Concord Cardigan

Concord Maxi Cardigan

In my recent round-up of all my Cashmerette makes, I mentioned that I had this cardigan cut and and in progress… well, it very nearly got chucked out, but in the end, I think it works!

A couple weeks ago the temperatures dropped, and I immediately went and bought at least 10m of sweater knit fabric. It’s so tempting to think of sewing up snuggly sweaters – but as soon as I started cutting things out, I remembered all the things I hate about sweater knits!

sweaterknit cons

Problem One: Thin sweater knits (often called Haachi online) cling to themselves and everything else. On the bolt, it drapes beautifully, but once it’s washed, nope. (See the righthand pic above for an example!) 

Problem Two: Because of that clingy nature, it tends to show everything underneath. (See that ridge on my belly in the lefthand picture above? Even I can’t quite tell what’s happening there – either my leggings waistband is above or below it. Either way, an odd thing for a sweater to accentuate!) 

Problem Three: Ok, this one is the easiest to work around, but worth keeping in mind: Make sure you stabilize your neckline and shoulder seams. A lot of stress going on those seams as you pull your sweater on, and it’s worth giving them some extra elasticity. I used jersey scraps for this one, but clear elastic works well too if you have it.

Concord Maxi Cardigan

And yet… I totally love this sweater. I felt good wearing it all day, and when some Grade 8 students came up to me at school and asked if it was true that I sew my own clothes, I was happy to say “Yes!”.  (Those students are Mennonite, and were also dressed in handmade clothes – though I continue to be surprised that even they older girls haven’t learned to sew themselves yet!) 

The cardigan is based on the Cashmerette Concord tee, which I’ve traced and extended into a basic t-shirt dress. To make it a cardigan, I cut it with a bit of extra width in the back, and some extra ease below the waist. The front is angled diagonally to the waist, and then goes straight down. When I tried it on mid-process, the front was clinging tightly to itself and hung as a wad of fabric at my sides. This is when I almost threw it away… but I made some strategic finishing decisions which I think saved it!

Concord Maxi Cardigan

First of all, I finished the vertical front, bottom and sleeves with a wide hem. This gives it some weight and body. Next (and I failed to get this photo in focus) I attached a wide folded band with finished ends to the neckline, up the diagonal edge in front, around the back neckline, and back to the waist. It’s all topstitched down with my coverstitch – for once I bought coordinating thread, and it was worth it because the stitching disappears completely into the sweaterknit! I should have coordinated my serger thread too, but I couldn’t quite be bothered.

Concord Maxi Cardigan

The wide neckline band does two things: it gives support to the diagonal edge of the sweater, so that the whole front doesn’t just collapse and hang down at my sides, and I think it gives a bit of flair to an otherwise very boring sweater!

Concord Maxi Cardigan

Sorry for the rather long-winded post – I clearly had a lot of things to say! Now to figure out what to make with the other sweaterknits in my stash. Can you suggest a pattern that would highlight the strengths of sweaterknits, and not their weaknesses? 

p.s. The dress I’m wearing is a Comino Cap I made a few years ago


23 thoughts on “Concord Cardigan

  1. I love how you finished the neckline of this sweater…nice save!!! It’s a very versatile sweater for fall/ winter! I struggle with all knits…so I’m of no help to you. You might be proud of me when I tell you that I just made a twist front dress out of one of those Venice knits…it turned out nice…but VERY clingy like you say.

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      1. Thank you! I had fun updating the blog over the weekend!
        You made a whole dress of this stuff? I’m sure I”m going to love the look of it, but don’t let me copy you and make myself a dress with my other yardage, cause I cannot handle clingy in a whole dress on my figure!😉 Cant wait to see it though!

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  2. WOW Gillian that sweater with your dress is a stunner! Beautiful🙂 I know what you mean about knits though – some of them are just too clingy. I bought a Liberty of London light knit last year that was rather pricey – it was a nightmare to sew (I had to tape ALL the edges before sewing for stabilization) and it clings to me so much I might as well be naked so I only wear it under something when I go out. Having said that it FEELS wonderful. It breathes, and is so soft to the touch I could wear it all the time🙂

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    1. That disappointing from a high wnd fabric! But excellent that you still wear it, and I bet everyone else just admires it!🙂

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  3. I love the color and your pattern hack and it looks great paired with your dress. I tend to stay away from the Hacchi knits after purchasing a couple for the main reasons that your outlined. Also, I bet those girls were excited that you sew your own clothes as it seems like hardly anyone does these days!

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    1. They were excited! The little kids started telling me the precise details of the fabric shop their mom’s buy fabric at (like, “and then you go down the stairs, and then you turn…” and repeated explaining that that is where to buy German fabric. (They speak Low German, so I guess all things Mennonite are German to them.) I’m kinda tempted to go check out the fabric store some day, but then I wonder, is it cultural appropriation to sew with steroetypical Mennonite fabric? (Also, German fabric appear to mean floral polyester with deep or muddy colours… though I did see a girl today in a neon orange dress for the first time!)

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    1. That is an excellent idea… I must admit though, i own more pyjama pants than the week has days, so I should probably stop with the pyjamas at some point!😛

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  4. I can see in the close up why you fell for the fabric. I also have purchased some sweater fabric that I can’t quite figure out what to do with. I made sure it had cotton in it so I think that will help some when clinging,but it’s light or shall I say thinner than I thought it would be.I ‘ll take your suggestion to reinforce the seams and use facing. Does any one know of an on line store that sells medium to heavyweight cotton sweater knit? The retails stores use it so I don’t know why I can’t find any. Love your look and the ruffles on your dress.

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  5. This looks gorgeous! And it matches that dress perfectly. I confess I’ve been a bit lukewarm about most of the sweaterknits I’ve seen this fall as none of them are really beefy, which is how I like them… This is great, though, and I think your finishes really worked, and you hit just the right balance between volume and drape.😀

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    1. It’ hard to find just the right weight for sweaterknits! I have some chunier stuff that’s way to stretch, and end up looking baggy… maybe it needs to be stable and midweight?

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  6. I love that color, but would not be sure about such a thin knit for a topper–which is strange since I’m one of those people who wears tank tops when it’s 30*F outside…but I do hear you on sweater knits being difficult to find good ones. I’m not sure there is a consistent source, weave, content, whathaveyou out there.

    P.S. Ask the Mennonites where their fabric stores are–they have the *best* selections of zips, notions, belting, buttons, etc. Or at least the Holderman stores near my old house did. They usually only sew wovens though, so it can be harder to find fabric if you hate polyester or wear only knits. But the ones I went to had an incredible selection and prices that were amazing too–as long as you could get past the initial stares of curiosity at being obviously non-Mennonite.

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  7. Looks good, Gillian! I have made at least one, maybe more (?) hacks like this from the moneta bodice a couple of years ago. It worked well in theory, but I used a knit that was WAY too thin and I almost never wear it. I too have some sweater knits lingering in the stash. I’m thinking of maybe the tessuti “fave top”. I also just got a drape front cardigan from Jalie, but I think it may not be quite right for a thin sweater knit. Need to figure out an appropriate fabric for that one.

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    1. Which Jalie cardigan did you get? I’ve made the drop pocket one, and it’s a cool design… just always meant to make it shorter next time!

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