I love the feeling of wrapping myself in a warm, soft cardigan or pulling on my favorite knitted pullover. But what if you’re not sure which type of sweater to wear and when?
The good news is that with so many different types of sweaters to choose from, there’s always a sweater for every occasion!
Today I’m going to run through the different sweater types so that you can choose the right style for your needs – whether you’re someone looking to learn more about sweaters in general or if you’re looking to include sweaters in a fashion collection but need some inspiration!
And at the very bottom of this guide, I’m sharing my favorite sweater sewing patterns too, which I believe will inspire you!
First things first though…
What Is A Sweater?
A sweater is a piece of clothing made from knitted fabrics and worn on the upper body area. Most countries refer to this garment as a sweater but it is also known as a jumper in the UK, Australia and a few other parts of the world.
The standard sweater style that most people are familiar with is the pullover, which is a casual comfy sweater featuring ribbing at the neckline, hem and cuffs – it’s a perfect choice when you want to feel warm and cozy as you can pick up a pullover at almost any store or make one yourself in under two hours!
What Fibers Are Sweaters Made From?
If you’ve read my guide on the different types of fabrics, you’ll know that garments can be made from many different fibers.
While sweaters are made from knitted fabrics, those knit fabric types still use a variety of fibers, both natural and synthetic:
- Acrylic – a strong, warm synthetic fiber used in mass produced sweater types and active wear sweaters.
- Cotton – a great non-itchy natural fiber used mainly for sweatshirts.
- Polyester – a soft synthetic fiber when used in sweaters, used mainly in mass-manufactured types of sweaters.
- Wool – this is a natural animal fiber, and includes alpaca, cashmere, lambswool and merino. Sweaters using this fibre are usually more expensive because of the quality.
Learn more about man made, synthetic and natural fibers
Different Types Of Sweaters
Whether you’re here to look for types of sweaters for ladies or men, you’ll leave with a thorough understanding of the different types of sweaters by the end! Let’s get stuck in!
Aran Sweater Aka Fisherman’s Sweater
Also known as a fisherman sweater, the Aran sweater hails from the Aran Islands off of Ireland. The thick, textured sweater was designed to be worn outdoors and comes in a variety of colors, like browns, tans, greens or other earth tones to match the rugged environment that they were designed for.
Fisherman sweaters are thicker than other sweater types providing lots of warmth while still allowing ease of movement when fishing or doing manual labor out on the water.
Hand knitted aran sweaters are typically heavy and thick in texture, but machine knitted variations can be found as well though these sweaters are usually thinner in texture.
They’re usually made with wool yarn which is durable for outdoor conditions.
In the photo above, I am wearing a hand knitted cardigan version of the fisherman’s sweater which was knitted by my great great Uncle Roy who sadly passed away back in 2003. He was a prolific knitter and had made this one for my Pa.
Cardigans are great when you want something a little less bulky or just need an extra layer of warmth during cooler months. They’re also perfect for generally cold, but not freezing temperatures.
Cardigans come in many different lengths and styles too – from the classic Canadian tuxedo (with both layers being knitted) to an open knit style that makes it easy to throw on when you’re just popping out and there’s a chill in the air!
Cardigans are also perfect when paired with jeans or skirts for a more casual look, or wear under blazers or jackets for that layered look.
Cashmere sweaters will often be made of luxurious cashmere wool, which is naturally soft and has a low level of itchiness. Sweaters made from cashmere are often softer than other types of sweater because they’re gently brushed before being hand-knit to feel extra cozy!
Who doesn’t love a chunky sweater? This type of sweater is heavier and thicker than a cardigan or pullover, and is perfect for winter weather.
Chunky sweaters are created by knitting the fiber on bigger needles using a chunky yarn. They can be knitted with a simple garter stitch, or a more textured stitch style.
While chunky sweaters are not the most flattering sweater when worn by women, they definitely have a great ‘cozy factor’ going for them!
Crew Neck Sweater
The next type of sweater we’re going to look at is the crew neck. This classic style can be worn with anything – it’s comfortable, easy to wear and has a laid back feel that makes it perfect for lazy days!
Crew neck sweaters have a rounded neckline and are most often made from wool or cotton. They can be worn for any occasion throughout the year, and worn with everything, from jeans to pencil skirts and even dresses! They’re versatile enough that you’ll never have an excuse not to wear one!
Funnel Neck Sweater
When is a turtle neck a funnel neck? When it is big and oversized like the example above in my opinion! This funnel neck sweater has a collar that is made of chunky ribbing – I couldn’t wear this as it would feel too hot and itchy around my neck whether made from a synthetic or natural fiber.
These big neck sweaters are great for those who like to throw on a sweater and no jacket in the autumn months – you can easily fit one over a top or tee and pair it with a pair of skinny jeans or trousers.
A hoodie is a type of sweater that typically has a full zip-up front. Hoodies may also have pockets and drawstrings, depending on the style. There are many types of hoodie – from basic cotton to luxurious cashmere or angora wool!
Jumpers are the most casual type of sweater and come in a variety of lengths – both short and long sleeved styles. The best thing about these sweaters is that they can be worn to work or on any occasion where you need something less dressy!
Hand knitted jumpers are the best, and don’t get me started on the whole Christmas jumper genre!
Mock Turtleneck Sweaters
Mock turtleneck sweaters are an update of the classic turtleneck sweater style and come in a variety of lengths. These sweaters can be worn with jeans, shorts and skirts, making them perfect for those who want to add some color into their outfit without committing too much!
They also layer well if you buy or make one in a thinner weight knit fabric.
Merino wool can be from a sheep or goat, and is often used to create knitted garments. Merino wool sweaters are usually made of lighter-weight yarns that can be fine enough for women’s garments.
I have three merino sweaters which I’ve had since winter 2018 and though they are in need of some mending, they are great for layering up in the colder months!
The oversized sweater style has been popular for a while now and we can all see why – they’re the perfect way to keep warm on chillier days, or with your favorite jeans.
In the autumn / fall months, I will often throw on an oversized sweater when popping out for coffee – it’s warm enough to keep the chill off, and helps me feel like winter is still a little way off!
Ponchos are not technically a type of sweater as they don’t have sleeves to keep your arms warm! But they are often knitted, and can be worn as a jacket or coat – perfect for those cold days!
Ponchos come in all different lengths but generally have an open front that makes it easy to put on when you’re already wearing something else like a dress.
A pullover is great for layering (as its name suggests!) and they are just as versatile and perfect for the same weather conditions as cardigans!
Pullovers can also come in many different lengths, styles and colors – from oversized to fitted, with a turtleneck style collar (more on turtlenecks further down!) or an open neckline, from long length to cropped styles that barely cover the waistline of your pants!
This sweater type can also be worn tucked into skirts or with jeans when you’re looking for a more casual look!
A running sweater – also known as a fitness sweater – will typically have mesh panels in the front so you’re able to breathe while exercising!
I briefly covered sweater dresses in my guide to different dress styles, but a sweater dress really is perfect for those who want to combine two types of clothing in one!
As well as being long enough to cover your bum in those chillier months (that alone is a win for me!) a sweater dress is also a more cozy and fun dress style!
A sweatshirt is a sweater made of thick, soft fabric that is typically worn as an outer layer. Sweatshirts are often associated with sporty styles and may be more form-fitting than other types of sweaters.
A sweater vest can be worn with a sweater for an extra layer of warmth, or as part of a suit to keep you feeling bundled up and looking sharp.
I am not a fan of turtleneck-style sweaters as I find them to be too constricting. But if you like the style, they can come in both short and long-sleeved styles for all seasons!
V Neck Sweater
A V neck sweater or cardigan is always great for those days when you want to dress up your outfit but don’t want anything too heavy and bulky, like a wool sweater would be.
Paired with some nice flats or pumps, this look gives an air of sophistication while still being fun! I love wearing a fitted shirt under a V neck sweater for a smart, slightly preppy look.
5 Popular Patterns For Sweaters
I don’t cover knitting related patterns here on The Creative Curator (stay tuned for a secret something coming soon though!) so I’ve only listed sewing patterns for sweaters that use knit fabrics that are cut and sewn together!
1. Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio
I have the Linden sweatshirt from Grainline Studio as a paper pattern on my to do pile. I love a raglan sleeve and the pattern is so simple, it will be easy to sew up a few for layering!
2. Maxine Sweater by Dhurata Davies
I love the look of the Maxine sweater from Dhurata Davies! It has a criss-cross front detail creating some visual interest, but within there are two secret pockets too!
The notes say that the pattern is suitable for adventurous beginners, so I challenge everyone to have a go!
3. Talvikki Sweater by Named Clothing
Another fab sweater sewing pattern, the Talvikki Sweater from Named Clothing is my kind of sweater, featuring a funnel neck, a longer back (it uses vents on the side seams for movement) and fun darts for shaping in the neckline!
Did I mention that it has a dropped shoulder too? Like I said, my kind of sweater pattern!
4. Niege Sweatshirt by Deer & Doe
With a wide funnel neck neckline and pieced sleeves, the Niege sweatshirt sewing pattern from Deer & Doe is another winner! And I’ll be honest with you, it’s the sleeve detail that has me won over!
5. Kinder Cardigan by Wendy Ward / MIY Collection
I LOVE this cardigan pattern! It’s in Wendy’s book ‘A Beginners Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics’ but you can buy the Kinder Cardigan pattern directly from her website too!
Why do I love it? It’s easy to make, can be sewn up in a wide range of knitted fabric types and with multiple length options, you can sew up plenty to keep you warm through the chillier months!
Honorable Mention Sweater Pattern
I couldn’t not include the Sheridan sweater from Hey June Handmade! This sweater sewing pattern has the best sleeves ever – either a cuffed bishop sleeve *or* a bell shaped sleeve!
And you know I’m a sucker for a fun sleeve right?
Today, we’ve discussed the different types of sweaters and some sweater sewing patterns to help you create your own. We know that winter is always just around the corner and when it does come, it can be hard to find the time to create your own sweaters.
But with this guide, and the recommended sewing patterns, you should have no trouble getting started!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.