I’ve been meaning to make this cardigan for ages and now the weather is starting to warm up I thought I better get a move on and finish it before it gets too hot to wear it! To make this cardigan you will need about 1.7 m (1 7/8 yd) of a stretchy knit fabric (e.g. jersey), thread to match your fabric, pins and other general sewing tools. I mostly used my overlocker to sew this cardigan, but don’t worry, you can just use your normal sewing machine if you don’t have an overlocker. If you are using a normal sewing machine, use a shallow zig-zag stitch to sew your seams. This way they will have more give than if sewn with a straight stitch. You will also need a cardigan with sleeves that you like the fit of to use as a starting point for your pattern.
Take a cardigan and pin the sleeve to a large piece of paper. Trace around the sleeve with a pencil.
Trace the upper armhole edge of the sleeve (called the sleeve head) by poking a pin through the seam line at about 5 – 10 mm intervals along the seam line.
Unpin the cardigan from the paper and neaten up your traced lines, also tracing over the line you created with the pin dots. Make sure the the top edge (this is the edge that runs down the arm from the shoulder to the wrist) is a straight line as you will be folding the pattern along this edge.
Add 1.5 cm (5.8″) to the wrist edge, 1 cm (3/8″) to the lower long edge and 1 cm (3/8″) to the armhole edge. Don’t add anything to the upper long edge. Fold your pattern along the upper long edge and place a couple of pins through the paper so it doesn’t slip around. Then cut around the pattern piece so you have one big sleeve pattern piece.
Fold your fabric over so you have a double layer and pin your pattern to the fabric (up one end so you’ll have lots of fabric left over) and make sure the fold down the centre of the sleeve is parallel to the selvedge of the fabric. This ensures the fabric will stretch across the sleeves i.e. around your arms. Cut out a pair of sleeve pieces and add a little triangle shaped notch to the shoulder point – this will be helpful when you’re inserting the sleeve into the armhole.
Fold each sleeve in half lengthwise with the right sides of the fabric facing together and lining up the long edges. Pin and stitch along the long edge with 1 cm seam allowance using either an overlocker or your normal sewing machine. If you’re using a normal sewing machine, remember to sew with a shallow zig-zag stitch rather than a straight stitch as this will allow the seam to stretch a bit with the fabric.
Now you need to cut two rectangles from your fabric. The first one, measuring 23 cm (9”) by the width of your fabric (my fabric is about 130 cm (51”) wide), is for the collar. Fold it in half lengthwise with the wrong sides facing together. The other rectangle, measuring 75 cm (29 1/2”) by the width of your fabric will form the main part of your cardigan. If you are tall or want a longer cardigan, consider making this rectangle longer than 75 cm.
Take the large rectangle and lay it on your work surface with the right side of the fabric facing upwards. Lay your folded collar piece on top of the other piece along the top edge so the raw edges meet up. Pin the raw edges together. There should be three layers of fabric – two being of the collar piece and one from the main rectangle.
Sew the three layers together, as pinned then fold the collar upwards away from the main rectangle and iron the seam flat.
Fold your cardigan down the centre – this fold is the centre back of the cardigan. Now it’s time to work out your armholes. Use my diagram as a guide to draft an oval shape for your armhole, but make sure you measure the upper part of your sleeve and make sure your armhole is the same measurement. They need to fit together! Keep in mind you are measuring the stitching line which is 1 cm (3/8”) away from the cut line. The armhole pattern piece we are making is a bit different from a usual pattern piece as the piece is for the negative space – the hole we are cutting out. So once you’ve drawn an oval that’s the same length as the sleeve head you need to add seam allowance. The line you have drawn is the stitching line. Add 1 cm seam allowance around the inside of the oval, making inverted ‘v’ shaped notches at the top and bottom, then cut out this inner circle.
Now pin the oval onto your folded cardigan using the following photo as a guide. Having the cardigan folded and pinning the pattern piece through both layers makes it easier to ensure the armholes are cut symmetrically. Adjust the distance from the centre back fold depending on your size. If you are unsure, measure a cardigan or top across the back to see how much fabric you need to comfortably go across your back and shoulders.
Using small, sharp scissors cut around the oval very, very neatly. Remember you are cutting out a hole, so the piece you are cutting out will be discarded, but the fabric surrounding the hole is what’s important.
Now you have armholes complete with notches to mark where the shoulder point and underarm seam will go. Pin the sleeves into the armholes with the right sides of the fabric facing together. I find the easiest way to do this is to line up the underarm seam and the lower notch and pin with the right sides together then flip the top part over so you can pin the upper notch of the armhole to the upper notch of the sleeve (the shoulder point) and then pin around the rest of the armhole. Sew with 1 cm (3/8”) seam allowance and then repeat with the other sleeve.
Now your cardigan has sleeves! All that’s left to do is finish off the edges by hemming them (including the sleeve hems) Remember we added 1.5 cm (5/8”) seam allowance to the sleeve hems. Fold that up towards the inside of the sleeves and stitch in place. Fold in 1.5 cm all around the front opening edges and the lower hem and stitch in place. (as it’s a knit fabric, it shouldn’t fray if you don’t hem it, but it gives a longer lasting and nicer looking finish if you do). I used a twin needle to hem the edges as it has a bit more give than a regular stitch. I love the draped corners at the front, but for a different look you could even round off the corners. For a polished look, cinch it in at the waist with a narrow belt(like I did in the top photo), or leave it unbelted to feel like you’re wearing a cosy blanket!
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