Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Light summer cardigan: a tute

When the summers are long and hot like they are here, and your daily activities include getting out and about in the sun a lot you need lots of light cool clothing that still provides protection from the sun.  I could go out in camisoles and singlets every day, but like all Aussies I worry about skin cancer a lot, and although I slather on the sunscreen each morning it's good to have some sort of light garment to pop on which covers your shoulders. 
I made one of these cardigans last summer and found it invaluable, so decided to make another. 
(I actually made this particular specimen a few weeks ago and amazingly remembered to take pictures of the construction process, but promptly forgot about them until this morning... yeah, haha)
First, draft for yourself a basic cardigan shape, either from scratch or using a favourite cardigan whose shape you love.  I have a wonderful Marilyn Seyb cardigan I bought in New Zealand which I think is very flattering to me and its style suits much of my wardrobe.  It's now seen better days sadly but I just can't bring myself to ever part with it because I love it so...  Make any adjustments to your pattern to fit your personal preferences, such as adding length etc. at this paper/muslin stage.
The ideal fabric for this project is a light stretchy net which doesn't ravel or fray, as the raw edges will be on show.  I used two layers, the inner one white net, the outer a shimmery mauve/silver embroidered net.  Its not necessary that they have the same stretch ratio as each other, but they do have to have at least as much stretch as your original cardigan you drafted your pattern from...  Cut out your pieces, remembering to include seam allowances to the shoulders, side seams and all sleeve seams.
Now, carefully remove a 2cm strip from the front neck, back neck, end of sleeve and bottom hem edges of your top layer.  I find it easiest to use a rolling cutter for this.
Lay your outer layer front and back together matching shoulder seams, then your inner layer on the outside of this, matching the edges at the sleeve side of the fabric.  There should be the 2cm extra length of your inner layer extending into the neckline edge of your cardigan (see photo)  Overlock the shoulder seams.
Layer the inner and outer sleeve pieces together, matching armhole edges, and with outer layers together, pin to the armhole edge of your cardigan body, matching all edges.   Overlock armhole seams.  In the photo below, one armhole seam has been finished at right, the other at left has been pinned ready for overlocking. 
Now with right sides of the outer layers together, pin and overlock the sleeve seams and side seams in one seam.  Turn your cardi right side out.
Now choose some sort of band and closure material.  For my first effort (in this photo below) I used some grosgrain ribbon and a single cute brass and enamel button and sewed a button hole in the grosgrain ribbon for it.  For my new cardigan I used a scrap of leftover crotchet border lace.  Pin this around the neckhole edge of your cardigan and stitch into place.  I didn't have enough to go all the way around my cardigan, but it doesn't really matter if the lower edges are loose...  I then sewed on some charcoal grey velvet ribbon for a closure.
Weave in all the loose overlocking threads into the seams, et voila!  Your cardigan is finished, and wasn't that the easiest thing ever!  (My apologies to advanced seamstress' who find these instructions laughably easy...)
 I've found these light cardigans perfect for hot days as they are so light and airy you barely notice they're there but they still provide protection from the sun and are nice if you don't want to expose too much skin to the whole world.

Cardigan; white and mauve net, own design
Skirt; Old Khaki, from Capetown, South Africa
Camisole; Country Road
Necklace; souvenir from Egypt
Sandals; Vicenza, from Soletta shoes


  1. Gorgeous cardigan. Oh for a fabric shop near here, I would be out the door immediately

  2. Thanks for the tute. Does it not hurt sitting on those shells?

  3. Very nice cardigan. Thanks for taking the time to do a tutorial.

  4. in reply to Michael, yes it did a bit!

  5. this is nothing the the perfect little cardi! Beautiful work!

  6. I really like this idea! Since our seasons are opposite yours I'm starting to think about the long, hot Texas summer that's coming ... This would be a very useful idea!!

  7. It's a very cute cardi.
    You make it look easy!

    (And I do miss the warmth)

  8. Love this cardigan. It definitely is a smart look and it the fabric sounds perfect for those hot days you want to cover up.

  9. Lovely cardi, suits you perfectly. Mind you it would look lovely on any gorgeous youn girl like you.

  10. This outfit looks lovely on you. You have the most gorgeous legs so its nice to see you take advantage of them here with the slightly shorter skirt.

  11. Carolyn, I have only recently found your blog and I want to tell you how much I enjoy seeing what you have made. Your sewing and your outfits are lovely! Thank you for taking the time to write the tute for this adorable cardy. Where did you find that "stretchy net" fabric? You must live in a lovely spot! Coral

  12. That's a beautiful cardigan. I have sheer meshes and this is a wonderful way to use them. Great idea!