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The Juniper Cardigan Sew Along - Attaching Grosgrain Ribbon: Why, When & How + A Fell Stitch Tutorial

Friday, June 30, 2017

Have you ever noticed that sometimes there is a ribbon of some description running along the underside of both sides of the button band of your RTW cardigans? Or maybe you have noticed people talking about adding grosgrain ribbon to the button bands of their hand knits?

Why is it there?

Ribbon is sometimes added to knit button bands to help prevent the band from stretching out. The structure of a knit fabric (hand knitted & machine-made) means that there is much more give compared to woven fabric, whether it's a stretch knit or not.

Combine that with the fact that a button band is under a lot of stress due to pulling & tugging in that area from use, as well as the opposite directions the band is being pulled by the body when worn - adding in something a little extra is not a bad idea to stop any potential drooping, and to help it keep its shape for as long as possible.

Having said all of that, I personally have never used any extra reinforcements (like grosgrain) on any of my Juniper Cardigan button bands. This is mostly because I haven't deviated from my recommended fabric suggestions and have always used an interfacing on the button section of the neckband, so I've never felt the need to add any extra stability to this area.

When should I use a grosgrain ribbon backing?

Keep in mind that you do need to be careful about adding grosgrain ribbon on top of a good fabric choice and interfacing, because adding too much bulk can also cause your button band to wave and not sit flat against the body.

If you've used the recommended fabric, but perhaps forgot/didn't have/ or didn't feel like adding in interfacing, you may wish to add that stability back in by using grosgrain ribbon.


If you've used a particularly light weight and stretchy/droopy fabric, this may also be a time where you might want to add some more stability for a longer lasting garment.

Hand-stitch or Machine stitch?

Honestly, I would always recommend hand-stitching over machine stitching when adding grosgrain ribbon. Hand stitching will make your ribbon completely invisible on the outside and will give your ribbon and button band a little more 'give' when worn. I am using a beautiful (and easy) little hand stitch in this tutorial called a Fell Stitch, though you can use what ever hand stitch you like.

You can absolutely use a machine stitch if you prefer, just keep in mind that you will see this stitching on the outside since you'll be stitching down both sides of the ribbon to secure. You can always turn this into a design feature though - try a contrast thread or fancy stitch setting.

You'll Need:

  • Your Juniper Cardigan
  • A length* of 12mm or 1/2" wide (max) grosgrain ribbon
  • Needle and thread
  • pins

* The length depends on which view you are making and how many buttons you are using. If you're making the long line cardigan for example, but are only adding in 1 button at the top, you'll only need enough to cover that section, 5cm or 2" will be plenty. If you want to button down the whole long line button band, you'll need enough to go all the way down plus a little extra for each end.


1. Cut a length of grosgrain ribbon that measures at least the length of the button band that will be in use (i.e you'll be adding buttons/button holes to it) plus an extra 5cm/2" or so.

For this tutorial I used a cropped cardigan and cut a full length of ribbon from the top button notch all the way down to the bottom plus an extra 5-8cm (2-3") to be safe.

2. Pick a 'wrong' side to your ribbon and fold down approximately 1cm from the top to the wrong side.

3. Wrong side facing down, place your grosgrain ribbon on the underside of your button band, lining the top a little higher than your first button notch (or where ever your first button will be). Pin in place.

4. Continue pinning the rest of your ribbon down until you have covered the section of button band you'll be using.

5. If you have any extra length of ribbon, trim it off leaving approximately 1cm extra at the end. Fold this extra under and pin in place.

The Fell Stitch:

Now we get to start our hand-stitches. The Fell Stitch is a lovely stitch that is easy to learn and quick to do. You can use a matching colour to your grosgrain, but for this tutorial I have used a contrast thread so that you can see it.

Since your button band is a double layer, make sure to only stitch to the under layer so that your stitches are invisible to the outside.

You can watch the video or read on for the tutorial:

1. Start at one of your folded ribbon ends, using a single thread with a knot at the end. Place your needle into the fold of your ribbon and pull your thread through to your knot, this will anchor your stitches and start your fell stitch.

2. Place your needle into the button band right next to where your thread came out of your ribbon fold, then angle your needle so that it comes down and out of your band and catches the very edge of the ribbon, approximately 1cm down.

3. Repeat by placing your needle into your button band, right next to where your last stitch came out, angling down through the button band and catching the edge of the ribbon, approximately 1cm down.

Continue this stitch all the way around your button band.

Once you get back around to the top, stitch into your button band twice, then double knot and you're done.

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The Juniper Cardigan Sew Along - Making and Attaching the Sleeve Cuffs

Monday, June 26, 2017

We are officially on the home-stretch of the sew along, yay! Today we're making and attaching our sleeve cuffs...

You'll Need:
  • Your Juniper Cardigan bodice (well, it's pretty much a cardigan now, huh?)
  • Your Sleeve Cuffs
  • Pins & a sewing machine

1. Take your sleeve cuff and fold in half, right sides together, matching double notches.

2. Stitch down to secure, then trim down seam allowances and press seam open.

3. Wrong sides together, fold your cuff in half, turning it into a tube by matching single notches and each end of the seam from step 2 together so that the right sides are now showing. Pin and press.

4. Pin your cuff to your sleeve, matching raw edges and lining up seams and notches on the sleeve and cuff. Pin in place.

5. Stitch down to secure around the cuff and press seam allowance up. Marvel at your sleeve cuff before repeating the above for your other cuff.

You may wish to go one step further by top-stitching around your cuff using a longer straight stitch, on the sleeve side, 3mm or 1/8" away from the cuff stitching line. 

Oh my, what a beautiful sleeve!

Next we'll be talking about when, why and how to add grosgrain ribbon on to your button bands,

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The Juniper Cardigan Sew Along - Attaching the Neck Band

Friday, June 23, 2017

Today we are attaching the neckband to our Juniper Cardigan. I like to attach my neckband one side at a time starting from the centre back, so that's what I'll be showing you today. If you like to attach your neckband from the bottom of one side, making your way around to the other side, please feel free to do this.

Also keep in mind that the neckband has several notches along it that match to various sections of the cardigan neckline, some of those sections are eased in, and others aren't.

You'll Need:


1. Starting from the centre back, right sides together, match the centre seam of the neckband to the centre back of your cardigan neckline. Pin in place.

2. On the neckband, match the notch next to the centre seam to the shoulder line seam that sits to the front of the cardigan.

3. Now you'll see that the cardigan neckline between these two pins is too big to fit into the neckband, this is the first section you'll need to ease in aka - STRETCH!

Yes, you'll need to stretch that section of the neckband until the cardigan neckline fits into it. This section will require quite a bit of stretching, hence the need for a stretchy fabric.

Pin in place.

4. The next section of the cardigan also requires easing in.  Match the next notch along your neckband to the 'first button notch' marked on your pattern (aka, the first notch you'll get to after your shoulder line). Ease this in as you did above and pin in place.

5. Now we are up to the section that requires no easing of the cardigan. The 'under bust notch' will match to the second to last notch on the neckband and the final notch on your neckband will match to the hip seam line. The bottom of both the band and the neckline should then match up perfectly at the bottom. Pin in place.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 for the other side of the cardigan neckline. Stitch in place working from one end to the other, remembering to ease in the neckband as you go. Press the neckband around to the front, pressing the seam allowance pointing to the sides of the cardigan.

Optional Step -

7. Using a longer straight stitch on the cardigan side, starting from one end and working your way to the other, top-stitch around your neckline 3mm or 1/8" away from the neckband stitching line.

Note: While the above is optional, I do recommend doing the additional top-stitching as a way to make your cardigan look more finished and to help prevent the neckline flipping around in the future.

We're nearly there! See you next time when we'll be attaching our sleeve cuffs.

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The Juniper Cardigan Sew Along - Stabilising Shoulders, Stitching up Side Seams & Attaching the Hip Band

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I'll be doing a round up of Laneway Dresses in a few weeks, but now, it's time to get back to the Juniper Sew Along! We're going to be doing lots today, but I promise that everything is really straight forward - stabilising shoulders, stitching up side seams and attaching the hip band.

You'll need -

  • Juniper Cardigan - assembled bodice & hip band
  • Clear Elastic (or other stabiliser)
  • Pins & a threaded sewing machine

Stabilising Shoulder Seams

Now that we've attached our sleeves, we can stabilise the shoulders. Shoulder lines are a stress point for knit garments, so stitching something into the seam allowance will help the shoulder to retain it's fit without drooping over time. I talk a little more about stabilising options in this post and for the sew along, I'm using clear elastic.

1. Cut a length of clear elastic that is the same length as your cardigan shoulder (from the neckline to the first notch). Stitch this into the shoulder line seam allowance, catching both the sleeve and bodice seam allowance.

2. Press your seam allowance to the sleeve side and repeat for all other shoulder seam allowances.

Note: because there are two seams per shoulder, you will be stabilising both seams. You can omit one if you really want too, but there is no harm in doing both, just in case!

Sewing up side seams

1. Right sides together, match your under arm seams and pin in place. Match the rest of the bodice and sleeve side seams together and pin.

3. Stitch together in one go, pivoting at the under arm seam and back-tacking at each end. Repeat for the other side. Finish seam allowances if you wish.

Attaching the Hip Band

1. Wrong sides together, fold your hip band in half lengthwise, matching notches, and press.

2. Right sides together, match your hip band to your cardigan hip raw edge. Match the centre first and work your way out. The notches on either side of the centre of the hip band match to the bodice side seams.

2. Stitch in place.

3. Finish seam allowance if you want to and press up.

Optional - top stitch along the hip seam.

Next up we're attaching the neck band...

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