DIY Duster Cardigan with Helen's Closet's Blackwood Cardigan

Hey everyone! 

The last six months have been made up of very little sewing, and even less blogging/podcasting. Quick, simple, and easy projects have really become a staple around here - because I rarely find myself having the time to complete anything more complicated. 

So that explains why today I'm showing you a cardigan I made a few months ago (on the very first day of summer, of course). While seasonally inappropriate, I wanted to show you this make in a little more detail for a few years reasons.

  • It's one of my tried and true holy grail patterns (I've made three already, with a fourth cut out and ready to sew)
  • It's one of the easiest patterns I've tackled in a long, long time, and you can make your own in a matter of hours
  • It's the perfect solution to adding a little bit of modesty so I can wear my favourite Ogden Camis (all ten of them and counting) at the office
  • And, it's been keeping me warm lately as I've been shivering inside any air-conditioned building (why is the A/C always SO cold??)

This is the Blackwood cardigan by Helen's Closet. I had debated trying other layering cardigan patterns (like the Grainline Driftless Cardigan), but this pattern won out for a few reasons. First of all, the open-front design is perfect for showing off whatever shirt you're wearing underneath - which is basically the point of a layering cardigan, anyways. And, I think the way the cardigan opening falls and the curve of the side seams is really elongating and slimming. 

Secondly, this pattern doesn't use a lot of time-consuming construction techniques, so it's something I can actually accomplish with my current sewing schedule. There are no decorative buttons to sew (thankfully) and all of the hems are finished with bands for speedy construction on the serger. My sewing priorities right now revolve around EASY patterns, and this one really fits the bill. 

Lastly, Helen's put together quite a few hacks to help keep this pattern fresh. If finding easy patterns is my first priority right now, my second is finding patterns that are easy to hack - you guys know my favourite part of sewing is hacking up patterns! Having some inspiration for pattern alterations gave me some cool ideas on how to spruce up this pattern for future projects, which helps me make the most of my limited pattern budget. 


I sewed mine up as a size XS in view A, but always lengthen it as much as the fabric I have allows for a duster-type look. I also add a few inches to the sleeves, but I can't remember exactly how much. In this version I'm showing on the blog today I think I added 6" to the total length, and maybe 3" to the sleeves. Since the entire sweater is finished with bands, instead of having to hem with a twin-needle (gross) or finish with facings,  it's really easy to add and subtract length to this sweater as needed - heck yes!

In the (almost) four times I've made this sweater I've never added the pockets to view A - I don't think they're worth the hassle, and don't particularly think they're a noticeable or important feature - but it's nice to have the option without having to draft the pockets myself. And although longer cardigans are my favourite right now, it's also nice to know that I have the option to sew something shorter with view B. It's all about the versatility!


If I would have to pick out one thing about this pattern that I don't like, it's the fact that I have the hardest time finding *suitable* fabric for it - which isn't even the pattern's fault. Like I mentioned on Instagram, I'm not a fan of cardigans sewn with jersey, and am always on the hunt for sweater knits that look like RTW options. This fabric here is perfect, but generally, I can't find fabric that really suits what I'm looking for. That's the one thing stopping me from making more of these cardigans (and part of the reason why I'm learning how to crochet my own sweaters)!

Do you guys have the same thoughts on jersey cardigans, or am I being a litle rediculous here? I would love for you to join in the conversation either down below or on Instagram!