Like most sewists out there I think, I often peruse RTW sites for sewing inspiration. Usually, the things I like gather dust on my Pinterest. Once in a while, I see something and I jump to make it pronto. Such was the case with this Italian Featherweight Cashmere Fringe Cardigan from J Crew. It has colorblocking, it’s got fringe, and it’s got mitered corners. Mister Rogers was all about the zip cardigan; this is me in cardigan form right here:
Fringe Trim Cardigan knockoff
For my fringe trim cardigan knockoff, I started with 2 sweaters. The main body is an aqua acrylic blend sweater, and the white is from a Banana Republic nylon/cashmere blend sweater with some dobby dots on the body of the sweater.
Itch to Stitch Lisbon
I snapped up a copy of Itch to Stitch’s Lisbon Cardigan. The inspiration sweater is really just a basic cardigan if you take away the fringed trim. The Lisbon is a great match for this project; it’s a fantastic basic cardigan with a lot of room for any additional details you’d want to add.
For fit, I compared the pattern to my TNT t-shirt. The size was pretty similar, but the back was a little wide. I folded out 1/2″ from the width at CB for a better fit. I also shortened the sleeves by 1 1/4″. My arms belong to a violinist, not a violist!
I eliminated bulk from the neck binding and the hem by using the original white sweater’s ribbing. Each piece is half the width of the pattern piece plus a seam allowance. The finished look is not only less bulky, but has more of a look of a sweater since the finished edges of the original ribbing are used. All of the seams are stitched down internally either by machine or by hand for a flat look that you might get from a sweater you actually knitted yourself.
Creating the look
To create colorblocked fringe with this pattern, I sewed 1.5″ strips of the cotton and linen together and sewed them to the main body of the cardigan. On the inspiration cardigan, the trim is applied by what looks like some specialized machine. It almost looks like a coverstitch, but I don’t think that’s quite right. Lacking a coverstitch, then I stitched the trim with rows of a narrow zigzag. Each edge is free from the hem band and the button placket, and the corners are mitered.
After sewing, I fringed the linen with a fine needle. After that, I threw the cardigan in the wash to fluff up the raw edges of the cotton which are almost too fine to fringe. Once the sweater was out of the wash, I trimmed the loose threads and applied some Fray Block. Fray Block is great stuff to apply to fringed projects once you get them frayed where you want them to be. After it’s applied, it dries clear and the edges are protected from further fraying and it won’t wash out. I used Fray Block on my embroidered silk jeans, and I use it on everything I fringe now because the silk has held up so well with the Fray Block.
Sewing buttonholes on a knit
The only thing that might give you pause with this pattern is having to sew buttonholes on a knit. Never fear buttonholes on a knit! First, the pattern helps you out by using a nice wide placket. I notice that sometimes my buttonhole foot will get caught on really narrow or bulky bands. The placket for the Lisbon is a nice width. Also, the seam is far away from the buttonhole area, so there’s less chance of the foot getting stuck during stitching.
The pattern also includes a piece for the interfacing that you add to the placket. With the interfacing in place, I don’t think you’ll have any issue with the buttonholes. It’s common for me to have to rip out 1 or 2 buttonholes on a cardigan, but I sewed all of these top to bottom without a hitch.
Wardrobe Sudoku progress!
This is item #4 for Wardrobe Sudoku. It joins the denim skirt, hummingbird tee, and reverse applique drop pocket cardigan. On the sewing end, I’m working on item #8 today: a pair of espadrilles.
How to sew a Lisbon cardigan (video)
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.