Monday, September 28, 2015

Cardigan Tips and Tutorials

While we are on the topic of sewing cardigans this month, I thought I would share a few more ideas to help inspire you.

Fabric Choice
There are several great fabric choices for cardigans, such as jersey, interlock, fleece, sweatshirt fleece, french terry, and sweater knits. Be sure to check the pattern requirements for fabric suggestions for each style. heavier fabrics like sweatshirt fleece and dense wool jersey are great for structured button-up cardigans, while drapey fabrics like rayon jersey or open-weave sweater knits make great open-front cardigans.  If your pattern has sleeve cuffs or neckline bands, you will probably want a fabric with good stretch and recovery, such as a cotton / spandex blend. Before you sew with your chosen fabric, try draping it over your arm and stretching it gently with your fingers to see if it behaves as you expect. Even fabrics of the same type with the same material content can behave differently.

Don't like buttonholes?
If you love the look of the classic buttoned cardigan, but don't want to sew buttonholes, try replacing buttons with snap. I like KAM snaps because they are cheap and easy. (Get a KAM snap starter pack here*). The snaps are easy to install by poking through the fabric and securing in place with the snap press. The snaps come in almost every color and various sizes. I particularly like them for kids clothes because they are easier to fasten than buttons. If you don't like the look of the snaps, consider hiding them underneath buttons or other embellishments. Simply install the snaps, then use fabric glue to adhere a button, bow, jewel, or other embellishment on top.

These cardigans are fastened with KAM snaps.
Pattern: Peekaboo V-Neck Cardigan*

Make your cardigan unique
Here are some other ideas to inspire your one-of-a-kind cardigan.
  • Elbow patches. Cut out a basic oval shape from a non-fray fabric and stitch it to the elbow using a zig-zag stitch around the edges. This is easier to do before the sleeve is sewn. 
  • Add an applique or iron-on patch. You can get creative with all kinds of different looks just by adding some extra details. Use a iron-on letter patch from the craft store to make a varsity-style sweater. A favorite character or animal adds a whimsical touch.
  • Ruffles. It's easy to add ruffles to any pattern seams. Just gather a long strip of fabric and sew it into the seam at the button placket, the neckline, or along the hem. 
  • Piping. Add piping in the seams for extra pops of color
  • Unique Buttons. Look for unique buttons at vintage and antique shops, or fun buttons at the craft store to give your cardigan extra character. 
(This post contains affiliate links, which are marked with an asterisk. If you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission, but it will not affect the cost to you. Thanks for your support of this blog.) 

Monday, September 21, 2015

How to Stabilize Shoulder Seams with Clear Elastic

Almost any time I sew a shoulder seam with a knit fabric, I add clear elastic in the seam. This is one of those steps that takes very little time, but can really elevate the quality of your garment.

Knits have a tendency to stretch out over time, and those poor shoulder seams support much of the weight of the garment. Adding elastic to this seam will still allow the seam to have plenty of stretch, but it will add a great deal of stability and strength. Even after years of wearing and washing, that seam will look crisp and unstretched. And, when sewn properly, you will never even know it's there.

Here's how I sew clear elastic into a seam.

Materials Needed:

In addition to your cut pattern pieces and normal sewing supplies, you will need:

 3/8" clear elastic* (You can use 3/8" or 1/4". I prefer 1/4" when using a serger, but 3/8" may be more widely available.

 Wash Away Wonder Tape* (optional, but helpful)

Hem gauge (optional)

Preparing To Sew the Seam:

  1. Lay your front bodice piece face up.
  2. Lay your back bodice piece face down on top of the front bodice.
  3. Place the Wash Away Wonder Tape. The outside edge should be on the seam line. For example, if the seam allowance is 3/8", the outside edge of the tape will be 3/8" from the edge, and the inside edge will be 1/8" from the edge. (If I am being honest, I don't usually measure. I can eyeball it fairly well.)
  4. Remove the paper from the tape. Give the elastic a few tugs to pre-stretch it. Lay the elastic over the tape, lining up the outer edges at the seam line. Leave a few inches of extra elastic on either end. This will give you something to hold as you guide it through the machine.

Sewing the Seam

Now we can take our pieces over to the machine. Since that elastic is basted in place exactly where we want it with the Wonder Tape, we don't have to worry about it moving around. We can sew it exactly where we want it. 

Sewing the Seam with a Serger: When you sew the seam on a serger, your left needle should hit just to the left of your elastic or just at the edge. I am using that little notch on my presser foot as a guide to where the needle will stitch. If your elastic is wider than 1/4", your blade will cut off the extra width. Your serger blade should be able to cut through this, but it does wear the blade out a little faster. This is why I prefer using 1/4" elastic in the serger. With 1/4" elastic, you should be able to stitch just at the left edge of the elastic and the blade will cut just outside the elastic. 

Sewing the Seam with a Sewing Machine: The same process applies to sewing the seam with a sewing machine, but your stitch will look a little different. You will probably be using a zig zag stitch. The left edge of the zig zag will be just to the left of the elastic and there will be a little bit of extra elastic to the right within the seam allowance. 

Look at that perfectly stitched elastic!


Before you move on, make sure to press the seam. You will want to press the seam allowance towards the back bodice. Now the elastic should be entirely underneath the pressed seam allowance so that it doesn't touch the skin.

Now go try this at home and admire those crisp should seams!

(*This post contains affiliate links, which are marked with an asterisk. If you purchase through these links, I may get a small commission, but it does not change the price to you. Thank you for your support of this blog.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to Spot a Sewist at the Store

Whether you call her a sewist, a sew-er, a seamstress, or something else, you may occasionally see her out looking at clothing in the store. She is easy to spot. Just look for these signs.

1.) She turns all the clothes inside out. While most of the shoppers will pick up an item of clothing and hold it out in front of them, or maybe drape it over their bodies, imagining how it might look on them, the sewist will try to turn the item inside out so that she can see the inside of it. She is looking at the seams and analyzing the construction. She wants to know how it was made and if it was made well.

2) She uses oddly specific terminology. While others might point to "that blue shirt over there," she will refer to the "bias-cut blouse with the neckline placket and the welt pocket." She might even use a word like "garment."

3) She is shopping in the big men's section for her baby boy. Because all clothing is really just fabric ready to be cut and sewn into something else.

4) She pulls out her fabric tape measure. This one is a dead giveaway. She might be discrete about it, but if you see her pull out that fabric tape measure and start measuring the dimensions of the garments, you know she's a sewist.

Have you done any of these things? Do you know someone who does? If you sew, and you notice someone else doing these things at the store, maybe you should say hi!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pattern Hack Shawl Collar Cardigan from PAB V-Neck Cardigan

When I decided to sew my son a cardigan for this fall, I decided I liked the look of a shawl collar on boys. When I started on this a month ago, I didn't realize it was trendy. In fact, I couldn't find any patterns for this. Since then, I have seen more of these around and I think there may be a new pattern releasing soon. In any case, I wanted to use a pattern I already had. So, I hacked the Peekaboo V-Neck Cardigan* to add the shawl collar. 

To make the collar, I had to draft my own pattern piece to use in place of the neckline binding. To get this pattern piece, used the cowl piece from the PAB Varsity Cowl Neck Pullover* to get an idea of the width and curve of the back neck. Then I curved this down into the width of the front placket. Then I cut four of these pieces and interfaced them at the placket. I sewed two sets of pieces together at the back neck, then sew the outer placket to the inner placket. Then you sew the whole neckline to the cardigan.

It's always a pleasant surprise when a pattern draft or pattern hack turns out exactly the way you pictures it the first time.

(*Affliate links in this post are marked with an asterisk. I may get a small commission if you purchase through these links, but it will not change the price to you. Thank you for supporting this blog.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Fall Pattern Showcase: Laurelhurst Wrap Cardigan

It's time for fall sewing and today is my stop on the Fall Pattern Showcase! 

It's not quite fall yet here. In fact, it's still quite warm. But a girl can dream, right. I have been working on my fall / winter wardrobe already and I made the Laurelhurst Wrap* from Straight Stitch Designs to carry me into fall.   It's perfect to wear for everyday, work, or even post-yoga. And guess what?! It's on sale! Through Sunday, September 20, the entire Straight Stitch Designs* store is marked down. Get all your patterns, including this Laurelhurst Wrap at 50% off. Or get a stitch kit, which includes everything you need to make your garment, at 40% off. !! 

The Laurelhurst Wrap is very easy to sew and easy to wear. It's an open, drape-y style cardigan that pairs well with skinny jeans or leggings. 

I made mine out of a lightweight french terry fabric that I have had in my stash. I had the fabric for a while, but wasn't quite sure what to do with it and this was perfect. This is a great project for any of those knits that might be too thin or unstructured for other garments (Knitfix, I'm looking at you). You can use almost any stretchy fabric for these.

I made exactly zero changes to the pattern and it fits great just like it is. I made a straight-up size 2 according to my measurements. I am petite (5'2), so the cardigan might be longer on me, but I like the coverage in the back.

And here is my comfy wrap post-yoga workout, paired with my new Sloan Leggings*:

Laurelhurst Wrap Pattern from Straight Stitch Designs is available here*

Interested in sewing yourself a cardigan? Check out my list of cardigan patterns from other designers here.

Check out for more stops on the Fall Pattern Showcase and to link up your own creations.

(Affiliate links in this post are denoted with an asterisk. I may get a small commission if you purchase through these links, although it does not change the cost to you. Thank you for supporting this blog.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Kids Cardigan Pattern Roundup

Did you check out all the women's cardigans last week? (See that post here.) Now it's the kids turn. Here is a round-up of more great cardigan patterns for kids.

Cardigan Pattern Roundup

All photos have been used with permission from shop owners. 
Just like last time, I have made some of these patterns, but not all. 
Some of the links below are affiliate links. They are marked with an asterisk. I get a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. It does not affect the cost to you, but it does help support this blog.

The Peekaboo cardigan is a classic button-up style great for boys and girls. It covers sizes all the way from 3 months to 12 years.

* SALE: Through 9/7, get a $7.95 off patterns when you buy $35+ in fabric at Peekaboo Shop. Code 'laborday15'

2.  Hey June Handmade Greenpoint Cardigan*

greenpointFIAnother classic button-style cardigan, appropriate for both boys and girls. This one has a raglan sleeve. Sizes 12m-12 years.

* SALE: Through 9/7,  30% OFF ALL PATTERNS at Hey June. Use code 'laborday'

3. Paperback Writer Cardigan from Shwin Designs

Image of Paperback Writer Cardigan
Shwin's Paperback Writer Cardigan is a slightly slouchier style, with a dolman sleeve, roll collar, and optional pockets. Great for boys and girls in sizes 18m - 8 years.

 * SALE: This pattern and other fall patterns on sale through 9/7. Price as listed.

4.  and 5. Cool Cardigan  and Ruffled Cardigan from Blank Slate Patterns
Cool Cardigan pdf sewing pattern from Blank Slate Patterns

Blank Slate Patterns has two adorable cardigan patterns. The Cool Cardigan is a classic, unisex cardigan with rounded patch pockets and set-in sleeves.

Ruffled Cardigan pdf sewing pattern by Blank Slate PatternsThe Ruffled Cardigan has cute ruffles around the edges, a tie sash, and is fully reversible.

Both cardigan come in sizes 18m - 8.

6. Girls Four Seasons Cardigan from EYMM*

For a drapier style, try this Four Seasons Cardigan from EYMM. This one has an open front and so many options. 2 length options, 5 sleeve options, and an optional hood. Sizes newborn - tween size 18.

* FLASH SALE: 9/7 only, The women's and girl's four seasons cardigans are marked down to $2! Markdown already taken.

7, 8, and 9.  Grandpa Cardigan*,  Draped Cardigan*, Reversible Wrap Cardigan* from Brindille and Twigg.

reversible wrap cardigan : 059draped vest / cardigan : 066Brindille and Twigg is known for their adorable patterns for babies and toddlers, and they offer two cardigan patterns for the little ones.

The Grandpa Cardigan is a new release and features buttons up the front and a shawl  collar.

The Draped Cardigan, it can be made with or without sleeves. Also includes a fabric belt.

The Reversible Wrap Cardigan is, of course, totally reversible and fastens with snaps.

All three patterns are offered in size preemie - 6T

* SALE: Grandpa cardigan is on sale for $5 for a limited time.

10. Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan for Girls - FREE!
scarf neck cardigan
Here is one that is FREE! Drapey, scarf neck cardigan includes sizes 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, and 9/10.

11. Slouchy Cardigan from Heidi and Finn
Slouchy Cardigan pattern and tutorial PDF 12m - 12y easy sew sweater bolero

The Heidi and Finn Cardigan is slouchy, with a curved front and cuffed sleeves. It comes is sizes 12m - 12y.

Aster Cardigan
12. Aster Cardigan from Willow and Co

The Aster Cardigan is a cute little cardigan with girlish touches like a peter pan collar and 3/4 sleeves. Sizes 18mo - 12 years.

13. Cardigan add-on to Hoodsie Pattern from Stitch Upon a Time
Cardigan Tutorial for the Hoodsie Hooded Bodysuit and Shirt

This pattern from Stitch Upon a Time is strictly an add-on and is meant for use only with the Hoodsie pattern, which is purchased separately. But, with these patterns, you can make the Bodysuit Cardigan and the Hooded Cardigan. Sizes preemie - 36 months.

*SALE: 25% off entire site, through 9/7. Code LABORDAY

14.  Adeline Cardigan from Foo Foo Threads

Special Deal....Instant Download PDF Sewing Pattern Adeline Knit Cardigan Top or Dress with Peter Pan Collar 3-6M to 10 Full of ruffles and girly touches, the Adeline Cardigan is lined, has asymmetrical ruffles at the sleeve and a peter pan collar. Sizes 3-6 mo - 10y.

*SALE: 50% OFF any order of $15 or more. Code LABORDAY

15. Flyaway Ruffled Cardigan by Dandelions and Dungarees

Flyaway Ruffle Cardigan Bundle 2-7 and 8-16

Another fun cardigan, the Flyaway Ruffled Cardigan has cascading ruffles in the back and fastens with a button loop closure in the front. Sizes 2-7 and 8-16.

16.  Library Cardi from Little Lizard King

Little Lizard King just released their new version of the cardigan, the Library Cardi. This cardigan has a relaxed fit, large pockets, and knit binding. Sizes 12 mo - 14.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Men's and Women's Cardigan Sewing Patterns

Are you ready to start sewing cardigans yet? Here are some PDFpatterns to get you started. Check out these 13 patterns for women and 1 for men. There are cardigans available in every size from XXS to 5X. Find one you love!

(Some of the links below are affiliate links. They are marked with an asterisk. If you purchase a pattern through these links, I may receive a small commission, but it will not affect the cost to you. Thank you for your support of this blog.)               

1. Peekaboo Cambridge Cardigan*

The Cambridge Cardigan is a classic style women's cardigan with a v-neck and a button front. Comes in sizes XXS-XXXL (00-24)

Photo by Straight Stitch Designs

2. Laurelhurst Cardigan from Straight Stitch Designs*

The Laurelhurst Cardigan is an easy sew, with an open, draped front and three sleeve lengths. Also inlcudes a option for a front button. Comes is sizes 0-24

julia 1

3. Julia Cardigan from Mouse House Creations

The Julia Cardigan is a fast and easy sew, with a curved open front and three sleeve lengths. Comes is sizes XS-3XL (0-26)

Image of Beautiful Dreamer Cardigan
photo courtesy of Shwin Designs
4. Beautiful Dreamer Cardigan from Shwin Designs

The Beautiful Dreamer is an open-front cardigan with gathers at the shoulder and a contrast back panel. Sizes XXS - XL

EYMM Four Seasons Cardigan & Duster #DIY PDF Sewing Pattern
Photo from EYMM

5. Four Seasons Cardigan from EYMM*

The Four Seasons Cardigan is an open-front drape cardigan. The pattern provides lots of options including 2 length options, 5 sleeve options, and a hood option, making it great for all four seasons. Sizes XS-5X

6 and 7 . Jenna Cardi  and  Sophie Cardi from Muse Patterns
Sophie cardi
Photo from Muse Patterns
Jenna cardi
Photo from Muse Patterns

The Jenna Cardi is a fitted, button-up cardigan with a round neck, two length options, three sleeve options, and optional shoulder details. Sized for 32"- 48" bust.

The Sophie Cardi is fitted style with raglan sleeves, three neckline options, two pocket options, and zip- or button-front options. Sized for 30"- 48" bust.

Photo courtesy of SBCC

8. Cabernet Cardigan from SBCC Patterns

The Cabernet Cardigan is a classic cardigan with a button front and patch pockets. Pattern can be made with "relaxed" or "slim" options and different length options. SBCC patterns are designed for petite proportions and pattern comes is sizes XXS-L or XL-3X

scarf neck cardigan

9. Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan - FREE!

This scarf-neck cardigan pattern is the best price you will find - free! It's an open-front, drape cardgan with princess seams and half or full sleeves. Sizes S-XXL

listing pictures1

10. Carefree Cardigan from Patterns for Pirates

The Carefree Cardigan is an open, drape front cardigan with three sleeve options and several options for finishing the edges - traditional hem, hem band, neck band, or fully banded edges. Also includes self-fabric belt. Sizes XXS-3X

meridian for women cover

11. Meridian Cardigan by Imagine Gnats

The Meridian is an easy fitting and completely reversible cardigan with raglan sleeves and wrap front panels. Sizes 2-20

Molly Cardigan PDF Sewing Pattern

12. Molly Cardigan from Liola Designs

The Molly Cardigan is an easy open-front cardigan with pretty folds at the front neck. Sizes XS- XL.

INSTANT DOWNLOAD Women's Draped Cardigan sewing pattern - womens cardigan - long sleeve- women sewing pattern - cardigan pattern
Photo from Seamingly Smitten

13. Draped Cardigan from Seamingly Smitten

The Draped Cardigan pattern is an open-front style and features three hem lengths, short or long sleeves, and even a ruffle-trim option. Includes sizes XS- XXL (0-22)

Men can look quite stylish in cardigans, too. Unfortunately, there are not nearly as many patterns out there for men, but there are a few good ones. Here is one cardigan pattern I like for men.

Photo by Thread Theory

The Newcastle Cardigan has a shawl collar and button front and optional shoulder details. Sizes XS - XL

Have you sewed any of these patterns? I would love to hear about yours. Leave me a comment and let me know!