A Long Cardigan in Italian Wool Jersey
While winter is definitely not over here in Seattle, we are finally getting our first hints that it’s on its way out. Our crocuses have come up, and our daffodils are not far behind. The days are in the 50s (Fahrenheit, obviously!) with a bit more sun than in December and January. To celebrate, I wanted to make a warm cardigan to throw on for those days when a coat just wasn’t necessary.
I wanted the cardigan to be versatile, so I decided it should be in a solid neutral that I didn’t already have in my closet. I ended up going with this brown Italian wool jersey from Mood Fabrics (which, unfortunately, I can’t seem to find online anymore – maybe I got the last of it?! – but here’s a black Donna Karan Italian wool jersey that’s a close match). It’s warm and drapes well, and, surprisingly, I didn’t previously own a single brown cardigan.
The pattern is the Style Arc Nina cardigan. I’ve been meaning to make another Nina cardigan for ages. The first one I made saw a lot of wear, until I decided that the thick fabric was not meant to be a long drapey cardigan and hacked at the hem, hoping to get more of a jacket look. Sadly, it’s been in sewing purgatory since then, though I think making this one helped me understand where I went wrong. This time I wanted to make sure I better matched pattern with fabric, and I think I achieved exactly what I was hoping for. Finally, a Nina cardigan done right!
The pattern gets its draping from what are essentially just long rectangles sewn together. But, this cardigan is a lot more than just rectangles. The fitted front side and back pieces give the cardigan a nice, flattering overall shape.
I sewed the cardigan together using my serger for the most part. The sleeves and the portions of the center back where seam lines came together got a first pass on my sewing machine just to make sure everything lined up nicely before they were run through the serger. When I was trying to match the seam lines along the back center seam, I used a trick I picked up from the tiny bit of quilting I’ve done. I alternated the direction I pressed my seam allowances before stitching the waist seam (in other words my seam allowances were pressed to the left below the waist line and to the right above the waist line), and then I carefully butted the alternating seam allowances together before stitching the back waist seam on my sewing machine. Butting the seam allowances together ensured that the stitching lines overlapped.
The one bit of trouble that I had was in finishing the edges of this cardigan. After the drama I went through finishing the seams of my last A-line skirt, I decided to practice the suggested baby lock hem on some wool scraps before doing anything to my nearly finished cardigan. And, I’m glad I did! While my serger thread was a close color match to the brown wool jersey, it wasn’t a perfect match. It just looked off. So, I decided to skip finishing all together, opting to leave the edges raw. I dabbed some fray block (first used here) on the ends of the seams, and that’s when my drama with this cardigan ensued. I’d left the tube of fray block next to the hem, and a drop ended up leaking out of the bottom and onto my fabric! I thought it would be okay since the fray block is supposed to dry clear, but this time it dried white (maybe I didn’t prep it enough before use this time, or maybe it reacted with the wool?). I couldn’t find any information on the bottle for how to remove excess fray block, but the internet suggested soaking in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Easy enough, right? Ha! I dabbed with isopropyl alcohol – nothing. I soaked with isopropyl alcohol for thirty minutes – nothing. I soaked with isopropyl alcohol for two hours – nothing. So, I finally just cut off the last half inch of hem, carefully dabbed a bit of fray block on the newly exposed seam end with the actual tube of fray block very far away from my cardigan, and called it a day. If anyone has any advice for how I could have gotten rid of the offending fray block, I’m all ears!
Drama aside, I’m very happy with my finished cardigan. I can now wrap myself up in warm wool jersey when I go out to check on the flowers in our garden as spring nears. What bliss!