Cozy Cocoon Cardigan . Sewing 101

January 22, 2013 separator DIY Tutorial

I know there’s been a lot of radio-silence from Shrimp Salad Circus lately, but I’m happy to report that the creativity is back up and running! Today, Valerie of Dottie Adele and Threads, Thoughts, Things is back with another fun Sewing 101 tutorial. Enjoy!

Now that we’re in the dead of winter, what better project can you think of than a cuddly cardigan?  This one is a cozy envelope of warmth, just like a cocoon!  Made in a nice, thick sweater knit, this cardigan will make a perfect cold weather companion! Oh, and don’t forget the rest of the Sewing 101 series if you’re new here or just need a refresher!

Note:  for this project, you will sew with both a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch.  When sewing with a straight stitch on knits, it’s best to use a slightly longer stitch, a 3 or 3.5.  When sewing with a zigzag, remember not to stretch the fabric out as you sew, and let it be guided through the machine naturally.

Fold your fabric in half, long ways (or hot dog style, if that’s your lingo), with wrong sides together, matching the edges.  From one end, use your ruler to measure and slice off a 4″ section from one end.

Cut a second 4″ section.

Unfold both sections and pin the short ends together, right sides facing, to create one big circle.
At your sewing machine, stitch the short ends together, using a straight stitch.

Press open both seams.

Working around your circle of fabric, fold the strip in half wrong sides together (long ways/hot dog style again) and press the fold.  Pin together the raw edges as you go.
Once you’ve gone all the way around, head back to your sewing machine, and stitch all the way around your circle, close to the raw edges that are pinned together (1/4″ seam or so).
Go back to your remaining fabric, which is presumably still folded in half.  Along the edge with the raw edges (not the fold), lay out the strip you have been sewing on, keeping the two short seams on the sides and centering the strip in the middle. Mine had about 4″ on each side; make sure you measure and keep the spaces even on the sides.
Measure up 8 inches from the fold on the left edge of the fabric, and put a pin there.  Then, pin in a curve shape up to the top edge where the strip matches up.  (This is probably a case where a picture is worth a thousand words; see photo above for better explanation)
At your sewing machine, use a zigzag stitch to follow the along the line of pins.  (You’ll see in the next picture that I used a straight stitch – mistake!  Do as I say and not as I do on this one!)

Close to the stitching, cut out the fabric inside the curved shape.

Flip your cardigan right side out and lay it so the two seams on either side are in the center, as shown.
Pin the edge of the strip to the edge of the cardigan.  First, match the two short seams on the strip to the two seams of the cardigan.
From there, work your way around, pinning as you go.  Either the strip or the cardigan opening may be slightly bigger than the other; just work to pin as evenly as possible all the way around.  Since both have a little stretch, you will be able to correct any size difference while sewing.

Sew all around the edges of the strip and the opening with a zigzag stitch in about a 1/2″ seam.

Flip the strip to the outside of the cardigan opening so it lays flat.  Press, as shown.  Make sure the seam of the strip and the opening is going to the inside of the cardigan.
Next, pin the seam you have just pressed to the inside all the way around.  Pin on the right side, making sure to catch the layers of the pressed seam underneath.
With a straight stitch, sew the seam down, about 1/4″ away from the seam.  Follow the seam line to help you keep it straight and close.
Now, move to the two side openings, which are the armholes/sleeves.  Press up 1 1/4″ of fabric to the inside and pin.  Do this for both sides.
Using a straight stitch, sew down the fold.  Stay as close to the edge as you can.  Do NOT sew all the way around; leave about a two inch opening before you reach the stitching where you began.
Cut out two pieces of elastic that are long enough to go around the part of your arm plus 1″ just above your elbow.  (Mine were about 8 inches long.)
Clip a safety pin on one end of the elastic and use it to feed the elastic through the sleeve casing you have created.  You may want to use another safety pin to pin down the end you are not feeding through at the opening, so it doesn’t accidentally get pulled through.
One you have gone all the way around, pull out the two ends from the casing and overlap them by about 1/2″.  Using a zig zag stitch, sew through both pieces of elastic, joining them together.

Pull the elastic tight so that it goes back up into the casing.

Sew down the opening you left for the elastic.  Overlap your original stitches by a few centimeters.

All done!  Throw that cocoon cardigan on and cozy up!

Dottie Adele on Etsy
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  15. doing something wrong here, I used 1 yard (~1m) of fabric, the bias tape that is created in the first step is about 20cm too long!! 🙁

  16. I am totally confused after the curved piece is cut out. What seam is the one in the center when it is folded out? and what makes the sleeves? I want to make this this weekend, but I need help! Thanks

    1. Hi Nancyann. No worries – we’ll walk through it! This was created by a guest poster awhile back, so I’m having to try and refresh my memory.

      So I think the curved seam and cut should actually happen on both sides of the folded fabric, and that’s what makes the sleeves. 🙂

  17. The 8″ strip pinned up to the edge…was I on bot sides or just the left side.

    Also, I’m using a sweatshirt fleece and your instructions has us starting out with cutting our fabric with wrong sides together. Now my seams are showing on the right sides.

  18. Hi dear,
    Thanks to you I sew my cardigan and its a succes. You are the best.

    The Netherlands

    1. Hi Jewell –

      You can make the sleeves longer by starting with a longer piece of fabric. So, if you had 1.5 yards of fabric and followed the same instructions, your cardigan would end up having longer sleeves.

      Thanks for your question!

  19. That looks pretty darn snazzy. Is this one of those looks-a-lot-harder-than-it-is things, or would it be out of the realm of the possible for a complete beginner?

    1. Definitely in the realm of the possible! One thing that makes it even more simple is that all the steps are symmetrical (as in, when you do something to one side, you’ll also do it to the other side). It may take a little extra patience, but a beginner can definitely make this!

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