Fabrics for Cardigan Sewing-Merino Wool Jersey and Jacquard Knits

Hi, It’s Marnie here and today I’m talking about some less common, but fabulous knit types of fabric. It’s Summer here in Sydney - the weather is hot and humid, just the way I like it. There is little need for warm weather clothing, except for the one item of warm clothing that I wear all year round - the cardigan. I love cardigans, they are perfect for layering and whilst not often needed in Summer, I find most air conditioning in shopping centres (and my own house if my husband has decided to turn the air con on - he sets it lower than me) a little too cool and I do like to have a cardigan close by. Rather than talk patterns with you today, I want to talk fabric. I think it’s pretty much non contested that in the land of sewing, when talking knits, cotton lycra is a pretty common choice for fabric type. I personally have enough of it in my stash to keep my daughter clothed for the next 10 years of life but today I wanted to show you some other types of knit fabric that I love - Merino wool jersey and jacquard knits.

Merino wool jersey is one of the loveliest fabrics I have ever come across. It has plenty of drape, and so I find it really hard to photograph, but it is my number 1 fabric choice for cardigans for both myself and my daughter. Pictured above is my daughter in a lightweight merino wool jersey library cardigan - from Little Lizard King. she has about three of these in different colours and they are on constant rotation.

While most wools can be itchy, merino wool is incredibly soft and perfect for sensitive skin that would find normal wool or lambswool too itchy. It comes from the Merino sheep, which is very common in Australia and New Zealand. Merino wool jersey retains all the natural insulating properties of wool - wool insulates by wicking moisture away from the skin and absorbing it - which makes it incredibly warm for its weight in winter, and cool in warmer weather.

I am wearing a Jalie Cocoon Cardigan sewn in a 100% merino wool jersey. It’s mustard in colour and I’ve done a really poor job of photographing it on a background where it stands out easily. It’s one of my most worn items in my wardrobe. It’s perfect for popping on over dresses, tshirts and pretty much everything. It’s warm without being heavy and easily scrunches up and fits into my handbag.

Here are some pictures of Zoe in another Merino Wool Cardigan. It’s the Girls Cardigan from Seamingly Smitten. I’ve used a lovely lightweight merino for this and it’s a perfect warmer weather cardigan.

I buy most of my Merino Wool Jersey from The Fabric Store. The Fabric store has shops in Australia, NZ and LA, and also ships worldwide via their internet store. They sell top quality Merino Wool Jersey sourced from NZ Merino sheep. If there is one thing NZ is famous for - other than spectacular scenery and a Rugby team that Australian just cannot beat - it is their sheep. Their fabric is beautiful and lasts a long long time. Merino Jersey comes in several different blends and weights so it is important to pay attention to this when shopping, especially if it is online. I prefer wool jersey with a weight of 200gsm of 200 or more.

Jacquard Knits are a fibre type that I have noticed have become far more popular this year. The Jacquard refers to the patterns that are created in the fabric as the fibres are knitted. They come in a huge range of fibre types and tend to be thicker in weight than many other jerseys. Pick one that has some natural fibres in it, and it is a lovely warm jersey. Because it is thicker, it tends to hold its shape quite well. It doesn’t have the drape of other fibre types, so it’s important to choose your pattern well, and use it on one that calls for stable knits.

This is me once again in the Jalie Cocoon Cardigan and you can see how differently the jacquard sits compares to the Merino Wool. This fabric is some sort of polyester blend that I purchased from Tessuti and it’s a lovely warm cardigan.

Jacquard typically has no lycra content and therefore has limited recovery, so isn’t suitable for every pattern, but for this one it’s brilliant.

I also made myself a longer coatigan from Jacquard knit earlier in the year and I lived in it all winter. The pattern I used was by Jamie Christina - the Lark Cardigan and the fabric is perfect for this pattern. It’s heavier in weight and nice and warm - kind of like wearing a blanket.

Anyway, I hope I’ve motivated you to think outside the box when it comes to cardigans and coatigans, and to explore other jersey fibre types. Another excuse to hit the fabric shop!

Thanks for reading along,