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Friday, November 23, 2012

Design It Yourself Clothes Sew Along: Tips from Cal Patch about drafting knit patterns

Welcome back to the Draft Along. I hope those of you in the US had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday.
Ours was filled with lots of family, food and love and it was a special day. I have a lot to be thankful for, that's for sure.

I finished my final versions of my T shirt and A line skirt yesterday and I would love to share the photos with you. I ironed out the issues. 
But first,I have been emailing back and forth with Cal Patch, the author and she has some important  information to share with us about pattern making today!

Below are her thoughts on pattern making the knit t- shirt pattern. She has some valuable information here that you won't find in the book! I had some questions for her about the fit of my last t shirt and wondered about adding ease to knit fabric patterns. Here are her thoughts:

"I have a couple thoughts that might help the dropped-sleeve issue, which is a common problem, because of the stretch of knits in the crossgrain and the fact that the big hole (aka neck) allows the whole shirt to grow a lot across the shoulders. It can be good to draft the shoulder width a little on the narrow side; basically putting in some negative ease to compensate for the stretching. You might also want to sew twill tape, seam tape, or anything non-stretchy into the shoulder seams so they don't stretch. Adding the neckband or FOE or some other finish that prevents the neckline from stretching too much would also help (I know it's the muslin and I love unfinished and serged raw edges, i'm just noting that a band does help the stretching somewhat). also, from the picture it looks like perhaps your sleeve cap height is a little on the short side? or maybe it's just foreshortening in the photo. Is it about 2/3 the height of the armhole?

As for the side seam shaping, yes, I usually tell students to add a couple of inches of ease to the waistline, especially if they have a big difference from hip to waist, because most shirts don't curve in nearly that much and it can look weird if it's too extreme. Adding a couple inches should be more flattering in the belly zone because the shirt will *skim* instead of cling...

The stretchier the knit, the smaller I would make the pattern (assuming you still want a close fit). it may not be necessary with a firm cotton/lycra jersey, but definitely in something like a rib or thermal, if the pattern isn't reduced (negative ease), the shirt will seem too big.

Also, a general principle I like to remind people of when I'm teaching patternmaking is that just because knowing how to draft gives you the ability to use your msmts and draft for a perfect fit, it doesn't mean everything should fit like a glove! so for example, adding a little of what i call "stylistic ease" through the waist/hip/hem of a t-shirt is generally more flattering, especially in a longer, tunic-y style t-shirt. I remind my students to go into their closets and take some msmts from favorite clothing items, and they might be surprised at how often something has a crazy amount of ease which is for the style of it, and possibly what makes them love it. like you might have a 34" chest but your favorite dress might have like a 46" chest if it's gathered around a yoke or something.

Also, with knits, they can vary so widely in both stretch (and whether one-way or two-way stretch) and recovery. I always say that you can make a T-shirt pattern, then cut it out in 4 different kinds of knits, and get 4 completely different fits. Ideally when you draft a T pattern you know exactly what kind of knit you plan to use, and how much stretch it has. In the book, I talk about using pretty much one's exact body measurements as is (no positive or negative ease added) with the intention of using all-cotton.

I hope Cal's information about drafting patterns for knit fabrics was helpful for you. I know it was for me!

Below are are some photos of my t shirt and skirt I made from the patterns I have made so far.
 I added pockets to the skirt and used this beautiful fabric that was sent to me by the fabric designer Celina Mancurti. Her fabrics are hand printed and made with organic fabrics. I love them! Stay tuned for a little giveaway of some of her fabric on Saturday.

 I fixed my armhole issues and the fit for the t shirt was good, but I do wish I had taken Cal's advice and added a little ease to my pattern. I used red ribbing piece for the neckband , trying to match the red birds on my skirt.
Below are some finished projects I would love to share with you today.

This cute hand painted chevron skirt was made by  Diya at The Hobby Harbor. What a beautiful job she did drafting for a perfect fit and she painted those chevron stripes too! Stop by her blog to see how she didi it!
Kaitlin from Wunderbar life  made her a line skirt in a herringbone tweed.

 Jamie from Stitch & An Occasional Bitch had the same armhole issues I had earlier in the week. I hope Cal's advice will help you figure it out Jamie! I think the bust width looks too wide. I took my bbust in 2 inches and then it fit perfect.

Jennie from Byrdie Couture made a cut a line skirt. The fit looks great Jenny!

If you have been working on a project from the sew along we would love to see it!


  1. Thanks for sharing the tips Justine :) And hugs for the feature!! I am thoroughly enjoying this draft along.Love your birdie skirt and T shirt nice combi.

  2. Your outfit looks great! I am in love with that fabric, too! It was really fun to see all the other outfits. I have to take pictures of my skirt! Still trying to get my sleeve cap to match up with my armhole measurement on the t-shirt, but it's coming. Thanks for sharing Cal's tips. I printed them out to put in the book. :)

  3. oh my GOODNESS you guys! amazing stuff going on here! Justine, that skirt is to DIE for! the fabric is spectacular (i hadn't heard of them before reading your post about their gorgeous fabric, but i am going to check them out because hand-printed linen is so up my alley) and the fit and pockets look awesome. and all of the other skirts and t-shirts are looking great too! knits do have a mind of their own sometimes, and each one behaves different to the next. but then, they are also very forgiving...

  4. Oh my my. That skirt and tee are awesome! I love that fabric, and LOVE what you did with it. Thanks for the tips. I just brought Cal's book home from the library today. I'm excited to dig in - though any drafting for myself will have some serious competition with holiday/birthday making until the new year.

  5. I'm excited to dig in - though any drafting for myself will have some serious competition with holiday/birthday making until the new year.I even want to shared with you that even we are dealing with the same thing as our organisation is one of the most popular place for such type of works. Like Custom Manufacturing , TShirt printing, Cap Printing, Keychain printing and so on.

  6. These tips from Cal Patch are exactly what I was looking for. I just made the Tshirt and it really fits likes glove. I wasn't sure which numbers to change to add ease in the next draft.


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