A step-by-step video tutorial and sewing pattern for beginners to make a cardigan without knitting or crochet.
Hey y’all, today I’m sharing a free pattern to make a cardigan as well as a step by step tutorial. This month I’m focusing on cardigans – because until it’s really hot I’m always cold. Today we’ll cover how to sew a basic cardigan, and then over the next couple weeks I’ll share some pattern hacks.
While I love knitting, you won’t need any yarn to make this cardigan. And neither knitting nor crochet can compare with the speed of sewing up a cardigan. I made this one in a few hours, including all the setup to film how I did it. And with sweater knit fabrics more readily available, you can enjoy the same quick gratification.
Materials to Make a Cardigan
To make your own cardigan you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 yards of sweater knit fabric. French terry, or a jersey knit could also work.
- A sewing machine that can sew stretch stitches or a serger
- 3-6 buttons 3/4 inch to 1 inch in diameter. For the cropped version I’m wearing in these photos, I used 3 buttons, but for the regular length I’d suggest 5 buttons, 6 if your buttons are smaller.
- Small strips of fusible non-stretch interfacing, 1.5 inches wide
- Needles, thread, pins or clips, scissors, other basic sewing notions
How to Get the Pattern
This pattern is sized for a bust/chest measurement of up to 34 inches. The finished measurement of the garment at the bust is 37 inches, and it should have at least 3 inches of ease for the style. If you need another size, you can re-size your pattern following the instructions here. Note that for the version pictured in this post, I shortened the pattern by 3 inches and that I have a neck to waist measurement of 14.5 inches.
To get this pattern, you must either be a free newsletter subscriber or have purchased a gallery access pass. Then click your preferred option from the buttons below. Existing newsletter subscribers should look at the bottom of the most recent Friday newsletter for the current free pattern gallery password. If you purchased the all access pass you’ll log in to your shop account to download the pattern. Note that the free version of the pattern does not have printable instructions so you’ll need to refer to this post for instructions.
DIY Cardigan Video
To see how to sew your cardigan up, watch the video below or on YouTube here. Written instructions are also below the video if you prefer.
Steps to Sew a Cardigan
Time needed: 2 hours
How to Sew a Cardigan
- Cut out your fabric
You’ll need to cut 2 fronts, 1 back, 2 sleeves, 1 hem band, 1 button band, and 2 cuffs. Interface the button band below the notch with two 1 1//2 wide strips of fusible non-stretch interfacing.
- Sew the shoulders.
Place the fronts right sides together with the back and sew the shoulders using a stretch stitch. Note that all seams should be sewn with a stretch stitch on this project
- Sew the sleeves.
Match the center top of the sleeve to the shoulder seam with right sides together. Match the ends of the sleeve cap with the ends of the armscye. Stitch the sleeve. Repeat with other sleeve.
- Sew side and underarm seams.
Fold the cardigan right sides together and match the armscye points. Sew the sleeve underarm and side seam all in one pass. Repeat on the other side.
- Sew the cuffs.
Fold the cuffs in half right sides together and stitch down side seam. Fold the cuff wrong sides together.
- Attach the cuffs.
With the cardigan right side out, put a cuff around each sleeve. Align all raw edges and align the cuff seam with the underarm seam. Stretch the cuff as you stitch so that it matches the sleeve width.
- Attach the hem band.
Fold the hem band wrong sides together. Match the ends of the hem band with the ends of the sweater front. Also match the center of the hem band to the center back. Align all raw edges. Stretch the hem band as you stitch so that it is the same width as the cardigan.
- Attach the button band.
Place the button band along the neckline, right sides together, matching the notches and placing the interfaced side closest to the cardigan opening. Match the center of the button band to the center back. Button band will extend beyond the hem band. Pin and then stitch it in place, stretching button band between the notches and the center back so that it lays flat agains the cardigan.
- Finish the bottom of the button band.
Fold the button band in half, right sides together, matching long edges. Stitch across the bottom on each side even with the hem band.
- Finish the button band
Turn button band right side out and then press the seam allowances toward the band and tuck them under the other edge of the band. Pin. Topstitch next to the button band to enclose the seam allowances.
- Sew buttons and buttonholes.
Mark your buttonhole placement on the cardigan on the right side of the wearer. BEFORE you sew them, practice sewing your buttonhole on a double layer of scrap fabric first. On some sweater knits a hand sewn button hole works better. Sew your buttonholes, and then sew on the buttons. For more help with sewing buttonholes, see this post. For instructions to use your machine to sew on buttons (if you have that option) see this post.
Tips When Sewing A Sweater
Like all sewing projects, the fabric will affect the final product a great deal. The cardigan I made from a cotton knit throw blanket that I’m wearing in the video has a lot of drape and tends to grow longer while I wear it, but it’s warm. The one in the photos of this post is a more stable knit thereforthat has some spandex in it, so it has great recovery. Besides sweater knit, you can also use jersey for a cardigan that feels more like a t-shirt, French terry, or even stretch fleece. For a more thorough discussion of sweater knits and all my tips and tricks see this post.
As I’ve worn this cardigan around a bit, I have found myself wishing for pockets a couple of times. If you’d like pockets, you can see how to add patch pockets in this post.
The buttonholes are the trickiest part of this project. With the throw blanket version I hand bound the buttonholes. My machine sewed the ones on the ivory sweater in these photos, but they weren’t the easiest buttonholes I’ve ever made. One thing that I’ve found really helps is to sandwich tissue paper or embroidery stabilizer on top AND on bottom of the buttonhole area before stitching. The layers of paper seem to help my machine feed the fabric more easily and not get stuck with a zig zag stitch lump along the buttonhole.
If your machine has a stretch buttonhole use that instead of the standard buttonhole. For more about buttonholes, see this post.