I am still working on sewing from my stash – slowly getting to my 30-yard goal as part of the Whole 30 Fabric Challenge. I started this challenge back in July. The idea is to sew 30 yards of fabric before you buy any more fabric. I bought about 3 yards of red ponte in New York a few years ago and I decided that I needed to sew it up. I found the Madison Cardigan pattern by Style Sew Me. The pattern envelope says Madison Cardigan but the website says “Madison Waterfall Long Cardigan,” which is a better description. Ponte was a suggested fabric. Perfect.
I decided to skip making a mock-up because I didn’t want to buy any more ponte. So I threw caution to the wind and just went ahead and cut size L (bust 39.5″/100.5 cm, hip 41.5″ 105.5 cm). The pattern size range goes from x-small to 3X (bust 32″/51 cm, hip 54″/137 cm).
I didn’t measure the pattern pieces or consider the ease, which would have been a good idea. But I thought, hey, it’s a cardigan — well, really more of a jacket — without any buttons, it should be fine…. Read on to find out about the adjustments I ended up making.
Madison Cardigan pattern pieces
The pattern has five pieces: front, sleeve, undersleeve, center back and side back. The back is made up of three pieces — a center back flanked by a side piece. The front pieces are each one big flowing piece of fabric. The sleeve has two parts with the seams on the back and on side (facing the side seam of the cardigan). You can see the back seam and the sleeve seams here.
If I had taken a closer look at the model on the front of the pattern, I might have noticed that the sleeves are rather close fitting — not really something you can wear with big sleeves. I assumed that there would be some ease because a cardigan is worn over something, right? Well, I did have to make some last-minute adjustments to the sleeves.
I cut out all my pattern pieces and sewed the main body pieces together — the back pieces and then the front — using a shallow zig zag stitch and then finishing those seams with a four-thread overlocker stitch. It’s hard to photograph red with my phone but you can see the red zig zag stitch and the serger threads below. (Using a four-thread stitch means that you have two rows of stitching in your fabric and the two looper threads are going over the raw edges of the fabric.)
The pattern has 1/2-inch (~1.3 cm) seam allowances. I sewed the two sleeve pieces together and then serged them. The sleeves are set-in so I slipped the sleeve on over my arm to check the fit before I attached them to the main body. And that’s when I realized, “Uh, oh, there is little ease, I can’t wear anything with sleeves under it!” Whoops.
Luckily, when I finished the seams with my serger, I only had a sliver of fabric trimmed as I serged. So if I removed the zig zag stitch, I’d gain about 3/8″ (1 cm).
So I unpicked the zig zag stitches on the two sleeve seams and left the serged seam in place. Next, I had to unpick the seams in the body so the sleeve opening would match the sleeves. I removed the zig zag stitches at the shoulder and the side seam.
This gave me just enough ease so I could wear something underneath. If you are going to make this pattern, please note that there isn’t much ease around the armscye (armhole). You may want to add seam allowance before you cut the pattern or reduce the seam allowance when you sew it. It you have big biceps, measure the sleeve pieces around that area and compare it to the circumference measurement of your bicep.
I’m also wearing a modified version of the Maria Denmark Olivia Oversize Tee (I cropped it) in a fun Lady McElroy viscose jersey print (from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, sorry, sold out). I made the skirt back in 2015 from the Japanese sewing book Basic Black.
Hemming the Madison Cardigan
I don’t have a coverstitch machine and I didn’t want to use a double needle because the wrong side of the fabric is visible in the front. I didn’t want to see the zig zag on the bottom and I didn’t want to sew a zig zag stitch. So I decided to try sewing a straight stitch on my sewing machine and put wooly nylon thread in the bobbin. I learned this tip from a Bay Area Sewists meetup with Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics about sewing knit fabrics. It worked!
One thing I forgot to mention is that I used Design Plus double-sided fusible web on the hem. It holds the hem in place as you sew it. Then I didn’t need to use pins and it stabilizes the hem. The web is 3/8″ (1 cm) wide and comes on a roll.
I will do a post about wooly nylon soon but here’s what that thread looks like.
It’s very stretchy, which means you don’t have to stretch the fabric as you sew. (To see how stretchy it is, see the video on my Instagram post. You could sew a straight stitch with regular thread in the bobbin but you would need to slightly stretch the fabric as you sew or your stitches might break. There was a very long hem on this jacket so I didn’t want to do that. Using wooly nylon ensures that your thread won’t break.
Flowing and dramatic
This is quite a dramatic jacket! I don’t think I quite realized just how striking it would be until I walked around in it.
Look at how long it is in the back (please excuse the wrinkles).
It’s not exactly an everyday jacket but it’s certainly fun to wear.
Twirling in the Madison
Here are a few more shots taken as I swirled in the jacket. (I put my phone on a timer.)
You can see my reel with a slow-motion twirl in this jacket on my Instagram (@csews) here. I finished the Madison Cardigan about two weeks ago. But it took me a while to take photos for this blog post.
The knit fabric you pick will have an impact on the fit of the Madison Cardigan. I chose a medium-weight ponte fabric, which doesn’t have a lot of stretch. The weight gives the front a bit more structure. The fabric falls into nice folds in the front. The pattern’s suggested fabrics are “double knit, ponte knit, scuba knit, and other knits of all weights.” A lightweight knit will be very drapey and the front won’t look like the one I made. A stretchier knit will make it easier to wear a long-sleeved top underneath.
This cardigan is a layering garment that you can dress up or down depending on the fabric and what you pair with it. I could see wearing it with jeans for a more casual but elegant look. I will wear it to the next jazz concert I’ll be going to next year.