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McCalls M5241 - 1 Hour Cardigan

Efw's picture

I am trying to make McCalls M5241 - 1 Hour Cardigan. I am having trouble fitting it and having trouble explaining the problem! I have purchased size 12-14 because I am smaller on the top half than the bottom. The armholes are too small, it is tight across the back and I can't keep the cardigan on. When I pull the cardigan on the armholes won't stay in position and want to slip down over the top of my arms. I have a slightly rounded back (I think) so I have undone the back seam to see if that helps. It helps with tight back but not keeping it on. I have also made the armholes slight bigger by restitching the sleeve seam at the underarm but that doesn't help either. Any suggestions as to what might be the problem and how to fix it would be appreciated.

TwilaTee's picture

(post #29921, reply #1 of 15)

When you said "When I pull the cardigan on the armholes won't stay in position and want to slip down over the top of my arms" did you mean that the seam that runs from the neckline to the sleeve, across the top of your shoulder is falling over the top of your sleeve? If that is the case, it sounds to me like the back of the jacket is too small across your shoulder blades. Almost as if it just gets stuck right there at your shoulder blades and than the excess fabric is being pushed up and is flopping over your shoulder. That is just a guess though... It would be better if I could see you in the cardigan. Could you please take a picture of you in it? Sorry I'm not really a verbal person, I do much better if I can see a problem :) -Twila

Efw's picture

(post #29921, reply #3 of 15)

Thank you for your reply. I am sorry - two things I forgot to mention was firstly I am in Australia so there is a "time delay" in being able to reply and secondly this is my first post so if I have done something incorrectly I apologize.

I can't show you any photos of me in the cardigan as I have almost taken it apart again in an effort to fix it! I have, hopefully, attached 3 pictures taken from the instructions. I hope this helps you visualize the problem.

There is no shoulder seam to adjust. When I say it "wants to slip down over the top of my arms" it takes on the appearance of a stole/shawl/wrap that someone puts around their shoulder to keep the chill off.

I usually have to make a "sloping shoulder" adjustment but as there is no seam I cannot do that but I suppose I could add a shoulder pad.

Perhaps this is not my style of garment :)

Cardigan_1.jpg41.83 KB
Cardigan_2.jpg42.93 KB
Cardigan_3.jpg81.57 KB
Ralphetta's picture

(post #29921, reply #6 of 15)

I just looked at your pictures and am going to buy that pattern!  I have VERY square shoulders and no shoulder seam would be terrific, because I usually have to make major adjustments.  I've probably seen it  before, but didn't realize it had no seam.  Your problem, may help solve mine!   Thank you for your pictures.

Good luck with your sewing.


Efw's picture

(post #29921, reply #8 of 15)

I hope the pattern works for you. I love the style but I am surprised that something which looks so simple gives me as many fitting problems as a blouse or pair of pants!!

Ralphetta's picture

(post #29921, reply #9 of 15)

You've made a very good point.  Something that looks simple MUST fit right or you have absolutely nothing. 

Teaf5's picture

(post #29921, reply #2 of 15)

McCalls patterns tend to be oversized on my narrow shoulders/flat chest, so the sleeves tend to dangle off the edge of a bodice that has too much height and width in the upper bodice area.

That's a beautiful pattern, but it is knits-only.  Is it possible that your knit has more or less stretch than is recommended for that pattern? 

In any case, it is very likely that the shoulder seams are way too long for your "smaller on top" shape.  If you take off the sleeves and make the shoulders significantly narrower (I re-cut the armhole almost an inch inward at the shoulders), you can keep them from sliding off.

If you do anything to the center back seam, take it in right at the neckline, and then let it out as it gets about four inches down, to allow space across your shoulder blades but not across your shoulders.

Efw's picture

(post #29921, reply #4 of 15)

Thank you for your reply. I presume you can read my reply to TwilaTee and also look at the pictures. I have not had much experience with knit fabrics but I did "test" the stretch on the pattern envelope before I cut it out and it met the criteria. Thanks for your tip about the centre back seam - I would have made the alteration all the way to the neckline.

Efw's picture

(post #29921, reply #12 of 15)

Just to let you know that have abandoned the 1 hour cardigan. My reply to TwilaTee gives a full update. Thanks very much for help.

TwilaTee's picture

(post #29921, reply #5 of 15)

You have nothing to be sorry about! You did a wonderful job at explaining your problem, I just do better if I can see it is all. :)

I saw your pictures! Its very strange. If I understand the pictures right, the front and back are integrated into one piece, and the armhole is literally "cut out" in a place determined by the pattern, with the sleeve than sewn into the hole. The back has a seam going up the center. Is this correct? There is no shoulder seam. The "collar" is created with the excess material left around the edge? Very clever.

I think your best bet, (if I am right) would be to take a measurement of your back, from the start of your arm, across your shoulder-blade, to the other arm. If you divide that number in half you will have the measurement to place your armhole horizontally (add in your seam allowance!). Vertically, however, I believe the best thing to do would be, to try on the cardigan once you have the horizontal measurement, and the sleeve set. If the collar is hanging down too far off your shoulder you can just, cut off, adjust, turn under? the excess.

What I am getting at, in my round about non-articulate way, is that I think the problem with the excess fabric falling over your shoulder is not from the arm hole being too low, but from it being either too close or too far away from the center back.

I think also that a sereious problem with this pattern is that it has not shoulder seam. Whatever fabric is left over as the "collar" is not in anyway fitted to your body. It just kinda hangs there. You would have to "fiddle" with it and bring it up to your neck so that it would lay right. One way that you could solve this problem would be to make a casing, extending from the start of your collar bone (slightly off center front) around your shoulder, across the back of your neck, back around to collar bone, and add a drawstring. The drawstring would fit the collar to your body, and keep it from flopping over your shoulder.

Don't take my word on that though, I have never made anything even remotely like this cardigan before! Maybe someone with more knowledge about this matter will give you better, more helpful direction :) -Twila

Edited 3/24/2007 9:46 pm by TwilaTee

Efw's picture

(post #29921, reply #7 of 15)

Yes you are right about how the cardigan is made. I will get my husband to measure across my back and compare that to the pattern for the horizontal placement - thanks for that. I think I will have to "add" fabric at the back seam to allow for the "round back" alteration as well. I did try it on before I put both sleeves in - one side with a sleeve the other side sleeveless - and didn't have any trouble with the sleeveless side!! I will have to get some more fabric and try again. It looks so simple!! At least there is enough fabric in the "disaster" to make a T Shirt or similar so that fabric won't be wasted. Thanks for your help. I will try and post a photo of the final version some time - don't hold your breath though as I work full time and sewing is a weekend only activity.

TwilaTee's picture

(post #29921, reply #10 of 15)

Let us all know how your cardigan turns out! Post pictures :) you know how I love them! :) -Twila

Efw's picture

(post #29921, reply #11 of 15)

Thought I would let you know that I have given up on the "1 hour cardigan". I made a back alteration as it was not sitting correctly at the back of my neck and also moved the dot for the shoulder seam (if there had been one) and also the under arm seam (again if there had been one) and made the armhole and the sleeve slightly larger.

All the alterations helped but it still did not fit properly around the armhole. Perhaps I bought the wrong size and should have purchased a larger size due to the style of the cardigan. I decided that my sewing time was too precious to waste more time on a "simple" cardigan!!!

All is not lost though - I have managed to make a pair of trousers that fit very well. The next pair still needs a little "tweaking" with the waste band but I finally have a pair of trousers I can wear in public!!

Thanks very much for your help

Ralphetta's picture

(post #29921, reply #13 of 15)

I'm sorry that your cardigan didn't work out.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems that there is a much higher rate of unwearable items resulting from  patterns saying Easy or Simple to Make.  It always felt like I was a victim of a hoax when I finished.  By the time I tweaked, altered, etc., it had wasted any time I might have expected to save..and often found myself, like you...with nothing.  I guess I'm saying that it's probably not your fault and not to have doubts about your abilities.

Efw's picture

(post #29921, reply #14 of 15)

I have decided that, while I am still a beginner at these pattern alterations and fitting yourself is very difficult, I am not always to blame when the pattern does work out. Also, I have decided that I am no longer going to waste time spending days trying to get a pattern to fit. I know what alterations I usually need to make and if I can't make it fit reasonably well after tissue fitting and making a toile then it is beyond me and I give up. My sewing time is too precious. My step daughter is smaller than me so maybe she will like the pattern and the fabric and I can finish it for her if not I will see if I can use the fabric for a short sleeve T shirt. I used to feel that I was a failure but not any more - I just move onto the next project.

lotus37's picture

McCalls M5241 (post #29921, reply #15 of 15)

This post is years after you posted this problem.  Did you ever figure out how to keep the garment in position re the armholes and sleeves?  I just made this garment and am utterly disappointed in that part of the fit.  It's a bad pattern flaw so I'm afraid my $30 for the fabric is down the drain.  I used a knit jersey.  Having no shoulder seam where one could use a stay, it just stretches off the shoulder and slides down and back.