Thursday, 16 October 2014

Blocking Belcarra Cardigan

Hooray!  All of the 'body work' has been crocheted, ready for seaming.

To get the best results it pays to block the garment piece(s) beforehand.

Back section on the blocking board.
The sleeves at the top of the photo are still unblocked and the difference is obvious.
(Right side)

My blocking board is a cardboard dressmaking pattern board.
It is all I could find at the time but it has been very practical:

  • Very cheap, economical
  • Lightweight, easy to carry
  • Folds up to store easily
  • Marked in inches but also has centimetres on the edges
  • I can draw my own shapes on it with permanent ink and then match the pieces precisely to shape.

It is only made of cardboard and I was worried about how long it would last but it has stood up to damp blocking and many, many pins and is still going strong.

The only imperfections are the folds in it. It doesn't lie flat but that's because I store it folded up and haven't made an effort to flatten it out.  

Even so, it is almost 10 years old and, at under $20 to purchase*, less than $2 per year is a small price to pay for an essential piece of equipment.

It is not quite large enough to fit the entire Belcarra Cardigan onto it, so I blocked it in two stages:

1. Back and front
Front sections (right side)
Back and front sections blocked.
Central shoulder and sleeve sections unblocked.
(Right side)

2. Shoulders and sleeves

The sleeves are shaped according to the 'step' increasing method.
A white pin marks the intersection of the top centre of the sleeve and the meeting of sleeve and shoulder.
(Right side)

Once pinned to the board, I dampened the cardigan sections with water, applied by a hand held trigger spray bottle.

Blocking will ensure that the garment sections are the correct sizes and in the right proportions for a neat seam; e.g. without blocking, one seam edge might end up longer than the other which will create problems when trying to stitch them together evenly.

This cardigan still needs ribbing on the cuffs and around the neck, front and back edges.  The ribbing will be worked directly onto the garment into the sides of rows as well as into individual stitches.

If the stitches and rows are not evenly spaced according to the correct shape and proportions, the ribbing will not be regularly spaced either.  I suspect that the ribbing would emphasise any irregularities in the garment shape and row spacing.

Proper blocking leads to accurate shapes, neat seams, easier working, better fit and a more pleasing result.

* All dollar amounts are Australian dollars (AUD$).

Related Posts

"From Swatches to Sleeves", 10 September 2014:


  1. I also got into blocking last year when I made christmas decorations. It may take some time but the result is worth it!

    Take care

  2. Like creating a swatch, it can feel like it is slowing the project down, because all we want to do is get on with the making, but it is totally worth stifling that impatience and taking care to swatch and block. As I type this, I have a baby item on the blocking board, in pieces, and I can't wait to stitch it all together!

  3. Hi Jodie! Good to see your cardigan practically ready!
    I hate blocking, but it is often necessary, like you say!
    Looking forward to your finished cardigan!
    I adore the colour, it's so pretty!!! <3
    Ingrid xx

    1. It is an amazing colour. Every time I take a photo of it, it looks different through the camera lens. When the cardigan is finished, I will see what I can do to show the colour accurately on the blog. There is nylon in the blend and I am sure the shiny quality of the nylon is an influence.

      The shape of this cardigan made it easy to try on and measure as I went. It will get longer and the front panels will become wider once the ribbing has been added.

  4. Thank you for following along! Your encouragement keeps me motivated over the long term.
    Happy crafting!
    Jodie :-)