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Adapt Woven Patterns for Knits

Convert your favorites and stretch your fabric options
Threads #195, Feb./March 2018
A pattern intended for wovens can be revised to look great and feel comfortable in knits. Pattern: McCall’s 7659, modified. Fabric: cotton-blend jersey, courtesy of ArtGalleryFabrics.com.

Consider combining a beautiful knit fabric with your favorite woven pattern for a comfortable, stylish garment. I have developed a way to resize patterns designed for woven fabrics so they work successfully for knits. In technical pattern drafting there are complex formulas, but this is a streamlined application for the home sewer who is adjusting patterns for knits for personal use. 

My simple-to-follow method uses the degree of stretch in your chosen knit as the basis for making a straightforward reduction to your pattern. This is the best of all worlds: You can use your favorite woven-fabric patterns for easy-to-sew and easy-to-wear knit clothes. In addition to their carefree wearability, knits make perfect travel clothes that are wrinkle resistant and washable.

Start with a pattern that fits

Patterns for knits are drafted smaller than similar patterns for wovens because the knit fabric stretches. You need to reduce the woven fabric pattern to make it knit-ready. It’s not as simple as just using a smaller pattern size, because the reduction can differ, due to variations in fabric characteristics and the need for different circumference and length adjustments. 

Begin with a woven pattern that fits properly, to ensure a successful conversion to knits. Then evaluate the pattern pieces. You may choose to eliminate pieces such as facings, which are often replaced with knit-appropriate finishes such as a simple turned and topstitched edge, self-fabric binding, or serging. 

Determine which pieces won’t be changed. In the pattern on the facing page, for example, you would not reduce the neckband. Although the new fabric has some stretch, you don’t want a tight neckline. If in doubt, test the pattern feature with a knit fabric scrap to determine the best option.

Evaluate shaping and ease 

Darts are often eliminated in knits. However, I…

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Sewing With Knits

Sewing With Knits

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