However, about 12 years ago when I first started making cardigans, my friend Colleen, suggested that I put a center back seam in my cardigan. I, of course, was appalled because RTW cardigans didn't have center back seams. Colleen in her wise way simply said was I trying to get RTW fit or was I trying to fit the garment to my body.
from a twinset made in 2008 with a back seam
from a twinset made in 2010
w/o a back seam
So, I've pretty much lived by those words of wisdom...quite a few of the cardigans I've made have a center back seam. If the fabric has an interesting pattern or design, I don't put a seam in, but that is rare.
I think its easier to find fabric that looks like RTW sweater fabric now than when I first started making cardigans. And that should be your first question when you consider using a piece of fabric to make a cardigan - would I see one like this in the store? If the answer is yes, then use it. If not, then toss it back and save it for another project.
Second part of the fabric/RTW question is what level of RTW are you knocking off? I try to sew higher end garments rather than something I can buy in WalMarts, Jessica London, etc. You know those upscale places where a cardigan costs upwards of $100 or more, that's what I'm trying to duplicate.
The third part of the fabric choice is the type of fabric. I don't use cotton knits. I've never gotten a good result using one. My preference is to use rayon/lycra knits. I've also noticed that knits purchased at a higher price point work better except for the inexpensive, high quality goods that I get from Fabric Mart, as long as I don't use a cotton knit! Some of my other favorite fabrics for cardigans are ~ wool blends, rayon jerseys, silk jersey, cotton lace, and wool jersey.
Knowing what areas should be interfaced helps eliminate the homecky look...and then the type of interfacing used is also important. I use a soft flexible knit interfacing that doesn't change the hand of the fabric but does provide some support for buttons and buttonholes. My two favorites are: The Pro Sheer Elegance Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply and from Farmhouse Fabrics, Baby Interfacing. The front band is totally interfaced and then folded in half. The sleeve hems are also interfaced. And on most of the hems, I use stitch witchery either with a machine stitched hem or sometimes alone. I'm always looking for that RTW look and the stitch witchery hem does that but you could substitute Steam A Seam and achieve the same look.
The best thing about making your own cardigans is that you can decide the number, size and placement of buttons. I usually place a button in the middle of my bustline and then measure from there up and down the button placket for button placement. Personally I like an odd number of buttons, it just looks more pleasing to my eye. Lately I've been using smaller button plackets as well as smaller buttons because it looks more RTW. Also, determine if you want the buttons to stand out or blend in. For this latest cardigan, I wanted them to blend in...
...for the one I made in the Lavender & Gray collection, I used buttons that stood out:
~always check cardigan lengths in RTW to make sure that the length you are making is current.
~check button size and buttonhole placket size in RTW cardigans and use something similar
~sleeve lengths change from season to season...so I would check those also.
~sewing the cardigan together using flat sewing techniques also help to insure that you don't have bunchy sleeve heads and a homecky look. I always sew sleeves in flat and not in the round.
I hope that some of this information helps someone make a RTW looking cardigan but with a custom fit!
Since it's the weekend, I'm once again going to attempt to work on one of my two dress ideas. I'm a little more relaxed this weekend and hopefully will get to spend some quality time in the sewing cave. The mild winter continues here on the East Coast with temps in the 60s next week...so I would love a new dress to wear to work!
...as always, more later!