Better than Basic Black Tee

Do you ever make up a sewing pattern in a knit even though it’s meant for woven, non-stretch fabrics? I have started to notice that I have a habit of doing that! (Here’s one example of where I did that in the past.) It has worked well for me, which must be why I keep doing it, but I find it’s a substitute that is best suited for certain types of knits and certain types of patterns. These are the guidelines that I generally follow:

  • Patterns: Most patterns can be adapted to work with a knit fabric, but I would not try to make a pattern that needs a lot of structure from a knit fabric. Also, you may need to make the pattern in a different, probably smaller, size than you normally would because you need less ease with knits.
  • Fabrics: I gravitate towards using medium to heavy weight knits, such as ponte and double knits, because they more closely mimic the way woven fabrics hold their shape.
  • Adaptations: It’s important to do a little advance planning when you decide to use a different fabric than what’s recommended. Often, it’s possible to leave off closures like zippers. Or it might be necessary to use a different type of interfacing or seam finishes than the pattern instructions recommend. It’s a good idea to test these things out first.

Here’s a recent project where making the switch from woven to knit fabric worked beautifully.

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When I bought this black knit off the remnant table, I wasn’t sure what it would become, but I think I picked a good style for the drape and weight of this fabric. The pattern is Simplicity 1879, view B, from the Lisette collection. (If you’ve ever seen the Oliver & S pattern line design by Liesl Gibson, you should check out this line of patterns from Simplicity. I want to make them all!) I did have to shorten the sleeves because I was short on fabric, but other than that I made no changes. I made my usual size and followed all the instructions, which were well written. I love how the neckline yoke and the sleeves connect to the bodice. It’s very flattering.

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Design/Pattern: Simplicity 1879, view B

Materials: black mystery knit, black bias tape, matching thread

Techniques:

  • serged seams
  • gathered bodice
  • double-stitched hems
  • raglan sleeves

Alterations/Changes: shortened the sleeve length

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I’ve called this top “better than basic” because it’s just as comfortable and simple to throw on with anything as a black t-shirt is, but it’s got a more unique style. It goes great with jeans for an everyday, casual look or with a skirt and scarf for a more dressed up look. I’ve wanted to wear this top immediately after it’s been washed, which is a good sign it fits perfectly into my wardrobe. I’m looking forward to coming up with great outfits centered around this new black tee.

Reader’s Thoughts: Sheer fabrics

As I’m sure many of you know, buying fabric online can be risky. Often, I find that risk worth taking. I recently ordered a couple of fabrics for summer dresses. One of the fabrics was just what I was hoping for (more soon on that), but the other is more sheer than I was expecting. Here it is:

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I love the print, and this fabric is so soft and smooth. I’m planning on making Simplicity 1808, view A, but I’m not sure what to do about the sheerness of this fabric. Do I underline it? If so, what would you use to underline a sheer knit? Or do I just wear a full slip with it? Are there other solutions I’m not thinking of? So far, these are the pros and cons of underlining it versus wearing a slip that I’ve thought of.

Pros of underlining: No need to worry about whether the slip is clean; I can just throw on the dress and go.

Cons of underlining: I won’t be able to feel the smooth softness of this fabric against my skin. An underlining might make the dress feel less cool, breezy and comfortable.

Pros of wearing a slip: I’ll be able to finish constructing the dress more quickly. A slip can be worn with many dresses, making it an economical choice.

Cons of wearing a slip: It might not be clean when I want to wear the dress. Depending on the style of slip, it can be constricting or uncomfortable, making wearing a comfy knit dress pointless.

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So, I ask for your thoughts: Which solution would you choose? Why is that your preference?

And a somewhat related topic: Do you have a favorite type of knit fabric to work with? What is it that you like about it? Where do you find it?