The Helen’s Closet Blackwood Cardigan has been a big hit ever since it launched. It was designed for layering, and to be worn open – which means that even though the size range isn’t that inclusive, many sewists have found it fits even if they’re outside the sizing theoretically (including Jenny!). As part of the #CurvyYearOfSewingCardigan & Kimono theme, today Jenny and Megan are sharing their experience with the Blackwood Cardi.
The cardigan features:
- A size range up to XXL (46 – 48″ bust, 48 – 50″ hips)
- Two length options to hip or mid-thigh
- Optional patch pockets
- Measurements: Bust –48″, Bra Size – 38H, Waist – 40-42″ depending, Hips – 46″, Height – 5’6″
- Body Shape: Busty-Appley-Hourglass-Parsnip-WhoKnows
- Pattern size used: I used the XXL (more on that in a minute..)
- Alterations: None! The only thing I couldn’t get to work nicely were the pockets. I’ve had this issue with patch pockets in knits before – the sponginess of a knit makes it very hard to do anything very accurately or crisply. I used every tip and trick, from starching them to using wonder tape, but they kept on looking like a wobbly mess, and took my cardi from being RTW quality down to obviously home-made. So, they came off! I’m not sure I’d really use pockets in a knit anyway, so for future versions they’re staying off.
- Fabric: I used an amazingly gorgeous merino wool from The Fabric Store. It’s not cheap, but in my opinion if you use it for a garment you’ll wear very often, it’s fantastic value. After making this grey version, I went on to make a black merino version, and then a rayon knit double-sided purple version!
- Fit: With a simple, slightly slouchy, garment there’s not so much to say about fit. Although the size range is limited, I think with an open cardigan like this, as long as your shoulder measurement is in line with the size you make, you’ll be totally fine. It is somewhat noticeable from the side that it hikes up a bit in the front (it’s a bit deceptive in the photo above because I’m holding it) – a typical sign that I need a Full Bust Adjustment. But in this case… I don’t really care. I could do one, and it would be more likely to make the hem even, but in such a casual garment I really don’t mind. Finally, the sleeves are designed to be slouchy and long, but I have short arms… so they definitely go over my hands. I don’t mind this, but it’s worth noting if you’d rather a more standard sleeve length.
- Changes for future versions: I’ve already made this several times, and apart from leaving the pockets off, it’s just a rinse-wash-repeat for me!
Final thoughts: the Blackwood is a winner for me! The only thing that bothers me a little is the sizing scheme – am I really an “extra, extra large” person? It seems so much more humane to just assign numbers, than suggest a RTW 14/16 is so super huge, not to mention it allows for a future size range expansion in the future without going into “XXXXL” territory.
- Measurements: Bust –45″, Bra Size – 30C, Waist – 41-42″ depending, Hips – 52″, Height – 5’7″
- Body Shape: I find it easiest to describe myself as pear shaped, though my bottom half is all booty and belly, not hips. I find it interesting to note that Jenny and I have the same waist measurement, but she is busty while I am more bottom heavy.
- Pattern size used: I cut an XL in the bust. My bust typically measures about 45″; the XL is for 42″-44″ and the XXL is 46″ to 48″, so it was a bit hard to decide, but I decided to size down since I really dislike things being oversized though the bust. I graded to an XXL at the waist and then added one inch to the back pattern piece at the hips, resulting in a size XXL + 1″. Like Jenny, I think I could have made this work without alteration, but the whole reason I sew is to have a custom fit garment and I am happy with how the fit turned out.
- Alterations: Other than grading between sizes, I didn’t make any alterations.
- Fabric: Just like Jenny, I decided that a gray sweater knit would be super versatile. I used this organic hemp/cotton blend sweater knit from Stonemountain and Daughter, it is one of my absolute favorite fabrics, though it is not cheap. In fact, after sewing this sweater up, I bought it in two more colorways the next time they sent out a 25% coupon.
- Fit: I think the sizing on this pattern is absolutely spot on. Its slim fitting enough to look good in a variety of situations (I’ve found it easy to dress up) and it looks equally great with jeans. I love that the sleeves are drafted to be slightly long, its a little added detail that I think makes it look a little more RTW (in a good way). I’m really happy that I took the time to grade between sizes and grade up slightly through my hips. The only complaint I have is that the size range isn’t a good as it could be. I like to see a pattern hit the 50″ mark in both the bust and the hips, at a minimum, before I will consider it to be a curvy pattern, so this one falls a little short of the mark.
- Changes for future versions: None! I might play with the variations and make a shorter version or one without the pockets. I also have this on my “to sew” list for Christmas presents.
Final thoughts: Though the size range isn’t fantastic, I think this is a sweater that is worth taking the time to grade up if you like the design. Its modern and versatile and I know I will be making more.