You know, it’s funny. One of the main ways we classify a fabric is by woven or knit. The two are even on opposite sides of my stash closet. :) Yet, as anyone who’s worked with knit fabrics knows, all knits are so not created equal. I have knits that are so stable they would work better on a pattern designed for wovens, and then there are the ones that stretch so much, and so easily, that they’re difficult to cut out with precision. My second version of the Taffy blouse from The Colette Sewing Handbook is a perfect case in point.
As I mentioned when I first made this pattern, I fell in love with the sleeves despite starting out dubious of them. I knew another version was on my horizon, and I really thought the sleeves would look lovely in a drapey knit. Enter this fabric which I purchased less than a month ago… for me, possibly a record for Fabric Stashed for the Least Time. I love these superdrape rayon/cotton blend knits for their softness, wearability, available prints, etc. I sometimes love / sometimes hate the skim-your-curves factor, depending on the curve. :) However, the fabric definitely presented challenges while cutting. The key was taking enough (read: sooooo much) time to lay out the fabric on grain and without stretching. It wanted to cling to just about any surface, and for a woven this would make it easier. But with a knit this tends to stretch it, and with this knit even moreso. Even though I am a diehard scissors fan when it comes to cutting out garment pattern pieces, I begrudgingly employed the rotary cutter for this fabric — it worked much better. Fortunately, the Taffy only has three pattern pieces!
One thing that was nice about the stretchiness of the knit: I had made an alteration to the pattern that made the shoulders and upper chest a bit more narrow, which resulted in the armscye seamline lengthening by almost an inch. But there was no need to get my brain around how to fix this on the sleeve, because it was so flexible that it still fit easily without any puckering. Would still need to figure that out for a different fabric, though.
I made a narrow neckband instead of binding the neckline like last time. I added fusible tricot interfacing to the neckband for some security, as I’m a bit paranoid about knits like this stretching out. I topstitched around the neckband to keep the seam allowance from flipping out. I always have to do this for narrow neckbands, whereas I don’t find it as necessary for wider ones (1/2″ or more), if they are snug enough. Anyone have any thoughts or tips on how to keep narrow neckbands flat without topstitching?
I considered a variety of hem techniques for the sleeves, but in the end, I left them totally unfinished. I love the way they look just as they are.
The final, and most significant, design change I made was to add the band at the bottom. As I tried on the top throughout the sewing process, I felt self-conscious about the way the soft knit fabric clung to the third-dimensional curves around my midsection, so I decided to add the band. After I did that, it was clear that some length needed to be trimmed from the bodice because it was blousing too much — down over the band, actually. That little alteration was the most time-consuming part of the entire process, but it was my own fault. Let’s just say, I will go to formidable lengths in order to try to avoid unpicking a seam on knit fabric… and I ended up having to do so anyway. Lesson learned.
I will totally make this pattern again in time, but I’m moving along for now. I have my next pattern narrowed down and am getting started!