Newcastle Cardigan – Third Time’s a Charm!

Newcastle Cardigan - featured -

Hi,  I hope you’re enjoying some warm weather wherever you are. Here in northern California it’s pretty warm, for March anyway. It may seem odd to write about a cardigan with the spring equinox coming at the end of the week, but I finally made a version of the Newcastle Cardigan that my husband really likes. In fact, he liked it so much he even volunteered to model it! We took photos a couple of weeks ago. This is my third attempt at making this Thread Theory pattern for my husband.

Newcastle Cardigan - Thread Theory - black fleece -

Why three? Well, way back in October 2013, I saw the version Ginger Makes made on her blog post Dude Sewing and I was excited to make one for my husband. I bought and downloaded the Newcastle PDF (you can also buy the tissue version).

Warning: This is a rather long post with info on my pattern adjustments. It took me two more tries to get all the pattern adjustments right: bicep, armhole, waist, back, and butt. Below you’ll see the various adjustments and mistakes I made as I attempted to figure out how to make this pattern fit my husband and still retain the design. If you want to make this pattern and your guy is bigger than the largest size, compare the pattern pieces against a cardigan that he fits him well. Then you’ll know right away how much you’ll need to adjust. I didn’t do that with my first one. Lesson learned!

The PDF was easy to put together. I like the little pointing hand at the end of the grainline marks.

Newcastle Cardigan PDF -

I made a muslin for size XL using double-sided black fleece I got on sale at Discount Fabrics in San Francisco. I quickly discovered that the Newcastle Cardigan is for slender guys. My man is 6′ 3″ (190.5 cm) and weighs more than 200 pounds (90 kg). On him, size XL was more like an L and was too tight everywhere. It’s a fitted pattern with not a whole lot of ease unless you are a svelte guy. My husband was disappointed and thought I could just whip up another one pronto. Uh, no.

I explained that it would take a lot of pattern adjustments and that I had zero experience adjusting patterns for men, let alone doing bicep, back, belly, etc. adjustments. Yikes. All my previous pattern adjustments had been fairly minor ones for myself: wide shoulder, small bust adjustment, adding ease to the hips,and that was it. I told him it would take me a while to figure out how to adjust the pattern for his figure. (I decided to keep the first one as an oversize cardi for me but it is still a UFO (unfinished object) because I felt obligated to first make and finish one that fit him. The UFO still needs button holes and hemming.)

A few months later, through trial and error and then actual help via email from Morgan Meredith of Thread Theory, I was able to figure out how to accommodate his broad upper back and large biceps (slash and spread!). I made my second Newcastle Cardi from blue fleece I had in my stash.

Here’s how I added width to the bicep area.

Newcastle Cardigan - sleeve adjustment -

I also decided to apply the same principle to the front and slash and spread to accommodate his not-so-flat waistline. BUT what I neglected to do was to true up the side seam. You see how the side seam at the bottom doesn’t go straight down from the armhole? It tapers in to the center. I should have straightened that line out. My man has a shapely bottom (OK, let’s be honest here, he has a nice ass!) and I needed more ease there, not less. But I didn’t notice this because all of this was new to me. It looks so obvious now. Go figure.

Newcastle Cardigan - front adjustment -

Meanwhile I consulted Sandra Betzina’s Fast Fit book (I got a used copy from Half Price Books. You can find buy it on her site here.) for additional tips. The sleeve was tight around the armhole so I needed to drop the armhole.

Fast Fit - Sandra Betzina -

I slashed through the top of the sleeve head to add about an inch and then did the same to the front and back pattern pieces. I also added an inch of width to the front pattern piece as you can (sort of) see below. The front had three adjustments: slash and spread for the waist, 1 inch longer to accommodate longer sleeve head, 1 inch wider for his broad shoulders and a looser fit.

Newcastle Cardigan - sleeve and front adjustment -

Before I cut my pattern pieces out I checked the front pattern piece front and button placket against a RTW cardigan sweater of his to see if it was wide enough. Check.

Newcastle Cardigan - front comparison -

I cut out my pattern pieces from the blue fleece fabric.

Newcastle Cardi pattern pieces cut -

… including some patch pockets, which I attached before I began sewing it up.

Patch pockets for Newcastle Cardigan -

Apologies for the blurry photo but I wanted to show you the grading and clipping of the collar.

Newcastle Collar graded-clipped -

Warning: When you sew on the collar, you’ll be sewing many layers – the body of the cardigan, two layers of collar and the facing – for a total of four layers of fabric! It’s super thick and broke a needle when I made it the first time with the double-sided black fleece. Here’s the body, the collar, and the facing being sewn.

Sewing Newcastle Cardigan - collar-facing -

Here’s what it looks like with the collar and cuffs attached and buttonholes done. I added a bit of ribbon – sewn through the facing and back – to keep the facing down. It’s slightly off-center. Oops!

Newcastle Cardigan button holes -

Here’s what version 2 looked like but as you can see the arms still needed more ease but the fit was much better. However, it turns out that he really wanted one in black and he wanted it to be a little longer. He was reluctant to tell me because he knew how much work I had put into sewing this one up. I also realized that my pattern adjustments still weren’t perfect. It didn’t fit well over the lower back/bottom – because I neglected to adjust the side seams after I did my slash and spread. It was too snug back there and it looked short.

Newcastle cardigan - Thread Theory - blue fleece -

Fast forward to December 2014, I had him try on the blue on again and made couple more pattern adjustments so I could make a third version – this time in black fleece. I fixed the front and back side seams, which should have been perpendicular to the bottom (see the extra paper added near the pink highlighter for the pattern notch?). This is why it didn’t fit well in the back.

Newcastle Cardigan - Front side pattern adjustment -

And here’s mistake number two – I thought if I curved the back down like this, it would accommodate his bottom. Uh, wrong! What was I thinking? All I needed to do was fix the side seam. I later cut this curving bit off – but not before I sewed it up.

Newcastle Cardi - Back pattern adjustment -

Here’s a side view of the third Newcastle Cardigan.

Newcastle Cardigan - Thread Theory - black fleece -

… and the back view.

Newcastle Cardigan - Thread Theory - black fleece -

See the band at the bottom? I added that because when I made my pattern adjustments, I forgot about adding length. And remember my pattern adjustment for the back wasn’t quite right. I didn’t need that bottom curving thing at all. My side seam fix was fine. Unfortunately, I had already added the band when I realized the curve looked funny. Sorry I didn’t take a photo of it before I cut it off (no way to unpick stitches from black fleece!). Yep, I removed that curving bit, made sure the back piece just went straight across, and added a new band at the bottom. I cut another strip of fleece folded it in half and attached it to the bottom.

Because I had to cut off the bottom, I lost my seam allowance and the bottom band is really close to the last button as you can see below.

Newcastle Cardigan - Thread Theory - black fleece -

At least it looks deliberate – matches the cuffs. If I make it again, I’ll just be sure to add length to the pattern overall. I’m so thrilled it’s done and he likes it! He’s proud to wear it out. Whew!

Have you sewn any menswear? Did you need to make any pattern adjustments? How’d it go?

Happy sewing!

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Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

10 thoughts on “Newcastle Cardigan – Third Time’s a Charm!”

  1. Thank you for this detailed explanation of what you did to the pattern. I haven’t understood all of it from the first read :), but I will save it for future reference. I’ve just finished the first version of the Newcastle cardigan for my husband and the fit is off almost everywhere. I’m a newbie sewist and honestly I didn’t expect so many fit issues in a knit cardigan. ‘What can go wrong with a men’s knit cardigan?’, I thought. Silly me 🙂 My husbands measurements also fit into the XL size according to the size chart, but the result is too tight across the chest and waiste and too wide in the shoulders. And it’s also short, and that’s the only issue I know how to fix 🙂
    So, thanks again for taking time to describe your experience with this pattern.

    1. You’re welcome! I would recommend taking one on your husband’s cardigans or sweaters that fits well and put the pattern pieces next to the various parts. Then you can see where you’ll need to make adjustments. You may want to take out a couple of books on fitting from the library to get a sense of how to make those changes. You need a lot of patience to fit. Good luck!

  2. What a great jacket. I will definitely be making one for my statuesque man, about the same size as yours in fact so thanks for all the notes.

  3. I remember you saying you were working on this pattern for him–good for you for pressing on!! My husband isn’t particularly statuesque like yours, but he is definitely not the body type that these patterns are drafted for; lucky for me his measurements fall within the range of sizes on the pattern, but like you I’ve found I’ll have to size up vs. his RTW and adjust a few things from there! I’m so glad your husband likes his new cardigan, and it looks really, really nice on him. Hopefully him being so proud of it makes all the work you did worth it! =) (And hopefully you saved a clean copy of that adjusted pattern for next time, LOL!)

  4. This turned out great! You’re a superstar for working through the fit challenges- it’s hard enough working out fitting problems on yourself, but to start understanding them for another person and their unique body really requires skill! I really prefer the look of this cardigan with a hem band- the one that I made looked kind of incomplete to me without one.

    1. Thank you! It was quite a challenge, which is why it took me so long to finish. If I make it again, I’ll likely add a hem band again. It was a nice fix to add length. 🙂

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