Amanda vs Coppelia Cardigan

One of the single most terrifying experiences in my life was when I first stepped into an adult beginners ballet class at the age of 28. Bendy, stretchy people with an obvious sense of rhythm stood around the room at the barre with their lovely dance ensembles. I slunk on over to the back corner in my gym pants and Voltron tee and proceeded to cringe and prance for the next hour. Week after week I persisted but let’s be honest- this lady has oodles of sass but no groove. Defeated I left the ballet class to take up roller derby but the image of those well dressed dancers stayed with me. So, lovely ladies and gents of the Monday evening class, I pay homage to you with the Papercut Patterns Coppelia Cardigan.


The Coppelia Cardigan is a raglan sleeve wrap cardi with two variations- I went the cropped version with the full on wrap ties. I mean, ff you’re going to go all Swan Lake with a piece of clothing you gotta go the whole hog, right? I was lucky enough to have two metres of delicious thistle coloured wool knit in my stash languishing there from my 2012 trip to Mood Fabrics. A match made in sartorial heaven, non? I also went a bit renegade and decided not to muslin it up figuring knits should be  pretty forgiving…


I went with the small for this pattern based on a few reviews noting the sizing was a bit big but in hindsight I probably could have gone the medium. The sleeves are pretty dang snug on my arms (tickets to the gun show are here, ladies) and the batwing effect everyone seems to get isn’t noticeable on mine. Though if I am completely frank I’m fine with that- I don’t need my sleeves to give me the illusion of wing meat…


The overall fit is great – I really like being able to cinch the waist right in. You can play around with how modest you want the neckline which is great as well. My initial try on was a bit “hello, boys” but some retying of the wrap ties had that sorted quickly. The sleeves and cuffs are a great length and end at just the right point. The only thing I would change is to hack a good 1” out of the back hem and taper this up to nothing at the back neckline. I’m finding that even with pulling the wrap panels snug around my waist there is a fair chunk of excess fabric hanging back there.


And since we’re all friends here and one of the main reasons I blog is to try and improve upon my makes, I have a couple of quick questions for the sewing hive mind:

  1. How would you suggest fixing the bit of gape happening around the neck near the shoulder? All I can think of at this time is less ease when connecting the top to the wrap ties?
  2. Also, any pro tips on topstitching knits? Because mine is a RED HOT MESS. Seriously. I unpicked and retried three times and it just got worse. Any advice welcome!


What I loved about this:

  • The wrap around goodness. I feel like this works for my body shape. Sassy!
  • The crazy big cuffs. I don’t know why but I heart this hard.
  • How dang quick this was- seriously one evening!


That I would change next time:

  • Go up a size in the sleeves. I repeat – no one deserves a lady’s buff guns exploding out of their top.
  • Topstitch properly. OMG I was almost too ashamed to share a photo of this.
  • Take that inch out of the back hem. Because I can.


Coppelia Cardigan

Pattern: Papercut Patterns Coppelia Pattern

Fabric: 2 metres of wool knit

Notions: Thread

See also: Sewn Brooklyn, The Nerdy Seamstress, Busy Lizzy in Brissie


Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with how much I love this wrap top. It’s been absolutely freezing in Canberra lately and this was snuggly enough to keep me warm paired with a cocktail dress from my car to work the other morning in -5 temperatures. Brr! I think I may be a convert to the world of wool knits. Or just move to a tropical island… Surely they have museums to work at in Bora Bora, right?!



  1. I love thus hard on you! The colour & style are perfect. When top stitching knits I turn my tension down a notch (from 4 to 3) & increase my stitch length from 2.5 to 3.

  2. Well Rocked lady – and your fabulous ballet poise is showing still 😉 Such a gorgeous colour & I can just imagine never wanting to take this off, a perfect layer for this winter (I am so never moving up your way, let me know if there’s a spare job going on Bora Bora when you get there…)

    • More prancing for all! I can’t rival your ship rope swinging but I do what I can 😉 All the cool kids can come hang out at Bora Bora fo sho!

  3. Love it! Great colour on you and the shape really suits.
    I like using a walking foot for sewing knits, just stops them wriggling around and getting stuck under the pressed foot.

  4. First of all, girl, you have a SLAMMIN’ figure! This top really shows it off! Second, my knit topstitching is pretty awful, but like Blogless Anna I lower the tension. I tend to topstitch with a zigzag, though- I don’t mind how it looks and I like having the stretch it gives. I’m pretty rammy and have been known to pop seams while squirrelling in and out of garments, so no straight-stitch topstitching on my knits! Re: the neck gape, I think I would shorten the binding a bit and stretch the binding more just around the back of the neck. I think then it should hug your body instead of standing out from it. But it’s really not noticeable at all.

    • Naw, thanks lovely!
      Top stitching with a zig zag is a great idea. Do you stick with a 2 or 3 length for that?
      And cheers for the binding tip- I’m going to have a bash at it again and try and tighten it up!

    • Why thank ye! I went brunette a couple of weeks before the Japan trip but I get a semi so the colour is always changing. Viva la brunette! 😉

  5. Ermagherd I love this and want to steal it from you, slightly off kilter top stitching and all! I do the Sam as Anna and also use the best possible colour match in my thread to make it as invisible as I can. So I can’t help a whole lot there!

    • teehee! You are welcome to thrive this sucker post winter- it be freezing at the mo. Nooo! Good point with the thread match- it always helps hide mistakes!

  6. Wing meat…you crack me up. Love the colour you chose. For topstitching, I use my blind hem foot because it has a little guide that I can put along the edge. Also, I adjust the pressure of my foot.

    • I was going to say tuckshop lady arms but then realised that all the tuckshop ladies I know now have buff arms so wing meat worked better teehee! Great tip for the blind hem foot edge- I’ll give it a bash. And foot pressure makes a lot of sense!

  7. Top stitching – I use an open toe foot so that no seams get in my way to send my stitching off course.

    I can’t see the gap. Is it the standby-up neck thing? Because I really like that. If you didn’t, perhaps make the neck binding a little short and stretch more? I dunno – I’m a newbie and and gumby when it comes to knits.

    I absolutely love this on you Amanda. So gorgeous. And I can’t believe that you were never one of the cool kitted kids at ballet class.

    • Top idea, Michelle! I’m going to take a poke around my machine foot collection and see what I have 😀

      Yeah, it’s the neck standing up thing- it means the cold air gets in down the back of the card which sucks. Meh. But I am going to shorten the binding and stretch it like a boss.

      I thought a Voltron tee (with neck and sleeves cut out in a total 80s dance movie homage) would have been the winner but alas. Canberra dance style is beyond me 😉

  8. Sometimes I will use a lightweight knit interfacing for pieces like the neckband! It sometimes helps prevent easing issues that lead to gape-age! I won’t even lie to you, I do a very small zigzag instead of a straight stitch, unless you’re REALLY looking at it, you can’t tell, and I like the thought that if they did it in RTW they would have to switch machines (SUCKAS…)!

  9. ooh lovely purple knit, unless you had shown a close up, I never would have known about the stitching! I must make one of these ;o)

    • I am glad my stealth stitching served me well (well, except for that close up) teehee! I cannot say enough good things about this top- seriously snuggly for winter!

    • Thanks, Sophie! It’s so lovely and warm which is great for this ex-Queenslander living in the Berra. -5 requires extra snugness!

  10. Every coppelia I see makes me want one, and I think yours just sent me over the edge! Or perhaps it’s just knowing I have a kindred spirit in the not-so-coordinated-with-the-whole-ballet-thing 🙂 I’m sorry I can’t give any advice on the ease or topstitching, but I have heard people sing praise for a good walking foot with top stitching. Please share if you get the answer! 🙂 x

    • Bah, ballet coordination is for chumps. Let’s call ourselves “free stylists” – people will be queuing up for those kinds of dance classes surely! Walking foot appears to be the popular choice for top stitching knits- I’m going to give it a go on my next make (yup, more knit wear. winter is killing me!) Hope your travels are rocking on well!

  11. I agree with Ginger and Blogless Anna – I lengthen my stitch length to 3 and take it as slow as i can. That said, sometimes i make a dogs breakfast of my top stitching! This top looks ace on you! I think i may have to make one of my own to brave these freezing conditions 🙂

  12. I am LOVING this…..especially with the darn cute gingham skirt. Will have to bump this up the ever growing sewing list.

    • Thanks, Bec! I was stumped with what to wear it with and then I’m all, duh- taffeta! It’s a prance 80s dance movie match made in heaven!

    • *hat tip* Why thanks ye, Suzy! This is totes keeping me warm this winter- unlike Sydney where it seems to be the endless summer! (totes jealous!)

  13. You make me want to whistle in thistle. It looks great. I’m on my phone so can’t really see the gape – is it just that the binding is loose or the whole garment.
    And as for top stitching… are you using a walking foot? I consider mine essential when sewing knits.
    Love this combo. Thistle & taffeta. Work it Derby Gal.

    • Merci, Lizzy! The neckline is standing up a bit which lets cold air down the back of my cardi- bra! I’m going to have a bash at tightening the binding. And thanks for the tip on the walking foot- totally going to give it a bash!

  14. Wing meat!!!!!! Ha ha ha ha. You are gold Amanda. This colour is beautiful on you and this style is the absolute money. I’m taking notes on the topstitching advice for myself:)

    • teehee! And thank you 😀 The front runner for topstitching seems to be tension down a notch, stitch length up a notch and a walking foot. You better believe I’m going o give this a bash STAT!

  15. You showed that cardi (and the ballet) who’s boss. Great colour — it looks fantastic with your skirt & necklace. No idea re top stitching…mine always looks like it’s been sewn by a blind person…with no arms.

  16. lovely – such a pretty colour! on the neck gape i have no idea. it’s not a problem i have as i have wide shoulders which seems to straighten it out. like the ladies above, i always topstitch on a 3mm length (wovens too). i also got this great tip from katie at what katie sews. keep the middle of the foot lined up with the seam and move the needle to the side by the amount you need. perfect topstitching and works on wovens and knits!

    • Ohhh, these are fantastic tips- thank you so much! Shameful truth- I don’t even know if my needle position moves. Surely it must… I will be checking this out for sure!

  17. It’s great! Fantastic colour on you and lovely top that shows off your figure. And a great balletic answer to ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. Nice first position of the arms btw 🙂
    Ok I confess, I was one of those co-ordinated dancer babes. And … I used to have a wrap top just like that, in the exact same colour 😀 I’ve got a vivid memory of being in Canberra winter, dashing from my warm car to the not-very-warm ballet studio in it. omgsocold!!! I loved the top to bits. They’re great! I recommend them 🙂

    I’m not that experienced with knits, but here’s my approach. Topstitching with a double needle, or with a small zigzig to make it all stretchy. But my favourite trick is to use a patterned stitch, it makes it all sit really neatly, but stretches. A horror to unpick if I get it wrong though O_O

  18. oh darling, c’est tres fab! Rocking that posing shit as always! I have been missing your sassiness…watch out for some pashing tomorrow night – actually you’re snot filled so we will to save that delight for another time…but i can handle a cuddle! xx

  19. When I topstitch knits I always increase stitch length to at least a 3 or use a small zigzag. For the gaping maybe shorten the band a smidge?? Looks great and I love the color!

  20. Your reference to wing meat had me spitting out my diet coke!! Too funny!
    Now that you mention it, I seem to recall I had an issue with the neck band being rather long, but as I don’t use notches (yep bad habit I know) I figured it was just me. I think you just need to shorten the bands a bit, although of course this would vary with different fabrics.
    I think looking at yours that the pattern has been altered. The original was very bat-winged, I’ll have to check. I found a traced version when I moved that I think I can compare against.
    In saying all of that – this is amazing and the colour really suits you too. 🙂

    • Oh wing meat. It just keeps giving! Yeah, the batwing thing appears to have changed or maybe it is just because I went down a size? Let me know what your investigations reveal!

  21. This is adorable! Love the colour on you. I once told my dad I wanted to do ballet and he told me I’d look like one of the hippos from Fantasia! He is so right. I’m not graceful enough for ballet.

  22. You are such a cutie! Sorry I can’t help with your fitting woes as I’m very much a jersey/knit noob. Same for your topstitching.
    Looks great from where I’m standing, and from here I can’t see any arm meat!

  23. I’m with Ginger – killer figure showing through courtesy of the Coppelia! I think you’ve done a wonderful tribute to those monday night dance-tribers. Love your work 🙂


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