Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pattern Whisperer selects: interesting knit tops

Time for another Pattern Whisperer post, for this the category is interesting knit tops. Recently I had a request to recommend some knit tops and thought it was a good topic. Especially as I was working on a post for jackets but I wasn't really coming up with anything that really grabbed my attention.
Knit tops are such a rewarding item to sew, as they don't take up loads of time like a jacket or coat, usually can be sewn quite economically, and are forgiving in fit. Plus a knit top can work for so many wardrobe needs, from super casual to elegant to office wear. I even convinced myself to try one of these patterns and have already sewn up two versions since I first noticed the pattern!

Let's talk basics first.  Here are two knit top patterns from Vogue that really suit a variety of body types due to the built in pattern shaping.

two Vogue knit tops

The V1363 on the left is a Sandra Betzina pattern which shows out-of-print on their website today but I could swear it wasn't a few days ago when I was first looking at it. This pattern has bust darts which is great for fitting and I like the contrast neckline option. So a versatile basic that you can make in a variety of fabrics. The V8925 on the right has princess seams, which is the other option for getting a really nice fit and this pattern also has a contrast neckline option. So both patterns have a bit of design and change them up from the ordinary t-shirt style knit top.

If you are looking for something with a more cozy feel here is Vogue 8831. This has the draping neckline which is also seen on the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern (one that I like a lot but feel it has some issues with the armholes/sleeves which are a bit skimpy).  This pattern below has a raglan sleeve so really easy to sew, and more princess seams plus cup sizes.

V8831 knit top

Following here's the pattern I just sewed in two versions, V9205 - this might be one of my new go-to knit top patterns. I made the first version in a jersey and it is super comfy, I even used a stripe and it came out well. The second version I made in a very strange fabric I found at a ASG sale - sort of a vintage poly knit, like a ponte but with less stretch. So it is a bit less comfy but I love the colors. And a good choice for my St. Patricks day wear - blog post in March on that version.  While the darts are decorative they do create some shaping.

Vogue 9205

It seems like all these patterns I have chosen are suitable for color-block options including this one. Which is very simple but I think it could be lengthened to make a cute dress as well. Most of these patterns are also shown as tunic length as well as regular hip length tops which means they will provide the yardage for that option which is nice if you want the tunic style.

Vogue 9225

Another one that has quite a few variations in the pattern envelope is Butterick 6248. You know I love a pattern that has lots of variations in one pattern envelope - it appeals to my thrifty side plus you actually have more patterns with less storage. Pockets, interesting back view, cozy cowl neck. I don't think I would be comfortable a top with that long back but some people carry off this very well.
B6248 knit top

Here's one with interesting seaming, I really like the one with the stripes and solid black and grey fabric.
B6377 knit top

This one is not super interesting but if you like this draped neckline and want fit guidance then I think these Palmer and Pletsch patterns are quite clever. The adjustment lines are printed on the pattern pieces and they include instructions on full bust adjustments, swayback, sleeve etc. This one is McCalls 6963.

McCalls 6963 cowl neck tee

While this one doesn't have a lot of options in the pattern envelope it's kind of cute with the interesting asymmetrical front.

Mc Calls 7247

Moving on to other pattern companies - Style Arc has a LOT of really interesting knit tops. I haven't sewn a lot of them but I have friends that love these patterns. I am always tempted but haven't made any. Here are a few that caught my eye.

Style Arc Tamara top

style Arc Ada top

Style Arc Madison top

Style Arc Madeleine

I really love this last one, if you sew this Madeleine Ponte top and with a pencil skirt in the same fabric it would be a super sharp work look that would give you the appearance of a dress with the versatility of separates.

For a more fitted type of knit top Lekala has some really interesting options. I have made this one in the past and it came out perfectly. Of all the things I have tried from Lekala the knits have been by far the best which is kind of interesting.  Here's the post to see my versions of this top.
Lekala 4202

Here's another one I like a lot - you can see that a lot of the knit tops I sew don't have round necklines, I am always chilly and the spot I feel it the most is the back of my neck. So I tend to choose these patterns that have a collar or turtleneck when sewing for myself. I downloaded this pattern but I can't remember if I sewed it. I'll have to search in the pattern drawer to find it.

Lekala 4245 top

As for other patterns - there is this Burda pattern I sewed in the fall and I really love it. Which is Burda 02-2013-126.

blue stripe Burda top 2 SaveSave

I also like this McCalls 7046, post here.
My favorite plain raglan t-shirt, Burda 6990.
My absolute favorite New Look wrap front knit top, New Look 6150.
Another wrap front top, McCalls 6513, here and here plus other versions.

Another pattern company I want to mention is Jalie. They have lots of knit tops, and I think their patterns are the best value of all as they contain all sizes in one envelope. So a pattern for a knit top will have multiple view and contain sizes from small kids to adult. You have to trace the patterns but the paper is really thick and the printing is easy to trace. I have used their basic t-shirt as a starting point for a variety of knit tops.

For this Pattern Whisperer I looked briefly at Simplicity and New Look but I am so annoyed with their website that I am not even considering them right now. They have lots of products and a fairly comprehensive offering on their site but how hard would it be to add some better search features? I have emailed them a few times with no response and even commented on their Instagram. I am thinking of making that a daily thing - does anyone agree with me on this?  Or maybe they will just think I am crazy. Either way it gets it out of my system :)

Insta question

Here's a sneak peek on that Vogue pattern with the radiating darts that I mentioned above.

V9205 in stripe

As always I tend to stick to the big 4 or 5 pattern companies for my picks - since I find the limitations of indie patterns not as appealing (fewer options in the patterns, higher price, etc. although I know they are a good option in Europe and Australia.). But if you have any great patterns to recommend feel free to add them.

Up next more shirts completed. And even a how-to in the works on doing a one piece shirt placket plus changing darts to gathers. Tomorrow is a serious garden clean-up day - wow this rain is fantastic but the weeds are taking advantage of it too!

Happy Sewing

today's garden photo, this one was taken a few years ago but the exact same plant is blooming right now, by the front door. Camellias are so pretty but the blooms drop quickly and make a mess. But I just can't bring myself to change them out.

pink camellia



  1. Beth, your Camellias are beautiful, one of my favorites. Great post with some really interesting patterns highlighted. Have you looked at HP? They do a lot of knit tops, with the added benefit of a very broad size range, better than most, I believe.

    1. *HP=Hotpatterns The patterns are available in download format, as well.

  2. I was emailing Simplicity about their website regularly. Never a response. I finally gave up.

    I love the Vogue Betzina 1363. One of my favorites. I have many of the others you mentioned, but haven't sewn them yet. Thanks for the suggestions and recommendations.

  3. Thank you for your pattern run down! Your work in progress is coming along well.

  4. Great inspiration! I'm interested to know if the radiating darts pattern includes bust ease in the darts or if they are just decorative. Thanks!

  5. These are such great recommendations. I just added B6248 to my shopping list. I'm in the middle of my pregnancy and have been trying to find knit patterns that I can easily hack into maternity tops appropriate for the office. I've made M6693 four times already; such an easy pattern to make.

    And I agree 100% about Simplicity's website. The search function is useless and so frustrating to use. I haven't complained, but maybe I should. Hopefully if more people complain then they will fix it.

  6. I definitely agree with you about the Simplicity website. It's very hard to find what you want, and so frustrating to have to go through page after page of things you are not interested in to find anything. They went backwards on this.

  7. I totally agree on the terribleness of Simplicity's website. And funnily enough I was cleaning around my parents' camellias today!

  8. I have said this very thing about Simplicity's website. I am happy to join you in your campaign to haunt their instagram posts and rail against there search features.
    What a super post! I have book marked it as a reference! Thank you so much for your hard work!

  9. There's been a problem with the Simplicity website for awhile. Just a few days ago I was there to pick up a couple of your earlier recommendations. I had hoped that the website had improved, but nope. I wasn't able to check out! After going over to pattern review to buy the patterns I sent an email (again) to Simplicity. Gotta wonder what's going on over there, but I doubt I will bother again.

  10. I love knit top patterns. You highlighted some nice alternatives.

  11. I completely agree with you about Simplicity's website. It is horrible and frustrating to navigate, in a word it sucks. It doesn't really matter to me, as we can no longer get Simplicity or New Look patterns in Canada. According to our only large fabric store, they were too difficult and expensive to deal with. Another example of their disregard of their customers. Compared to the US (US-322 million, Canada 35 million) we don't have a large population, but who would want to eliminate a whole country from buying their products? WTF?

    1. I heard that they can't sell them in Canada because they won't offer a French translation. You know our policy on the two languages here!

    2. I have never heard anything to that effect. I have heard over and over again that Simplicity is too difficult to deal with and too expensive (prices going up 100% to 160%, depending on the source. Either way they are unpleasant to deal with, which is a shame, I like some of their patterns.

    3. I have to agree with Julie. I think they don't want to go to the expense of printing two languages since they must include French translations when selling in Canada. I'm sure they have done the math and hiring a translator that knows sewing(so everything makes sense), and setting up new printing formats probably turned out not to be cost effective. They seem to be stuck in another decade to me. Perhaps if they had a big shake up and tried to bring the company into the 21st century more people would want their patterns. Right now they have a web site that can't even be navigated! I'm afraid if they keep going the way they are they won't be around much longer.

  12. Thanks for a great post - I love how you really get into the "meat" of the patterns to give honest reviews .
    Surprised Simplicity is not good at responding -nor listening to customers , but thanks for the heads up

  13. Ooh I love the Madeleine top!

  14. Thanks so much for taking time to share all that. I put a couple new patterns on my list. I emailed you earlier with my frustrations. I think I finally have it, 3 weeks later. Full bust and added a dart, narrow, sloping, forward shoulders and narrow upper chest, rounded upper back, sway back, full upper arm. Whew. Slice and dice, pivot and slide, baste and rip, shirt off, top on, bathroom mirror, nope, cut out another front, take out the sleeve, ditch the neckband. It feels good to finally accomplish it, but I wish more basic patterns had the fitting options included. Thanks again for your thoughts. On to cut out another top and see if I can just zip it up this time!

  15. I have made V8831 several times and love it. It's easy and fast and I hardly made any adjustments.

  16. That last tee, the one with the neckline darts? Cennetta posted it and I decided to take my tnt tee and rotate my dart, which is very large, into the neckline. I made the darts equal length(I haven't made it yet) but now that I see the pattern, thank you for the view, I wonder if that's a better look. I think that I will play with pinning them before I sew them up.
    I never, never sew with Simplicity or New Look, because like you I cannot stand their websites. I also never see the possibilities in them. They always seem so Macy's and I like Bergdorf Goodman. I thought Simplicity was bad before they changed the website, the new one is worse if that's possible.

  17. I also love when you do these posts, because I don't see the possibilities in some of these patterns. Thanks.

  18. Thank you so much, Beth! You are THE Pattern Whisperer. Lots of great ideas! Oh, and Amen on the Simplicity website issues. At Sew Expo last year I actually buttonholed the folks at the Simplicity booth and said (politely) WTH? and they agreed that the website is bad. But how can you let something be that bad for this long? I don't get it!

  19. Fabulous rundown of patterns we all need to know about!!! Thank you for highlighting the pluses of each one and it make it so much easier to decide on which one might be in line for some spring sewing. When a company like Simplicity refuses to listen to the customer...the next thing they will notice is a drop in sales and then wonder how that happened. For our Canadian sewing sisters, find a US sewing partner to mail the patterns north... it's no trouble especially when they are on sale at JoAnn's for rock bottom price. Love your Camellia, Beth!