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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Saturday, November 3, 2018

A lesson we need to keep learning- all knits are not alike

This post started out to be a review of three new to me tee shirt type patterns. But when I started thinking it seemed to me that just as important as talking about the patterns, was talking about the knits each is suitable for.

I really think most of us fall into the trap sometimes of thinking that all "knits" are alike, and if we see a pattern calls for knits, we immediately think anything that stretches will work just fine.

This is of course nuts, and I can say this without insulting anyone because I am referring to myself when I make this mistake.

I mean really. Would we ever assume that just because a pattern says woven that we can use either linen, denim, chiffon, melton or broadcloth and the garments would all turn out just fine?


So to be fair to any knit pattern it is important to recognize that certain patterns are suited to certain knit fabrics. The trial garments below are talking points on this issue.

First off the Mama Paige by Made4Mermaids.Unfortunately the website doesn't seem to release images to be copied easily so you are going to have to go the link for more pattern details, but here is a start:

  • This is a free pattern. A number of the indie companies, particularly the start-up type ones who sell only .pdf patterns offer some really great free patterns. Worth a look around, what you might want to sew just might be available for nothing or next too.
  • This is a dolman top with skinny sleeves (really skinny you need a really stretchy fabric to make these work, or size up the sleeves) and a T-shirt, tunic and dress length, plus some neckline options.
Here is my version. 

Note the first one, my "muslin" was made in a scuba that I didn't really like. The arms were pretty tight, good thing I have little upper body muscle development, and the structure of the fabric made me look like a fridge with two stringy arms sticking out of it.

When my husband said he wouldn't wear it - first time he has ever commented on anything I make with anything more than an eyes unfocused "looks great"- I decided that this one was one for the recycling bin. So too late to show it to you here now.

So, educated on the pattern, my next version was this ITY knit in a long tunic length. The fabric has tons of stretch and enough body not to cling. I wasn't expecting to like this top, not my usual choice of print, but I actually do. It will work with leggings or a straight skirt:

I have to admit I have soft spot for P4P patterns. They have an astounding collection of free patterns that are really useful, from baby clothes to sun hats to leggings to the pyjama pants you think you might make for Christmas.

This particular pattern is not one of their free ones, but how could I resist any body's favourite? It also had a really unusual scoop neckline with a full shoulder. Wide scoops that expose my bra straps are something that drive my crazy and as a scrawny shoulder person I run into this a lot.

Here are the descriptive photos of this pattern:

I made a sort of muslin for this one too and after that made a few person additions to my own version of the size large:
  • I added an inch at the waist because I am long waisted.
  • I cut nearly the dress length to give me a tunic length for my tall self
  • I raised the scoop at the centre up 1.5" but that might be too much, might go for 3/4" next time
I have learned from experience that a tunic length knit top works best for me in something with some body, i.e. it won't cling to my belly and articulate it. So for that reason I used a cotton/lycra interlock. Here we go:

You can see that this has a real flare to it. I made the large, worked for my upper body and bust but the hip measurement for the large is about 2.5" larger than my own actual hips. So what you are seeing is more of a pattern size than a style design issue. On someone who had the pattern size hips 43" this would look quite different. I will probably take this in a bit below the waist (which is definitely shaped) next time.

Finally I made the Classic Tee by Love Notions. This pattern is currently on for $5.00 which is very reasonable given the quality of the Love Notions draft. 

The name of this pattern more or less says it all but it needs to be noted that this pattern, like most from Love Notions I have tried, has a a good shoulder fit but a fair amount of ease in the waist and hips. 

Here are some of the pattern shots:

This is an extremely wearable pattern. I did not do any pattern changes for my muslin except add my standard 2" for extra length.

Now the fabric I used wasn't ideal, a thinnish rayon knit, you can see the belly grab and I can see the hem will need a press after each washing, but it is so comfortable. I probably won't even add length next time:

Definitely a standby pattern for sure and once I get some sewing for family done I hope to get another version of this made up in firmer cotton lycra to see how that works. This pattern one might be best done in lighter fabric, we will see.

So there you have it. Three very different T-shirt patterns all suitable for different fabrics and for different uses.

Now what do you think?

I really enjoyed the process of pattern comparison and think I may be doing more of exactly that in the future.


sdBev said...

The T in the border printt was eye catching.

Carol in Denver said...

This is a really important blog posting. You provided info we can use to choose any one of the dozens of similar-looking patterns. You may have saved us from buying a pattern, stitching it together, then trying it on only to be disappointed. And your point about not all knits are alike is a crucial one to remember. Thank you for a most helpful blog entry.

Barbara said...

Ha SsBev. This was sort of discard fabric but you are right! in the photo now it looks like I have an pair of ovaries and a uterus right where they would be. Well how about that! Thanks for noticing something that I didn't. Might wear this around the house now ...

Vancouver Barbara said...

All your creations look great and great on you. I find sewing knits very tricky so it was good to have your take on the different types. It may help to ease my pain should I try again. I have had little or no success in the actual sewing and shy away from them even though they are so comfortable to wear.

Auntie Dini said...

This is a very important point about how the differing weights of knits affect the final fit and look of the garment. Thanks for the reminder!

Judith Newman said...

Just a suggestion Barb - I'd lengthen the sleeves on the pink t-shirt about an inch and a half. For myself I'd lengthen them even more than that - I've reached an age where my arms are not for putting on display - my t-shirts all now have sleeves that come almost to my elbow. Make me look "younger".

lulu said...

The Favorite is the most figure-flattering. I wonder how it compares to Plantain by Deer & Doe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I would love to learn more about the difference between interlock and jersey and other knits, too. Another source of free patterns i’ve been using is the library. Lots of books with traceable patterns are available.

Karen said...

Thank you for this very helpful review, I have scrawny shoulders and a middle I want to camouflage, you have bought it to my attention re the use of knits with more body, I have had a couple of fails with tops being too clingy so I will keep your advice in mind .
Your tops are gorgeous ! They convinced me to finally bight the bullet and buy the Love notions tshirt and also added the Sabrina slims, so will have to see how they go !

Deb from Florida said...

I totally love the print version. It is so pretty!

Anonymous said...

I bet those garments aren't easy to make. Love all these sample patterns. Well done!