McCall Patterns That Can Work for Sweater Knits

Though I'll often draft a sewing pattern for myself, I've also used commercial patterns with sweater knit fabrics. So as you might imagine, I was quite excited to be among a group of sewing enthusiasts invited to the open house and trunk show at McCall's Pattern Company's office in lower Manhattan. Perhaps you've already heard about this event on other blogs (Diary of a Sewing FanaticClio & PhineasOona BaloonaThe McCall Pattern Company blog) and social media?

The event was as fabulous as everyone who was there will tell you. If you weren't there, you can be put on the list for a future event by emailing blog @ (And I hear there are plans to take the show on the road!)

So what did I personally come away with, besides a brief history of the company, a peek into how this major pattern company operates, a fun time with some NYC area sewers, and that generous goodie bag? (Thanks, McCall!) After chatting with a staff member during the nosh part of the event, I became interested in taking another look at some of the patterns with an eye toward what might work for... you guessed it... sweater knits, of course. As you're probably aware, the McCall Pattern Company not only includes McCall's, but also Butterick, Kwik Sew, and Vogue Patterns. So much to explore!

When choosing a sewing pattern for sweater knits, first check to see that the pattern is designed for knits. Though you don't often see "sweater knits" listed as a suggested fabric, Misses' and Men's cardigan pattern, M6803, does specifically list sweater knits. I don't own the pattern, so I don't know what specific instructions are given for the buttonholes. If you decide to make this classic cardigan, and you're having trouble, be sure to check out my post on Buttonholes and Sweater Knits.

Many patterns are quite workable even though they don't list sweater knits as a suggested fabric. You'd be surprised that once you've learned to stabilize knits in the important areas -- shoulders (definitely), neck/armholes/hem  (perhaps) -- you may be able to use that crazy awesome, super stretch, unstable fabric that you love after all. Check that the pattern's suggested stretch for the fabric matches the stretch of  the sweater knit you plan on using. (Please note that the following mods are my own ideas and not recommended by McCall Pattern Company. I don't work for them. This is just the approach I would take with each of the patterns.) Take V8950 (view B) as an example.
Click to view V8950 on Vogue Patterns site.
It would make a gorgeous sweater using two different colors, as in the knit top shown, but I might make my sweater with two different textures instead. If you look at the line art, you'll see there are no darts. That's the next thing to look for; best to choose a sewing pattern without darts. If the sweater knit fabric is on the bulky side, I'd choose to face the neck and sleeve hems with a lighter weight knit, instead of turning the sweater knit fabric under. Separate lightweight facings at the bottom of the sweater front and the sweater back would take care of the side slits nicely, too. Yoke seam seems too bulky? I'd topstitch the seam allowance down with a narrow zigzag. Remember topstitching usually doesn't show very much on the public side with a heavy knit, but it is handy for flattening seams and keeping them in their place.

Another excellent candidate is K4027 (view A).
Click to view K4027 on Kwik Sew site.
I do love basic lines for sweater knits! Using a sweater knit with this sewing pattern would allow the beauty of the jacquard or texture to be featured.

For a cardigan, here's the pattern I'd choose. I really love the look and drape of long sleeved K3916 (view B) for a sweater knit.
Click to view K3916 on Kwik Sew site.
I would use a stretchy Hong Kong finish on the seam that attaches the front and neck band to the rest of the cardigan. The side seams will show when the cardigan is removed, so I'd use the stretchy Hong Kong finish on those, too.

So now that I've figured out how I'd approach each of these, I guess I should choose one pattern to try. I wonder which one it'll be? Suggestions?


The epilogue:  I ended up choosing Kwik Sew 3916. You can read more beginning with this post.
Photos used with permission. Last edit 5Nov2014


  1. Another thought on some of those patterns. They ask for high stretch fabrics, which I would not categorise machine knit fabric as. I would have thought I would be best looking for patterns requesting stable knits like ponte or low stretch knits (25% or less.) Otherwise you would really need to size them up. I'm more of a sewer than a knitter, just my thoughts.

    1. Just like finer gauged knits, machine-made sweater knits, whether produced industrially or not, are available with varied percentages of stretch. Stretch depends on the combination of stitches, yarn gauge, and knitting machine gauge and settings. You bring up an excellent point, however. It's very important to match the stretch percentage of the fabric with the stretch required by the garment pattern. I'll add that point to this post. Thanks.

  2. Interesting post! Love the knitting crossover angle.

    1. Thanks! Cut and sew sweaters are great for people who want handmade but don't knit or crochet. :)

  3. I've been eyeing the V8950! I never thought about doing it in a sweater knit.

    Nice to bump into you at Mood on Saturday!

    1. Would love to see what you come up with if you do it as a sweater.

      Yes! Fun running into you on Saturday!


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