New Tops for Me, Part 3 (and more tips for working with knits)

This is the final knit top I made myself last week. I liked New Look 6343, the pattern from yesterday’s post, so much that I had to make it again!

black 1

This time, I used black Swiss 4-Way Stretch nylon/acetate/lycra from Gorgeous Fabrics (it’s the same type of fabric I used in the green top.) This was a piece left over from a top I made my daughter last year, and I had to really work to be able to fit the pattern pieces on! The white lace fabric for the sleeves was from my stash, from Emma One Sock, I think, several years ago. I’m not sure of the fiber content – maybe a poly or nylon mesh, with cotton motifs? In any case, I washed and machine dried it (although I’ll never machine dry the top) and it came out beautifully, although it did shrink a bit.

black 2

I wanted the contrast to really show off those angled armholes! This top is dressier, but not so much that I can’t wear it with jeans.

For this version, I did a FBA and added a bust dart, and I scooped out the neck about 1-1/2″ in front. I lengthened the sleeves about 1″ (standard for my long arms) and cut the top to the same hip length as the green top. I also used one size up for the sleeves, because this pattern is for knits, and the lace has a bit of mechanical stretch, but is not as stretchy as the black fabric. I also added about 3/8″ to the top of the sleeve cap. I pressed the seam allowances away from the sleeves and topstitched, so the seam allowances don’t show through the lace.

I like the black cuffs on these sleeves! I think it adds a bit of a surprising touch.

black 3

Knits can be a bit slithery to work with. Here are two tips that can be helpful:

  • When making knit bands, such as the neckband and wristbands on this top, you stitch the fabric into a loop, then fold the loop in half and stitch the doubled raw edges to the garment. Easy, unless your fabric slides. To make it easier and allow you to use a LOT fewer pins, use water-soluble glue stick (sparingly) to hold the raw edges of the band together. No slithering, no uneven edges, and no twisted bands!
  • When stitching a hem, use narrow strips of lightweight fusible web to “baste” the hem in place before stitching. I cut 1/4″ strips of Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, which is slightly sticky and repositionable, position them near the cut hem edge, remove the remaining paper, fold up the hem, and fuse in place. Then stitch. It keeps the hem from shifting and twisting. Lots of people use a double needle to hem knits, but for whatever reason, I have never had good luck with that method. So I just use one of the stretch stitches on my machine, play with the width and length and tension until I like the look, and stitch away!

I think I’m done sewing for myself for a while. Now, it’s time to get to work writing instructions for a class, working on a magazine article, and quilting a challenge quilt. But at least I have some new clothes to wear!

3 thoughts on “New Tops for Me, Part 3 (and more tips for working with knits)

  1. This is a question about a smocking machine…mine looks like the one you used in a previous post, a pullen pleater, I have brand new needles and the farther left 3needles did not pick up the fabric nor the 6th needle from the left…. The first needle broke. What might be wrong?

    Sent from my iPad Gail Moore



    • I think you must have seen the pleater on my Craftsy class. Mine is, as you guessed, a Pullen pleater. But I’m not a pleater expert, by any means! Here are some things to consider… Are you using needles made for that pleater? Are they inserted properly? Do you have the screws holding the top bar in place tightened too much? Are there threads wrapped around any of the bars? Are you trying to run the fabric through too quickly? Beyond these things, I don’t have any idea what might be wrong.


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