A Classic Cardigan

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There’s nothing I love more on a cold morning than cuddling up in a big warm sweater with a hot cup of coffee. Ask Rob, and he’ll tell you that in the winter I wake up, put on a hideous gray sweater, and plop down on the couch to cuddle with the sleepy dog while I drink my coffee. I know it’s time to get rid of it, but it’s so warm and comfy!

I’m fairly certain this sweater is going to stick around until it’s also falling apart. I found this fabric sometime last fall at Bolt, and I knew instantly I wanted to make a button-up cardigan with it. The thing is, when you have a large bust, it’s nearly impossible to find a cardigan that doesn’t scream “HELP ME!” when you button it. They’re usually really thin, easily pill, and have too much stretch to button and still look nice.

Cardi-detail1That’s where Mcall’s M6803 comes in. I wasn’t looking for a cardigan pattern, but one day not that long ago, I had some extra time to waste at the fabric store and I decided to look through the pattern books. I hadn’t done that in ages, and when I opened the book, it was on the page for this cardigan. I initially thought I’d use it to make one for Rob. He has really long arms, and trouble finding sweaters long enough to fit them. But a little lightbulb clicked when I thought about the fabric in my stash. That blue cotton knit!

It didn’t take long at all to sew it up while listening to some Johnny Cash. The hardest part was deciding on buttons. I went to the Button Emporium downtown, and the ladies there helped me choose these lovely corozo nut buttons. Since they aren’t wood, I can still wash this cardigan without worrying about the buttons warping, and they have a beautiful marbled sheen.


It’s one of my favorite garments to wear. The weight of the sweater knit is so nice, even if the sleeves do “grow” some throughout the day from the weight of the cuffs. It just makes it that much more cuddly to me!



I debated what kind of pockets to put on it, or if I wanted any at all. I actually use the patch pockets all the time! My phone slides right in so I don’t have to lose my mind looking for it.

Cardi-Amy1The shirt that I’m wearing under the cardigan is another great knit find. I made my Dad one of these cardigans for Christmas, and I got the fabric at Rose City Textiles. While I was in looking for sweater knit fabric, I felt an organic bamboo waffle weave. I just couldn’t leave it there! It was so squishy! I used my modified Renfrew pattern to stitch up a long-sleeved thermal, and it’s dreamy.

BambooRenfrewI have another green cotton knit waiting to be turned into a cardigan, and more fabric to use to sew Archers. I’m loving the cozy warmth of my studio and spending these rainy days sewing. Do you sew more in the winter, or in another season?

  • mcope9917

    hi there,

    I bought this exact pattern about a month ago and just decided to make one for my husband for Valentine’s day. but I’m stumped on what fabric to buy… I have a joann’s and a hancock here in town, but that’s it for fabric stores. I was laying here in bed googling trying to get some direction on fabric and I came across your blog post just posted today… weird coincidence. I’m not super experienced (obviously)… could you offer some guidance on picking a fabric for this pattern?

    thanks so much!

    • How nice of you! For fabric, I would look for “sweater knit”. In the post, you’ll find a link to Rose City Textiles (their website is Fabricline), where I like to find mine. You might also look on Gorgeous Fabrics or Mood Fabrics sites.

      I like sweater knits because they look more professional. Heck, someone might think you took the time to knit him a sweater! Look for one that has some stretch, but not too much! Otherwise it could “grow”, like mine does (not that it bothers me much). I wouldn’t go with a sweatshirt fabric or fleece, because that won’t look as nice, and won’t have the right kind of stretch at the elbows and across the shoulders. Remember that most online sites will send you fabric swatches, so if you find some soon, you might be able to order the fabric in time for Valentine’s Day. Have fun shopping!

  • Angie M

    Alright lady…now you’re really showing off! Bee-uuu-tiful!!!lol! Ok. weird:
    #1. First thing I DO in the morning is put on my Grumpy sweatshirt, get my fresh-ground-beans coffee, and watch the Today show snuggled with my thinks-he’s-a-lap-dog 65 pound Lab.
    #2. Um…dumb comment, but I didn’t know sweaters COULD be made. I thought they were knit…or born. How? Just how? (Seriously, do you knit it? Sew it? Serge it? Use magic pixie dust?)
    #3. Oh! LOVE Johnny Cash! Tour of his museum next on my list of destinations!!! (Went through an Elvis phase too – have you been to Graceland? SO cool! You could hit the south and do both! See you in Nashville!!)
    #4. I LOVE the attention you pay to buttons. Cool!
    Have a lovely day! We are in a deep freeze here in the north. 2 machines are going in for service…that means…time alone with the serger without them getting jealous! It’s such a slow process getting work done to allow time for the sewing room! 🙂
    – Angie

    • Stop making me blush, Angie! 😉 That’s too funny that you also have a sweatshirt you put on first thing. Our house is COLD in the morning, and all I want is to be warm!

      Yes, sweaters CAN be sewn! You buy fabric called “sweater knit”, which is fabric knit with a larger yarn, so it’s different than, let’s say, jersey or t-shirt knit fabric. If you look at the sweaters you’ve purchased, you’re most likely looking at sweater knit fabric. It’s awesome to sew with (looks professional), but can be hard to find. I always stock up when I see it!

      Yes, Johnny Cash is great sewing music, especially his Folsom Prison album. I can’t help but dance around my studio when it’s playing, which isn’t very good for my productivity.

      You ARE in a deep freeze! I have been so lucky to experience mild winter weather here in the PNW that I think I’d die if moved back to the Midwest. No thank you! I hope you thaw out soon!

  • Ooh! This looks aaaaaaaamazing! Sooo snuggly and perfect! I love the buttons you chose, too– they look great with that color.

    • Thank you! Buttons are so fun to pick out. The store that I bought them from is owned by the sweetest woman, who has this incredible wealth of knowledge. The things she’s taught me about taking care of a button stash- I had no idea! I hope to talk her into letting me feature her on a post soon.

  • whitedragonstudios

    Looks perfectly comfy! Love the Renfrew thermal too!

    • Thank you! It’s really cozy.

  • Love the cosy cardi, lovely colour! I have loads of knits in my stash, waiting to be made into cosy cardigans, jumpers or dresses 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m quite a fan of this piece. I’m hoping to make two more this weekend. Have you been able to sneak away to do any sewing lately?

      • A little 🙂 I kicked my hubby & Lucas out of the house one day & got a whole six hours to myself to sew 😀

        • Good for you! I’m sure that was nice.

  • ellen

    Amy, I am in the process of making the Newcastle Cardigan…very similar. Was wondering, did you use a serger making this cardi? If so, and even if you used a combination of machines I would love to know how your cardigan actually came together.
    I have taken both craftsy serger classes, and the tailored shirt class,and the sewing with knits class… but as a newbie, it is hard to figure out when to use which machine, when to finish seams, which stitch to use on knits when you have options, etc. For example, under stitching knits???? I hate being a newbie, but am thankful for all the great blogs and classes.

    • Hi, Ellen! Yes, I did use my serger on this cardigan. I sewed all of the seams using the 4-thread overlock. I used a very narrow zigzag stitch on the pockets and to hold the seam allowances down in place along the sides of the button band and hem. I can’t stand when those flip around! In the future, I will use my (new) coverstitch machine when doing any topstitching on these cardigans and other knits.

      You usually don’t under-stitch knits, but I suppose you could on an interfaced facing. It’s all up to the pattern and the amount of stress that will be put on that edge.

      When learning to use different stitches, it can be helpful to look thru your wardrobe. You’ll see how different stitches are utilized, and may even learn a few things about garment construction.

      • ellen

        I am quickly learning sewing is like cooking….there is a lot of experimenting and personal preference involved! However, making mistakes in sewing is not as fleeting as a bad meal, haha. Thanks for the reply. The first cardigan is looking great, but I will make a second using my serger just to see/learn the differences the machines make in end-result. I used a narrow zigzag on my under stitching, but saw on a Ponte article at Emmaonesock that a straight stitch was still used…my facing still needed tacking at the shoulders, but i am happy with the result.

        • Cooking is a very good comparison to sewing. Students often ask me, “Is this how this shirt should look/fit/be sewn?”, and to some degree, there is a right and wrong way to do things. But there is SO much that is based on your personal preference and what makes you happy.

          I think you’ll be really happy with using your serger to make your second cardigan. Be sure to utilize the differential feed so that you don’t get wavy seams!

  • BB Rosser

    I love your sweater, and I found so much inspiration here!

  • Bonnie

    Amy, love the cardigan! I am in the Mid-South but am cold-natured. I have been wanting to sew on sweater knit fabric, but did not know where to find it. The buttons are beautiful and would like to know more about button storage. Thanks for sharing your wonderful knowledge.

    • Thanks, Bonnie! I am going to see if I can get the woman who owns the button shop to share some of her knowledge with all of us in the form of an interview post. Keep your fingers crossed she says yes!

  • Robyn

    I love this sweater. And thanks for the tip on finding knit fabric!

    • You’re welcome! If you see fabric like this that you like, I would buy it up. It’s so hard to find nice sweater knit yardage when you need it!

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