Are you feeling a little chilly? Goosebumps on your arms? 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 by Rebecca Page.
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:
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:
- 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:
For each of the options, additional pattern pieces need to be used:
- hood – 2 pattern pieces
- 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
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.
This was my first time using something like this and it worked great. There isn’t any pulling or rippling along the seam.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Does reading about knits seem like a foreign language?
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Pockets, side slits, and cuffs oh my! The Bubble Sleeve Cardi is a great pattern for beginners to try different garment elements. Just follow the pattern directions, embrace the process, and celebrate the results! (There is even a hoodie option.)Review by Nicki Hibbits, Rebecca Page Brand Ambassador
Disclosure: As a RP Brand Ambassador, it’s my responsibility to:
- choose and sew one Rebecca Page pattern a month
- write a review
- send in pictures of my final make
- share my project in the Rebecca Page FB Sewing Group
In return, I receive the pattern at no charge and a credit to be used for future patterns when I complete my monthly responsibilities.
Support and Inspire You
This blog post is NOT part of my Brand Ambassador responsibilities.
My goal at The Ruffled Purse is to help you discover the joy of sewing.
One way I do that is to share my experience about patterns I have personally used.
Whether you’re new to sewing or have been sewing for a while, hopefully, my experience with making the Bubble Sleeve Cardie will help you decide if this is a pattern for you.
Rebecca Page Brand Ambassadors consist of sewists at all different levels. While I have been sewing for a long time, I’m fairly new to sewing clothes (8 garments in 11 months).
Becoming a Brand Ambassador for Rebecca Page in March 2020, a company that offers beginner-friendly, and easy-to-use patterns, provided the opportunity I needed to push past my fears and excuses and dive into the world of making my own clothes.
- If fear of the unknown is holding you back from sewing your own clothes I want to help you by sharing my experience through pattern reviews like this one.
- If you’ve been thinking about learning to sew but haven’t made the leap yet, check out my FREE online Starting to Sew class. It is self-paced so you can go through it at a speed that feels good to you.
My main goals are to support, empower, and inspire you to discover the joy of sewing.
Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at email@example.com and we can work together to get it figured out!
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