A Cardigan Sweater for Mom!

I don’t sew knits very often, but when I do, I most enjoy working with sweater knits.

Unlike jerseys, sweater knits tend to be thick and stable, making them easier to sew. They are generally woven from wool or wool blends, though I’ve worked with cotton blend sweater knits too.  (You can check out Mood Fabrics’ selection of sweater knits here.)  I imagine it would take a lot longer to knit a sweater than it would to sew a sweater from a sweater knit fabric. Gratification isn’t exactly instant, but it’s faster!

For this month’s project, I purchased two yards of a beautiful wool sweater knit (not available online, unfortunately).  It’s a navy and cream checkerboard that, from a distance, reveals a bit of a zig-zag pattern (much less apparent close-up).

I wanted to make a shawl collar cardigan sweater for my Mom, who likes to bundle up when the weather gets colder.  A cardigan is also an easy-on/easy-off garment, which is something she appreciates as an older person.  To make the cardigan, I used a vintage Seventies unisex sweater pattern, McCall’s 5267.  I made size Small and had to shorten the length by four inches and the sleeves by two, as my mother stands just under 5’2″.

I interfaced the collar and facings with a lightweight knit fusible interfacing.  It’s essential to interface these areas, particularly if you intend to add buttonholes.

I made my buttonholes myself using a vintage Singer buttonholer.  I also added a layer of stabilizer on the underside of my facings when making my buttonholes. The stabilizer gets trimmed down to the buttonhole edge itself, so it’s invisible.

I also added interfacing to the torso hem and to the sleeve hem.  Both are turned up and hand-stitched in place.  The inside seams of the sweater are serged.  Because of the bulk of this particular knit, I found it helpful to first baste by hand, then sew by machine, and then bring the each seam to the serger.  That way I had more control over my work and a more professional-looking result.

The pockets are lined with a Liberty of London floral poplin (a remnant from an early Mood project) and the pockets are attached to the sweater by hand so they stand away from the front a little.  I was able to use the selvage of the sweater knit for the top of the pocket, which also gives the pocket definition.  (The pocket is lined up to roughly 1/4″ below the selvage.)

My mom loves her new sweater. I think it’s very becoming on her and it’s definitely warm and snuggly!

It’s always fun to make things for family members, especially my mom.  I feel proud every time I see her wearing something I’ve made.

Ready to give sweater knits a try?

Thanks for reading and see you next month!



  • June W Lovell
    November 22, 2017

    What a great gift and what a great son. Your Mom looks happy and I know she’s proud of you. How are Michael and the doggies?

    • Peter
      November 22, 2017

      We’re all doing well. Thanks for asking!

  • Barbara Cooper
    November 22, 2017

    What a wonderful sweater for your beautiful mom! I’ve never tried sewing with sweater knits, but now that I’ve seen your sweater, I think I’ll give it a try. Thanks for sharing your make!

  • Hélène
    November 23, 2017

    Just so perfect and beautifully fitted. Your mum looks wonderful!

  • Gail
    November 23, 2017

    The sweater you made looks great and your Mother looks good in it. Some of those 1970’s sweater jacket patterns are wonderful. This is a good one!

  • Lori
    November 27, 2017

    That is such a great looking sweater for your mom. Thanks for the tips on sewing with this thicker sweater knit.

  • BethS
    November 27, 2017

    Your Mom looks fabulous! Great job on the sweater.

  • Karen
    November 28, 2017

    Love, love the happiness you’ve given your Mom with this fantastic sweater cardigan. Well done!

  • Hilary
    November 28, 2017

    This is beautiful. Great work!

    Do you know if there a seam finish that will work with sweater knits if you do not have access to a serger, or is it best not to attempt?

    • Peter
      November 29, 2017

      You could do a Hong Kong-style finish with a strip of jersey (to allow for the seams to stretch) or even a woven cut on the bias, but that might be too bulky. Since knits generally don’t fray, if you don’t have a serger I’d say leave them as-is.

  • Melissa Reilly
    November 29, 2017

    So many excellent tips – thank you. I’ve just started sewing with sweater knits so the timing is perfect. I’ve used a tricot interfacing – is that the same thing as sweater interfacing? If not, what is it? Thanks again

    • Peter
      December 12, 2017

      Tricot interfacing is a good choice.

  • Jeanice M Shelley
    December 4, 2017

    This is beautiful and I am absolutely inspired to try my hand sewing with knits.