Over the past couple months, I've added a few knit tops to my wardrobe. I've been working on perfecting the fit. After I started trying to fit these tops, I started looking critically at my RTW knit tops, and was surprised at how few of them actually fit me. Looking at fit on others wearing knit tops, I don't think RTW is actually designed to fit anyone--more like just not fit too badly.
First, I make a Sewaholic Renfrew in size 6, view B. I basted using a long stitch on my sewing machine, then used my serger for the final seams. I used fabric from several old pieces of clothing for color-blocking. I love mustard yellow, but I'm not sure it looks that great close to my face, so this was a good way to incorporate that color! I had to add a center back seam to fit my pattern onto the fabric I had, and I really like the way it looks. I ended up taking the shoulder seams by about 3/8" and taking the side seams in a bit as well, so I decided to make a size 4 the next time I used the pattern.
Next, I tried a free pattern, Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Tonic Tee. This fit me best in an XS. I used some blue and white-striped bamboo knit that I bought from Vogue Fabrics in Chicago in the spring. The fabric is so beautifully soft but was not very easy to work with, at least not for someone so inexperienced with knits. I cut on a single layer to try to match the stripes at least a bit (and failed miserably), and I used a small rotary cutter, which was extremely helpful (not an affiliate link!). For this one, I also used some clear elastic in the shoulder seams for more support.
To try the Renfrew in size 4, I used an XXL T-shirt rescued from the thrift store. The fabric is a lovely light gray heather, is very comfortable against the skin. I cut a size 4, view B. Instead of using bands at the sleeves and waist, I hemmed them with a twin needle and woolly nylon in the bobbin. I did get some tunneling with this--next time I will try adjusting the bobbin tension or invest in some knit stay tape. Although the fit feels fine when I'm wearing it, it seems a bit tight under the armpits--though it seems not very noticeable in these photos.
Finally, I drafted a boat-neck knit top using the body of the Renfrew, the sleeve cap of the Tonic, and the neck and shoulders of a very old shirt from Old Navy that fit me the best out of all my fitted knit tops. I used a red and white striped cotton knit from Joann Fabrics, which doesn't seem to be available anymore (at least not online). The top is inspired by a Breton shirt. If you are interested in a bit of history or a commercial or indie pattern suitable for your own Breton shirt, Julie of Jet Set Sewing has a lovely post on the topic. I cut the neck band on the bias, to break up the stripes a bit. My husband tells me that it fits well, but that I look like a candy cane or Waldo (thanks for taking the photos, dear!). The sleeve bands gave me quite a bit of trouble with making sure the stripes matched up reasonably well, but I finally wrestled them into submission! The next time I make a knit top with stripes, I will either skip the sleeve band (as I did for the Tonic) or cut it on the bias, as I did for the neck band, with good results. I did a better job on matching the stripes on this one than I did on the blue/white T.
I would recommend either of these patterns to a knit beginner. They give instructions for using a sewing machine, but until I got a serger I was never brave enough to try sewing knits--maybe some of you are!
Fall is finally here in Minnesota--it was late in coming this year. My next make is a denim skirt, which will be perfect with tights and a sweater. I love this season!