A few months ago, another couple with whom my husband and I are friends, came to visit. During their stay, the husband mentioned that he had lost a favorite cardigan just days before. My husband generously offered my services to make him a new one. Luckily, I like this friend, so I invited him to peruse my fabric closet and select something he liked, and I started to think about what pattern I wanted to use for his project.
I don’t sew a lot of men’s clothing. I have made a few things for my husband during a handful of pattern tests. I have sewn one special item for my brother each Christmas for the past 3 years, twice making him a Hudson hooded tee. I decided that since I already owned that pattern and have made the Midway Bomber Jacket, I was going to try to convert the Hudson into a zip-front cardigan, marrying the Hudson pattern to the techniques of the Midway. The only complication I could foresee was that the Midway is lined, but my cardigan would not be.
He wanted a zipper cardigan with pockets, but no hood, so that pattern piece I would not need. I decided the bottom band would give it more of a “jacket” look and for ease with installing the zipper. The only modification needed was cutting the front bodice piece and the pocket as two mirrored pieces rather than one piece on the fold. The neckband and bottom band would not be sewn into circles, so they could be attached with the openings towards the zipper. I opted for standard sleeve cuffs.
I started my planning by overlapping the neckband, front bodice, and bottom band by 1/4" for seam allowances, and measuring that length, to determine the length of zipper I would need.
I then measured the zipper width. Because the front and the pocket are designed to be cut on the fold, there is no included seam allowance for attaching a zipper. However, the zipper itself adds some width. After some quick calculations, I decided not to add any additional seam allowance to the pieces that would be attached to the zipper, because I determined that the width added by the teeth compensated for what would be used in the seam.
I also decided that to compensate for the lack of lining, facing pieces would work best to give me the finished look I wanted inside around the zipper. I simply cut pieces of my fabric the length of the front bodice piece, and just over 2 inches wide.
After cutting all my pieces, I set to putting some interfacing along all the edges where the zipper would be attached.
I love Easy Knit, because it’s a roll that is 2 inches wide, so I only have to cut the length I need. I added it to the wrong side of the facing pieces and front bodice pieces, as well as the ends of the neckband and the bottom bands. I ironed the interfacing approximately 1/4" from the edge, so that it would not be sewn into the seams.
Then I assembled the majority of the sweater. I attached the sleeves to the front pieces and the back piece, and sewed up the sides from the wrist to the waist. I attached the sleeve cuffs to get them onto the garment before I had a chance to accidentally knock them off the sewing table and spending 15 minutes looking for them! I also used my serger to stitch along one long edge of my facing pieces, so that it would have a finished look when the cardigan was completely assembled.
I hemmed the pocket openings and attached the top and pocket opening side, leaving the bottom and side towards the zipper to be attached with the zipper and bottom band. I then sewed only one of the edges of the neckband and bottom band onto the sweater, so that I could mark the center fold of each and seat the zipper on each end. I made sure to include the bottom of my pockets when sewing on the bottom band. Then I attached the facing pieces to the neckband and bottom band edges that were not yet sewn down to the bodice of the garment. I made sure that my serged edge faced away from the zipper, and placed right sides together, so that the interfacing would not be visible once the garment was competed.
I attached my zipper to the front, lining up the bottom of the zipper tape in the center of the bottom band, and the top zipper stopper matched to the center of the neckband, folding the upper edge of the tape to the side. I basted this part with my sewing machine to make it easier to keep in place. I followed the method used in the tutorial for the Midway Bomber, but you can use any method you prefer. I made sure that the final edge of my pocket was sewn between the bodice piece and zipper in this step. After sewing my zipper onto the main pieces, I folded the neckband and bottom band around the ends of the zipper, so that the right sides were together, and placed the facing pieces right sides together with the main front pieces, sandwiching the zipper between both layers for the length of the zipper, and stitched them together, again using my sewing machine and a regular straight stitch. Of course, this can be done all at one time, but zippers make me nervous, so I did it in two steps so I knew it would be aligned nicely.
I was aiming for as clean a finished look as possible inside, so I folded down the neckband and bottom band and clipped the unattached long side of each to the main garment. I left the facings/zipper/ bodice-front-sandwich right sides together, and, starting as close as possible to the edge of the zipper, used my serger to attach the bottom band and then the neckband to the garment. I turned the length of the zipper right sides out, and gave the whole thing a good press, particularly the bottom band and neckband, and along the length of the zipper, to give it crisp edges. I topstitched around the neckband, and that was it. All done!
I just love how this turned out, and even more, I love being able to use a tried and true pattern in a new way!
I really hope you are inspired to take a second look at what you have in your pattern bank to see what teaks you can make to expand what you can create!