the effect.

At first, I thought the shoulder pads would actually sit on the shoulder, but this looked very bizarre. Also, the picture in the instructions made the position of the pads in the sleeves much more logical. (The instructions do not explain where exactly the pads are inserted, this seems to have been part of the generally assumed knowledge of the time).

Close-up of the sweaters front featuring the bows
The bows on the front side of the sweater.

Another change I made is to shorten the sleeves. I ran out of yarn and as I couldn’t buy more, I weighed the remaining yarn and re-knitted the first sleeve three times until I knew I had enough for the second sleeve. In the end, there was enough for the cuff and the sleeve cap. I had to shorten the piece in between completely. I was worried in the midst of making this that it would end up looking disproportionate, but in the end I would say that it is not noticeable.

Unlike the instructions, I didn’t knit the ribbon bows, but used a narrow bobbin lace ribbon instead. I liked the finer lace better than anything I could have done with my available yarn.

The fine wool yarn kept the jumper lightweight and I think it will be very comfortable to wear on not too hot summer days. And my concern about my body shape has also dissolved into thin air, because the jumper hugs the waist tightly thanks to the wide cuff and accentuates it in a flattering way. Maybe I’ll become a fan of 1940s fashion after all.

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