Designing the Perfect Cardigan Pattern | First Steps and Blending Sizes

in NeedleWorkMonday2 months ago (edited)

Designing the Perfect Cardigan.png

I'd pulled out some summer knitting and started a bottom-up cardigan. I'd just got to that tricky bit of shaping the armholes and had almost put it aside. The challenge is going from a full bust to tiny shoulders - if a garment is big enough at the bust, it never fits the shoulders, often gaping at the neckline and with just too much at the shoulders.

Luckily for me, four reasons why designing your own knitted cardigan will make you happy by @neumannsalva appeared in my feed! With general clues (using double knitting yarn and 4mm needles) and some helpful diagrams in a previous post - how to design a flat knitted cardigan - I set off on my journey.

In dressmaking, we often blend different standard sizes to get a perfect fit. The critical factor for choosing your starting size is the upper bust measurement. This is a measurement of the circumference of your body taken above the bust and below the arms. In standard patterns, this is 5 cms less than the full bust measurement.

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Comparing my measurements (in blue) to standard pattern sizes My full bust measurement (109cms) falls between two standard sizes. My waist (92 cms) falls in one size and my hips (109cms) in a size smaller.

My upper bust measurement is 91cms: add 5cms to get the full bust measurement and this brings me into the 91-97 standard size (M). As my full bust size is 109cm, I would alter the dressmaking pattern by doing a full bust adjustment (FBA) to get the correct full bust size.

In knitting, my full bust measurement falls between two sizes. The finished garment measurement for the 102-107 standard size (L) is 112cm at the bust. This would allow 3cm ease if I chose the smaller full bust size. As my knitting tension is loose and my garments tend to grow, I decided 3cms ease would work.

My starting place for designing the pattern was to knit the L size (2) to the under-arm shaping, then to reduce the stitches until I had the measurements for the M size (1) for the upper body, shoulders and neckline.

I'm using Sattley by Sarah Hatton for Rowan Yarns - you can find the pattern as a free download on Ravelry. It has three-quarter sleeves and scoop neckline (my favourites) and an armhole depth of 21cms. The finished garment length is 56cms in the pattern - about 10cms too long for me, I'm aiming for 46cms. I've also converted it from a jumper to a cardigan.

design the perfect knitted cardigan.jpg

Here's some of my workings out, trying to reduce from 99 stitches for the L size full bust and below to 65 stitches for the M size upper bust and body measurements. I was in the Baby E cafe at the time, in Dale Street in Liverpool, listening to the Jaunty Goat Coffee playlist on Spotify. You Wish by Nightmares on Wax caught my attention.

So far, I have adapted and knitted the front of the cardigan. I'm pleased with the tension. I've also shaped the shoulders using short rows rather than casting off. I've cast off loosely in case I want to undo the shoulders and work them a bit more to get a better fit.

Design the perfect knitted cardigan.jpg
I've knitted the two front pieces, the front bands and the back in one piece - I like to cut down on "making up". So far, the front pieces are complete, just the back to do now, then I will baste the shoulder seams and try for fit before designing the sleeves.

design the perfect knitted cardigan.jpg
Here is the start of my drafting of the perfect knitted cardigan. I would be really happy to convert it to a formula, for example, cast off five stitches at each underarm, decrease 2 stitches in next five rows, decrease 2 stitches each alternate row 5 times, knit another 33 rows (50 rows in all). We'll see how this one works out and then try and draft a template.

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Hi @shanibeer,
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Thank you @teamuksupport good to see ou, as always :)

WAHHHHH your sweater is nearly done!!! And mine is still in my head 😱😆 and besides yours looks so lovely with the overall lace pattern and I am sure it is much more complicated to incorporate the shaping into a lace pattern than into stockinette.
So, I am in admiration mode :-D
So far I like that your shoulders are much smaller than in most pattern I looked at or which I made. I am not completely sure if this is because you decreased a lot more at the armholes or if it is related to the much deeper neckline you have on your sweater (my orange one has a very small crewneck) or if this is a completely different type of fit/pattern?
Also I like the idea of knitting the whole body at once to omit the sewing, but on the other hand I am so used to this (I fear lazy) method to set in sleeves into a garment where only the shoulder seems are closed. I am neither a big fan of picking up stitches and knitting sleeves in the round or sewing in sleeves which are already sewed into a tube (not sure if I could explain clearly). But I am here to learn… so I am really looking forward how this cardi will fit you.
Shame on me, while still knitting the first sleeve of my grey pearl stitch cardigan and while planning the „model“ cardigan I got lost on Ravelry and fell in love with this woman’s crochet cardigans. Now a tiny part of me wants to crochet :-DDDDD

your sweater is nearly done!

Hehe - I had started it before I saw your posts so it was already done as far as armhole shaping. I had also put it aside because, at the time, trying to work out how to do the decreases to get the right shoulder width was beyond me. Your posts kickstarted me and gave me a clue how to tackle it. I was constantly referring back to your "perfect" design.

The lace pattern and decreasing was a bit of a challenge, but fun, too 😍.
Do you remember when I knitted it before? I took all the pieces to Cyprus and my sister said, "No, that doesn't fit." (So cruel, these straightforward siblings). I undid it all and waited until now to try again.

The shoulders are narrower because of the scoop neck, but I have also sized down for the shoulders to get a narrower back width. For a round neck cardigan with similar tension for the same size in the same pattern book, the back shoulder has 19 stitches (this one has 10); and the front shoulder has 16 stitches (this one has 13). (Interesting - my theory about more stitches in the front shoulder to provide ease doesn't hold up).

I think it is quite important to sew the shoulder sleeves and the armscye seams to give structure to the cardigan. I am going to knit the sleeves flat (although both at the same time, too dangerous to enter second sleeve territory, I have a family event on 5th August) and set them into the armscye. On the perfect cardigan (which will be plain stocking stitch becuse I want to knit quickly and I'm more concerned about structure), I may try picking up the stitches and knitting outwards (but flat, not in the round). We'll see.

I got lost on Ravelry

We must have our dreams and meanderings 😍


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Wow @shanibeer! Looking at your draft work it looks so technical. I am still foreign to knitting language but this looks so cool! I hope you are able to create a template in the end. It looks really good so far! I loved reading about the measurements and how you have to blend different standard sizes.

Can I just say I got real ticked when I saw that you were posting needlework! It’s really good to see you here as I have really missed your knitting posts. 😘😍

Hello @crosheille, thank you for the lovely welcome!

Work has been a little busy and I've been helping in other parts of Hive but things are changing and I've had a chance to get back to #needleworkmonday. It is really nice to be here and I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone.

I think I might have made drafting a pattern more complicated than it is 😂. But I'm really enjoying the process of learning and working it out, and it is wonderful to have clothes that fit properly. I've learned so much since I joined #needleworkmonday - from other posters, but also the community has provided me with the incentive to go and learn things by myself 😍.

How is your knitting coming along? I remember you were getting into the flow. I loved how you used an elastic band to stop the stitches falling off when you put your knitting down. What a great tip!


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Greetings @shanibeer, I predict good results, from what I can see your project will be a success, I only knit with a needle but I think it is similar, good luck.

Hello @karen16, thank you for your kind comments 🙂.
I'm not sure what you mean ... "I only knit with a needle"? Do you mean you use one needle, or you use a pair of straight needles?


Hello @shanibeer, excuse me, we call it a needle, I think you could say crochet

Ah, I understand 😍

Greetings @shanibeer, from Venezuela

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Thanks for continuing to make Hive awesome.

Thanks for dropping by @star.lord, always good to see you 😍