I’ve just finished sewing my first knit cardigan. They have been very popular in the maker community but it took me a while to try my hand at making one. There are so many cardigan patterns out there! I went with Ellie & Mac’s “Go Exploring Cardigan”. This cardigan is a beginner-level design. With only seven pieces, it goes together quite quickly.
Ellie & Mac is a PDF-only independent pattern company that offers nice sales on certain patterns each week (although their patterns are very reasonably priced to start with). Linsey, the owner, and designer wants her patterns to be as accessible as possible while keeping the quality high. Ellie & Mac have a nice community with a YouTube channel and a very active Facebook group.
This is my second Ellie & Mac; having made their Paper Bag pants last year. This would be a good time to mention that I have a list and links to many of the independent pattern companies HERE.
Ellie & Mac’s instructions are clear and concise with color photos of each step. If you are used to lined drawings of the usual paper patterns, it might take some getting used to. I find that if there is a difficult step, the independent pattern companies usually have a video explaining it on their YouTube channels. So far, with Ellie & Mac, it has been smooth sailing.
The Go Exploring Cardigan
First off, Ellie & Mac is a very size-inclusive company. This cardigan comes in XXS to 7XL.
The “Go Exploring Cardigan” comes slightly below the knees in the front and curves to be longer in the back. I am 5’5″ and didn’t make any adjustments to the pattern length. Ellie & Mac says, “This pattern is drafted for the height of 5’5″ to our curvy size chart (based on the female body type). Pattern includes instructions on how to adjust for height.”
This pattern fit me perfectly. I did cut a size 10 for the shoulders and go to a size 14 for the bust area which is easy to do when you are working with a multi-sized pattern.
There is a lined hood that could be lined in a contrasting color but I chose to keep everything the same. There are very deep pockets that extend across the entire front of the cardigan. This does make them a bit slouchy. I have to admit that at the beginning, I did have some problems with their slouchiness. This could be because I have mainly spent my life making garments from woven fabric? I just need to adjust my attitude a bit to embrace the slouchiness! After looking at the pics we took for the blog, I am warming up to them.
Fabric Recommended and Used
This cardigan is designed to be made using knit fabrics. Fabric options may include but are not limited to Sweater knits containing at least 30/50% 4-way stretch, Bamboo French Terry, Double Brushed Poly, Stretch Hacci, and Cotton Lycra.
I used a purple, gray, and white abstract plaid stretch polyester sweater knit from Mood Fabrics which I bought last September (it is now sold out). I joined the Mood Insider Club and have access to fabrics (which are the clearance and remnants) that non-members don’t. When I saw this piece, I liked the idea of a deconstructed plaid and thought of the “Go Exploring Cardigan.” I don’t have much light purple in my closet and thought this could go with my jeans: white, blue, black, and grey. It’s not a dramatic piece but it will look really good with a lot of what I have.
Making the Cardigan
Besides a few finishing details, I didn’t change anything on this pattern. I used the overlock stitch of my serger for all the seams that would not be seen and the Coverstitch part of my serger for the hem and pocket tops. I spent years sewing knits without a serger but really think the best way to finish knit fabric seams is with one. I’ve probably mentioned this many times, but it took me years to break down and get one. Once, I finally learned it (and there is a learning curve), I enjoy using it.
However, I also did some hand finishing details on the cardigan. I added a fabric strip for a small facing where the hood meets the cardigan. That seam lies open when worn and having the serged seam showing was just not going to work for me. Also, I hand-stitched the inside of the band into place because I didn’t want any stitching for fabric edges showing there.
My Feelings About My Cardigan
I’m glad I finally finished this project! It took me way too long. This was started when we still having pretty cool days. For some reason, I just didn’t have a desire to be in any big hurry. Now that it’s finally warming up, I probably won’t get to wear it much until next fall. But, this is a good basic so I’m not too worried about that.
It’s not a dramatic, in-your-face look but I’m happy with it. I guess not everything I make needs to make a big statement and this will look great with one of my purple bags (yes, I’m always thinking about those accessories).
I’ve already mentioned the pockets so I’m not going to talk about that again.
I feel that this is a great little cardigan with all kinds of possibilities for interpretation and well worth my time in making. I got my fabric on sale for $14.37 so I think that’s a pretty good deal.
The PDF Format
I think most of us by this point are pretty familiar with PDF patterns. If you sew with indie companies, you will have to download a PDF file on your computer.
All Ellie and Mac’s patterns come in PDF format. I print my patterns at home and tape the different pages together to make a complete pattern. It does take time, but I really don’t mind. I can think through my project as I am taping. I then trace my size onto freezer paper with all my adjustments. There’s probably better paper to use but freezer paper is easy to get and I like its sturdiness.
These patterns also come in what is called an AO pdf format, which you can send out to be printed if you don’t want to take the time to assemble and tape. I think most sewists use PDF Plotting. I’ve never bothered because as I mentioned, I like the taping process; just put some music on and start putting the pieces together. The pages are numbered for easy work.
Take care and until next time.
10 thoughts on “My Sew Sew Life-Ellie & Mac’s Go Exploring Cardigan”
What an amazing cardigan! I am so impressed in every way. I doubt I will ever have a serger (especially as we are dramatically downsizing) because I don’t sew as much as I used to. And, I rarely pick knits because are a little more work. But, now you’ve got me thinking…once we are moved, I need to do more sewing! It’s challenging, and that’s a good thing as we add birthdays, right? I have never bought a sewing pattern online. One reason was I didn’t understand how you could get the patterns printed…duh! Print, and tape…it makes so much sense now!
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Him Marsha. I find that I’ve gotten older, I’ve turned back to sewing. The projects are just not as long as knitting and it is easier on my hands. As far as a serger, I worked with knits for years without one. I would just sew them with a regular stitch (my machine I have now even has a knit stitch) and then finish off the edges with a zig-zag. My next project is making a pallet for my daughter’s kitty. So it isn’t always just clothes. Take care and hope your move is going smoothly. Terri
This is a gorgeous cardigan and it suits you so well. I hear what you’re saying about it not being a super dramatic piece but it has a lot of interest from the overall shape, length, and hood (and it looks terrific from the back, too). The fabric you chose for it is a wonderful pick that is low contrast but still sings when worn with the neutral outfit. I agree that it will fantastic with purple!
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Thank you, I was wqrried that it would just look washed out but I think that low key effect will make it more wearable. I’m happy that it looks pretty good with white jeans. This is one of those I would make again but then do it is an “in your face printed knit” for some fun.
I love the hoodie, pockets and cut! What a great choice for a first knit cardigan!
Thank you, I know I am really happy with how it turned out.
You did a great job on this cardy, Terri. I love the cut very much. I’m also a big fan of hoods.
Have a lovely weekend.
What a cool project, Terri! I think your cardigan looks great. It’s meant to be slouchy. And it looks like you could just throw it on and be ready for most anything. A purple purse would look wonderful with it.
Loved your cardigan and the way u styled it.