You are currently viewing SUMMER KNITS… OH SO EASY


There are so many beautiful FASHION knit fabrics available. Poly/spandex interlock is easy to sew—my top on the left—and rayon/spandex is so soft and drapey—Marta’s top on the right.

While writing the new Knits For Real People book, I had a ball sewing knit tops. It was a quick way to try out many knit fabric varieties. Co-author Sue Neall brought three of her Australian Sewing Guild friends to stay at my home in Portland, OR and we photographed them for the book being fitted in knit tops. Val is shown on the top left of the cover and Suzanne on the far right. No one was safe around us. Note the founder of, Deepika Prakish, is on the cover also, wearing a print dress. There are also people in the book who came here to take a workshop. Watch out!

This article covers some tips for making well-fitted cowl, round, and V-neck tops.


Lynn Raasch, a former traveling Palmer/Pletsch instructor, came to my home wearing a cowl top she sewed from our shirred cowl top/dress pattern McCall’s 6282. She said it was her favorite cowl, just the perfect amount of front neck drape.  She eliminated the center back seam, zipper, lining, and shirring.  I loved the idea of making this a new pattern design without the shirring. It is McCall’s 6963.

I asked McCall’s to make this one not quite as fitted as the shirred top, but keep the same high and low cowl neckline options. This design has 1 ½” bust  ease, 3” waist ease, and 1 ½”  hip ease.

I sew with a size 12 pattern. I also love to do fit experiments. I used my normal size 12 for the green and purple top, (View C/D with the higher neckline). It was perfect in the neck and shoulder areas, but I had to add quite a lot to the side seams.

So for my next one, on the right above, also sewn in a poly/spandex interlock, I used a size 16 and View A/B (the lower neckline). I didn’t have to add as much width for the waist and hips, but it looks like a drop shoulder style. Also, the neckline is too wide and low. I will wear it anyway because I love the print!

Marta’s rayon print is also the lower neckline, but since she used her normal size 14 it fits great through the chest. Marta has a broad and round back. The alteration lines are printed on the pattern and the guide sheet shows how to alter.


I love the look of today’s FASHION tees. T-shirts used to be 100% cotton. Today’s are made in poly, poly/spandex, rayon blends, bamboo, and more. They can look dressy. Once you have fitted the tissue, sew it over and over.  I’ve included lots of tips in the guide for fitting and sewing knits. This design has 1¼” bust ease,  5½” waist ease, and 3” hip ease.


I first did my normal high round back adjustment. Then I checked for full bust. The pattern center front is ½ ” from my center front. So I will widen the tissue ½”.

After doing the full bust alteration, I tried on the tissue again. The bust dart is too high, but since the armhole seemed snug, I will first lengthen the front and back ½” across the armhole.

It now feels better in the armhole. The dart is still a little high, so I marked an X where I thought it should point to.

I lowered it by drawing a box around it, cutting it out, and moving it down.  Dart is lower now. I added to the hip at sides and added more than I’d need. I took off some when fitting in fabric.

The sleeve is snug. I’d like a little ease to make my arm look smaller. Also, the cap is not high enough. I need to add the same ½” that I added to the armhole. The sleeve was widened and lengthened ½”. I also added an “in-case” seam allowance to the top of the sleeve. Tees often have a shorter cap, but I don’t like those drag lines pointing to the shoulder.


For tops cut on the fold, re-fold knit toward the center, as shown below. Measure to make sure the amount folded in is even top to bottom. Here, both rulers measure 14½”.  Check the print under the bust area to make sure you like what is there. The sleeve fits on the end. After cutting these three pieces, the remainder of the fabric will be re-folded for the neck band.

Be sure you snip-marked all the notches, circles, center back, foldlines, and shoulder diamonds on neck and band for easy matching.


Mark the stitching lines with a ruler. Where they cross is where you pivot.

Sew ends of band together, trim, clip to the V, and press seams open. Fold band in half wrong sides together and machine baste raw edges together. This will prevent “scooting” so you won’t have drag lines in the finished band.


Pin the band to the neckline matching snips and seams. Working on a ham allows you to pin more accurately.

I sewed the center front neckline from the garment side following my stay stitching. I could also make sure the center front “V” lined up with the center front seam  on the band.  I sewed the rest of the neckline with the band on top. I made sure I had three raw edges together as I sewed. I gently stretched the band to fit the top between pins.

I tried on the top to make sure the neckline looked good. Then I serged the seam allowances, trimming them to 3/8” and pressed the band over a ham. For more control you can pin the neckline to the ham.


I do a lot of hemming with the paper-backed fusible web Steam-A-Seam. If I fuse for a full 10 seconds, it holds well through laundering. Steam-A-Seam 2 fusible web is sticky on both sides. Stick it to the wrong side of the fabric along the edge of the hem. Then lightly iron on the paper that covers the web to slightly melt the web so it will stay stuck as you go around the hem. Then peel off the paper.

We have been doing a lot of sewing lately, so we will be sending out a weekly blog about our experiences. In the fall we may lag a bit because we will be filming some online classes.

Until next time,

x Pati

Leave a Reply