DIY Cardigan From Scratch (Madewell Copycat!)


Sweater weather is just around the corner! From a cool air-conditioned workplace office to the approaching cold and snowy winter season, this cozy oversized DIY Madewell cardigan sweater is always a great idea to have around.

A cardigan is a classic wardrobe essential item that can easily match your style and also helps you dress according to the weather. That is precisely the reason I choose to make a DIY cardigan sweater from scratch.

Because of convenience, wearing a cardigan anytime and anywhere tends to add to the wear and tear. A cardigan sweater needs a lot more care and attention than many other clothing pieces from your capsule wardrobe.


How To Care For A Cardigan

There are 10 easy ways to care for your sweaters. Use the guaranteed sweater hacks to prevent having to visit the dry cleaner every time you wear your cardigan:

  • Remove pills with a simple razor.
  • Hand wash sweater cardigans every four wears.
  • To properly hand wash a cardigan, soak in gentle detergent for 30 minutes and then rinse it well in cool water.
  • To remove itchiness, add liquid fabric softener while soaking the cardigan.
  • Toss in the dryer on very high heat to shrink a cardigan if it has stretched out.
  • Gently pull for five seconds to stretch a cardigan that has been shrunk.
  • Store a sweater cardigan by folding or rolling and placing it on a shelf; avoid hanging a cardigan.
  • When folding, always lay a towel underneath to prevent snagging the cardigan on any surface.
  • For extended storage, place cardigans in clothing storage bags or boxes made out of cotton, muslin, or canvas to keep moisture away.


How To Wash A Cardigan Sweater In Washing Machine

For this tutorial, I used sweater knit fabric that is 50% polyester, 38% cotton and 12% rayon. As a result, I can easily use a washing machine on a gentle cycle with cold water, air dry, and then press iron medium heat.

If you have different content than me for your DIY sweater cardigan project, check these winter sweater hacks that will save your money.

With just one cozy oversized sweater cardigan, it’s amazing how much various look you can have and don’t look grandma or frumpy.


Different Ways To Wear A Cardigan

  • Wear a dress and place a belt at your true waistline to give an hourglass body shape with a feminine touch.
  • Pair with a flow blouse and unbutton the cardigan to give a casual look; you will look taller and slimmer.
  • Wear a long t-shirt or tunic underneath a fitted cardigan to look proportion lengthwise.
  • Pick bright colored cardigans to update your outfit in a fun and energetic way.
  • Mix with a bold print outfit and ground it by adding a solid color cardigan.
  • Wear a camisole underneath and button up for a sexy relaxed look.
  • Dress up with jeans and simply wear a graphic t-shirt underneath for a casual look.


Why make a cardigan from scratch?

A cardigan sweater is a classic wardrobe piece that I can’t live without. It gives a modern, preppy or even a feminine touch to your capsule wardrobe outfit for work or for a fun casual weekend.

For under $20, add this cozy oversized DIY cardigan sweater to your capsule wardrobe today. The Madewell inspired look is a basic wardrobe items every woman must have.

With this easy and simple step-by-step sewing tutorial for how to make a cardigan from scratch, you can save money and also give a personalized touch to your casual outfits collection. The sizing will be perfect, and you will be extremely proud to showoff the end result.

How To Make A Cardigan Without A Pattern

How To Make A Cardigan Without A Pattern

Easily follow this step-by-step tutorial for how to make a cardigan from scratch. This Madewell inspired cardigan is a basic wardrobe essential every woman must have in her closet.

The lightweight outerwear option has become one of my favorite go-to items to wear for a variety of occasions. From casual workwear to date night outfit, this DIY cardigan comes in handy when I need it most!

Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Difficulty Beginner


  • 2 yards Sweater Knit Fabric


  • Sewing Machine
  • Fabric Chalk
  • Measuring Tape
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Straight Pins


diy cardigan tutorial collage step 1

  1. For this tutorial, all you need is front right side and front left piece, 2 sleeves, a back piece, 2 pieces of 5” x 5” pockets, and 2 pieces of 6” x 7” cuffs.
    Pro Tip: To make a cardigan without a pattern, we easily copy a sweater from your closet.
  2. Fold the sleeve in half and sew the hem with a zigzag stitch.
    Pro tip: For any knit hem finishes, you can either use a zigzag stitch or a faux overlock stitch.
  3. Then, make the cuff by folding the 6” x 7” pieces in half and sewing the edge with a zigzag stitch.
  4. Slide in the folded cuff into the sleeve and match the under arm seam with the cuff seam. Secure with pins before sewing a zigzag stitch.

How To Sew a Cardigan From Scratch

diy cardigan tutorial collage step 2

  1. Next, lay the wrong side of the front and back pieces on top of each other. Pin both side seams and finish with a zigzag stitch.
  2. Match the underarm seam with the side seam to attach sleeve to the bodice. Pin around the armhole and finish with a zigzag stitch.
  3. To make the neckband, fold a 2 1/2” width strap in half and sew together. Begin pinning on the center back seam and go all the way to the front opening. Hem the finish with a zigzag stitch.
  4. Now, we are going to make a drawstring for the bubble hem on this DIY Madewell cardigan sweater. Cut 1 1/2” width bias strap about 40” long. Fold the strap in half, and zigzag stitch to close. Flip the strap inside out with a loop turner to make your drawstring.
  5. Fold the hem of the cardigan about 1” and edge topstitch along the hemline. Use the loop turner to insert the drawstring easily.
  6. Finally, fold and iron the pocket pieces about 1/2” on each side. Along the opening of the pocket, top stitch to secure the fold. Lay the pocket square on the front of the cardigan and edge topstitch around the sides and bottom.


Picking out a quality fabric is the first step to accomplish before we begin covering how to make a cardigan out of fabric. I used a medium weight sweater knit fabric and picked a color that I look great in.

Have you ever tried to make a DIY Madewell cardigan sweater?

Share with us your favorite ways to style your cardigan sweater!


This simple and easy step by step Madewell cardigan sweater is THE BEST! Love this long sleeve sewing projects from fabric. #DIY #sewing #sewinginspiration #sweater #cardigan #tutorial #crafts #handmade #fabric #instructions #fashion #casual #wardrobe #style #easysewing #tutorial #HowTo #clothes #clothing

Soonjoo Uh

I graduated with a bachelors of fine arts degree in fashion design. I worked in the fashion industry as a lead designer for major brand name labels such as Stitch Fix, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and Dillards. Now, I am the founder of the website Fashion Wanderer where I share current fashion trends, style tips and how to build a capsule wardrobe collection.

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