Yes, that’s right folks. And that is a sentence I still squeak to myself in a mixture of delight and disbelief. I SEWED a cardigan.
Being unable to knit, there are certain limits to what one can produce. The amount of times I have been trawling Etsy and came across so many beautiful knitting patterns – which of course are completely pointless for me, as I seem to have the knitting equivalent of ‘two left feet’ or in this case – hands. I have tried, believe me dear readers, I have tried and tried to be able to knit, but it’s something I just cannot get my head around. I think this partly may be because I was born left-handed, but my mother thought being a ‘leftie’ would hinder me in school, so trained me to be right-handed. This seems to have caused some confusion in my little brain, as I still to this day do new tasks automatically with my left side/left hand (weird fact – I am left-footed on my sewing machine).
So knitting and I do not mix. Now, an item I cannot have too many of in my wardrobe, is the trusty cardigan. I LOVE a good ol’ cardigan. But the problem I always seem to have is, they are never the right length for me. I want a cropped, waist length cardigan to go with all my high-waisted trousers, skirts and vintage dresses. I have been lusting after an Emmy cardigan for so so long, but have yet to loosen my purse strings enough to purchase one.
Recently, as I mentioned in my last post, I have been without a sewing machine. Shock. Horror. But this was because I had ordered a new one, and my old one was being serviced. Well, my new machine has now arrived, and it’s so amazing! It has so many features on it that my old machine simply did not have, so I feel like my sewing horizons have suddenly broadened considerably.
With renewed sewing confidence from my brand spanking new machine, I remembered a post Tasha had written about sewing a cardigan. Now Tasha can sew AND knit (Jealous? Me? Nooope.) I decided to go back through her blog, to remind myself whether she had sewed or knitted the cardigan, as part of me thought maybe I had remembered it wrong, and she had knitted the cardigan – in which case, no hope for me. But no, she had actually sewn it!
The cardigan pattern is the Jenna Pattern, by Muse Patterns. It is available as a download, which means you can purchase it and have it arrive in your inbox pretty much straight away. Which is wonderful for me, as once I make my mind up on something, I want to do it right away! There are two main variations of the cardigan, a cropped waist-length version (the one I sewed), and a hip-length version. Within this, you may also have long, 3/4, or short sleeves, and a gathered yoke CF section, or regular CF section. I sewed the waist-length version, with 3/4 length sleeves, and the gathered yoke section.
Being sensible, I decided to make a wearable toile, as I do not have that much experience with knit fabrics. For this version (which is not pictured here), I did the same version, but with the regular CF panels instead of the gathered yoke.
Things I learnt from making the toile
- Prepare to stabilise! The shoulder seams and the neck opening will require some form of stabilisation, to ensure they do not stretch out of shape. Yes, this happened to me on my toile, the neckline was wavy at the back, and gaped. I referred to Gertie’s method of stabilising knit fabrics in her ‘Gertie Sews Vintage Casual’ book (which I was gifted in last year’s Secret Santa Gift Exchange, thank you!) I decided to use strips of ribbon, which I zigzagged onto the seam allowances, close to what was to be the stitching line. I did this BEFORE stitching the actual seams/neckline binding.
- Those button bands. Tasha said it, and I’ll say it here – you really need to make sure the button bands are EXACTLY the right length as your CF edges. If they are not, re-cut them and do them again. Luckily, I was ok on both my toile and my finished cardigan, but I can totally see how crucial the length of those bands are.
- Buy way more thread than you think you need. I purchased one spool of 100mtr thread, thinking of course that would be more than enough. Nope. It wasn’t. As you will be doing stretch stitch, your machine will use up a lot more thread than normal. Half-way through sewing I ran-out of thread and had to hot-foot it to my nearest haberdashery to get the same colour. Not ideal.
- Remember to use a stretch needle in your machine. Obvious, but worth mentioning.
I would say the gathering of the yoke was easier than I had thought it was going to be, as was the topstitching (both of which I was a bit worried about, but my new machine powered through!) Overall, I would say the cardigan took me around 4-5 hours to make, (excluding running to the haberdashery to buy more thread!) from cutting out the pattern pieces to the finished article. I really love this cardigan, and part of me is still in shock that I actually sewed my own cardigan! I shall definitely be making more cardigans from this pattern in the future. The gathered yoke detailing is so cute, and really lends itself well to the vintage look.
The pattern comes with an instruction booklet, which is really clear, concise and handy to refer to. It is also multi-sized, with sizes ranging from 32bust (which is the size I used), up to 48bust. I would definitely recommend trying out this pattern, even if you are a bit scared of knit fabrics. Yes, they are different and as such require a different method of approach and treatment than wovens, but it is so worth it to be able to expand your sewing skillset by such a broad horizon! Just think of all the cardigans you could be sewing!
For my toile and this finished cardigan, I used pretty cheap interlock jersey fabrics. But now I have mastered the pattern, I am absolutely going to hunt down some gorgeous wool/cotton mix fabrics, how exciting!
Until next time dears!