Trying out the Knit Sloper

The only way to know if something works, really works not theoretically, is by testing. But I don’t want a knit garment that tries to look like a woven garment.  I’m learning to honor the fabric because that’s when I create my favorite garments. So I don’t want all the darts but I’d like the horizontal bust dart and I’d like the other darts to be invisible but still shaping the fabric. I make a copy of the just created knit sloper.

I split the back vertical dart between side seam and a center back seam. I also split the shoulder dart between the armscye and center back. This will give me a very curve back to which I must also add a seam allowance.  I need a seam back there or instead of shaping from the darts I’ll have puddling from excess fabric. I also want to use ribbing. My favorites finish 3/4″ around the neckline and 1/2″ around the armscyes.  I make tick marks evenly along the necklines and armscyes and then trim that from the new back pattern.

Mostly, I repeat the same process for the front. I don’t add a center front seam. I don’t need the shaping in front and would prefer to have that expanse for embellishment.  I do want the horizontal bust dart and I fold it in place before trimming off the excess from the side seam:

In less than 15 minutes, I have my favorite knit pattern. I’m not going to kick myself. If this works, I’m doing some serious celebrating.  I repeat, I spent hours, days weeks, fabric after fabric trying to alter the patterns for a knit sleeveless top with horizontal bust dart into something that would fit me with minor tweaking. If this is it, I will be so over joyed. I must continue the test.. but I walk seams first. I learned my lesson with the princess seam sloper:  any time you alter the pattern, walk the seams. Somehow both  my back side seam and shoulder seams are 1/2″ shorter than the front. I correct these.

I chose a white, cotton,  interlock for testing.  I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Can it really be this easy??? So I chose a fabric that’s been in the stash about 7 years.  I think I bought it for long johns. Since I’m retired and not going out into the cold as much as I used to, I no longer need a whole drawer full of long johns.  I’ve used part of this fabric but still have 2 yards left. I can make several tests — which I might have to do. Nope, I decide not to be as demanding with fit as I was with the last interlock. The point here is check ease, check length, check for horrendous issues.  I lay out my pattern pieces and when cutting also cut a 2.5″ strip for the neckline ribbing and a 1.75″ strip for armscyes. Lord I hope I did my math right.  I fused straight tape to the back shoulders, bias to the armscyes and necklines; stitch the bust dart. Serge the CB seam and with teeth gritted serge the shoulder seams.  Since I know my right shoulder is lower, I take the garment-in-progress to the sewing machine and stitch the right shoulder seam 1/8″ lower. I change to water-soluble thread and stitch the side seams.  Lightly press. Take pics.

This first fitting is pretty good.the best. Not that it doesn’t have room for improvement.  I deepen the shoulder seams 1/8″ (3/8 left 1/2″ right), deepened the CB at the waist 1/8″ and increase the side seams from 1/2″ to 5/8″. Small changes but they all add up.  I continue fitting in 1/8″ increments deepening the shoulder and side seams.  I managed to remove nearly all appearances of the single U under the arm and most of the mess in the middle of the back.  I was concerned about excess flare at the hem on which subtle adjustments didn’t make any effect.  I stopped and finished this knit top when the bust dart became too high for my personal esthetics.

Many years ago, Threads Magazine published an article about the $500 T-shirt.  Think Marcy Tilton was the author but I may be wrong.  Thing is, I remember while reading the article that the author was talking about lots of small details which could be sewn thereby taking the plain T-shirt up to a whole new level.  I looked at the final fit carefully. Realizing the neckline had been raised (because of the increased shoulder seams) I decided  instead of the planned  1″ neckline ribbing a finished 3/4″ width would be more appropriate. The armscyes had been trimmed anticipating a 3/4″ binding. Fearing I would badly distort the armscye if I trimmed the fabric again, I opted to bind the raw edge in the simple up-and-over i.e. stitch right sides together press binding upwards; wrap around the edge and press towards the inside then top stitch before trimming closely.  I stretched the interlock binding as much as possible which gives it a ribbed appearance.  I serged the side seams; pressed carefully and then made a line of stitching from armscye down 1″.  It’s enough to hold the side seams in place under the arm.

Finally, I interfaced the hem and turned it up 1.25″ and fused into place before finished at the cover stitch. All little details that I think make this garment just a step up from RTW.

A plain garment like this is really helpful.  The tone on tone print adds interest to the fabric however from a distance it reads as a solid.  I wanted really plain because I need more tops that mix and match easily.  (I tend to sew Diva’s instead of supporting pieces.)  Unfortunately white doesn’t last long in my closet.  Either it turns color in the wash or I color it with my food. This particular fabric, a cotton interlock, is not a really good fabric either.  I used it once before to make long underwear.  It sags badly and grayed. Well it was underwear so maybe the sagging was due to stress but the greying made it an ugly something I didn’t want to wear. I’ve moved the fabric into my ‘Muslins’ stack. I don’t trust interlock to behave well during sewing. But it is a light-weight, knit, fabric and tends not to curl. I got a wearable this time. Considering the fabric, that’s good and enough.

My sewing experience keeps nudging me towards perfection but I have to admit the above is not a bad fit.  RTW does not fit me this well at all.  I was expecting to remove more ease and maybe a bit more length.  Definitely surprised to find my shoulder seams finished at 3/4″ deep and my side seams 1″.  Even with those 1″ side seams, I still feel like there is excess ease at least at the hem.  I started  wondering if the changes I made were due to the woven-to-knit conversion or if the cotton interlock knit was the determining factor. I made note of the changes but didn’t transfer to the pattern.  I pulled out an ITY knit, one of the fabrics I use the most.  I’m going to test with the ITY and note changes. Then I’ll transfer changes not only to this pattern but also to my sloper.

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2 thoughts on “Trying out the Knit Sloper

  1. Bev, this top looks great on, particularly the hem and the neck/arms. I also like how the front chest and back shoulders are so smooth and perfect looking.

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