Extra-long Blackwood Cardigan

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If you’re reading this curled up at home on the sofa (whether you’re in Coronavirus lockdown or not) then this project is the sewing equivalent of a hug. Sewn in the right fabric, it’s perfect for keeping you warm and cosy in cooler evenings, but it’ll also work as an extra layer once spring gets here and you can finally throw off your winter coat.

I finished this one just over a month ago, and I’m getting an awful lot of wear out of it already. #WFH

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Standing upright isn’t my strong point

The pattern

This is the Blackwood Cardigan from Helen’s Closet, an indie sewing community hit, and I now see why.

One of my favourite features is the size ranges. You can choose from US sizes 0-22 in a B-cup, or 12-30 in a D-cup. It’s refreshing to have such a big overlap between the size ranges, and great to see different cup sizes offered in a knit pattern. Cup size does still matter in a knit, no matter what some less conscientious (and presumably smaller busted) pattern designers say.

The Blackwood pattern has clear lengthen/shorten lines, and detailed instructions that would be suitable for beginners. If you’re looking to try sewing with knits, this pattern is an ideal first knit project – choose a fairly stable knit fabric to make things easier.

The fabric

I wanted to try this in a ponte roma fabric, so I decided to re-purpose a stash fabric I’d originally bought for wide-leg trousers. I remember it being difficult to find a ponte that wasn’t mostly polyester, but this is a predominantly bamboo/viscose ponte in a deep charcoal colour from Dragonfly Fabrics. I suspect there’s a some polyester in the mix too, but it doesn’t feel sweaty or scratchy against the skin at all. It was lovely to sew with and presses fine. It’s tricky to photograph with my camera but one or two of the shots have more details visible.

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Fitting and hacking

I fit a 12 (high bust), 14 (waist) or 16 (hip) in Helen’s Closet’s sizing, and I normally need an FBA so I was excited to be able to pick the larger, D-cup size range and not have to alter very much at all, just grading between sizes on the way down. I was so excited that I decided to hack view A and go waaaay longer, all the way to knee length.

Because I plan to make this pattern again, I did things properly. I added my usual inch of length above the waist. Then another inch between waist and hip to make sure the pockets ended up in the right place for my long arms, and finally I added 6″ just above the hem.

If you try something similar, don’t make the daft mistake I did and forget to also add all that extra length to the neckband too. If you look closely at the pictures, you can see where I had to piece the neckband to make up for this.

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You can just make out the pieced neckband near my collarbone here. And there’s just a hint of draglines pointing to the full bust, indicating that I’m either wearing it wrongly (!) or I need to add a small FBA, even in the D-cup size range.

I’d normally add around 1″ in length to the sleeves too, to accommodate my gibbon arms, but I decided not to here as the pattern is designed to bunch up a little around the wrists so I thought there would be enough length – and that’s turned out fine.

It’s supposed to be a fairly neat fit, and not to close at the front, but I think I’d be tempted to add a small extra FBA next time just to eliminate the diagonal drag lines that sometimes appear at the front radiating from the full bust area on me.

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Construction

I did all the long seams on my overlocker, so it sewed up really quickly. The only fiddly parts are stabilising the shoulder neatly, getting the pockets on straight, and easing the neckband correctly around the neck. The neckband is notched to help you, but I’d still recommend basting it on with a long stitch on your regular machine and then trying it on before you fix it in place permanently.

For the pockets, I tried Helen’s tip of using tissue to help eliminate waviness when you topstitching them on to the front pieces. I can report that it works, and that it works better than not bothering – which my laziness led me to try on the second pocket, so I can make a direct comparison! Alternatives would include fixing it in place with wonder tape or fabric glue before you sew.

Would I make this again?

Yes, absolutely. I’d love to find a great non-polyester sweater knit to make my super-long version again, and also to try a lightweight jersey version of the shorter option, view B. There are some fun hacking ideas on Helen’s website, including a split hem, thumbhole cuffs and an making the front band wider. Realistically, I have a hand-knitted cardigan still to finish, and lots of other holes in my wardrobe that need filling before summer so this might not happen until the autumn, but it’s definitely going on my list!

Have you tried the Blackwood Cardigan pattern – what fabric did you choose and how did it turn out?

 

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