1920s style crochet cardigan notes / pattern #free

This cardigan is the first piece of actual clothing I ever made for myself ! This article will explain the overall method to do your own, but I can’t actually write a pattern with stitch-counts because there is some improvisation, a lot of yarn possibilities and it is shaped to my exact measurments.

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Supplies :

Fingering weight yarn. I used 370 grams (940 yards).

E, F or G hook depending on your yarn and gauge and your wish. Stitches must not be too tight or you won’t enjoy a nice drape. They must not be too loose otherwise you cardigan will stretch out 3 sizes too big !

Basics to master :

The pattern uses only very basic stitches.

I’m using US terminology and abbreviations.

  • Chain (CH)
  • Single crochet (SC)
  • Double crochet (DC)

That’s all !

Stitch :

I don’t know if this stitch has a name. I deducted it from the picture of a vintage cardigan. I fell in love with the stitch itself : it has just the right level of sophistication ! Not too lacy (which would be also time-consuming), not too basic (it’s not just double crochets stitches stacked on top of each other), it is lacy but geometrical, not too girly/flowery, it is feminine and modern.

The entire cardigan is made of the same motif, which consists of a 2-rows repeat.

Chain a multiple of 12

Row 1 :

In the 9th chain from hook, make a SC.

* Chain 2, skip 2, in next stitch make : 1 DC, chain 3, 1 DC

Chain 2, skip 2, in next stitch make : 1 SC

Chain 2, skip 2, in next stitch make : 2 DC, chain 3, 2 DC

Chain 2, skip 2, in next stitch make : 1 SC *

(repeat from * to * until only 3 chains remain)

Chain 2, skip next 2, in the last chain make : 1 DC.

Row 2 :

Chain 6, turn.

* In the next chain 3 space, make : 2 DC, chain 3, 2 DC

Chain 3

In the next chain 3 space, make : 1 DC, chain 3, 1 DC

Chain 3 * (repeat)

At the end of the row : make 1 DC in the 3rd chain you count after the first SC of row 1 (or DC inside the chain space if you don’t want to count).

Row 3 :

Chain 5, turn.

* In the next chain 3 space : make 1 SC.

Chain 2.

In the next chain 3 space : make 1 DC, chain 3, 1 DC.

Chain 2.

In the next chain 3 space : make 1 SC.

Chain 2.

In the next chain 3 space : make 2 DC, chain 3, 2 DC.

Chain 2. *

Repeat instructions between  * and *.

At the end of the row, make 1 DC in the 3rd chain from previous row.

Row 4 :

Chain 6, turn.

* In next chain 3 space, make : 2 DC, chain 3, 2 DC.

Chain 3.

In next chain 3 space, make : 1 DC, chain 3, 1 DC.

Chain 3. *

Repeat instructions between  * and *.

At the end of the row, make 1 DC in the 3rd chain from previous row.

Now always repeat rows 3 and 4.

Last row :

It’s a bit easier to end on an even-numbered row.

But I did end on an odd-numbered row, and then added this finishing straight line : Chain 6, SC in next chain 3 space, chain 5, SC in next chain 3 space, chain 5, SC in next chain 3 space… (basically, chain 5 and SC in the middle of each cluster). At the end of the row, chain 3 and DC in previous row.

Chart :

To make things short :

On top of each small cluster (DC, chain 3, DC) you will always work another small cluster.

On top of each big cluster (2 DC, chain 3, 2 DC) you will always work another big cluster.

The odd-numbered rows insert a SC between each cluster (separated by 2 chains on each side).

The even-numbered rows are almost identical, only they skip the SC part.

Cardigan method :

It is made of 3 rectangle panels, then sleeves are worked in the round.

Size :

The cardigan in pictures is based on a S size width and L size lenght, because that’s who I am 😀

Make a big panel for the back :

I measured my shoulder width (see next pictures) and added 2 in. for ease : my width is 17 in., the back panel is 19 in.

Make 2 thiner side panels (I chained 48 for each panel). The 2 panels side to side must not be as wide as the back panel. Mine are 7 in. wide each, leaving a 5 in. opening in the front.

Lenght : 

The panels are worked bottom up. So I simply tried it on me to reach the under-butt area, because that’s how I like my cardigans to hang. You can make a long duster cardigan or a short one, it seems many people like shorter sweaters than me. Keep in mind that it will stretch under its own weight and get a bit longer.

Attaching panels together : 

Attach the top and the sides. I didn’t attach all the way to the bottom because I like the slit on the sides, but you can attach all the way. Use any method you like (sewing or crocheting). I used a single crochet stitch seam evenly distributed, inserting the hook throught both layers at the same time. That would be my wrong side facing me, so after I must turn the garment inside out before crocheting the sleeves.

About the arm holes : you can do any sleeve shape and any size you like. I wanted something fitted around my arms, so smaller arm holes : 7 in. long. You must adapt them to you own measurments, since we all have different arm circumference.

To determine the arm opening, I first kept the panels in place with stitch markers to try it on.

Sleeves :

You can make no sleeves at all and obtain a very hippie-style vest.

Or make short sleeves, cap sleeves, elbow lenght, wrist lenght, bell sleeves… only by playing with number of repeats and increases / decreases.

The sleeves are crocheted in the round.

Join yarn and chain 3 (counts as 1 DC).

By using the smaller and wider spaces of the stitch around the arm hole, you can totally blend the sleeve in the design. In the smaller triangle spaces I put the clusters, in the larger holes I put the single crochet stitches.

Slip stitch at the end of each row, and chain 3 to start a new row (chain 3 = 1 DC).

Stitch : I followed almost the same stitch pattern, only I used only the small clusters everywhere (DC, chain 3, DC) and no big clusters (2 DC, chain 3, 2 DC).

To make fitted sleeves, you have to decrease right from the first round, you just don’t need as many stitches as are available around the arm hole, or you will find yourself with odd-looking sleeves with a lot of extra fabric. So, you will remove some stitches on the top part and the bottom part of the sleeve (see below).

To this aim, you could chain only one before and after the top and bottom clusters, and chain only 1 instead of 3 inside these clusters, and gradually remove a few pattern repeats by « swallowing » stitches (see following chart). I started the sleeve with 13 « holes » arounds, and ended with 11 from the elbow down.

Here is what I call « swallowing » stitches : 

I put the single crochet in a cluster, instead of on both sides. This way I obtain a decrease. Once again :  you have to put the decreases in the underarm area, and the top (biceps) area.

When I reached elbow lenght, I made the sleeve even narrower by systematically omitting chains (always chain 2, never 3). Another way to obtain snug sleeves is to use a smaller hook size.

At the end of the sleeve, I did 2 rounds of SC.

Sleeves conclusion :

The whole interest of hand-making garments is to obtain a perfect fit, isn’t it ? That why, in order to obtain nicer clothes, at one point you can’t just follow the stitch count of a stranger (as talented as he.she is), and you can trust yourself and use your autonomy. Because this is crochet, you can’t actually be wrong, see it as a game, play with the stitches, twist the instructions to make the garment your own 😀

Finishing touches:

Single crochet evenly all around the bottom, slits, sides, collar,… see the red line on the sketch :

I put 8 SC in the right-angle spaces.

Weave in all yarn ends.

You can sew a button to be able to close the cardigan, or create 2 cords (chain and then single crochet back) to tie in the front.

I think a mesh collar all around the neck and sides would look great. (1.5 in. to 2 in. wide), and it would allow to close the cardigan (buttoned).

I didn’t wet block it. I like ironing finished items, inserting a wet dish cloth between the iron and the fabric (no steam setting).

Colors :

There is no rules in crochet, we use any color we want and we like. But, if you want your cardigan to look like a vintage piece, I would recommend using only one color (no variegated yarn, no tweed, no flakes), no stripes, and a natural color (black, brown, beige, coral, burnt orange, dark blue, light blue, light pink…).  Shiny, sparkling or silky yarn is great for a 20s style.

Cotton may be a bit heavy (and pull on the lace stitch), a cotton / bamboo blend would be more advisable. I used fingering weight wool (100 % merino wool) to wear it all seasons, adjusting what I wear under it.

Any question ?

Feel free to use the comment sections, I’ll do my best to help.

I hope you liked this pattern. I remind you that English is my 3rd language, so please don’t be offended by the possibility of some awful grammar from time to time.

Terms of use :

This is free for any use. Just don’t steal any text or pictures.

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