A cardigan is such a versatile piece of clothing, it's no wonder it remains a wardrobe staple. They can be worn as layers for added warmth or simply to add a pop of color. They are perfect for transitioning from cool to warm weather and vice versa depending on the weight of the fabric. You can pair the cardigan with a dress and heels for dinner or at the office, go for a casual look and pair it with jeans and a t-shirt, or wear it with your workout leggings and top for a athleisure look.
Plus, they're easy to sew! In this tutorial, I'll show you how to sew a long knit cardigan using your sewing machine instead of a serger.
The Como Knit Cardi model
While the shape of cardigans changes somewhat from one season to the next, the Style Arc Como Knit Cardigan is a classic thigh-high, open-front cardigan that you can wear for a long time. It features a cleverly designed all-in-one dropped shoulder line, a neckline-hugging front band and two large patch pockets. Note that I found the dropped shoulder to be more pronounced than shown in the pattern illustration.
If you want to use a different cardigan pattern, much of what is discussed in this sewing guide will also apply to other knit cardigan patterns.
Como Knit Cardi Sizes
The Como Knit Cardi is available in sizes 4 (30-1/4″ bust and 32-1/2″ hips) through 30 (58-1/4″ bust and 61″ hips). The full cardigan size chart is available on the Style Arc website, and also includes shoulder breathing, arm circumference and waist measurements. As the company is based in Australia, measurements are provided in cm and inches. The pattern can be purchased as a downloadable PDF or a printed pattern.
To determine your size, measure the fullest part of your bust and hips using a standard measuring tape wrapped evenly around your body. Since this cardigan has a column shape, you won't need to use your waistline. If your bust and hip measurements are different sizes, you can mix sizes.
The pattern also includes measurements of the finished garment, which can be helpful in determining what size to sew as it allows you to choose a size based on how comfortable you want it to be or how close or loose you want to fit. you would like your cardigan to fit. According to the creator of Style Arc, this cardigan is designed with approximately 3″ of ease at the bust and less at the hip because it is a column shape that is meant to be worn open.
If you have trouble determining how snug you like, hold a tape measure around your bust and/or hips when measuring the finished garment to get an idea of how the cardigan fits adjust to.
What is ease
Ease is the amount of room left in a garment for movement. There are two types of ease, wearability and design ease.
Wearability is the minimum amount of fabric you need to be able to move while wearing the garment. If you sewed a garment without any ease, you probably wouldn't be able to move. Generally, the minimum ease is 1-1/2″ to 2″ at the bust line and 2″ to 2-3/4″ at the hip line.
Ease of design is the amount of ease added to achieve the desired appearance. A garment designed to be semi-fitted will skim your body, while a garment designed to be loose-fitting will hang away from your body. For example, a designer might add 6″ or 7″ of positive ease to a loose-fitting garment. Negative ease is also a design ease and is common in knitted garments, such as t-shirts. Negative ease means the designer subtracted the ease to achieve a tight fit.
For the Como Knit Cardi, I suggest choosing your pattern size based on your bust measurement, then looking at the measurements of the finished garment to see how much room you will have in the bust and hips. You can always sew a size or two smaller or larger than your measurements to achieve the look you want. Keep in mind that this cardigan does not have a closure and is intended to be worn open.
Choosing fabrics to sew the Como Knit Cardi
Suggested fabrics for the Como Knit Cardi are wool jersey, baby wool and sweater knit. According to Style Arc, baby wool refers to fine, stretchy wool like merino wool or wool jersey. No stretch percentage recommendation is provided by the pattern company, so just make sure the knit you choose has a slight stretch. Hold your chosen fabric in place at one end and see if you can stretch the fabric in the opposite direction. If it doesn't stretch, it won't fit this cardigan.
Most online fabric retailers have a knitting section on their website where you can find a variety of knits suitable for sewing a cardigan, including sweater knits, which are the knitting used to sew the cardigan in This item. Use the term “sweater knitting” on websites to narrow down knits even further. A knit sweater works well in this pattern because there are minimal seams.
There is a wide variety of knit sweaters available in many weights, colors and patterns. A lightweight knit sweater will have more movement and drape, while a heavier knit sweater will have more structure.
The fiber content of the knit can also affect the fit and drape. The fiber content of knitwear can vary from natural fibers to synthetic fibers or a mixture of both. Natural fibers include wool, cotton, silk, linen and rayon. Synthetic fibers include polyester, nylon and acrylic. When choosing fabric, keep in mind how you want to care for the cardigan once it is sewn. I wash all my cardigans at home and avoid fabrics that I have to dry clean.
The purple cardigan shown below is a midweight acrylic/polyester blend sweater knit while the red cardigan is a double rayon/polyester/nylon blend.
Of course, if you have a fabric store near you where you can shop in person, you will be able to feel the difference in the knitted fabrics, making selection easier. Additionally, most online retailers offer samples for a small fee.
Pretreat the fabric
After selecting the knit for your cardigan, pre-treat your fabric by washing and drying it as you would after the garment is completed. I wash most knit clothing on a delicate cycle in a washing machine with cold water and hang to dry or dry flat depending on the style and fabric.
Stitch and seam finishing options
When sewing knit clothing, you want a seam that stretches, otherwise your seam could burst with the movement of your body.
On your sewing machine, use a narrow zigzag stitch, 1.5 to 3.5 in length and 0.5 to 1.25 in width. The best stitch will depend on your fabric. Be sure to test the settings on a piece of fabric before you start sewing your garment.
Instead of a zigzag stitch, you can use a built-in stretch stitch, which is stitch #11 on my BERNINA 770 QE PLUS. The stitch looks like a small lightning bolt and provides plenty of stretch, but keep in mind that it may be difficult to remove if necessary.
Another option is to use Mettler Seraflex elastic thread which allows you to make stretch seams using a straight stitch on your sewing machine.
You may also need to adjust the tension of your chosen stitch. All of these variables depend on the knit you are using.
If you have the Creative Consultant on your machine, this is a great feature to help you determine which stitch, tension, and presser foot to use. The button is the one with the dress form icon. From there, choose the type of fabric you're using to sew the cardigan to see the recommendations.
Seam finishing options
Although many knits don't fray, most sweater knits do, so you'll want to finish the seams. You can finish them with a serged edge if you have a serger, but remember we are only using a sewing machine for this project. On your sewing machine, you can use a zigzag stitch or an overlock stitch. If you use an overlock stitch, the Overlock foot n°2 or the Bulky overlock foot #12C will help guide the edges of the fabric easily as you finish the seams.
Supplies Needed to Sew the Como Knit Cardi
- Sewing machine – I used my BERNINA 770 QE PLUS
- Cardi model in Como knit
- Knitted sweater fabric – 2 to 3 meters (58″ wide) depending on size sewn
- Coordinating thread
- 1/4″ Lite Steam-a-Seam
- Lightweight iron-on interface (optional for pockets)
- Ballpoint pen or expandable needle to match the weight of your knitting
- Fabric scissors
- Removable marking tool, such as chalk
- Hand sewing needle and silk thread (optional for tailor tacks)
- Tracing paper and pen (optional to trace the pattern)
- Tape measure
Prepare the Como Knit Cardi pattern pieces
The cardigan has six pattern pieces: piece 1 – sleeve, piece 2 – back, piece 3 – front, piece 4 – front band, piece 5 – back neck band and piece 6 – pocket.
Cut the pattern pieces to your size or trace the pattern pieces. I love tracing my pattern pieces, especially if I'm mixing different sizes or planning to sew the same garment in different sizes. If you trace your pattern pieces, be sure to transfer all markings, including grain lines, notches, and any other notations to the pattern. For this pattern, be sure to include the A, B, C, and D markings as well as notes on where the front and back of the sleeves match the body of the cardigan.
You do not need to add a seam allowance, as the 3/8″ seam allowance is already included on the pattern pieces.
That’s all for this post! In the second part we will cut out the fabric pieces and start sewing the Como Knit Cardi. If you have any questions about what was discussed in this article, please feel free to post a comment.