I’m excited to share of a review of the book Sew U Home Stretch, the Built by Wendy Guide to Sewing Knit Fabrics by Wendy Mullin. The premise of this book is to offer a guide to sewing with knit fabrics. There are three basic patterns included in this book. Wendy then offers ways to modify these patterns for multiple pattern hack variations.
The three springboard patterns included are a basic t-shirt, raglan shirt, and a dress (pictured below). The patterns are printed onto tissue paper and are included in the back of the book.
For reference, the following is the size range for the patterns that are included.
The first pattern that I sewed is a v neck t-shirt (page 118). The title of this project is Project #3: V all that you can V. This garment uses the basic t-shirt pattern, with some modifications.
I’ve made two versions of this top. The first version was one that I repurposed fabric from a larger t-shirt (reference this post).
The next version that I made is from a lovely knit bamboo fabric that I had in my fabric stash from Girl Charlee. This is by far my current favorite handmade t-shirt that I own. The bamboo feels silky soft, as if I’m wearing pajamas. I definitely want to make more t-shirts out of bamboo knit fabric (maybe even some actual pajamas as well).
- One change that I made to the directions, I did not shorten the sleeve length, as recommended. I used the sleeve length from the basic t-shirt pattern.
- I found the directions for the ballet ruching (as written) a bit challenging to execute. I attempted to follow these directions a few times and then used the ruching directions from my copy of the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top. Tilly and her team do an amazing job offering detailed and well executed patterns. If you don’t own the Agnes top yet, I highly recommend it as a wardrobe staple!
- This is the first pattern that I’ve encountered where the neckband length is not provided on the neckband pattern piece. One long neckband length is provided with the pattern (as a place to start) but different neckband lengths are not given, by size (as I’ve seen in other knit fabric patterns). This gap led me down the path of finding out how to calculate a neckband length for knit fabrics. For this shirt, I tried a 10% smaller neckband (versus the neckline length). I measured the length of my neckline flat and then multiplied that length by 0.1. I subtracted the neckline length by that number and rounded down. The neckline length is 32″ and I went with a 27″ neckband.
Another pattern that I made was a raglan t-shirt (page 140). The title of this project is Project #1: A League of Your Own. I have never sewed a raglan style t-shirt before and I’ve been intrigued with its potential. I love the idea of color blocking and also using up smaller scraps of fabric at the sleeves.
This is my version, with a few modifications, listed below.
- The original neck for this pattern was way too high for me. For the top shown (in the photo above) I took out 1″ at the neck and arms (from the base pattern). When I make this top again, I will take out more then 1″ to bring down the neckline more.
- The pattern called for 1/4″ seam allowances, which are included. This allowance is a little too small for my personal preference (for sewing with knit fabrics). I did sew the entire top with the recommended allowance with the exception of the attachment of the neckband. For the attachment of the neckband, I used a 5/8″ seam allowance.
- As mentioned in the top above, the exact neckband length was not included in the pattern. There were a few things mentioned online (regarding calculating the neckline length for knit tops) but for this top, where I ultimately ended up is asking a friend on Instagram how she approaches self-drafting knit necklines. She suggested using a 70% length calculation for the neckline. This percentage worked great for me! The construction order for the basic t-shirt pattern is to first sew one of the shoulders at the front and back bodice piece. Then the neckband is added in the next step (before sewing together the second shoulder). I measured the length of my neckline flat and then multiplied that length by 0.7. This gave me the neckband length to cut for the shirt.
Overall thoughts on the book: After sewing two patterns in the book, I’ve learned that this book is more of a guideline for how to to “self-draft” patterns in knit fabrics. I’ve mentioned that the individual neckband lengths are not included in the provided pattern. By working through this book, I’ve now gained experience in self-drafting necklines. I now feel more comfortable with this detail not being included in the patterns.
If you have never worked with knit fabrics, this book is helpful but I would recommend additional resources for getting started with knits. This Craftsy class by Meg McElwee was a huge help for me as I first started sewing with knit fabrics.
Some future projects that I’d like to make from this book are the following: