Guest Post: Cocoon vs Sydney Cardigans

I'm happy to have Katie Ponsford on the blog today! I met her as we are both admins for Mily Mae Fabrics and live in the Portland/Vancouver area. We've been to a sewing retreat together and aside from sharing the same name, we both love to sew also! Recently Katie made her first Sydney cardigan. When I saw it, I asked what she thought of it compared to her go-to, the Cocoon Cardigan. Rather than just telling me what she thought, she instead wrote a blog post with all of the details. She's a bit of an over achiever. 

Cocoon vs Sydney Cardigan Comparison from Katie Ponsford

Cardigans are my favorite: they are a versatile and easy layering option in all seasons and can make you feel put-together in an instant.  I have made several cardigan patterns, but have especially liked the Patterns for Pirates Cocoon Cardi and the Sinclair Patterns Sydney.  Since the two are similar in style, I decided to take the heat off of Katie Kimmell and write this blog post comparing the two!  (you are welcome, Katie!)
Here is the basic info for both patterns:
10 sizes ranging from xxs to 3x
Chest 30” – 54”
Waist 23.4” – 50”
Hips 33” – 58”
Height drafted for 5’5”
Cropped, regular
Short (hem or band), ¾ and long (short or tall band)
Short or tall, 3 pieces
Inseam, patch
Elbow patches, matching kid’s pattern

12 sizes ranging from XS to XXL with Petite, Regular & Tall versions
Chest 31/5” – 50.4”
Waist 23.6” – 44.1”
Hip 33.9” – 53.5”
Petite height 5’1” -5’3”
Regular height 5’4” – 5’6”
Tall height 5’7” – 5’9”
¾ and long (both banded)
One size, 4 pieces

One of the very first PDF patterns I ever made was the Cocoon Cardi.  I used a soft French Terry and opted for the long bands and no pockets.  My only regret was not adding pockets, because…well…POCKETS!  You can be sure I never made that mistake again.  But I still wear this one all the time, particularly around the house because it feels over-sized and a bit more casual than I like for outside the house. 

The Cocoon is the pattern I reach for when making gifts for family, friends, teachers, kids (because there is a kid’s equivalent!) and I have mashed it with both the Grandpa Cardi and the Henley for a more fitted style. 
Here are the versions I have made for myself, along with a review of each:
Cropped: FAIL.  The look I was going for was a fitted crop over a summer dress, but this was too relaxed and over-sized to be flattering.  It’s still sitting on my sewing table waiting to be repurposed after I attempted to add darts and it was still a fail.

Short sleeved, regular length (spun poly): love this one for summer.  I used a light-weight Spun poly and opted for the short bands. Paired with a tank it looks put-together and it’s super comfortable.  Plus: POCKETS! 

Long sleeved hemmed, regular length, long bands, pockets (grey stars sweater knit): This one was a gift for my niece, but you can bet your booty I wore this until the day I had to gift it!  She reports loving this as well and wears it a lot in Montana where she needs lots of layers at all times. 

Long sleeved with long bands, regular length, short bands, pockets (blue floral, dbp): This one was a favorite for a long time, but more recently I found that it was less casual and I didn’t have occasion to wear it much so I passed it along to someone who would give it more love.

Long sleeved with short bands, regular length, short bands, pockets (black star FT): LOVE.  This one is also a bit less casual, but more versatile given the color: it can be paired with tons of different pants/shirts to change up the look and it’s also a bit more fitted because of the limited stretch of the FT I chose.  I wore it for Halloween last year with an orange blouse under it, it was a more subtle sort of festive which was fun.  But not TOO much fun!  Haha 

And here are all my hacked versions: some hacked with the Henley sleeve, some with the Grandpa Cardi sleeve, all with pockets and most were given as gifts. I have used French terry, double brushed poly, sweater knit, bamboo spandex and cotton spandex.  Because the Cocoon body isn’t as fitted, it works really well when you want to give a hand-made gift but don’t have exact measurements.  

Overall this is a fun, versatile, easy pattern to bust out for kids, gifts and yourself.  Using different fabrics, opting for cropped or regular length, changing the band size (including sleeves) or hemming the sleeves can yield a huge diversity of fits and looks, making this a wardrobe staple for all seasons. 
When Sinclair Patterns released Sydney, I was very specifically drawn to the fitted look and I made it immediately (as in after I worked a 12 hour shift haha).  I made the regular version with ¾ sleeves using a FT with about 30-40% stretch.  I played a bit of Pattern Roulette and decided not to grade (ok, I was lazy) and made a Regular 6.  I love the fit in the shoulders and through the body, but I could definitely tell grading for my (ahem) hips would be more comfortable, and I was a bit unhappy with the length on me, preferring a longer length.   Although my 10 year old has worn this, and is pretty happy with it as a slouchier cardi! 

My long list of sewing projects got in the way of making a second version, but when I found this amazing tie dye rib knit, I thought of making the Sydney but with a twist: I printed the tall version (I am at the top of the Regular height chart at 5’6”) and did the necessary grading to create a comfortable cardi with a tad more slouch: so basically a slimmed down Cocoon. 

Two things about this: 1) I did not consider that the tall version also accommodates broader shoulders, so my version wasn’t as fitted at the shoulders and under the arms as I was hoping for.  This was an oversight on my part, as I didn’t think to take this into account.  In hindsight, of course the taller version wouldn’t just be longer but also wider!  Oops.  2) Keeping the prior mistake in mind will influence my next Sydney (because there WILL be another), and I will make the regular version, grade out carefully for my size and use a more stable fabric to keep the slimmer shape which is what drew me to this pattern in the first place. 
Generally this pattern isn’t as versatile as the Cocoon, but I do love the silhouette and potential for a few fun and comfortable cardis that look more streamlined and composed.  I think once I dial in the pattern to my specifications, these will be wonderful summer layers over tanks and fun for that summer-to-fall transition.  

 3 piece bands, minimal grading needed (due to slouchier fit), more inclusive sizing, multiple combo of options for variety, kid’s version
 More fitted/flattering look, inseam pockets secured in bottom band
 Boxier fit (can be a pro, too, depending on the look you are going for!), free-floating inseam pocket, only drafted for 5’5”
 4 piece bands, inseam pocket instructions were slightly confusing (for example, under stitching pocket placement and measurements)

So which one is my pick? I think the obvious choice for the extreme versatility of the pattern, plus the kid’s version, is the Cocoon Cardi. As you can see, I like it.  A lot.  But really, I also like the Sydney very much and I have a few planned (one for myself with my necessary tweaks) and a few for friends and teachers. One thing that confounded me a lot was the extra (4th) band piece on the Sydney. This seemed unnecessary as it was a relatively small piece and could probably have been added to one of the other bands.  I do, however, like the sewn-in inseam pockets, they are nice and secure in the bottom band and the pockets are BIG.  I like big pockets and I cannot lie!  What? Sorry.  I am ok.  *continues to sing song*

Thank you so much to Katie and her thorough comparison. I haven't made the Sinclair Sydney but now have added it to my sewing list to compare for myself. 

My posts may feature affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase from these links, I receive a small percentage in compensation at no cost to you. I may have received patterns or products to test or review but the opinions I voice are my own. 


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