Easy Cardigan Sewing Pattern

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Are you feeling a little chilly? Goosebumps on your arms? Do you want to slip something on that warms you up but also looks stylish?

Then you need to take a look at the Bubble Sleeve Cardie – a beginner sewing pattern that can be found on YouMakePatterns on Etsy.

What is the Bubble Sleeve Cardie?

The Bubble Sleeve Cardie is a loose-fitting cardigan with billowy sleeves gathered into a cuff.

It also has…

  • dropped shoulders
  • a wide band around the neck and down the front
  • side slits

Is it a PDF or paper pattern?

Bubble Sleeve Cardie is a digital PDF pattern that you get instant access to after purchasing.

It does need to be downloaded, printed, and taped together.

What sizes are included?

There are two Bubble Sleeve Cardie patterns. One for adults and one for children:

  1. Adult – includes women sizes XXS – 5XL.
  2. Children – includes sizes 12 months to 12 years old

If you want to make both an adult and child-sized Bubble Sleeve Cardie, there is a bundle option.

The adult pattern was the one I made so the rest of the answers in this post are based on my experience with the adult version of the Bubble Sleeve Cardie.

Are there options or different versions included in the pattern?

There are several options:

  • Pockets
  • For some extra warmth, there is an option for an oversized hood.
  • And you can add bobbles or pompoms to the sleeves to add an element of fun to the cardigan.

What options did you include on your Bubble Sleeve Cardie?

I added the pockets on my Bubble Sleeve Cardie.

How many pattern pieces are there?

There are 5 pattern pieces for the basic cardie:

  • front
  • back
  • neckband
  • sleeve
  • cuff

For each of the options, additional pattern pieces need to be used:

  • hood – 2 pattern pieces
    • hood
    • hood band
  • pocket – 1 pattern piece
  • bobble – 1 pattern piece

What fabric is recommended?

The pattern specifies a stretch/knit fabric, 2 or 4 way stretch. Do not use woven fabric.

Any weight of knit fabric will work, but for best results, use a medium or lightweight knit.

Fabric examples given in the pattern are rib knit, double or single brushed poly, rayon spandex, tri-blend, bamboo spandex, sweater knit, textured knit, waffle knit, medium weight jersey, viscose, ponte, scuba stretch velour, and stretch French terry.

How much fabric does it take?

If the fabric is 60 inches/150 cm wide:

  • XXS – S – 2 yards for the cardie
  • M – XXL – 2.25 yards for the cardie
  • 3XL – 5XL – 2.50 yards for the cardie

For all sizes, the hood requires an additional 1/2 a yard.

Fabric that is less than 60 inches wide, a directional print, or a nap may require more yardage.

Washing, drying, and pressing all fabrics before cutting out pattern pieces is recommended.

What fabric did you use and where did you get it?

I used two fabrics:

  • a cotton spandex knit fabric (peacock blue) from Girl Charlee Fabrics
  • a striped knit that belonged to my grandmother ( My mom inherited it along with some other fabric after my grandmother passed in 1986 and I’m not sure what type of knit it is.)

What other supplies or notions are needed?

Thread, of course, but the pattern recommends some optional supplies too:

  • clear elastic to stabilize the shoulders if the fabric is very stretchy (Stay Tape would work for this too.)
  • bobble supplies
    • buy bobbles ready made
    • make your own with faux fur, scraps, crocheted flowers, etc.
    • embroidery floss to secure bobble if using faux fur

Stay Tape

If you decide to use more than one knit fabric in your cardigan and they have different stretch percentages, you may want to use Stay Tape.

The solid color fabric used in my Bubble Sleeve Cardie is a cotton spandex knit, medium-weight, with a 60% stretch.

I don’t know what blend or type of knit the stripe fabric is, but I was able to determine the stretch percentage is only 10%.

To prevent rippling along the seam where the two fabrics are joined (because of the different amounts of stretch), I used a sew-in Stay Tape.

Use stay tape to stabilize fabric

This was my first time using something like this and it worked great. There isn’t any pulling or rippling along the seam.

Note: There is also a fusible stay tape that comes in both black and white.

What is the difficulty level?

An adventurous beginner can make the Bubble Sleeve Cardie.

What sewing tools are needed?

You’ll need basic sewing tools:

  • sewing machine
  • pins
  • scissors
  • tape measure or ruler

Is special equipment required?

Because the Bubble Sleeve Cardie is made with knit fabric, a serger/overlocker is optional but not required.

I made mine on a regular sewing machine.

Optional Equipment

There are some optional pieces of equipment that may make your sewing process more enjoyable.

Use pattern weights to hold the pattern pieces down instead of pins.

Use a tracing wheel and tracing paper to transfer the cutting lines to the fabric.

Tip: If you use a tracing wheel and paper, make sure to use a self-healing mat or protect your table another way. The wheel may leave marks on the table.

Pattern weights hold pattern pieces in place

Were the instructions easy to follow?

There are two sets of instructions included with the pattern:

  • For more advanced sewists, there is a Quick-Glance Cheat Sheet that is one page of directions.
  • For beginners, there is a step-by-step tutorial with pictures to guide you through each step of the construction process.

While the instructions were not difficult to follow, I did have to do a little problem-solving for the pockets.

Placing the Pockets

There are marks on the front and back pattern pieces for the pocket, but there were not any marks on the actual pocket pattern for which to line up.

To get the pockets in the right place, I first found the center of the pocket pattern and used pins to mark each pocket piece.

Then I lined up the pins with the pocket marks on the front and back pieces.

Before sewing, I made sure everything lined up and the pockets were in a position that was comfortable for me to reach inside.

Use pins to mark center of pocket
Pins are used to mark the center of the pocket.

What sewing skills do I need?

You need to know how to use your sewing machine.

If you’re new to sewing with knits, there is a page of tips on how to sew knits on a regular machine that’s included with the pattern.

The fabric tips included with the pattern will allow you to make the Bubble Sleeve Cardie but if you want to develop a deeper understanding of working with knit fabric, I have a couple recommendations.

Knit Vocabulary

Does reading about knits seem like a foreign language?

stack of knit fabric

To wrap your head around all of the knit vocabulary, take a look at A Beginner’s Guide to Different Types of Knits. This post will help break down the confusion and the somewhat overwhelming amount of specialized jargon surrounding knit fabric.

A Knit Book for Beginners

Book for learning to sew with knits

Tilly and the Buttons Stretch! by Tilly Walnes has been my go-to book on all things related to knit sewing and so far it hasn’t disappointed.

With over 70 pages of foundational knowledge and skills plus 6 step-by-step projects of increasing difficulty to build your confidence and skill, this book is one you need in your sewing library if you want to sew knit garments.

Was it difficult to make?

The Bubble Sleeve Cardie was not difficult to make, but I did have to take my time, use the pictures, and pay attention to a couple of features that were new to me:

  • side slits
  • cuffs

What did you do to make sure it fit correctly?

Because this cardigan is designed to be loose fitting with a dropped shoulder and an oversized sleeve, there isn’t a lot of fussing to get the fit right.

I did take my measurements to determine the right size for me. My chest was size small and my waist and hips were between medium and large.

After looking at the finished garment measurements chart included with the pattern, I decided to cut everything to a size small. There would be plenty of room in the waist and hips without grading the pattern.

Also, I read the fitting notes. The only one that applied to me was checking the finished sleeve length against my measurement. So I did that.

There are also fitting notes for height and bust to help you make adjustments if those would apply to you.

What tips or suggestions do you have for making the Bubble Sleeve Cardie? 

Read Everything Before Starting

It’s always a good idea to read through all the pattern instructions and construction directions before starting any project.

With the pattern download, you get a lot of helpful information before and after the construction directions.

I suggest reading everything before you begin the Bubble Sleeve Cardie, especially if you’ve never sewn anything like this before.

Lay Out All Pattern Pieces Before Cutting

Cutting directions for the Bubble Sleeve Cardie are written on each pattern piece. (e.g. front – cut 2, 1x mirror image pair; back – cut 1 on fold).

However, there is no cutting layout provided.

In the past, I’ve never had difficulty laying out the pattern pieces.

The original fabric I had selected for the Bubble Sleeve Cardie was cotton spandex knit in a dark denim heather color. It is 60 inches wide and just shy of 2 yards. (The requirement for a size small cardigan is 2 yards.)

I tried multiple ways to lay out the pieces and couldn’t make it work.

Layout pattern pieces before cutting anything
I tried the dark blue first, but then switched to a solid with a complimentary fabric for the neckband and cuffs.

In the photo above, all the pattern pieces are on the fabric, however, there needs to be two sets of sleeves. The open space in the bottom left-hand corner is not quite large enough to get another set of sleeves.

I reached out to others who were making the cardigan and received multiple responses about laying out the pattern pieces. Replies ranged from

  • not having issues
  • to bring the selvages to the center so there are 2 folds
  • to fold it over just as far as it needs to go, do one piece at a time, and leave the bits that could be a contrast until the end

It was this last suggestion that prompted me to go back to my stash and switch to the peacock blue and stripes.

Find the Straight of Grain

If the edges of your fabric curl, you have difficulty finding the grain, or it’s hard to see a line of vertical ribs, you can use ballpoint pins to mark a line across the length of the fabric.

Use pins to mark vertical ribs that are hard to see.

Mark the Wrong Side

If it is difficult to tell the right side from the wrong side of the fabric, make sure to mark the wrong side with a piece of chalk or another marking utensil that is removable.

Mark the wrong side of the fabric

Would you recommend this pattern?

I do recommend this pattern.

For beginner sewists, you have the opportunity to learn how to put in pockets, sew a side slit, and gather a sleeve to make it fit inside a cuff.

While I didn’t add the hoodie, this is another sewing technique you could try.

For more advanced sewists, you can play around with color blocking as well as adjust the length to make the cardigan longer or shorter.

Would you make it again?

This is a pattern I am going to hold on to and try again in the future.

I like the idea of using color blocking on the front and back pieces to create an illusion of curve along the waist.

The construction of the pattern is straight forward and I think this would be the perfect garment to try that type of color blocking technique.

Do you have other questions?

I tried to anticipate any questions you might have about the Bubble Sleeve Cardie. If there’s something you’re wondering about that I didn’t answer, make sure to put it in the comments below or email me directly at nicki@theruffledpurse.com

The Bubble Sleeve Cardie is a beginner sewing pattern that can be found on YouMakePatterns on Etsy.

Let’s Connect

My goal at The Ruffled Purse is to support, empower, and inspire you to sew and make wonderful things for yourself, your home, and others.

Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

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As seen in:

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