Wednesday, March 27, 2013


It has been a month since I posted and though I have done a lot of sewing related activities, I don't  have  much to show you.  I prepared and gave a presentation to my local ASG group on Hidden Elastic Waistbands. That required lots of preparation and samples.  I made muslins of these two jackets. One from  My Image

My Image Jacket 1254 

and the other  Lutterloh.  Both required only minor alterations, but after making the muslins in non-wearable fabrics, I lost interest in making the fashion garment.    The Lutterloh jacket  required enlarging an itsy bitsy drawing to full size.  I got sidetracked into trying to enlarge it electronically using a freeware graphics software called Inkscape.  The software is great and I learned a lot, including that the enlargement process wasn’t as easy as I hoped it would be.    I did find some online resources for using this type of software to draft patterns, and am playing around with that. Perhaps these activities will be the basis for future blog posts.

The only wearable garment sewn during this time was a rather simple knit top. I had a RTW cardigan that I had never worn because I did not have a top in the right style and color to wear under it. I wanted a boat neck knit top in a dusty purple color.  I had the fabric, but no TNT  pattern I could use to make the top. I am always envious of sewing bloggers who make the latest knit top pattern with stunning results and no fit problems.  I don’t have that kind of luck.  I have fitting problems with knit garments too. I have a bodice sloper for woven fabrics that I can compare to printed patterns. And thought it would be great to have a bodice sloper for knits.  But how to get one? There isn’t a lot of  info in books or on the Internet, but here is what I found. There appears to be four ways to go about it.

1. Manually draft a bodice sloper for knit fabrics using personal measurements and instructions.


Winifred Aldrich - Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear has instructions for drafting two close fitting blocks, one for very stretchy fabrics (-11 cm wearing ease in circumference)  and one for moderate stretch fabric (-4 cm)

Pattern Drafting for Fashion : The Basics by  Teresa Gilewska  has instruction for a basic knitwear bodice with no ease.


Pattern School  a site’s who's main emphasis is stretch-fit pattern making, has instructions for manually drafting a one piece  (what I would call a leotard)  block that can be used as the basis for  a top. On the "Lazy People" tab of this website, there is a screen where you can enter your  own measurements and  the stretch % of your fabric  and it will generate the block for you in  .svg file format. Unfortunately you will have to import the  svg file into a graphics software to manipulate and save it  in a format which can be tiled and printed on 8.5 x 11 paper. I use the freeware PosteRazor to print poster size patterns on 8.5 x 11" paper.  

2. Make changes to an existing  woven fabric bodice sloper

Sources for instruction on adjusting an existing block for stretch fabrics are

  •  this post at  The Sewing Space  In her "free stuff" she  has a stretch gauge to use to determine the % stretch of your fabric. The amount of stretch in your knit fabric will determine the amount of ease desired in a pattern for a knit.

  • Reportedly, a  small section in Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong, which I don’t have in my sewing library so I can't confirm.

  • And  advice posted on sewing discussion boards:

Advice 1 - “Use close fitting sloper for wovens and increase all seam allowances by 1/8th inch.”
Advice 2 - “Reduce the ease in the circumference of the bodice by folding out a ¼ inch  vertical tuck midway on the shoulder all the way down to the hem on the back and front pattern piece.  This  also reduces  the width of the shoulders, but leaves the neck alone.  Drop the shoulder just slightly and raise the armscye to make the armhole fit closer to the body. The sleeve width should  also be reduced, which can also be done with the same vertical tuck process.

The issue with the advice above is that is does not take into consideration the wearing ease of the block you are using as the basis for the changes, nor the stretch of your knit fabric.

3. Drape a knit fabric, similar in stretchiness to the one to be used for the garment, on a dress form or have a friend do it on you.


The Essential Guide to Stretch Pattern Cutting  Shoben Fashion Media available at Center For Pattern Design

 Patternmaking-Made-Easy-  by Connie Amaden Crawford  Who says "A true knit bodice can only be made by draping and smoothing the dart excess out at the shoulder, armhole and side seams."

Both of these sources are a bit pricey.

4. Make a knit top pattern over and over again , adjusting each time for a better fit.  This seems to be very popular with younger sewing bloggers, using a popular top pattern from an independent label as their starting point.

Based on my experience, even slopers drafted from my personal measurement require quite a few fitting changes because of my back shape.  So just for kicks I decided to drape a knit fabric on my paper tape dress form, which is a good replica of my body (reality sucks!)  Initially  I used the very brief instructions from  Crawford's book.  One of my big questions about draping a knit was whether the fabric  should be stretched smooth in all directions, which was nearly impossible, or if  some wrinkles were permitted. The Shoben pamphlet suggests using a shoulder bust dart initially, so the bust won't be flattened and then transfer it into ease at the side seam as one of final steps.  That helped with the wrinkle issue and prevented the dreaded flattened bust (who knew?) .  Below are some pictures of my draping exercise. That ring on a string is my improvised plumb bob for determining the vertical seam on the back.

Draping a knit on dress form - Back

Draping a knit on dress form -
  I  compared the resulting knit bodice sloper  to my woven bodice sloper,   Amazingly the results were very much like what was recommended on the discussion boards.The shoulders were more sloped, the armhole higher.  Less ease in bust and hip area.  And the curves in the sides and back were rather funny looking as predicted by The Sewing Space article. The front was much wider than the back, to accommodate the bust ( and my tummy).  One important learning from all this research was that block or patterns for knit garments may be longer in length than blocks or patterns for woven tops. That is because some of the length is taken up when the knit stretches around the body, so don't shorten the length before trying on the garment. I have made  knit tops in the past and cut off what I thought was excess length in the flat pattern pieces, only to find the finished garment a bit short. Duh!

  Here is what the red knit sloper looked like when compare to woven sloper ( green tag board)

I use the knit sloper  and compared it to this  Burda  pattern 1/20122 123,

narrowed the upper chest and neckline of the pattern , and sewed it up. It fit well and looks great with the cardigan.

Less that 24 hours after taking the pictures above, the back yard looked like this.
  I am tired of this highly changeable weather. Have you seen the Internet cartoons about  Rudolph the Reindeer helping the Easter Bunny deliver Easter holiday treats to the kids this year?  DH and I are heading to Florida in a couple of days as the Spring Break  "chaperons" for a group of 18 year old boys.  They aren't thrilled about the chaperon bit,  but that was a condition of us paying for the condo and other essentials for the trip. They will have plenty of time to "go wild" when their expenses are no longer being charged to my cost center.  And I like having an excuse to go somewhere with warmer weather.


  1. I found your post very interesting. I have a great knit sloper - created by unpicking a plain knit top that was very old and tired. Bit unorthodox but it works. Love your new jacket. And all that northern hemisphere is so hot in Sydney now!

  2. You can't go wrong with Winifrid Aldrich! I've draped a t-shirt sloper and had fabulous results that way too!

    Your knit top turned out great and was worth all the thinking, and I'm going to have to look into the software you've mentioned, I'm intrigued!

  3. What a great exercise and now you have a sloper that you can use over and over! I often start these sorts of projects and stop before I get to a final version that I am happy with...need to maintain concentration. Enjoy all those knit patterns you will be able to use now!

  4. Very interesting and informative post. Knits are still very hit and miss for me.

    You didn't comment on the MyImage jacket. I guess that means it wasn't a success? Its on my perhaps-I-should-try-this-pattern list

  5. Have a great vacation! I'm amazed at the winter weather parallels between North America and Europe; surely there must be a reason for this prolonged winter everywhere? In Germany, we've had snow well into March and still freezing temperatures at times right now. I'd love to go to Florida! And your top is lovely; it's so worth it having a sloper/TNT for a simple knit top!

  6. Interesting post on knits. Your top looks great with cardi. Enjoy trip to Florida, I would volunteer to help chaperone. So sick of this weather, we have had snow flurries all week here in Roanoke. Seeing warmer weather predicted for the weekend!

  7. Loved your post & all the really useful info. you included. I hope you don;t mind - I turned it into a Pin on Pinterest so I wouldb't loose it :)

  8. OMG...I am still freaking out about the thought of the 18 year olds!!! My oldest is 10 and the whole time I was reading about your boys I was picturing my 10 and 7 year old boys and 8 year old daughter going on a trip like that. I still cannot imagine it. I guess I will be there in your shoes before I know it. I think I will be way too old and tired to deal with it by the time I get there :)

    Thanks for the post was very interesting....sorry I was so distracted by the part about the trip.

  9. Great knit info and even better advice on handling a week off with 18 year old boys!

  10. Great post, Audrey! So much information to think about. Y'know, I am the worst person for bothering to fit a knit. I've earmarked a couple of RTW companies whose T's fit well enough, even with those pesky fitting wrinkles, that I will just go for them. When I do want to try a knit pattern, I tweak as I go. Pia at has posted her journey towards that perfect knit sloper. I admire such dedication to perfect the fit on a knit. And do enjoy your trip! haha... I'll be singing the same tune at some not-so-very-future date, and I agree: the pocketbook gets to set the boundaries!!!

  11. I love the combination of the grey jacket and purple top. They look wonderful!

    I know just what you mean about spending a lot of time, but not having much tangible to show for it. What you do have is the the knowledge and experience, which will pay off later.

    You're very brave to be taking that trip with a group of 18 yo boys. I raised two boys, and the thought makes me cringe. Hope you have lots of sunshine and fun!

  12. This is a great article. Knit tops are so tricky and I envy those bloggers who seem to churn them out like there is no tomorrow. I think there are two issues about knits. 1. Every knit fabric seems to behave a bit differently (stretch AND recovery) and 2. I think we all like our tops fitting a bit differently. For me, I HATE them tight across the back near the armholes. Lumpy bits yuk. I did finally tweak a top to my liking, but have since put on quite a bit of weight. Sigh! Back to the drawing board :(

  13. great looking knits - have fun in Florida - we have the same weather here too.

  14. Thank you for the informative post. Have a great trip!

  15. You did a great job draping that knit sloper...I am lousy at draping! I appreciate that tip about starting out with a shoulder dart so as NOT to smash the bust! Nice. I mostly use patternmaking software for my patterns, but I try to drape every now and then!
    Enjoy Florida...and Happy Easter!

  16. I took a class from Peggy Sagers on fitting knits and it made a tremendous difference for me. Her Silhouette patterns with the french dart are now perfect on me, I only tweaked the shoulder seam and the point of the dart, plus the length. She teaches you how to adjust for different amounts of stretch. If you can take her class, it helps, as she has samples you can try on. if not, she has classes online at the website. Hope this helps.

  17. Your draping is highly impressive! I went with #4, starting from a pattern (I chose a Burda). I LOVE having my knit top TNT. I use it all the time. The backs of our slopers are shaped pretty much the same (on mine, the curvier hip is at the CB seam rather than the side seam); it makes me feel less freakish to see someone else shaped like that!

  18. Interesting! I have the Marcy Tilton tshirt CD and her method is to pin fit the side seams always before you sew them up. Cos you never know how the stretch of the knit will fit. You would start with a knit pattern that you would adjust for shoulder slope first. Knits are so forgiving. I really need some new ones.....
    Love your purple top and cardi, very nice together.

  19. Do you have a knit top that fits you perfectly and you wish you had in every color? If so, you can pin or tape it down on pattern paper and make a pattern from it, adding seam allowances after tracing it. Your blog is wonderful. I found you from Carolyn's reading list. Do you have a way to follow by email subscription?