By: Nikki Gora
There’s just something about a cardigan that makes an outfit feel complete. Today, when video conference calls are the norm, a cardigan can be dual purpose. They help you look professional and put together, but when paired with a pair of leggings and a cami, a cardigan can feel like pajamas!
It’s the perfect work-from-home layer.
I already have several handmade cardigans in my closet, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make the cascading front cardigan from Simplicity 8742. The loose fit, dropped shoulder, and interesting collar are a welcome shift from the more casual options in my closet.
- Simplicity 8742 Pattern
- 1 ¾ - 2 ¾ yards of sweater knit fabric for View D (plus extra if using a directional print)
- Clear elastic (optional)
The thing about having that beautiful, draping collar is that the wrong side of the fabric you use is going to show. Since there is a lot of white in the fabric I chose, I didn’t mind that the back of my fabric was solid white. However, if that’s not the look you’re going for, try to be mindful of what the reverse side of your chosen fabric looks like. This beautiful waffle knit by Fabric Merchants would be a great option if you’re looking for a solid color to add to your fall wardrobe.
The fabric I chose was this navy and white plaid by Fabric Merchants. I knew the lightweight drape of the fabric would be great for showing off that cascading collar and cardigan front. The plaid design adds an element of fun to my otherwise bland, mostly solid wardrobe choices, and the color palette complements my favorite pink cami beautifully.
Choosing Your Size
If you sew for yourself regularly, you might think you know your measurements. However, it is always wise to measure yourself again before starting your project, just in case! According to the size chart, I was between a medium and a large.
Knowing that this pattern was made to fit loosely, I decided to size down to a medium. My choice was validated when I looked at the finished measurements on the pattern pieces, and saw that there is 11 inches of ease in the bust. That was just not going to work well on my petite frame.
Preparing the Pattern
I don’t know about you, but I just cannot bring myself to cut right into a paper pattern. What if I have a friend that needs a different size? What if my size changes over time?
To rid myself of this pattern-cutting anxiety, I like to take the time to trace my chosen pattern size on Swedish tracing paper. The great thing about Swedish tracing paper, is you can fold it up to put it in the pattern envelope, and iron it flat when you need it again. It’s very practical! Be sure to transfer all of the necessary pattern markings when tracing your patterns.
Pattern Matching for Directional Prints
When working with a striped fabric or a plaid, it’s best to try to match up the lines in the design when it’s possible. You can ensure your stripes will match up at the seams by cutting out a piece (like the back left piece, for instance). Then, lay that piece on top of your fabric, being sure to match up all of the stripes in both layers, and cut out your next piece (in this case, the back right piece).
When done correctly, you should end up with nicely matched stripes and plaids like this.
Assembling the Cardigan
Sewing with knits is a little different than sewing with non-stretchy woven fabrics. If you are using a sewing machine, you’ll need a ballpoint needle and a zig-zag stitch, to help the fabric maintain its stretch. I prefer to use a serger. They allow your fabric to stretch and finish the raw edges all at once. Be careful when using a serger if you aren’t sure of your size! Once that serger blade cuts the excess fabric out of the seam allowance, it’s gone for good!
This particular cardigan pattern is very beginner friendly, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. However, if you are working with a stretchy knit fabric like mine, it is a good idea to stabilize the shoulder seams to avoid having them droop over time. The pattern doesn’t include this extra detail, but it’s simple to do.
Cut a piece of clear elastic (mine is ⅜” wide) 1 inch longer than your shoulder seam. After the shoulder seams are assembled, simply stitch the elastic to the wrong side of the seam. It should look like this when you’re done.
It is such an easy step, and will ensure your cardigan lasts a long time!
When you complete each step, it is important to press your seams for a polished finish. One of my favorite sewing tools is my tailor’s ham. It has been so handy when I need to iron a curved seam. Here, I used it to press the shoulder seams of the cardigan, being careful not to melt the clear elastic used to stabilize them.
And there you have it! Your cardigan is complete, and ready to get you through all of your Zoom meetings for the day! Throw it on over a dressy cami and some stretchy leggings, and you have yourself some professional, secret pajamas!