Deconstruction: draped cardigan (part one)

Welcome to my new series: Deconstruction. The idea is to virtually deconstruct a RTW garment and make my own version, whether that's by using a similar, existing pattern or by drafting it from scratch. Part one will be my musings on how it could be accomplished, and part two will be the actual making of the garment - and possibly parts three and four, depending on what's required!

So without further ado, let's deconstruct Modcloth's Browsing for Books cardigan.

Draped cardigans have grown on me. I didn't like them when they first came out. They seemed a little too casual, a little too boho, and just a wee bit frumpy if you're not exactly the right body shape, or the drape isn't quite right.

But now, after an all-too-cool winter, and in the midst of a rather chilly spring, I'm rethinking my stance. What could be nicer than those lovely layers, wrapped around the body when it's cool outside, and carelessly dropped away from the body when you're back indoors, or a little more active?

To top it off, I've even found one that's bound to be flattering on almost any body shape: the Browsing for Books cardigan from Modcloth. It's got lots of lovely detail to break up a solid figure, can create curves where none exist and flares out at the waist to either cover big butts or create the illusion of a bum where the natural padding's a little thin.

That said, I'm still not willing to pay full retail for one, because while $40 is actually quite reasonable for such a gorgeous cardi, the colour just isn't me, I dislike that exposed hem around the neckline, and frankly that fabric looks far too thin... so I've decided to make one myself.

The front can really just be copied from an existing low-necked cardigan pattern, with the centre corners curved off so that the centre front edge meets the side seam. 

To get that lovely ruffle down the front of each side, I would use the basic circle idea from a Make It & Love It tutorial on creating cascading shirt ruffles

This circle of fabric that forms the ruffle needs to run from the side seam to just below the "collar" of the cardigan, where it can straighten out again, forming a sort of J-shape, or possibly even a d-shape if we wanted it really ruffled. To make it hang just so, the circle width would be tapered, so it was thicker at the curved end of the J/d (at the hip) and thinner at the straight end (at the neck).

To eliminate the exposed hem finish on the ruffle, I would simply cut it out twice, thus making a facing - and making it warmer and thicker! Once the facing was attached and then flipped right-side-out, it would need top-stitching, both to keep the nice clear edge and give the ruffle a bit of firmness, so it stay put when it was supposed to. It's so annoying when you arrange a ruffle just so in front of a mirror, then as soon as you move, it goes limp and falls out of place!

The back is actually gathered in at the waist, so the top piece of the back can be traced from an existing top/cardigan that is loose-ish from the bust down. After that, all you need is a horizontal gathering band and a wide rectangle, gathered into that band. The bottom piece can be wider than the top piece to create more body above the bum without adding a lot of bulk to the top of the back. 

The sleeves should just be made from an existing sleeve pattern.

Fun ideas:

Hide pockets in the ruffle! The opening of the pocket would be in the seam between the ruffle and the front piece, with the pocket itself tucked neatly away within the facing!

Using a slightly darker shade of fabric for the facing piece gives the garment a little more depth and interest. A contrast piece would also be fun, and you could extend it to the whole garment to make it reversible! (although I'm not sure how well the pocket idea would hold up in that scenario) If you're creating a contrast facing for the front, it's probably a good idea to also create a contrast facing for the lower back piece too, as it may be visible from the front when you move around.

Ruffled sleeve-cuffs! These could be either gathered or just circles. Circles would probably make great use of the scraps from inside the "J" shape cut out for the ruffle.

Hidden press-studs: hide press-studs or buttons behind the ruffles so you can close that cardi up when it gets a little too cold! You could also use hook-and-eye tape in the seam, or actually sew in a few of those guys, but I find the hooks catch on stuff too easily - usually my hair, but also my other garments. Even a strategically-placed button and buttonhole (just below the bust-line?) would probably do the trick!

What do you think? Would you make this yourself or just buy it? Have I missed anything obvious, or do you have some great ideas for modifying this and making it your own? I'd love to hear about it!

Stay tuned for part two, when I actually put this together!