Chunky Knit Marlo Cardigan

Lately, I’ve been doing repeat-making because I’ve really been enjoying some patterns that have worked out well for me over the last year. Today I want to chat about my chunky knit Marlo cardigan. This cardigan sweater pattern by True Bias has been very popular on the ‘interwebs’ and in particular Instagram and I was easily swayed to jump on that bandwagon too.

The design comes in two different lengths and I’ve found that the shorter length works really well with my proportions. I previously used a bouncy cotton/poly blend sweatshirting to make my first Marlo but this time I wanted a more authentic ‘knitted’ look and chose a chunky rib knit which you might recognise from my Vikisews Nikki sweaters. The knit fabric is from Minerva (this is the Almond colourway) and comes in a vast colour range. I’m sorely tempted to buy some olive green next 🙂

The Marlo pattern is quite roomy and I did size down for myself. If you aren’t into loose oversized silhouettes I would suggest that you do the same. I also slimmed down the sleeves a little more on top of that downsizing. 

As I mentioned before, I went for the shorter length and I’ve also added the pockets from the longer length because I love how they look on this more cropped length, plus I’ve seen similar styles in RTW chunky cardigans, which really appealed to me. 

Now, this chunky fabric is a bit tricky to sew if you’re not overly confident with sweater knits, especially chunky ones. Normally I would recommend choosing a very simple style with very few seams for such a knit fabric but you know me…I love a challenge! Sewing the button band and bottom band onto my cardigan wasn’t the easiest. The most challenging part was that intersection where the button band meets the bottom band as they are sewn onto the body…at that point, you have 6 layers and my machine wouldn’t topstitch over the area so I ended up hand sewing the last couple of inches down to the very bottom. 

The rest of the seams were ok to do once you get a technique that works. I did mention how I dealt with seams in the knit in my post about the Nikki sweaters, but I’ll cover it here again quickly.   

Basically, I overlocked the edges of my fabric before sewing them together. Next, I stitched the seam using a slight zig-zag and a walking foot on my machine. Then I pressed the seams open and finished them off by stitching either side of the seam using a slight zig-zag stitch again. I know it’s a lot of steps for every seam but it’s so worth the effort for a neat finish.

I cut the fabric cross-grain for the pockets to make them stand out more and made sure to bast them well before sewing them on. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more basting throughout my projects and in the long run, it’s saved time because it really helps with accuracy and stops me constantly reaching for the seam ripper. 

The pattern instructions ask you to stabilise the button bands with some interfacing just where the buttonholes and buttons are sewn and it was a big help for me when sewing the buttonholes.  Due to the looser knit, I also made sure to stitch back over my buttonholes for extra reinforcement and it seems to have done the trick. I love the buttons that I found online. They are 30mm (1.18”) in diameter and they came from an eBay shop called Number Sixty. The shop has lots of great simple designs to choose from, including some particularly good ones for coats and suits. In case you’re interested, I also use Totally Buttons for more fancy buttons. 

I absolutely love this Marlo, maybe more than my first version, plus it goes with everything in my wardrobe. It’s so versatile! I may be getting addicted to this style.

In the photos, I’ve styled it with my Tatjana trousers which are now a little different because I had to let out the waist (thank you menopause…), so now there is only one pleat on each side and not two. I love this easy casual look though.

Well, thank you for stopping by and I hope maybe you feel inspired to try sewing a chunky knit or a short cardigan. Let me know in the comments. 

See you soon!

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  1. Heather in Colorado
    March 25, 2023 / 3:09 pm

    Hi Diane, looks great! As did your last Marlo. You may have convinced me to finally get that pattern! I rarely sew with knits, but love the short body sweaters!
    I’m 10 days from the end of an intensive pattern shirt fitting class by In House Patterns Studio, so only sewing that at the moment.😊

    • Diane
      March 25, 2023 / 7:16 pm

      Thank you, Heather! If you do get the Marlo, I hope you enjoy sewing it. And I hope you’re enjoying your fitting course, it sounds great!

  2. Joan
    March 25, 2023 / 5:37 pm

    Hi Diane, You REALLY make gorgeous sweaters and cardigans! It’s likely the sum total of your sewing, trimming, pressing and alteration skills, but the finished product really looks so well-executed. No slightly uneven topstitching, excess thickness, etc.!

    — the button band did not have interfacing its whole length, just under the buttonholes and buttons??
    — re. finishing seam edges: you overlocked all edges and then after sewing the side seam (for example), you did a slight zigzag over it??
    — the tape along the neckline: is it bias rayon or cotton? Was it hand stitched on both edges?

    Really a lovely cardigan!

    • Diane
      March 25, 2023 / 7:25 pm

      Thank you so much, as always Joan!
      That’s correct, the interfacing on the button band is only applied for that short length where the buttons and buttonholes are.
      So for my seam treatment, for most of them, I overlocked around the flat pieces before sewing a seam and then pressed it open prior to adding a sort f topstitching on either side of the seams with a slight zig-zag to control them. The only exception is the long seam that goes down the sides and underarm where I overlocked the sides separately but then as I approached the underarm seam I overlocked that bit together because obviously it can’t be stitched open. As a result, the sleeve underam seams are bulkier and it’s when you overlock the thick fabric together that there’s more risk of wavy seams.
      Oh, and finally, at the back neck, it’s just a bit of cotton bias to give a cleaner look.

      • Joan
        April 2, 2023 / 5:20 am

        Thanks, Diane!

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