Newcastle Cardigan – First Steps

Before I get into this post, I would like to point out that, technically speaking, moving at a snail’s pace is still moving. =)

Many weeks ago, I decided to make my husband a sweater for xmas. I knew going in what a stupid idea that was: I have never sewn with knits before, let alone STRETCH knits, and honestly have almost no spare time right now (a trend which will be continuing for the foreseeable future, since I can’t bear to stop working at the vintage shop on the side). On top of all of this, I also decided to keep this a complete secret from the hubs. That really wouldn’t have been difficult, since when I’m in my sewing area, he’s usually on his computer and doesn’t often venture into my lair to see what I’m up to (although he does ask, bless him).

Do you ever find the PERFECT fabric for something you’re making for someone else, and absolutely trust your instincts until you get it washed and cut? I love/loved the materials I picked for this sweater (both from, main fabric here and contrast fabric here), and although the buttons were so big that they kind of scared me (also from here; seriously, 1 1/2″ sounds like nothing much, but these are ENORMOUS in real life), I liked them as well. But once everything arrived and was ready for action, I lost my confidence. I became terrified that my poor husband–for whom I bought NOTHING ELSE for xmas, btw–was going to hate this sweater. So I asked him a question: if he were to receive a surprise gift, would he rather have known ahead of time what it was, or be completely surprised? He told me to go ahead and tell him, because he was excited. So I told him. Turns out he loves what I picked out, which is awesome, except that I really wanted to shock him this year! (Which reminds me: I must find time to build a time machine, so that I can go back in time and NOT tell him.)

Here are some photos of what I have accomplished so far which, admittedly, isn’t much at all. Seriously: it’s been a month, and I’m still on Page 1 of actual instructions. =/


Sweater back and contrasting back yoke


I’m a madwoman for opting for bound buttonholes on stretch knit, I know.

(Sorry, folks: I thought I had gotten a photo of the sweater fronts and shoulder yokes, but I guess not!)

As I mentioned in my original post, I do not own a serger, so I am sewing this entire project with a regular machine using a zig-zag stitch. (If I run into trouble, I might make food offerings to my cats, who may then feel inclined to intercede with their great ancestral deities on my behalf.) After testing a lot (A LOT) on scraps, I felt confident enough to sew on the actual pieces. So far, I haven’t had much trouble. Luckily my fabrics are both relatively stable for stretch knits, but I do not intend to move the speed bar above the first level at any point in this project. So far, I have sewn the shoulder yokes to the cardigan fronts and edgestitched them to secure the seam allowances (mostly because I like the extra detail it gives on the right side of the sweater). The back yoke is pinned to the sweater back piece, but I haven’t stitched it yet. I have been hand-basting all of my pieces together using rayon thread for added stability. I haven’t figured out if my machine can handle a twin needle (the busted Brother CS6000i can, naturally), so all of my topstitching has been done using the same zig-zag as everything else. At first I was disappointed to have to do it that way, but I actually don’t dislike how it looks. (Again, if I had gotten a photo of the front and shoulder yoke pieces, you could see it!) I made bound buttonholes because I am a special combination of out-of-my-mind and stupid, but they actually turned out okay. One is a little too small for the button, but since the hubs rarely buttons his sweaters, I’m hoping it’s not a big issue. Not bad for my first time ever making them, I think, and Tom really likes them a lot. I just LOVE the contrast fabric I’m using for this sweater, and may have to make myself a sweater out of it someday. It’s subtle enough that Tom can wear it for ANYTHING, but still gives a nice bit of extra detail and uniqueness to the cardigan.

I haven’t gotten any farther than this, but I’m still foolishly hoping to have it done in time for xmas. I may have to just stay up late a few nights and knock it out, but he is worth it!

Do any of you have holiday projects that you’re trying to finish (or start–hehe!)? Do you often make gifts for friends and family?

3 thoughts on “Newcastle Cardigan – First Steps

  1. First of all, I can’t believe you made bound button holes, on knit fabric no less! That’s amazing of you. I’m want to sew bound button holes as well, but I’m deathly scared! I would have asked the mister too. I have no shame. 😛

    I was working on the mister’s star trek jacket, that was supposed to be done in time for Halloween, it wasn’t. Then I said it would be done by Christmas, it’s not going to! I’m just hoping to finish it by next month. Ha! I think what’s throwing me for a loop is that I have to do multiple fittings for him. This time, it was too snug around his arms. I’m hoping to start on his jacket by Christmas. I’m making him a duffle bag that I’m pattern drafting and it *might* be done by Christmas! 🙂

    • I can’t believe I did it either! Needless to say, there were a lot of practice buttonholes before I dared to work on the real fabric! If I can do it, you definitely can. =) Don’t feel bad about being behind schedule: I’ve owed my BFF a blouse since at least October, and I haven’t even finished grading the pattern yet!! I’m determined to get Tom’s done on time though, since it’s all I got him!

  2. Pingback: A (Day After) Christmas Cardigan | Life in A "Mads" House

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