DIY Cardigan – Free Tutorial, No Pattern!

For anyone out there who wants to take part in the #cosycardichallenge but simply doesn’t know where they are going to find the time….Fear not! We have just the project for you. We have come up with a simple DIY cardigan that requires no pattern or prep. Simply cut some rectangles of fabric and you can sew them together in 1-2 hours (even less if you are speedy sewist)!!

Everything you need to make your own is in this post, so keep on reading and then go and raid your stash!!

Fabric: We would recommend any medium to heavy weight knit fabric such as ponte, french terry, loopback, sweatshirting, sweater knit, scuba, jacquard jersey, ribbed jersey or even heavier t-shirt jerseys. Just think about whether you want a lighter weight extra layer or a proper sunggly cardi!

You will need 1.5-2m of fabric. We used these lovely Hacci and French Terry knit fabrics from Girl Charlee.

Equipment: This cardigan can be easily sewn on a sewing machine or an overlocker. If your fabric frays and you are using a regular machine, you may want to zig-zag or bind your seams.

Seam allowance: 3/8″ (1cm) unless stated otherwise.

Sizing: The sizing is loosely based on your high street size. We always use M&S as a good gauge. The design is a slim fit open fronted cardigan, our friends across the pond would call it a duster. It is imagined as a layering piece and is not intended to close at the front. However, it is super flexible and you can create a range of different looks depending on how large or small you choose to go.

As a guide, Rachel sized down to an 8 (her high street size is a 12-14) as she wanted a very slim fit cardigan. Nikki sized up to an 14 (her high street size is a 12) as she wanted a looser fit cardigan (she also added 4″ to the length).

The chart below shows the pieces you will need to cut for each size. If you have stripes to play with or fabric Tetris to play, you can cut the pieces either way but stick to the chart if you have a one-way print…

If you would like to add pockets like the ones featured on Nikki’s cardigan, just cut two squares the same width as your FRONT pieces (i.e. for Nikki’s size 14, we cut two 9″ squares).

Step 1 – Shape the back neckline

Have your BACK piece folded in half on the short edge (so that it is the same length but half the width). At the top of the fold, mark 2″ (5cm) out along the top edge and 5/8″ (1.5cm) down. Now draw a curve to connect the two markings. Cut along this line to create your back neckline curve.

Step 2 – Sew the shoulder seams

Pin & Stitch

Place your FRONT pieces RST with your BACK piece, aligning the shoulders. In other words, line the short edges at the top of your front pieces up with either side of the curve you just cut in the back piece. Stitch each shoulder in place and finish your seams as desired.

Step 3 – Attach pockets (skip ahead to 4 if you are not adding them)


Turn under the raw edge by 5/8″ (1.5cm) on whichever edge of the square you decide is the top of your pocket. Stitch in place. Decide where you would like your pockets to be positioned. This is best done by draping the cardigan over your shoulders and then popping a pin or making a mark at the outside edge of the FRONT to indicate where you want your pockets to end.

Lay your pocket right side up on the FRONT of the cardigan where you would like it to be positioned when sewn. Then keeping the bottom of the pocket in the same position, flip the pocket over so that it is now RST and the hem is facing downwards. Shimmy it up by just 1/4″ (0.5cm) and then stitch the bottom edge in place with a 1/4″ (0/5cm) seam allowance. Once stitched flip the pocket back up so that it is right sides up again and then baste both sides of the pocket to the FRONT. Repeat for the other pocket.

Step 4 – Attach the sleeves

Fold each SLEEVE piece in half on the width – the sleeve length is 20″ for all sizes so this will be whichever edge is not 20″ (unless you are making a size 18 where the sleeve is a 20″ square, in which case you can choose which way is the width). Make a small snip to indicate the centre of the SLEEVE. Align this notch with the outer edge of the shoulder seam on your cardigan, making sure you are RST. Your sleeve will be positioned so that half of it is on the BACK and half on the FRONT. Sew the full width of the SLEEVES to the cardigan.

Step 5 – Sew your side seams

Pin & Stitch

Matching the seams where you joined the sleeve to the body, sew the underarm and side seams in one go. Start at the top of the sleeve, pivot at the underarms (this is easiest if you make sure your seams are positioned towards your sleeve) and then continue down over your pockets if you have added them and all the way down to the hem. (You may need to snip into your seam allowance to release the fabric at the underarm and prevent puckering when you turn it through to the right side – to do this snip close to the stitches where you pivoted going up to but not through the stitch line.)

Step 6 – Attach your bands

Sew your two BAND pieces together on one of the short edges RST to make one long BAND. Then fold the BAND wrong sides together aligning the raw edges. Fold the BACK piece in half by bringing the shoulder seams together, then make a small snip to indicate the centre of the back. Start by aligning the seam at the centre of the BAND with the notch at the centre of the BACK. Your BAND should be attached on the right side of the cardigan, and your raw edges should all be aligned.

Pin your band around the back of the neck and the all the way down the front. Your BAND is intentionally longer than your cardigan, but you can just trim away any excess after you have attached it. Starting at the centre back, sew the band in place down one side of the cardigan enclosing the remaining edge of your pocket (if you added them) as you go. Then flipping your cardigan over and starting again at centre back, sew the other side of the band in place too.

Step 7 – Try on and make adjustments

At this stage, it would be wise to try your cardigan on and check if you are happy with the length of the sleeves (your cuffs will add just under 2″ to the length) and the cardigan itself. Trim off any excess before moving onto the final stages. (For reference, Nikki took 4″ off her sleeves.)

Step 8 – Attach your cuffs

Fold each CUFF in half bringing the short ends together and stitch to make a closed loop. Then fold the CUFF wrong sides together aligning the raw edges on both sides. Slide each CUFF onto each SLEEVE, matching the seams and then stitch in place all the way around.

Step 9 -Hem

You can hem your cardigan a number of ways. For the quickest option, just turn under a 1″ (2.5cm) hem to the wrong side and stitch in place. If your fabric frays, you could overlock the edge first and then hem as before. If your fabric is light enough, and you prefer it, you could turn twice to create a double hem. Or if you have enough fabric leftover to make a hem band, you could add this to the bottom edge in the same way as you did around the front.

That’s it, you’re done!!

Now the final stage, and arguably most important, is to try your cardigan on. Take some lovely pics and then post them on Instagram using the hashtag #cosycardichallenge to be in with a chance to win one of the wonderful prizes on offer. Not to mention, get lots of lovely feedback from your fellow sewing peeps!! The deadline for the challenge is Nov 30th so there is still plenty of time.

If you follow the tutorial and share your pictures online, you could also tag us @thestitchsistersuk and use hashtag #stitchsisterscardi so we can be sure to see your makes.

Thanks for visiting our blog. If you haven’t already, make sure you submit your email address in the sidebar so that we can notify you of any new tutorials!

Rachel & Nikki x










12 thoughts on “DIY Cardigan – Free Tutorial, No Pattern!”

  1. Rachel and Nikki I admire you sisters you make things look so easy you find the energy to show off your work I love that about you. The name stitch sisters is definitely on point.

    I look forward to seeing you on youtube and read your blogs

    Hapoy sewing always ??????

  2. Hi Rachel and Nikki! I’m going to start this project right now – I love the idea of pattern less makes.

    One question: you mention M&S and high street sizes. I’m “across the pond” and our sizes are different. Do you have a sizing converter available? If not, I’ll run one down on google.

    Thank you for your generosity!

    1. Hi Whitney
      No sorry we dont have a converter available but if you check out the M&S website they will have a size chart for their sizes…that might be the easiest way to do it.

  3. Hi ladies, been following you for a while now, and just wanted to say thank you so much for your generosity, with your free patterns, your time, tips etc. I am a fairly ‘new’ sewing but can’t believe the things I’m already trying out thanks to inspiration from people like yourselves, hope the business is doing ‘ok’ during these weird times. Love this cosycardi xxx

  4. Hi ladies, only recently got fully back into sewing and have throughly enjoyed finding all the great and very helpful youtube sewers. I am going to try your comfy cardi as my next project. many thanks for your helpful tutorial.

    1. Hi Chen
      Im so sorry, I don’t know what has happened to the images on the blog. I have had a look for the originals and can’t locate them either (The blog post was originally written some years ago)
      Hopefully the wording on the blog post is good enough for you to understand, but as a reminder, bring the sleeves and side seams together and pin in place. Pin from the sleeve cuff to the hem. Now sew from the sleeve cuff, right up to the under arm and then pivot and sew down to the hem.
      We hope that this helps but please just get in touch if you need anything further.

  5. Hiya, thank you so much for this project. I’m fairly new to this and was wondering if I could use a wool fabric that isn’t overly stretchy?
    Thank you

  6. The pattern was easy to cut out, and the directions were very clear. I’m sorry the other pictures aren’t showing right now as it would be helpful – but you explained things well, and I’m very happy with the results! Making one for me and my daughter!

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