There are plenty of raves for this pattern in the blogosphere. Now I understand why!
The Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet is a pdf pattern for a straight fitting, open cardigan in one of two lengths – mid-thigh, or mid-hip. I bought the pattern about 10 months ago and the thought of taping together pattern pieces and cutting the fabric meant that it sat for too long.
Sweater-knit fabric from Fabric Mart Fabrics. Actually, two sweater-knit fabrics … the first is very lightweight, almost sheer, with navy, cranberry and white striations. The second is a slightly heavier weight fabric in pink heather.
The navy print was $2.99 a yard (!), and the pink was $5 a yard. Considering that the pattern only needs about 1 1/2 yards, this is a super frugal sweater!
Earlier this year one of my favourite sweaters got a run in the front band right at the top where it’s really noticeable. I considered attempting to repair the run, but there is no way I could manage such fine work in a highly visible place. And since I’m on the RTW Fast I can’t buy another until January.
I had some trepidation about cutting into a sweater knit – I knit and am well aware of how easy it is to start a run. It turns out that sewing a purchased sweater-knit is just like cutting any other fabric. Okay, not exactly the same. You do have to be careful not to catch the fabric on a pin or anything sharp. Once I got past the fear of ruining a $5 piece of fabric, this was an easy sew.
There were no alterations needed, although the long version of the sweater is designed to have front pockets. That looked a bit too grandad for me, so I left them off.
Both sweaters were sewn completely on my serger, except for the topstitching around the front band at the end for which I used a narrow zig-zag (.5mm x 3 mm). On the shoulder seams, clear elastic was applied for added stability.
On the pink heather version, I had pink thread and grey thread, both of which would have brought too much attention to the seams if the sweater blew open. So I used both threads in the serger and the result was really good!
You know it wouldn’t be a Janine sewing project without some mishap! On the first version, the navy one, I cut the fabric double which was a mistake because this fabric moves so the stripes were all over the place and a couple of the bands and both sleeves had to be cut again (and even then the lines aren’t straight on the back). Then inexplicably I cut the front band about 3″ too short, and I had to add a piece at the lower edge of the band. Fortunately, that piece aligned with the bottom band, however, the mistake was a head-scratcher. (I made up that version at an ASG sewing bee so can’t blame wine this time!)
The first version took about 5 hours from start to finish because of my errors, not including taping the pattern pieces together. The second version took under 3 hours. Man, that’s a satisfying sew!
Highly recommend this pattern! The shape is great, it sews up easily, and this is a classic style that works for probably every figure type and age. The longer length gives the appearance of a longer and leaner body, which is a bonus in my books. There will be at least one more. The fabric is in the hopper for November!
Update! February 2021
I’ve just made another version of the Blackwood Cardigan, this time in ribbed knit that was purchased from Fabric Mart a couple of years ago. This is described as “Steel Blue Gray Ribbed Knit” from St John, yes – that St John! I found a photo of a RTW sweater in this fabric and I think it looks better as a cardigan than it did as a $700 pullover.
This time around I cut an XL and I’m now wishing that I had cut an XXL because I do prefer a cardigan that comes further across my bust. Maybe this will be the impetus I make my bust smaller instead of sewing bigger.
I used a piece of narrow black ribbon instead of clear elastic for the shoulder seams. And I made a neck tag from a piece of selvedge. This fabric needs very gentle care and I don’t want to forget that! To make the tag, I added black stabilizer to the back of a strip of selvedge and sewed my initials and “Hand Wash” using the lettering on my Brother Pacesetter PS 500. It was a fun project!