Stabilizing Cardigan Sweaters

A while ago, as part of an Instagram challenge, I posted the picture above for the Tips and Techniques day. In the picture I'm applying fusible bias binding to the back neck of a cardigan sweater under construction. I had just made a short, 14-second video (an excerpt from a longer video I still haven't finished) with many of the key points for stabilizing the neckline and shoulders of a cardigan. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the short video to post Instagram, so I just posted a still from the videos instead!

Video problems aside, this is the quickest and easiest way I've found to stabilize a cardi, and it works really well! Being unable to use video's quick cuts and fast motion in real life, I do admit that this technique will take longer than 14 seconds. Still I consider it a "quick tip" and I use it for all cut and sew sweaters now.

A pullover version of this technique was actually Tip #4 in my Five Tips for Using Commercial Sewing Patterns with Sweater Knits. The big difference with a cardigan is that there is more stress placed on the back neck of the sweater. This stress is what will stretch the cardigan neckline out of shape. The amount of stress depends on the style of the cardigan and the weight of the fabric. It's especially a problem when a rather bulky cardigan is worn open. If the cardi doesn't have a collar, the simple back neckline will have to support the weight of the front pieces as well as the sleeves.

If your cardigan has buttons or a zipper, stabilization may be needed in those areas too. Here are some ways of approaching stabilization in those areas that I've written about previously: zipper, buttons, buttonholes.  

Now getting back to the neckline and shoulders, transparent elastic is often used as a stabilizer in ready-to-wear, cut and sew sweaters. As long as you're working with a natural fabric that can withstand the heat, using fusible tape as a stabilizer is highly recommended and really easy to use. Even scraps of fusible interfacing, cut into strips, will work nicely.

Please note that this application is about the only time I'll actually press any area of a sweater knit. I usually steam with the iron held above the fabric. Pressing, however, is necessary to fuse the stabilizer to these areas. By pressing only the sewing line and seam allowance, the iron won't spoil the beauty of the natural fabric. And I don't iron. That is, I don't use a back and forth motion with the iron. It's press, hold, lift, and move to the next section. Remember to always test on a scrap first. This method is suggested for natural fabrics only! You'll have to sew in transparent elastic or another stabilizer if working with synthetics and many synthetic blends.

Here's that 14-second video.

If you've found this very short video helpful, but you need more help with your sweater sewing... no problem! Subscribe the O! Jolly! Crafting Fashion newsletter to get more sweater sewing tips, sweater inspiration, and occasional sales on O! Jolly! fabric about 10 times a year sent directly to your inbox.


Last update 22Dec2020


  1. Thank you so much for the tip I've been sewing for many years and never thought to uses this method what a time saver.

  2. I would like to buy stabilizer to do the shoulder and neck seams as you have posted here and in other posts but am confused at all the many types offered. They are probably more or less all the same but I am not really sure...there is Dritz stitch witchery fusible web, Clover quick fusible bias tape 1/4", Dritz wash away wondertape, Heat and bond fusible hem tape, Design Plus bias fusible tape 3/8" and many more. Help please! Thanks

    1. Thank you for such a great question! Stitch witchery and wondertape are used for bonding and are not used as stabilizer. (They're sticky on both sides.) A fusible bias tape will work. Fusible interfacing cut into strips has become my favorite. If you sew regularly, you may already have some of this you can cut up. A light to medium weight fusible interfacing will generally work nicely.


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