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Sew Successful Knit Tops

Tabula Rasa Knit Tee and Tunic Patterns were flying out of our offices during the month of May.  We are so pleased that many of you are ready to make these fun tops.  As you get started, here are a few ideas to light your path and visuals from a basic top I am making for a friend.

TR Knits cover - 2d ed
TR Knits cover – 2d ed

Choose the Right Size

Read through the opening section of the direction book as you choose your size XS – 3XL.  You will also need to decide if you want to use the AB or CD front and, for the Tee, a straight or flared side.  If you have been sized and made the Tabula Rasa Jacket, use the same size and fit adjustments.  There are now a series of adjustment videos especially for the TR Knits patterns showing the step by step adjustments for each knit Common Fitting Adjustment.

In this knit top, both the front and back are cut on the fold.

Start Simply

Make a very basic tee or tunic to test the fit and experience the unique square armhole construction. It is easy but unusual if you have never tried it. Use a moderate stretch jersey in a light to medium solid or subtle print for the best results.  Be sure to sew your first top with the sewing machine and try it on before finishing the seam allowances so you can adjust the fit if needed. Using a solid in a light color or soft print will allow you to see the seam lines and assess the fit with clarity.

Adjust the Fit

As you wear your new top, decide if the fit feels great or needs some tweaking.  Consult the Common Fitting Adjustments for Knits for guidance if the top feels snug or loose, tips up in the front or back, or hugs the arms too closely.

Once you are happy with the fit, then finish the seam allowances.

Pick your Best Neckline

The basic pattern offers a U or V neckline.  Try them both over time and decide which you like best.  Of course, additional necklines are available in the variations.

A light pink U neckline and a hot ink draped neckline.

I love the U-neck.  It softly frames the face without dipping too low.  The soft curves make it easy to manipulate the finishing band too.  The draped front in Wide Neckline Variations also softly frames the face once you have mastered the basic pattern.

The V-neck and the V-necklines in Clever Crossing Variations are classic shapes that cleanly define the neckline for a sharper effect.

The Wide ballet and boat neckline and their collar options seem the perfect choice for fabrics with horizontal patterns that might be disrupted by the U or V neckline.

Make Samples to Test Finishes

Small neckline samples are a good way to test your skill at finishing knit necklines.  Use your scraps to make a sample first if knit band finishes feel frightening to you.

The sample also gives you a place to test your seam finishes for a good stretch when you put in the shoulder seams, and you can test the knit interfacing technique we recommend in your sample too.  Download sample size patterns and directions for making the U neck and boat neck finish samples if you are interested.

Use the lower edges to test hem finishes, which are outlined in Knit Tee Hems.

Be Inspired

Visit our online photo gallery and Tabula Rasa Knit Pinterest page to see lots of samples made with our Tabula Rasa Knit patterns and with our bundles.  There are still some knit bundles available, so order one to make your second or third knit top once you have perfected the fit.  Nice quality knit solids are also available in our online store.

Our Blog Archive is chock full of knit inspiration too.  There are posts about designing with the 2 or 3 fabrics that come in a bundle, posts about painting knits with our fabulous liquid fabric paints, interesting piecing and seam techniques, plus close ups of the types of tops that can be made with each variation.

Two tops in the same fabric, the simply designed basic tee and the Clever Crossing Tunic top with picot trim.

If you get stuck, contact us so we can help you puzzle through your problem.  Plan to attend our late summer or November retreat if you want to up your knit sewing game, or work with the fit and fashioning of any of our patterns.

Friends sewing knit tops together at last years spring retreat!

The rooms where our retreats will be held are spacious and kept squeaky clean by our hosts.  We will even have our next knit variation pattern for you to play with if you are interested.

Stay well and sew happy, RAE

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