As someone who is always cold, even in the middle of summer, I know the power of a good cardigan. It is the not-so-secret weapon in my closet to keep me warm and cozy all year round. And while is wintery and blustery out, it seems like a no-brainer to feature some layering pieces for your handmade wardrobe.
"Cardigans" is a broad category, and I love the variety of styles that have popped up in recent years in the sewing world. As one who's style is firmly in the beatnik 50s, I'm a sucker for a cropped, slim fit style. But you also have long, duster cardigans, loose, robe-like ones, wraps, boleros, and the beloved chunky sweater style. There are so many to choose! For the boxes, I wanted to give a smattering of each, and I think there's definitely something to fit into your wardrobe.
For fabrics, winter means sweater knits, terrys, and double knits - all the better to give a real boost of warmth on cold days. In terms of colors, I always tend towards icy hues for winter, and this month is no exception. We're doing blues, deeps red, grays, and a hint of beige. All options that will integrate into any color palette with ease. And that's really what you want for a layering piece, right?
So, without further ado, let's dig in!
Sew Essential Box: Juniper Cardigan from Jennifer Lauren Handmade
It's been quite a while since we've used Jennifer Lauren Handmade patterns, but the Juniper Cardigan fit seamlessly this month. A fitted cardigan, either cropped or hip length, the real key to this pattern is the shoulders. Before this pattern, I must admit, I didn't know what "saddle shoulders" were, but now I kind of love them. A little like a cross between raglan and set in sleeves, this subtle shoulder detail adds so much character to the sweater. Plus it's a fun new thing to learn to sew!
In terms of layering, this cardigan offers a lot of opportunities for wear. The cropped style works well for fit and flare dresses or jumpsuits, while the longer style can be paired with jeans or maybe those wide leg trousers you got back in October. Slightly vintage, yet not in a costumey way, this is the sweater you have in your bag year round for whenever you need an extra layer of warmth. We love it so!
For fabric, there's a sweet spot of knits for this type of fitted sweater and it falls somewhere around 200 gsm and 5% spandex. So that's what we've got in our boxes, in some classic tones so you can get the most wear out of your new sweater as possible. So here they are!
- Cornflower Blue Laguna Jersey - On Jennifer Lauren Handmade's site, they specifically namecheck Laguna Jersey as ideal for this sweater, so we knew exactly where to look for this box. And we just fell in love with this blue! Dreamy, light, with just the right amount of color, it's the blue that goes with just about anything without being a straight neutral. And in a cotton spandex mix, it's utterly wearable throughout the year. The fabric has great recovery and will transform into an amazing layering piece for the end of winter and beyond!
- Gray Marled Hatchi Knit - If you haven't heard of hatchi knit, that's no surprise. It's only really appeared on the market in the last decade, and the name is hardly descriptive. But at its core, it's a sweater knit with a looser weave than jersey and a soft, semi-fluid drape. That makes it a great choice for this cardigan, with its slim fit and light weight. The yarn-dyed knit, mottled with white and black, is incredibly soft, with a brushed hand and great stretch. The addition of spandex also gives it good recovery. A great neutral and a great knit!
- Spotted Peach Cotton Spandex Jersey - The same substrate as the laguna cotton jersey, this fabric has been printed with an adorable spotted pattern. A light peach background covered in darker orange spots, this knit is playful without being too kitsch, and we absolutely love it. The peach color is light and soft, a good starting place for any outfit, and it will layer on top of turtlenecks, tanks, and dresses with ease. The cotton spandex mix is wearable and soft, and perfect for year round wear!
Sew Select and Sew Curvy Boxes: Marlo Sweater from True Bias
Oversized cardigans are a thing right now, and we must admit, we are here for it. Honestly, any excuse to be wrapped in coziness while still looking on-trend is cool with us. And that's what this style does – it combines the feel of your favorite worn-in sweatshirt or robe that you love to wear around the house with the look of a cool and styled cardigan that can be worn not only out in the world, but for all sorts of occasions.
The key to the sweater is the proportions. Everything is a little exaggerated, from the buttons to the placket to the sleeves, so it looks intentional and not like you accidentally made the wrong pattern size. It's that 99% invisible design from True Bias that makes it look effortless and wonderful.
For fabrics, we wanted to keep the proportions with heftier knits, terrys, and, especially sweater knits. It's really fun to create a faux hand-knit look for this sweater, all while only spending one day constructing instead of several months (or years if you're a slow and intermittent knitter like I am). And we kept the colors mainly neutral and soft, so you can layer them on top of as many outfits as possible. So let's take a look!
Sew Select Box:
- Navy/Heather Gray Double Knit - We love the beefiness of double knits, but this fabric ups the ante with two different faces to the fabric. One side is a deep navy blue while the other is a light, heather gray. The combination opens up lots of possibilities for this sweater, with contrast cuffs, hembands, and button bands. You can even play with the color on the pockets! And it's all grounded by the rayon polyester blend that is soft, supple, and oh so cozy!
- Oxblood Boucle Knit - Confession time: I spent most of high school winters wearing a series of boucle sweaters from J Crew in different colors. If only I had know then I could have used this fabric to make my own! This boucle sweater knit is just what you're looking for to make snuggly, oversized cardigan. Fuzzy and warm, this fabric, with its deep wine color, is set to become your new favorite thing to wear all winter!
- Gray Spotted Cotton French Terry - We are total suckers for a french terry. It seems to combine all our favorite things: a jersey face, a thicker hand, and lots of warmth. This terry gets even better with a yarn dyed dot pattern, with white polka dots integrated into the knit. The subtle look adds playfulness to the fabric, and will make your cardigan a cut above the ordinary. With 100% cotton content, the fabric is breathable, soft, and ideal for layering. We're in love!
Sew Curvy Box:
- Star Quilt Gray Double Knit - Telio offers such lovely quilted knits, that we couldn't resist using one more for this box. This star quilt fabric has diamond quilting with little dots at each crossing. It creates amazing texture and playfulness, all contrasting with the neutral, light gray color. Turned into this cardigan, it will look a little like a quilted jacket, all while being warm and snuggly. And who doesn't want that? A blend of polyester and cotton, the fabric is medium weight, soft, and made to last. Get ready to wear this cardigan for years to come!
- Cornflower Blue Waffle Knit - Waffle knit typically is used for thermal pajamas as the little boxes of fabric allow air to insulate the body. The quality also makes it great for layering garments, like this cardigan. Without spandex, the fabric has a stiffer drape than you may associate with a knit, which helps it accentuate the oversized nature of this pattern. And the muted English blue is a standout - sophisticated, soft, and chic!
- Sand Cotton Modal Sweater Knit - This fabric has a looser weave than a traditional jersey, and the yarn is a little bit bulkier, making it the perfect for this oversized sweater. With rayon and modal, it's got great drape and a soft hand. And the beige color means it can be worn with practically anything. Say hello to your new favorite cozy cardigan!
Sew Indulgent Box: Esme Maxi Cardigan from Named Clothing
It always feels a little thrilling when I finally get to use a pattern that I've been eyeing for a long time. It's like the feeling of checking something off your to-do list, that sense of accomplishment. And the Esme Cardigan has been on the to-do list for quite long time.
In our tour of different kinds of cardigans, we've reached the long, robe-like category, and they really do have a different feel from the other two we've offered above. The length adds a little more dressiness to the look, and without any waist shaping, it's a looser, less structured silhouette. We love it paired with straight or skinny jeans or over a pencil skirt with boots. Or, if you're like me, you can use it as a cozy house robe for everyday wear. It's up to you!
The longer length gives an opportunity to really show off some luxe fabrics, so we went all out with modal sweater knits and bamboo jerseys. These fabrics feel absolutely amazing against the skin and they come in such fabulous, saturated colors. Here they are!
- Navy Blue Rib Sweater Knit - This lovely rib knit is actually a double knit in disguise. A rib face is paired with a smooth jersey back for a luxurious knit you'll want to use over and over again. In a deep navy, this fabric will be an ideal neutral tone in your wardrobe, perfect for layering over prints and solids alike. The sweater knit will give nice body to the cardigan, making it snuggly and warm, while a dose of rayon will keep it breathable and soft. You can even play with the direction of the rib on the neckbands for a subtle tone on tone contrast. And elevated yet simple option!
- Agave Microstripe Bamboo Cotton Jersey - Silky and soft, this bamboo jersey is downright dreamy. A subtle micro stripe, just a row thick on this very fine jersey weave, gives the fabric a heathered look and adds to the soft, natural look of the fabric. A hint of light blue, mottled with darker tones and white highlights creates almost a shimmery look. Plus, the cool hand and semi-fluid drape will show off the long line of the sweater, and a healthy dose of spandex gives it great recovery too!
- Shiraz Cotton Modal Sweater Knit - This red isn't bright and bold, but it also isn't earthy and brick-like. A lovely coolness to the red makes it rich and muted, and we think it will look absolutely stunning as this long, duster-like cardigan. The blend of rayon, cotton, and modal gives it breathability, softness and strength, and the looser weave of the sweater knit makes it feel cozy and warm. We love everything about it!
For those who want a woven option this February, we've brought back our Basic Skirts boxes from last year in our Tried and True boxes. The lovely thing about skirts is that they can go from cold weather to warm with ease, just by changing your shoes (and tights, as the case may be). And these boxes will give you a jump on the transitional outfits for the months to come. And no matter which box you choose this month, you'll have the makings of some easy and satisfying sewing this February.
But before we get ahead of things, let's give ourselves time to enjoy the holidays and the new year. And from Needle Sharp, we wish you a joyous holiday season!
Until next time. . .