November 13, 2011

As promised: the cardigan how-to

See, I still try to live up to my promises!

As I've said before, this cardigan or shrug (I guess it's technically more of a shrug because it doesn't close at the front) is very easy to make. It is a pattern for knits and it works best with light and drapey variaties. I've made mine on my serger, but lacking one, you could of course use the appropriate stitches on your sewing machine (just check which one to use first. A lot of sewing machines
don't like thin knits).
In this tutorial, I'm giving you the dimensions I used. Although this is not a fitted garment, different people would need different sleeve lengths and on larger sizes, this cardigan would end up sitting higher on the body, so size can matter. You can of course size it up a bit and/or change the dimensions. This would require cutting the body piece on the crossgrain and having two seams instead of one in the front-and-neckline band. In a fourway stretch fabric, that's fine.

These are your pattern pieces:

Just a bunch of rectangles (in case it's hard to read the print on the picture, both big ones are 140 cm wide, the top one is 62 cm high, and the bottom one 24 cm. The small pieces are the same: both 16 cm high and 18 cm wide).
Cut one of each with the straight grain as shown by the arrows in the drawing. Make sure to mark the middle of the big pieces and the top of the biggest one, make additional notches at 9 cm to either side of the center mark.

To make the cardigan, fold the biggest piece as shown and sew down along the top. Repeat this with the other side.

Fold the resulting object in half along the center line. Now, cut along the red lines: scoop out a back neckline of about 2 cm deep and cut off the points where they are at about 9 cm (better to do that for each separately, for accuracy).

Now, it's time to turn your attention to the smaller pieces. Sew them together along their vertical edges, fold the resulting tubes in half right side out and pin the big one to the neckline and front edge (with the seam at the back neckline and matching the center notches at the bottom) and the small ones to the arm. Each of these bands should be stretched a little to fit.

I hope this is clear. If there are any questions, please let me know through the comments.
As ever, everyone is of course free to use this tutorial for personal sewing (but not commercially). An if you make anything using this tutorial, I'd love to see it!


  1. Very nice. Thank you so much for sharing this pattern.

  2. Great little how-to! Also, your diagrams look great, especially the technical drawing :)

  3. Any photos of the finished garment version?

  4. My dear Petite Sauvage,
    I've loved so much your tutorial that I indicated your post at my blog this week. Take a look:

  5. how to put together all the pieces?

  6. Brilliant. Thank you. I'm just working on one now - your measurements - to see how it goes. I shall probably give it to one of my daughters as it seems on the small size for me. I am trying to think out how to make one larger for me. I presume that measuring across the back and arms perhaps with arms brought forward across the body will give me the dimensions I would need as opposed to your 140cms. Am I right? Best regards, Bibi

  7. Helping me to made it ... thanks.

  8. Brilliant. I really like this. I will follow you.

  9. I'm just a little confused about the sleeve bands. Are they supposed to be loose? Following your measurements, I got something WAY to big to go around my wrists. And 9 cm in from the point seems to be way too small for my wrist. Did i measure wrong?

    1. The sleeve bands themselves are supposed to fit fairly snug around the wrist (which you can see in my pictures of this cardigan here: ), that is why the size of the small rectangles they are made from is what it is: the 16 by 18 cm in the drawing is including seam allowances and the fact that the cuff is folded double. So, when sewn round, your sleeve band should be 16 cm. I have very thin wrists so for me, at that size they stay in place but are still a little loose. Arm and wrist sizes can vary enormously (even on people with similar overall dress sizes) so I would recommend finding a measurement which is comfortable for you.
      When it comes to cutting the points of the body of the cardigan to create space to attach the sleeve bands, I think (it's a long time ago) that I measured 9 cm from the point, which means the cut edge is also 9 cm, so 18 cm in the round, when you measure front and back, which is 2 cm bigger than the sleeve band. When attaching the sleeve band, you should stretch it slightly to fit the opening. And again, if you need a very different size of sleeve band, it would be wise to alter the size of the opening as well.