Sewing a Knit Top: Part 1

I decided to do a series of posts on sewing a knit top.  In this case it is Butterick 5283 which is out of print but I picked it up on the Butterick website.

I chose a geometric-style print for the top.  I love the mix of black, white, beige and grey.  It will give me a chance to wear it with a variety of skirts and trousers.

I am NOT an expert at sewing knits.  I don’t own a serger, which is considered the best way to sew stretch fabrics.  I have sewn one item with a stretch knit fabric but it turned out well for me.  This is less of a tutorial and more of a “day in the life of a new sewist attempted a newish technique with an unstable fabric”.  Boy, does that ever roll off the tongue.

First, I cut out the pattern pieces in a size 16 in the bust and 18 through the waist and hip.  I pressed the pieces flat and laid them out on the fabric and weighed them down with cans from the cupboard.

Fabric, pattern pieces, pattern weights

 Because the fabric stretches and pulls out of shape, I find it easier to just cut out around the pieces as they lie on the fabric.  Another option is to leave edges on your pattern pieces and cut the fabric and paper at the same time.  This may help stabilize as your cut.  I have no trouble following around the pieces.

Cutting around pattern pieces

After the pieces are cut out I mark the pattern markers in chalk.  It wasn’t showing up well so I keep the pattern pieces close by as I sew so I can find the marks.  This pattern has small and large circles that indicate where to begin and end a seam.  No darts or pleats because it is a stretch knit so that made it easier.

There were only three pattern pieces.  Two required two fabric pieces and one was cut on the fold.  This left me with two front pieces, one back piece and 2 sleeves.

That was enough for one evening of sewing.  Part 2 will cover solving the problem of the feed dogs on the machine gobbling up the fabric and setting the stretch stitch on my machine.

What I’m listening to: Black Sheep Boy by Okkervil River

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4 thoughts on “Sewing a Knit Top: Part 1

  1. Great post. I’ve never sewn knits before, mostly because I’m scared, since I’ve heard you need a serger.

    I’m looking forward to your progress.

    BTW I meant to comment on your coat. It looks great. Very chic!

  2. I’m not a fan of sewing knits, but that’s just me! Lots of people sew them without sergers, no problem.

    For the gobbling problem, try starting your stitching about 1/2″ from the end, and then backstitching to the end, and THEN sew the rest of the seam. When you start too close to the end it gets eaten by the machine. Or, sew with some extra pattern tissue underneath (just at the start) and tear it off afterwards. Good luck!

  3. @Amy No need to be scared of knits. You just have to understand them and adjust accordingly. I had more trouble with my slippery coat lining than with any knit.

    @Tasia I know your love of stable fabrics and I get it. As I learn to sew it is interesting to try new things. I’ll probably end up Jill of all trades, master of none!

  4. Pingback: Sewing a Knit Top: Part 3 « Falling Through Your Clothes

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