Sproingy Grey Knit Cardigan

gray drape sweater 3

This was some weirdly sproingy fabric to work with which might have had me grumbling in frustration at other times, but I was SO excited to be back to my sewing machine and drafting kitchen table after 4 months away that I would have happily suffered through just about any fabric weirdness! I don’t have a lot of winter clothing (since winter in San Francisco barely counts as winter. I know Seattle is relatively weather-tame, but it was below freezing for much of last week and that’s winter in my book!) and anyway most of my clothing is stuck somewhere in storage for the next few months (while we live in a furnished rental and then housesit for my snow-bird parents). So my nights and weekends are going to be full of sewing practical, warm items for a while. This drape cardigan kicks off my practical winter(-ish) sewing.

gray drape sweater back

Of course, even when sewing “simple” things I never can seem to make it easy on myself so I decided to draft the cardigan from scratch (inspired by a RTW cardigan I’ve had forever) and I unknowingly picked a stupidly challenging knit from the tiny bit of fabric stash I have available right now (most of it is also stuck somewhere in storage for a few more months). I didn’t have enough of any one fabric for the whole cardigan, but I think I like the combination of grey knits I used even more than I would like a single-fabric cardigan, so that’s nice. The upper back, cuffs, and shawl front are from a ribbed jersey.

working with challenging knit fabric

The fabric had a major tendency to gather up on itself and the edges rolled like mad, so I pinned it flat and straight (one of the benefits of working on a cardboard cutting layer) and cut the pieces on a single layer.

shrinkage of knit fabric

You can see just how much sproing there is in this picture. When the fabric is pulled flat, it is the size of the paper behind it. Crazy, right? The other bit that made it super challenging to work with? The jersey is effectively ruched between the stripes, so anywhere that I cut that wasn’t through the middle of a stripe opened wide up and had to be re-gathered into the seam. Ugh.

gray drape sweater back 2

So why did I stretch the fabric out to cut it? Why not just cut it gathered? Honestly, it’s because I didn’t have enough fabric to let it gather itself! I think what I did worked well everywhere but the sleeves. Unfortunately, the sleeve cap┬áhas to be fully stretched to go over my shoulder (since I didn’t put ease across the shoulder into the sleeve cap) and it makes it pull a little. I might have drafted it a bit narrow across the sleeve cap (for my broad shoulders) as well, but I really can’t tell using this fabric. I want to make this cardigan again in a heavier knit, so I’ll perfect the fit then.

seam stabilized with elastic

To add stability to the shoulder and the mid-back seam, I sewed 1/8″ elastic into the seam. Since I haven’t unearthed all my sewing supplies yet either (I sense a theme for the next few months), which includes my clear elastic, unstretched very narrow elastic makes a fine substitute. You can see that I used a narrow zig-zag to stitch since the fabric wasn’t strong enough to handle my triple-stretch stitch and I can’t find any of my serger thread.

gray drape sweater 2

On an unrelated note, I’m just going to throw it out there that I love my hair right now! I’d been wanting to chop it short all of 2014 but was told that I wasn’t allowed to right before the wedding so I waited until the day before we left on our honeymoon to chop it all off. I got it further dramaticized in the week we were back in the States in November (so I’d have a fresh cut for Sew It All TV) and I love having it short, love having it dramatic, and love the way it’s growing out. I love that it’s still got the length I need to frame my face and soften my strong features but that it’s also got a bit of pixie cut that I’ve always wished I could rock!

gray drape sweater

Comments 10

  1. Ah, welcome to Seattle winters. I grew up in Alaska, so it *shocked* me how cold I get here. I think you just have to grow up wet, or you never quite get used to it. Anyways, I love your cardigan, crazy fabric and all. And your hair– it looks great on you :)

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      I did grow up here, so the weather isn’t actually a shock, it’s just not something I’ve dealt with in the last 7 years of living in San Francisco.
      Thanks for the compliments!

  2. It really seems as a difficult fabric. I don’t have the courage to sew with this kind of fabric yet :) but you got a very lovely result!

  3. Ooh I really like how this turned out. It may have been a pain to sew but I really like the results. I like how the texture changes from stretched to unstretched.
    I too am living with most of my sewing things in storage. I feel your pain. :)

  4. Your hair does look fantastic! As does your sweater, but ugh, I recently made up a tee in this sort of knit and it was a nightmare. It’s super comfortable and I love it now, but there were some bad moments in construction! The combination of grays you use here is wonderful!

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      Thanks so much Liz! I hadn’t considered releasing this sweater because I feel like the market is already flooded with similar options, but I will keep it in mind. I appreciate the positive feedback!

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