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Makeover Monday: Cardi-Wrap to Cocoon


Ever since I made my first 3D scarf for last week’s Makeover Monday, I’ve been wearing it almost every day. It’s the perfect light-yet-warm layer that goes on easily over everything. (I’m wearing it even as I type right now!) In fact, this surprisingly versatile piece has gotten so much use already that it inspired me to root through more than my scarf collection for makeover candidates. And lo! Lurking deep in a stack of seldom-worn hand-knitted sweaters, I found this:

Cardi-wrap, pre-makeover

Cardi-Wrap, pre-makeover. This is literally just a long, wide scarf with sleeves set into the rectangle.

I know it’s not necessarily obvious what you’re looking at. Is it a wrap? A scarf on steroids? A franken-sweater? All of the above, as it happens. I made this probably close to 10 years ago, long before this style (usually referred to now as the Cardi-Wrap) became popular. I went to considerable effort to plan and produce the beautiful and unique ombré effect with 3 different hand-painted yarns; the yarn at top is an unusual wool ribbon (chosen for the upper body and sleeves because of its resiliency— it won’t stretch out), the middle yarn is mohair and wool, and the yarn at the scarf ends is surprisingly lightweight 100% cotton chenille. Gorgeous as I still think this piece is, the sad truth is, I haven’t really worn it in years.

Here’s the basic Cardi-Wrap concept: it’s a long, wide scarf that has sleeves set into the scarf; the width of the scarf determines the body length (usually down to the waist in back). You wear it as you would a cardigan, but have the option of wrapping the scarf ends in various ways, like this, for instance:

Wearing a Cardi-Wrap

Wearing a Cardi-Wrap. The scarf ends can be overlapped and tossed over the shoulders, as shown here, or worn in a variety of other ways.

Tip: You don’t have to hand-knit a Cardi-Wrap like mine to make this project. I have a solid-color, wool-blend one that I’m thinking of making over, and Cardi-Wraps are still widely available, like this one from Ralph Lauren. (Search “cardi-wrap” for more.)

Want to sew your own Cardi-Wrap? Here’s a tutorial from The Taunton Press.

The main reason why I haven’t worn my Cardi-Wrap is simple: I don’t like clothes I have to fuss with. And every time I’d tried to wear this wrap, I felt like I had to be constantly monitoring it, keeping the ends from falling off my shoulders, etc. Too much work, and too much of a distraction. Call me unreasonable, but I like to just be able to put on my clothes and then forget about them.

But when I pulled this beautiful piece out, I decided I just couldn’t bear to let it go back into hibernation. And then (cue the sound of angels singing) it hit me: since it’s basically a scarf, why couldn’t I sew it into a cocoon jacket like I did last week with my scarf?

Yes, there is a major difference: with last week’s scarf, the folding and sewing produced openings for the arms (i.e. sleeves); this Cardi-Wrap already has sleeves. So I wasn’t entirely sure how this would turn out, but luckily, it’s incredibly easy to pin a piece like this into the Cocoon shape and try it on before you actually sew anything.

I started exactly as I did with my scarf last week, by marking the center back point of the body, pinning the 2 short scarf ends together, then aligning this pinned seam with the center-back marker:

Cardi-Wrap pinned into cocoon

Cardi-Wrap pinned into Cocoon: note the scalloped edges coming together where the body meets the scarf.

It was after pinning my Cardi-Wrap that I ran into an interesting issue: the lacy scalloped edge (on 1 side only of the scarf) is the edge I’ll have to sew together to finish my Cocoon. You can see in the photo above that this could leave gaps, but since this is the major structural seam in the Cocoon, I wasn’t sure that this would be sturdy enough. I decided to slightly offset the scallops, so the outside curve of one would fit neatly into the inside curve of its corresponding part. Here’s the difference:

Seaming the scallops

Seaming the scallops: although offsetting the 2 sides results in the center back being out of alignment with the lower center back seam (where the 2 scarf ends come together), I think this is the better choice for this seam. (The turquoise pin marks the center back; the orange pin marks where the 2 ends will be seamed together.)

Like last week’s cocoon, the first step is to sew the 2 scarf ends together; once that was done, I sewed the second seam, across the scallops. Unlike my first Cocoon, I did not have to leave openings for the arms, since the Cardi-Wrap already has sleeves. It really is just a matter of these 2 seams!

Here’s a close-up view of the scalloped seam after sewing:

Scalloped seam close-up

Scalloped seam close-up.

Tip: I sewed the seams for this Cocoon using Mattress Stitch, as I did for last week’s project. Click here to go to a tutorial for this invisible seaming technique.

I knew that this Cocoon would drape differently than the first one, because it has its own sleeves. What I didn’t anticipate was that the 2 ends of the long seam (where the scalloped edges come together) would drape in such a way as to almost look like pockets. I don’t think I’d want to actually put anything in them, since they’re mostly lace at those points, but they could certainly function as hand-warmers:

New Cocoon, side views

New Cocoon, side views: the drape created by the 2 ends of the long seam create the “Almost” pockets on each side. These aren’t really functional pockets, but you could let your hands rest gracefully in them, as Lola the Mannequin is doing in the photo at left.

And here’s my new Cocoon from the front and back:

New Cocoon, front and back views

New Cocoon, front and back views. I really like the scalloped seam, especially the effect of the lace, all of which creates a softer seam than a straight-across one would be.

Of course, now that this second Cocoon is done, I’m already busy with ideas for more variations! For example, when I was looking up retail sources for Cardi-Wraps, I found some that were based on infinity scarves (meaning the scarf was a continuous loop, rather than having 2 ends); that would eliminate having to sew the first seam! And if you started by sewing your own Cardi-Wrap with fabric (click here for a Taunton Press tutorial), couldn’t you make it with a lightweight fabric, maybe even something sheer? I have a piece of ombré silk georgette that just might be perfect for something like this; I’ve sewn enough with ombré fabrics to know that the more you have to cut them, the harder it is to place the ombré the way you want to, so a project that stays a rectangle would be perfect. Lace would be pretty for summer, especially if you found one with a beautiful scalloped edge like my Cardi-Wrap! (Or the Cocoon formerly known as the Cardi-Wrap.)

The very first Cocoon I ever made was seamed together in a totally different way, resulting in a different fit and drape than the ones from today and last week. I’m not sure yet if I will base another Makeover Monday on that, but I will at least post pictures of that early Cocoon, along with a diagram of how to make it; I’ll get that done this week, if I decide not to use it next Monday. And I just remembered I have another one that I knitted, then added a fabric lining to it, plus fur trim! Guess we’ll all have to wait to see what’s in store for the next… Makeover Monday!

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

4 thoughts on “Makeover Monday: Cardi-Wrap to Cocoon

  1. I like the look of the before wrap too!

  2. Lindy, such clever designs you are creating! Love reusing scarves that I have spent time knitting and less time wearing! thank you

  3. Pingback: Makeover Monday Meets Closet Confessions: A Sweater Story | Changing Your Clothes

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