One of the things you learn very quickly when sewing clothing is how many different types of “apparel fabrics” there are and how many different fabrics fit into the categories of wovens, knits, linens, etc. The next thing you learn is how incredibly important it is to stick with the “right” fabric for any given project or you can easily end up with a bunch of wasted time, energy, fabric, and money, crying on your closet floor wishing you would have just followed the instructions. in the first place.. (Please tell me that’s happened to someone else too so I feel a little less embarrassed right now.. No? Ok then… )
Knowing all of this though, I broke all the rules last week when I made a knit cardigan pattern, the Patterns for Pirates Grandpa Cardi, out of a woven apparel fabric with absolutely ZERO stretch. It was a lot of work and quite the process but the end results made it so worth it!
The flannel I used was a thicker Platitudes flannel from JoAnn’s in a heathered green print. I used it to make the hemmed tunic length banded front option, with pockets, form the P4P pattern!
I had to make quite a few adjustments to the original pattern in terms of grading to make the pattern work well for a non-stretch fabric. I didn’t just want to “size up” to make the cardigan “fit” because I knew it would then just be too big and baggy all around and wouldn’t really fit the way I wanted it to.
Instead what I did was cut the front pieces and pockets the same size I always would when making a Grandpa Cardigan (and I make a lot of them!) with the exception of grading the armsyce on the front pieces to be one size larger than my normal size. The arms I then just cut one size larger than I normally would (so I would still be able to bend my elbows and raise my arms above me head) before grading the back piece, but a bit differently than the front pieces. For the back piece, from the small of my back up (determined by holding the pattern up to myself, very scientific, I know) I cut one size larger than my regular size and then from the small of my back down I graded from my larger cut upper back down to my regular size. This gave me some extra wiggle room between the shoulders so I could stick my arms straight out in front of me and have full range of motion.
Then I just sewed up the cardigan as I normally would ! It went super quickly since top stitching and hemming on a woven is so much easier than on knits for me. The final change I made was adding a belt loop to each side seams so that I could use a black fabric belt that I already had to tie the cardigan closed and avoid having to do button holes or even tie the belt behind my back to bring it in and give the cardigan a bit more shape and interest.