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Drafting a pattern for simple cardigan, pattern making tutorial, sewing

Sew along – simple cardigan, tutorial part 1

As promised, I’m posting the first part of the tutorial based on this cardigan.

I drafted a pattern for this sweater myself, but I will show you how to make it without a pattern making knowledge. Keep in mind that this is a pattern that will be used with a knit fabric.

My main goal was to create a pattern which won’t need any facing so that the cardigan drapes softly (of course, that will depend on the chosen fabric). To do that, all the edges had to be straight lines. In addition, I determined that my sweater won’t have any fasteners – you can of course change that part if you want 🙂

Table of contents:

Finding a base pattern

You’ll need to find some base model for this cardigan. A simple model without any embellishments will be best. It would be also good if it was a pattern with sleeves and for knit fabrics.

This tutorial was based on a free pattern from Papavero. It’s not the best candidate, but I couldn’t find anything better. However, if you have some other pattern feel free to use it. You will probably need to choose a smaller size from Papavero because it’s a pattern for woven fabrics.

1. Straighten the back line on the pattern – if your pattern is for knits it’s probably already a straight line.

Note – all pattern alterations are made without seam allowances!

Your new line should be parallel to the straight grain.

2. My model has a shoulder dart instead of the bust dart so you can move it if you want, but it’s not crucial to this tutorial.

Matching sleeves to the pattern

Measure the armhole length on the front and back piece of the pattern. Choose sleeves that have similar cap length to measured value: sleeve patterns.

Pattern manipulation

1. Back neckline.
This kind of collar looks best when the back neckline (on a base pattern) is close to the neck. Tissue fit you pattern or compare the pattern to some blouse to decide if you want to narrow and/or reduce the back neckline – if so, you can change it in the following way:

  • Extend the arm line toward the back by desired amount. If the neckline is also too deep – extend the back line as well.
  • Draw a new neckline to the designated points. It should go straight at some distance from the back and then draw a smooth curve. This line should enter the arm line at the right angle.
  • Extend the arm line on the front piece by the same amount.

For comparison my back neckline has a length of 10 cm / 4 in (on half).

My further instructions are based on the original pattern, but if you needed to make these changes continue work from the new lines.

2. Shortening the back. I assumed that my cardigan should end 4 cm / 1.5 in below the waist (you can choose a different value).

  • Mark the waist line (pattern should have notches at the waist).
  • Draw a second line parallel to the waist line – mine 4 cm / 1.5 in below.
This is a simplified version for the purpose of this project – normally it wouldn’t be a straight line.

3. Closing the front line – optional. Models like this have tendency to gaping above the bust but this little modification will help to reduce it.

  • Cut the pattern in straight line from the front to the armhole.
  • Rotate the top piece down.
  • Tape the pattern pieces together.

4. Transfer the back’s length to the side of the front piece.
5. Extend the arm line and draw the front line.

Extend the arm line by the width of a stand-up collar – mine was 4 cm / 1.5 in. From that point draw a line – how long it would be and at what angle, is up to you.

6. Connect the bottom of the front with the point on the side.

7. Extend the front line upwards, draw a second, parallel line at the distance of the stand-up collar width (4 cm / 1.5 in).

8. Measure the length of the back neckline and transfer that value onto the second line. Draw another line at the right angle to the second line and extend it toward the front.

Your pattern is ready, now you have to add some seam and hem allowances.

Adding seam and hem allowances

1. Add standard seam allowances (mine 1 cm / 0.4 in) at marked places.

2. Adding the bottom hem allowance at the back. It’s best to take the same value as the width of the stand-up collar – in my case 4 cm / 1.5 in. Draw the side line mirrored – easiest way to do it, is to fold the pattern along the bottom “sewing line”. Then trim the side of the hem allowance according to the side of the cardigan.
3. Add hem allowances at the front piece. Cut the side the same way as at the back piece. At the top extend the line of the collar.

You could finished at that point, but it will be easier to sew if you take care of that sharp corner’s allowances.

4. Draw the bisector of the angle (the corner) – hope you remember how to do it from your math class 🙂

5. Fold hem allowance and draw a second line at your seam allowances value apart from the bisector (for me it was 1 cm / 0.4 in). Unfold the pattern and trim your hem allowance along the second line. Repeat with the other side.

Hope you liked this tutorial, and you’re ready to sew 🙂

See the next part: Sew Along – simple cardigan, tutorial part 2

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