Blush Cardigan: The Joy Of Basics With A Twist

The joy of basics with a twist. lush cardigan

Lately, I’ve been trying to be firm with myself and really think carefully about what I truly reach for to wear on an everyday basis. The reality is that I enjoy the joy of basics with a twist.

So what do I like to make or wear? Well, I wear basics quite a lot, for example, cardigans and t-shirts (and jeans, but as you read here, I don’t like making them) but very plain basics don’t appeal to me that much. I need that little ‘je ne sais quoi’… that little extra detail. 

When I’m designing and sewing I’ve always enjoyed adding my own unique touches but I’ve also come to realise that I prefer a light touch with details so I don’t want to incorporate too many details and features all at once…No point in throwing ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ at a  design.

The Joy Of Basics With A Twist. Fun Sleeves!

This brings me to today’s make. It’s a versatile short cardigan with an interesting sleeve in a gorgeous recycled cotton blend ribbed knit that I purchased from Fabric Godmother. It’s lovely to sew and lovely to wear and the blush pink colour is gorgeous. 

For my starting point, I used McCalls 6886 knit dress pattern(now reissued as 8058) and worked with View E body and B sleeves. 

To start off I divided the front down the centre and cut the finished length at a high hip level, then I adapted the sleeve pattern. Statement sleeves have been on-trend for a few years now and they seem to show no signs of stopping. For my design I wanted some fullness but not at the shoulder or wrist, so my solution is an unstructured inverted pleat. 

To make the pleat detail:

  • I divided the sleeve pattern at the centre point of the sleeve head right through to the hem and I added a total of 5” (12.5cm) to the middle.
  • Next, I stitched along the centre line going down about 4”(10cm) from the sleeve head and up about 5”(12cm)  from the hem.
  • Then, on the inside, I flattened out the pleat so that it was centred down the sleeve an equal amount on either side of the first stitching line, see the photo below.
  • I secured the pleat in place with some invisible catch stitches on the inside so that it stayed put.
  • Finally, I just sewed the sleeves in as normal and hemmed them with a single row of stitching.
.The joy of basics with a twist.
Inside sleeve pleat.

I think the unstructured pleat adds a nice bit of fullness and interest without it being over the top, I hope you like it too 🙂

The joy of basics with a twist. Blush cardigan
The joy of basics with a twist. Blush cardigan
The joy of basics with a twist. Blush cardigan
The joy of basics with a twist. Blush cardigan

The finishing touch on my cardi was the front edges using a simple strip of folded ribbing plus buttons and buttonholes. To make sure the buttonholes didn’t stretch as I sewed them I basted small rectangles of stable tricot bra lining at the back of them which I carefully cut away after stitching….now they feel really stable and secure.

I’m happy to report that I’ve already worn my cardigan lots so it’s definitely earned a place in my wardrobe, it feels fab. 

So tell me…how do you like your basics? Plain, or a little bit creative? Tell me in the comments 🙂 .

As always, thanks for stopping by, you know I love it when you do x

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  1. July 1, 2021 / 2:08 pm

    You are such an inspiration 🙂 Love your new cardi! Those sleeves are wonderful and the fabric is stunning. I loved your process to insure success with the buttonholes. I have several cardi patterns that have been in my collection for a while but every time I even think about making one up I can feel an recoil happening in my midsection and the pattern goes back in the shelf for another day. When I read that you basted, “small rectangles of stable tricot bra lining at the back of them”, before sewing them up I remembered I do have some of that around! What a brilliant idea for sewing buttonholes on a knit fabric and then remove them afterwards. I’d love to know more about that with photos if possible in a future blog post 🙂 At present I’m working on the Gyo by Merchant and Mills. I just love the asymmetrical design but after making up my first I realized what a nightmare it’s going to be for fit! I’m onto my second muslin and getting closer but yikes! They didn’t true the side darts which was weird and has caused me a bit of a nightmare to be honest.

    • diane
      July 1, 2021 / 3:31 pm

      Thank you as always Kathleen! I’m so pleased you love my cardigan hack. And I know buttonholes on knits can be a pain to do. I have got a post on the general subject of buttonholes but the method I mention here isn’t on it. I’m sure I could whip up a quick tute for the blog :).
      And I just checked out the Gyo top…love that asymmetry!

  2. Christine
    July 1, 2021 / 7:19 pm

    Beautiful cardigan and love the sleeves. I am always amazed at where you get your ideas from.

    • diane
      July 2, 2021 / 9:10 am

      Thank you so much, Chris!

  3. Joan
    July 1, 2021 / 9:25 pm

    Hi Diane, Very pretty cardigan/top and I love your conversion from dress to cardigan: home sewists benefit from using and reusing the patterns they have after they have been successfully-fitted.

    And your sleeve is perfect for you: you got max bang for the buck with that inverted pleat and fitted lower sleeve. I had thought in the first photo that you sewed a deep cuff onto the bottom of the sleeve, but you did not! Your sleeve design looks great with fewer pattern pieces and seams than a cuffed sleeve. Well-done!

    BTW: any FBA on this dress pattern? I have this pattern in my pattern ‘COLLECTION’ (poking fun at myself bc I have TOO many patterns, 1/10 of which I will be lucky to sew in a hopefully long life 😉

    BTW: in late May, I attended a fit class with Helen Bartley, a Palmer-Pletsch instructor, and fit a sheath dress (w/ vertical F&B darts), an A-line dress, and a basic T. I am thrilled with the results and hope I can continue learning and using their methods. I have been to umpteen fit classes and this one really has shown me how to adjust for my bodice issues!

    • diane
      July 2, 2021 / 9:14 am

      Thank you, Joan! Yes, definitely more bang for my buck with this design. I didn’t but I can see a little bit of wrinkling below my armpit which may or may not be how I’m standing, so I maybe could have done with a small one, but hey, I can live with it 🙂
      Your fit class sounds wonderful, I’m so pleased to hear that you’re making progress!

  4. Sharon
    July 2, 2021 / 1:14 am

    Gorgeous cardigan and a brilliant pattern adaptation. I prefer my basics with a bit of a twist but struggle with the ideas or concepts.

    Now you ribbed knit, what weight would you call it as I am seriously loving this cardigan sleeve.

    • diane
      July 2, 2021 / 9:17 am

      Thanks ever so much, Sharon. The fabric weight? Well, I would say on the lighter side of medium or the heavier side of lightweight. It’s a proper sweater knit stitch and drapes quite nicely. The website says 40% stretch and it has a little bit of polyester in it.

      • Sharon
        July 3, 2021 / 11:25 am

        Thank you very much Diane and I have found some in my stash so hope to copying your wonderful instructions sometime soon.

        • diane
          July 3, 2021 / 11:28 am


  5. Heather Myers
    July 4, 2021 / 3:28 am

    I too like something unique happening with basics. E.G. I just finished a lightweight cotton swing sundress – this time with a Madras pink, green, blue, yellow, white plaid ruffle on the v necks front and back, on patch pockets and bias trim on arm scythes. If you are on FB group 2018 RTW Fasters I just posted it there. Thanks for your posts!

    • diane
      July 4, 2021 / 7:07 pm

      Glad to hear that you like your creative basics. Your dress sounds lovely. Sadly I’m no longer in the RTW Fasters group. I found that I simply don’t have the time or bandwidth to participate in many FB groups so I decided to cull a few. In fact, I spend very little time on FB these days, but feel free to email me a photo any time.

  6. July 4, 2021 / 10:33 am

    I really love that sleeve, it lifts the whole cardigan to another level! The pink is also a really pretty colour.

    • diane
      July 4, 2021 / 7:03 pm

      Thanks, Sue! So glad you love my elevated cardi.

  7. Kathy
    July 5, 2021 / 5:54 pm

    Beautifully designed and rendered.

    • diane
      July 5, 2021 / 7:48 pm

      Thanks ever so much, Kathy!

  8. Margriet van der Meijden
    August 1, 2021 / 8:20 am

    Hi Diane!
    What a lovely twist you’ve given this pattern!
    I’ve just found out about your blogposts and I’m already inspired…..
    You’ve just shown me why I don’t like basics when they’re really ‘basic’…. 😉 Now I know I can always alter a pattern. For me as a beginner it’s easier to do a small change on an easy pattern than buy a more difficult pattern and get lost in the instructions 🥴😊
    Thank you!

    • diane
      August 1, 2021 / 2:03 pm

      Hi Margriet! So glad you found my blog and like what you see. I adore altering patterns and rarely buy new ones these days. I find the process of adapting what I have so much more fun. I’m taking a bit of a holiday break right now but will be back sharing more hacks at the end of the Summer so keep a lookout. If you decide to follow my blog via email for updates, be sure to check your spam/junk folders just in case my emails end up there occasionally

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