My First Garment Design! The Perfect Cardigan.

A Crochet Cardigan

For the longest time I have been too chicken to venture into designing crochet clothes despite having loads of brilliant ideas. Honestly, there are so many sketches and swatches stashed around the house that have been waiting for me to bite the bullet. Past me has made way too many excuses about why it was never a good time to get those garment ideas down on paper. After a drawn out period of procrastination though, voila! My very first, fully formed, crochet cardigan pattern!!

It turns out that garment designing is a wee bit trickier than a shawl or scarf pattern. This is one of the reasons that it was on the back burner for ages. But, with a bit of research and a lot of hard work, I have fulfilled a huuuuge ambition to up the ante with my crochet skills… I bring you the Perfect Cardigan!

The Pattern & Yarn

OK, here I’m putting the good stuff here because I know you don’t want to scroll through the life story of a crochet cardigan to get to the pattern.

For the foreseeable future the Perfect Cardigan is available exclusively on Lovecrafts. This is because they gave me yarn support to make the design. I used Paintbox Yarns 100% Wool Worsted Superwash, which was lovely to work with (this is an affiliate link by the way). The colours are similar to, if not the same as, the usual vibrantly colourful Paintbox colour palettes. They are modern, bright and beautiful shades of yarn that I use all the time.

Go HERE for the Perfect Cardigan crochet pattern.

The Perfect Crochet Cardigan!

The Perfect Cardigan

Over the last couple of years I have been on a mission to perfect my garment making skills. I want crochet to be the very best it can be. First, there’s learning the basics of construction. It’s essential to just crochet crochet crochet; I have made other designer’s patterns, been involved in pattern tests, and eventually made up garments from scratch using simple stitches and some basic number crunching. (I’ve begrudgingly learned to respect maths but it’s still not my friend). It took a while but now is the time to go for it.

Last year I made up my first crochet cardigan based on the infamous JW Anderson cardigan (it is all over Pinterest, I’ve seen loads of people make their own versions and even Mollie Makes magazine interviewed me about its popularity (issue 128 if you’re interested) . Then I made a new (better) version for my sister’s Christmas present. The first version was oversize and not quite right in terms of decent construction but it set things in motion. Whilst too overwhelmed to write up more than a basic cardigan recipe, it gave me the kick up the bum to do what scared me: write my first crochet garment design!

Basically this stripey crochet cardigan is an evolved and much improved version of the first incarnation. It’s a comprehensive written pattern, with links to videos to help you make it. Everything you need is there to make your own size with advice to adapt it a bit too, should you want to.

Garment Grading

A big stumbling block was the maths. I am not a numbers person! How on earth do you grade a pattern so that it is inclusive of lots of sizes?! There are loads of free resources online but they are mostly for knitting and sewing. There has never been much out there for those wanting advise for crochet design. Quite frankly, I didn’t have the time or inclination to Google everything and piece it all together.

Coming in at just the right time was Heather from HG Crochet Design. I tested Heather’s first garment design, Revival, which led to an opportunity to beta test her grading workbook, aimed specifically at crochet designers. You can check that out HERE (this is an affiliate link to Heather’s products). I won’t give a naff sales pitch but I will say that I found it very helpful for spreadsheet formulae, which you need for pattern grading and calculating yarn amounts).

Not So Perfect

Behind the scenes things weren’t totally perfect. The making of the cardigan was a breeze, the grading took plenty of concentration, but pattern writing is a bane in the otherwise brilliant job of a crochet designer.

It is an understatement to say that this pattern was a struggle to write! Oh lordy, how often I would stare into space thinking it was beyond me! Actual (fleeting) terror was experienced…. about crochet! Yes, it’s daft but I really wanted it to be good. Perfect, even. Writing a pattern for a one size item is OK, just boring, and sometimes slightly taxing on the brain. Bring in all the different sizes and then it’s a juggling nightmare! The first draft was ugly and made no sense. Luckily it was only seen by my tech editor who quickly, and kindly, pointed out the atrocities (thanks, Michelle!).

Panic was to blame for not seeing wood for the trees. I wanted to call it the Cardigan of Nightmares, or, My Worsted Nightmare but no, who wants to buy a pattern with negative connotations like that? So it’s called the Perfect Cardigan because, briefly, it felt like it was anything but. However, it is also called the Perfect Cardigan because after that perceived drama, it is actually a blinkin’ good crochet cardi!

An Easy Crochet Cardigan

An excellent crochet pattern should be tech edited and tested by a variety of makers. Not all patterns require both but one or the other is good. All sizes of this stripey crochet cardigan have been tested by crocheters with different skill levels, (apart from the size 9, there were no takers for size 9). There has been some brilliant feedback and I cannot thank testers enough. THANK YOU!!! I won’t mention the grab and run people but know that you will be remembered!

Because of the gang of awesome testers, I know that the Perfect cardigan is easy to make for crocheters who have never made a garment before. Hearing that feedback was music to my ears!! A crochet pattern that is easy to follow, well, need I say more?! The aim of the design is to have a wearable wardrobe item that looks great but is also fun to make.

Most techniques in the pattern link to a video tutorial. Those techniques have been carefully considered so the cardi is seamless (figuratively as well as literally!). None are difficult but maybe some of them are different to what’s seen in other patterns. Those who are new to crochet and/or garment making shouldn’t be short changed on the good stuff! Also, I will help you! Ask me questions and I can explain or point you in the right direction.

Crochet Construction

Talking about techniques, employing methods that are easy to do but look good is the aim of the game. I can’t stand a single crochet rib so it’s not here, instead it’s a stitch that is a firm favourite and based on the half double crochet (that’s htr for UK peeps). Oh, by the way, the pattern is written in UK terms but don’t let put you off, it is dead easy to switch terms, I promise!

This is a bottom up cardigan, worked in once piece so there is no seam down the sides. Don’t worry it is all explained in the pattern. It adds to shaping on the cardigan too in a kind of bomber jacket way. Before you make your version, check out the measurements, you might decide to try a longer version. No problem! Playing around and experimenting is one of my favourite things about crochet. I quite fancy a version with really deep cuffs…. perhaps all in one main colour with contrast colour ribbing. You don’t have to make yours stripey either. There are lots of possibilities and you could make them all!

There are lots of other ways for adapting the design too: make it long, super crop it, have stripes, don’t have stripes, make wider ribbing etc. I love that a maker has so much freedom to explore options. Crochet is fabulous for this sort of thing. But you know, make the actual pattern, that’s fine too!

And there you have it, the Perfect Cardigan! I hope you like it. I reckon I’ve probably mentioned most things about it but if you do have any questions, please feel free to ask. One of the things you’re paying for in a pattern is support.

Although I’ve mentioned where to find the pattern up the top, HERE is the link again.

Have you made crochet garments before? Are you a crochet designer wanting to give garments a go? Hopefully I’ve reassured you rather than scared you away! Let me know! Cheers. x

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