A Long Cardigan in Italian Wool Jersey

Sew Well - Style Arc Nina Cardigan in Mood Fabrics 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.

Sew Well - Style Arc Nina Cardigan in Mood Fabrics Italian Wool Jersey

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.

Sew Well - Style Arc Nina Cardigan in Mood Fabrics Italian Wool Jersey

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!

Sew Well - Style Arc Nina Cardigan in Mood Fabrics Italian Wool Jersey

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.

Sew Well - Style Arc Nina Cardigan in Mood Fabrics Italian Wool Jersey

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.

Sew Well - Style Arc Nina Cardigan in Mood Fabrics Italian Wool Jersey

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!

Sew Well - Style Arc Nina Cardigan in Mood Fabrics Italian Wool Jersey

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!

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Comments


  • Angie B.
    February 20, 2016

    Your cardigan looks great. I hope you find an answer to the fray check issue because I have never been able to get it out once it got like that.

    • Amy
      February 21, 2016

      Thanks! And, people have been recommending acetone. I haven’t tried it, but it makes sense that it would need an organic solvent!

  • PsychicKathleen
    February 20, 2016

    I really appreciated your advice re ironing the seam allowances in different directions at the waist and then carefully butting them together before sewing the waist! That was brilliant – you have such a nice match at the crossing on your back and for this cardigan that’s vital! Love your cardigan suits you to a T and I liked too that you left the edges simple and unfinished. Gives it a very trendy look!

    • Amy
      February 21, 2016

      Thanks! And, while I haven’t finished sewing together my first quilt top, I did learn quite a few tricks from the little bit of quilting I’ve done.

  • Sarah Gunn
    February 20, 2016

    It’s a great cardigan, Amy and I really like the fitted and flattering back. So glad you took care of the fray block issue on this pretty garment. The length looks perfect 😉

    • Amy
      February 21, 2016

      Thanks! I do think it has a lot of nice shaping in the back that makes it a flattering cardigan despite how many rectangles of fabric it uses!

  • Fiona
    February 21, 2016

    This really suits you Amy! It looks like just the right weight of jersey for this type of cardigan

    • Amy
      February 21, 2016

      Thanks! And, I am happy with this weight of jersey. The first one I made was a bit too heavy.

  • Amanda S.
    February 22, 2016

    That’s cute! Very pretty neutral on you. I do that alternating seam allowance direction regularly, not just to make sure seams line up but also to keep everything as flat as possible. Bulky seams = looking like something made in home ec class. Hahaha.

    • Amy
      February 22, 2016

      I always think of you whenever I trim down my seam allowances because I remember you saying that that’s one of your secrets to making such nice garments.

  • Lori
    February 22, 2016

    This looks so great on you, I like all the lines of the garment.

    • Amy
      February 23, 2016

      Thanks Lori!

  • My Handmade Space
    February 23, 2016

    Very nice cardigan to transition into spring! The neutral fabric is perfect to match with many different tops and I like the raw edges. Thanks for the tip in how to join the back seams.

    • Amy
      February 23, 2016

      So far it’s been a perfect extra layer in the middle of the day here in Seattle. At night I still need a few more layers!