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I’m in a quandary!

solosmocker | Posted in General Discussion on

I have recently decided to do more knit sewing so made two wrap style tops that got rave reviews on Pattern Review. Is it me? I DO NOT like tight clothes so the concept of negative ease is not comfortable for me. I fit these tops like woven fabric and found they kind of bag and hang. I am 5 ft tall, weight 110 lbs., and still have a waist at 57 years of age. I am starting to think I am just nor meant for knit clothing or should I just get over it and wear things that cling?


Edited 11/24/2007 5:59 pm ET by solosmocker


  1. User avater
    blondie2sew | | #1

    Wow girl you have it goin on!! I would personally get over it and wear things that cling....you have a wonderful figure and why not wear things that are more fitted!! But the main thing is you need to be comfortable wearing it....

    If you wear something (even though it looks great on you) and you don't feel like a million and very uneasy!! You will not have that confidence to pull it off...people will see this is not you!!

    I wear things that people would tell me wow I wish I could wear that (like my hats, all kinds) but they can if they wear it and be confident in it!! That is when you pull off your outfits...

    So As much as I and anyone else would say..hey that is great on you flatters you and such...if you don't feel the confidence then you will just be uncomfortable wearing it..

    I hope I make sense....but I believe in my heart you may want to just step out and see how you look and I know you will get oodles and oodles of compliments...you aren't hiding that gorgeous body of yours!!

    1. solosmocker | | #2

      Well, I did wear one of the tops for Thanksgiving and got many compliments. I guess I just have to get over it. Maybe I should make a top that's clingy in some throwaway knit and see how I like it. Have to keep that in mind for after the holidays.

      1. User avater
        blondie2sew | | #3

        Baby Steps!! Just take it in Baby Steps... But know you look good...all about Confidence!! Good for you and see lots of Compliments...people don't say anything if they did think you looked good...silence is not the best thing...so consider that!!

  2. GailAnn | | #4

    Knits are nice and trendy, but a fad and fashion, just like any other.  They may not be for you.  Sounds like you have a lovely figure, but knits can be immodest and revealing on anyone.  Even when they aren't immodest or revealing, they can FEEL as if they are.  You don't have to wear them if you don't want to.

    Now, Knits DO have thier virtues.  One of those virtures is close fitting yet unrestrictive movement.

    My mother was a nurse, graduated from nurses training in 1945.  I LOVED her uniforms!  They were so tight and close fitting they looked as if she couldn't take a book from a shelf.  All that was deception!  They had gussets under the arms, and behind the shoulder blades.  The skirts looked very fitted, but there were hidden pleats that allowed her to RUN when necessary.  There was something going on with the waists as they looked like she might not be able to breath, yet she could bend and stretch in every direction,  And the pockets!  Specialty pockets for every thing.  They were amazing.  I don't know of anything today that even compares and I'd LOVE to have a dress and a suit today made, close fitting, yet with the movement and useablity of nurses uniforms of the past.

    My daughter is a nurse today.  She wears scrubs!  At my urging, she bought one nurses 'dress' from Canada and pronounced it unwearable.  She was right, it was a white cotton sack with a hole for the head and tie arround the waist.  It would have looked much better if it HAD been a knit.  Gail

    Edited 11/25/2007 7:53 am ET by GailAnn

    1. solosmocker | | #5

      Gail your first paragraph summed up my feelings. I am a pretty confident grandma but I don't think I own a thing that clings. I have seen on Pattern Review many reviews of knit tops that are totally clingy, have rave comments from other sewists, and actually look really nice on the often larger wearers. Those pics are what make me wonder about my fit standards. The wrap top I made for T-day was absolutely gorgeous fabric but did not have that cling fit and was soooo comfortable yet dressy looking. I am wondering if they look too big to others. I think a pic is in order for you to see what I mean. I will try to get that going today. Appreciate the imput so far. solo

      1. MaryinColorado | | #11

        Have you tried the Ponte Knit fabric?  That's my favorite to wear and to sew with.  I haven't bought any in a long time as I still have some stash left. 

         I also have a cotton jersey knit dress with a removable cowl neck that is a favorite.  I wear a woven open vest over it that's a few inches longer.  It always gets rave reviews, from strangers even.  The pattern is McCalls 9015.  It includes straight leg pants, tunics, and jacket in short or calf length.  Very easy to serge or sew and is my favorite pattern of all time. 

        And honey, if I weighed 110, I would wear anything!!!  I'd be very pleased to get down to 120#.  Mary

      2. autumn | | #36

        I agree about the tight clinging clothes you see all over these days. I just can't wear them, and even when I only weighed 104 (yrs. ago) I didn't wear that kind of thing.  And what's with all the cleavage??? It seems that women want to show everything they have even if they are not at the Academy Awards. You see it everywhere, even where it is not appropriate (in my opinion). Yes, I know, I sound like an old fuddy-duddy. I've always worn a size Small, but recently I have had to start buying a Medium so I can even get into it.

        1. solosmocker | | #37

          The pattern is Simplicity 4076. The neckline on the pink version is two inches higher than the pattern at center front. The neckline on the dark top is one inch higher at CF. The reviews I read said it was way too low so I upped it from the get go. From armscye to shoulder I am v. short but found the one inch higher worked just right for my torso.And what is up with all that cleavage? At least the tummies are going back into hiding!solo

          Edited 11/30/2007 4:55 pm ET by solosmocker

          1. Tatsy | | #39

            Solosmocker, I had to laugh at your response when you said you were very short between the armscye and the shoulder because my great epiphany was that you had a lot more distance there than I do!  This is a style I'm swearing off.  Tatsy














    2. jjgg | | #12

      when I had to wear white dresses as a nurse many years ago, I would make my own from nice dress patterns - not uniform patterns. Just make it up in white fabric and whala! a uniform. I always got compliments on my uniforms.

    3. cynthia2 | | #38

      Hi GailAnn,

      Your description of your mother's nursing uniforms with the gussets under the sleeves for ease reminds me a bit of the top I'm wearing.  It's the Teagarden Tee from the Sewing Workshop patterns.  I might it out of a medium weight knit and it's incredibly comfortable.  It has a draped neckline, which dresses it up a bit and the gussets under the arms allow complete freedom of movement even though the top is definitely fitted.   I don't see a lot of patterns with gussets anymore.  Don't know why - they're not difficult to construct and can really make some designs much more wearable.  Cynthia

  3. Josefly | | #6

    I'm so glad you introduced this topic.

    Do you wear rtw knits at all? I always choose one that is a little loose on me, provided that it fits well in the neck and shoulders - and sometimes that's a hard combo to find. I also don't like knitted sleeves with negative ease.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiments with knit fabrics - the stretch, weight, and cling properties of knits seem so variable, and somewhat bewildering to a knit-wearer, but novice knit-sewer. Some knits - like the matte jersey knits - don't seem to cling at all, and just skim the body beautifully. But I'm sure that's also a function of the ease, as well as the fabric-type. I wish there were an ease-allowance rule of thumb for the different type of knits.

  4. Crazy K | | #7

    Hi Solo,

    I am older than you and weigh substantially more.......(I think I could ALMOST give up choc. to weigh 110 again!!ha) and I LOVE knits.  I do not, however, like them to be really tight and clingy.  I still have a 'shape'.....round is a shape, isn't it?  You see, I have boobs........short-waisted with boobs.  Not a really good combo for 'clingy'.  Anyway, I do buy rtw knits and love the freedom of movement.  I have made knit tops as well.  I just opt for fabrics that are maybe a little less 'lingerie-ish'.......meaning thin and see-thru.  I like interlock knits versus jersey knits for that reason.  One way to get used to the feel and look is to get or make some long-sleeved or 3/4 sleeved t's for winter to use for layering.  Living in Minnesota (the frozen tundra) I do layer in winter..........a t-shirt with a sweater or even sweatshirt or fleece overshirt.  Works for me!  I guess I'm so into knits that I feel restriction of movement in a woven shirt unless it's roomy.

    That's my nickel's worth........for whatever its worth!

    Happy Sewing!


  5. Tatsy | | #8

    I agree with CrazyK. Knits are great to wear and sew. I retire this spring and my figure's not what it once was, but I still love to wear knits. They are as different as wovens--they all have different hands and different drapes. I personally do not care for fabrics with lycra unless I'm making swimming suits because those fabrics usually don't breathe well and they cling to every roll and cranny. Cotton knits, rayon knits, sweater knits, etc. are lovely to work with and no more revealing than a lightweight cotton or rayon challis. The trick is mainly to find out how much the knit will stretch and spring back. You want them to be like a good friend--close but not too close. Areas that bag need a little less. My best advice is to find someone who took Stretch and Sew classes. They really took the anxiety out of doing something new.

    1. solosmocker | | #9

      This is all wonderful imput. I live on the Ontario border of NY and just yesterday morning it was 4º when I got up at 8:00AM. I am in turtlenecks almost all winter, worn with sweaters. My knit adventure is in search of "pretty" knits and that's why I was attracted to the side wrap ones. It is confusing when knits have varying types and quantities of stretch. I love to challenge myself with my sewing and this is one I am determined to figure out. I so appreciate all of the candid imput. solo

      1. GailAnn | | #10

        What do you know about these new Bamboo knits?  They feel wonderful, but I've never purchased any. Gail

      2. Tatsy | | #14

        If you live that far north, I suggest starting with some fleece. You can make anything out of it--long skirts, drawstring pants, jackets, pajamas, robes, hats, gloves, footies. You don't have to buy the  expensive stuff to get something with a good hand to get started on. I must admit I was scared to death when I started, but it really is as easy as anything to work on.

        I'm spoiled by all the bargains here--right now I'm working on some sweats for my grandson from stretch terry that Beverly's had for a dollar a yard. There's nothing like getting started to take the anxiety out of sewing stretch.

        By the way, even with years of experience, some things still go wrong for no known reason. I had splurged on some train fabric for my grandson, and my serger which had been working perfectly, suddenly choked and took a big chunk out of the hem. I had done two samples of the cover stitch on scraps of the fabric, but it still balked and ate the hem. Can't remember that happening in years.

      3. fiberfan | | #15

        I second Tatsy's recommendation for sweatshirt fleece.  I have 2 sweatshirt dresses that are so comfortable.  They are great for days when I want the comfort of sweats but don't want to wear sweats or I am going somewhere that sweats wouldn't be appropriate.


        1. GailAnn | | #16

          I've always wanted a Sweatshirt dress, they seemed so sensible to me!  Where do you find Sweatshirt Fleece?  "Fleece" in the fabric store seems to mean something else entirely, these days.  Acrylic makes me, well, uh, stinky.  Gail

          1. solosmocker | | #17

            Here are pics of my two first attempts at knit sewing. This is all very new to me and I read a lot before I started. I pulled out my old Threads and did a lot of reading on Pattern Review. For the first pink top I did my usual FBA and let out the hips. I also reduced the upper chest between shoulder and armhole horizontally by a 1/2 inch. I did the same on the sleeve cap horizontally. These are all my standard pattern adjustments, no more. Based on my PR research I did Steam a Seam in the hems at bottom and sleeves. This made for a stiff hem and I was not pleased with that. It literally made points sticking out at the hipline. Ugly! I was not happy with that I found the sleeves way to tight and the hips too big. I followed the pattern directions for the neckline finish and was not happy with that. So that's the pink top. Keep in mind this was my muslin. So then came the next top,which I think might be slinky fabric. It is a 4 way stretch. On this I made the sleeves bigger by 3/4 of an inch and I am pleased with that. did that with a slash and spread. I took in the hips and inch on each side and like that. For the neckline I did a double binding neckline which I really like. On the hems I put
            in a strip of weft knit interfacing and that gave a much nicer softer hem finish. So I am pleased with the "sparkly" top. I like the fit and the finish. Its just not that that real cling look I see on so many. I guess the bottom line is what I like.

          2. Crazy K | | #18

            Lovely......and you wear them well!  You have just about the same ease that I would like.  You looked great in them............wear them proudly!  If you got compliments, they were deserved. 


          3. Gloriasews | | #19

            I like them both.  The pink top isn't obviously too baggy at the hips (except in the pic where you have it pulled out).  The fabric looks stretchy, but not clingy - even the sleeves look comfortable.  Of course, both tops look like the knits are of different weights - are they?  Maybe the pink feels uncomfortable because it's a lighter weight (thinner) fabric.  They both look very nice on you & don't look clingy. 


          4. Crazy K | | #20

            I think you meant this for Solosmocker.  She's the one that made the shirts, not I.


          5. Gloriasews | | #24

            Sorry, Kay - & here I'd promised someone on these threads recently that it wouldn't happen again.  Guess I'm just too enthusiastic to get my two cents in :)


          6. Crazy K | | #26

            Not a problem........just didn't want to take someone else's credit!!


          7. solosmocker | | #21

            The pink is actually heavier, a cotton interlock. I think the sparkly fabric is a slinky and definitely a very stretchy four way stretch. My issue is not that they are too clingy but that I choose to fit them like wovens, and therefore not clingy. But I see so many in clingy knits with kudos as to how they look that I wonder if I am fitting my knits, albeit two, incorrectly. On the pink the hips did not hug my hips, they stuck out like wings. On the sparkly knit they were just right and stuck to my hips without being tight. I guess I was just initially questioning my own fit standards based on how I have seen others wear knits. I am happy with the sparkly one and will probably make that again.

          8. KimK | | #23

            I'm certainly no expert, but there are a lot of 4-way stretch knits that are not slinky.  Slinky is really stretchy and generally requires even less ease than a "normal" knit.  I made a sleeveless shell with slinky years ago and had to take it in quite a bit at the underarm so it didn't sag.  If I remember correctly, if you take a length of slinky, hold it in one hand and bounce it up and down, it kind of reacts like a Slinky toy.

            Regarding negative ease, most knit patterns do not have negative ease, which means the pattern measurements are less than the wearer.  Negative ease is primarily used on swimsuits and activewear such as leotards, probably those bandeau tops without straps, etc.  Normal knit ease is less than woven ease, but I'm sure if you compare the actual pattern measurements to the size dimensions, you'll find that there is still design/wearing ease.  Another clue to the expected ease can be found in the pattern description.  I just randomly pulled out a Vogue pattern for knits, and it specifies "loose-fitting".  The actual pattern bust measurement for a size 20 (42 inches) is 48-1/2 inches, so loose-fitting means a lot of ease!  Besides, who cares?  Some of the reasons we all make our own garments is to get clothes that fit in the colors and fabrics we like, and that we are comfortable wearing.  Most V-necks on patterns are WAY TOO LOW for my taste, and even if I was the only person who felt this way I still wouldn't worry about redesigning the neckline.  I think those tops look good on you, and if you don't want them to be tighter, then go with what you like. 

            Finally, since you visit PatternReview, if you want to learn more about knits you might consider taking Sarah Veblen's Understanding Knits class the next time they offer it.  I just finished her Understanding Interfacings, and I think she runs the Knits class the same way.  She send you a bunch of samples of various types of knits, and as the lessons progress she'll send information on each type, which will probably include what types of garments they'll work best in, how to finish seams, etc.  If she doesn't address ease in the lessons (which seams unlikely), she will certainly answer any questions you may have during the chats or on the message boards.  I enjoyed her Interfacings class and learned a lot.  She's running the Knits class now, and I would have signed up for that if I didn't have so much Christmas stuff to do!

            Good luck in your sewing, and remember, they're YOUR garments, not everyone else's!


          9. solosmocker | | #28

            I would love to take one of Sarah V.'s classes but the timing is all wrong with the holidays and all. I will keep my eyes out for the next one offered. As far as the pink top, this will be " good to do the laundry in" as my mom used to say. It doesn't look tight but the sleeves were very uncomfortable. That's why I did the slash and spread for the next top. Have any of you done the Steam a Seam in the hem trick? I was not pleased with this at all. My weft insertion made for a nice stable hem with a soft feel. I will definitely do that again. solo

          10. Gloriasews | | #25

            By the photos, I think they both fit you well & look comfortable - they certainly do not clingy.  Could you not undo the side seams at the hem & take in the pink one to fit closer & eliminate the wings?  I really like them & you did an excellent job!


          11. cafms | | #29

            I think your tops look good.  Is that Simplicity 4095?  If so I have made both tops in that pattern.  I really liked view B better.  I made the crossover top like yours but couldn't figure out where the top layer crossed over.  The picture shows under the bust but then it was too low for my taste on me.  Mine was also a little big on me. The other view is also a bit too low but I made a couple little filler pieces like a dickey to put in the lower part of the V.  Looked like I had on a camisole but didn't have the extra layer which made it cooler this summer.  The sides at the bottom did  the wing thing for me too but I thought maybe I had stretched it a bit sewing in the hem.  The side seam is curved sharply towards the bottom.

            If you will use wash-a-way wonder tape rather than the steam-a-seam I don't think it will be stiff but will keep the hem from stretching as you sew it.  It is a double sided, sticky tape, 1/4" wide, that will wash out later so would be softer.  I use a stretch twin needle #4.0 and a straight stitch, to sew hems in knits.  You can also use wooly nylon, hand wound on the bobbin, with the twin needles to give some stretch in the hem and keep it from popping.  I have made a lot of knit tops over the years as they are quick to make up.  The only thing is it is difficult to open a seam if you make a mistake. 

            The "cling thing" on a lot of people, in my opinion, is their refusal to wear the proper size - looking more at a size number than fit.  That goes for wovens as well.

            Someone mentioned the bamboo fabric.  I've done two tops out of it and really like it.


          12. Josefly | | #30

            Looks like success to me. I'm glad to know what you found better for the hems, and what you did for the sleeve width. The neckline double binding looks great - can you tell me where to find a description of that technique? I've seen somewhere a video showing a folded crosswise strip applied to the neckline - is that what it is?Congratulations on your nice tops. They don't look baggy or ill-fitting at all to me, and I don't care for clinging clothes, either. I can't wait to try knits too - probably not before the holidays are over, though. Have some in my stash to play with.

          13. solosmocker | | #33

            Josefly, the double fold bias binding is something used a great deal in heirloom sewing but I actually never would have thought to use it on a knit top. In my research I read the article by Marcy Tilton on crossover tops and the one on tees that she wrote as well. She says to forget any binding other than the double yada yada on any knit top and she gives a good explanation on how to do it in those articles. I think you can probably search her articles in the index on site here. Basically you decide the finished width of the binding, double that, add two seam allowances and that is the width of the bias strip you will cut. You then fold it in half and I ironed mine and then serged the edges together. The serging helped tame it while applying to the top. Then I attached it to the neckline. I think it is much nicer looking. She advised always using this and I think I always will. I am getting excited about my next knit top thanks to all the wonderful encouragement I have received from those whose opinions I respect so much. Thank you. solo

          14. Josefly | | #35

            Thank you solo, for your description - yes, I recognize now that you mentioned Marcy Tilton's method, that's where I saw it - I have her book "Easy Guide to Sewing Tops and T-Shirts", so I've seen it there as well. It's good to know that you like that application, and that's what I'll try, too. I think Nancy Zieman also has a video on applying a neck binding and that's a helpful video - maybe available among the Threads video tips, but I've forgotten, I may've seen it on her TV web site.I especially liked the cross-over pattern you used. The neckline isn't too low, as so many of the cross-over patterns are, and the over-the-boob crossover looks attractive on you and doesn't appear to bind or be uncomfortable - a question I've had about this style before. The Tilton article in Threads promoted the cross-over style as flattering to everyone, but the low neckline shown there would not work for me. So you've cleared up a few reservations I've had - thanks.

          15. GailAnn | | #32

            I've been away from my desk for a few days and seems I've missed a lot!

            Miss Solo, you stretch tops are really nice!  I love them both, but understand what you mean about the bottom of  the pink one. 

            You look fantastic in both of them!  If you are not comfortable in closely fitted stretch garments, that's no one's business but yours.  Something does not have to BE immodest to FEEL immodest.

            I hope you have lots of granddaughters!  You are such a good example of having well learned the womanly arts.  It is exciting to me to think of you passing them on to yet another generation of seamstresses.  Gail

          16. fiberfan | | #22

            The last sweatshirt fleece I bought was on the clearance rack at Joann's a couple of years ago.  Perhaps someone else will have a source for sweatshirt fleece.


  6. Teaf5 | | #13

    It's very hard to find good quality knit fabric yardage even if you like wearing knit clothes. Your first tops may be bagging and sagging more than they should or more than they would made from another type of knit; that's why I tend to buy rtw knits and sew woven garments for myself. Even then, I find that one knit top will wash and wear well for years, while the next one by the same manufacturer looks awful after a single wearing.

    Occasionally, I find a extra-large garment on clearance that has a wonderful knit fabric; I'll buy it, and then cut it apart to re-use the fabric for my size and shape. One member of the forum mentioned buying bolts of knits in basic colors when he/she finds one that works well, also because it's so hard to find good knit yardage.

  7. sewelegant | | #27

    One of my biggest pet peeves is how the nurses of today dress!!!  When I was one, circa 1960, the cutesy smocks with all the doodle art work was in the uniform catalogs advertised for hairdressers.  There was absolutely nothing like putting on a pristine white uniform with my starched hat and nursing school pin and feeling like Florence Nightingale.  I could perform any disgusting task without a wince and feel good about making someone else feel better.  At the end of my career I did wear pants, but they were always white and I too stitched up my own uniforms from regular dress patterns and they were always white.  White ponte was a favorite for the pants fabric.  Ah well, life goes on. 

    I really meant to comment on knits!  I love them and have been lamenting the fact they are getting harder to find in pretty prints.  I have never liked clingy clothes, but attrubute a little of that to my Catholic school upbringing of half a century ago.  Even in nurse's training we all became very adept at changing clothes under our nightgowns or whatever.  Modesty was IN.

    I envy anyone who doesn't have to mess with "boobs".  They literally take all the joy out of fitting a garment for me.  I have taken to putting the dart in the armscye instead of at the side because it just looks better!  I have seen this sweatshirt dress in clothing catalogs and have been intrigued.  I have several sweat suits in different colors that I wear when the weather gets cold, but they are strictyly around the house items.  I miss my dresses and have wondered if I would like them.  However, I have decided to not buy any more clothes because they never fit me and I'm wondering how do you go about making your sweatdresses?  Do you just lengthen a sweatshirt pattern.  What kind of shoes do you wear with them?  How long do you make them?  Do you put a dart in them? 

  8. Tatsy | | #31

    Thank you so much for posting those pix! I've fussed and fussed with crossover tops and never been able to get them to fit. Now that I see the body type they actually look good on I can give up the fight with grace and recognize that only a few modified stlyes are anything but a physical impossibilty. Thanks again.

    1. solosmocker | | #34

      Tatsy, many times I tried crossover styles over the years and always failed. Granted, they were always woven styles but I just couldn't figure out if it wanted to go under or over the boob. There were a couple wadders over the years. It seems the style where the wrap ends with a tie at the waist was a particularly dark sewing memory. I wasn't doing much needed FBA at the time either so that was part of the issue too I'm sure. solo

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