Knit Tops: the Raglan Experiment

First of all, before I forget, thanks everyone who said they liked the new theme! I finally found one I can customize the way I like, and I get a header! yay!. Though I’m still getting used to the new colour scheme. I’ve been in such a “red and black” mode lately, the blue and cream feels odd.

Lekala raglan tee pattern illustration

So this past weekend, in between madly sewing jeans and bullying Tyo into posing for pictures in her coat, I spent some time sniffing around the Lekala website. In particular, I discovered their “knittings” section. There are some pretty groovy patterns there. Importantly, they have a link to a sample PDF of the patterns (conveniently tiled for home printing, albeit for an A4 size paper. I wonder if I could find A4 paper here if I looked?). EVEN more importantly, that PDF pattern is in a small adult size, for someone with an 84cm bust and 92 cm hips. Which happens to be about as close to my actual measurements as any non-custom pattern ever is (we’ll ignore the 64cm waist, AKA 25″ waist. Haven’t had one of those since I was 14.)

Anyhoo, I cheerfully went along downloading every pattern that caught my fancy, and decided in a fit of mad bravery to sew up my single remaining remnant of white cotton knit into this pattern (#5672, about halfway down the page). Don’t you love their foxy artist illustrations? I especially like that a lot of them are plus-sized (though not this one, obviously)

This is the line-drawing:

Lekala raglan top 5672 line drawing

Lekala raglan top 5672 line drawing

which shows what it is a little more plainly: a simple raglan-sleeved top with a gathered drawstring placket in the front.

I’ve been wanting to try a raglan-sleeved basic tee for awhile. Well, basically since this one appeared on Burdastyle. Obviously there’s some differences (no underbust seam here), but the basic shape’s the same, both have bust gathers, and this one is free!

I printed the pieces out and compared them to my much-laboured-over Lydia pattern. Almost a perfect match, aside from some subtle differences in the waist curve—the sizing was spot on, as was the sleeve length. The bodice of the Lekala top was quite short, as you can see in the pattern illustration, so I extended it by a good 10cm; as I no longer have the firmness of tummy the model does, I try to avoid that sliver of low-belly nowadays. I also added my usual extension to the arm as well.

Lekala raglan tee, V. 1, front

And I got sewing. Since the knit I had on hand was white and a bit sheer, I tried out Sherry’s double-layer, folded hem, enclosed seam technique. This worked really well, though I wasn’t quite clever enough to get the sleeve seam enclosed between the two bodice layers. Next time. Only downside—it’s awkward to take in after construction. Which is why Sherry made a muslin. I didn’t bother, despite remembering clearly that the white Lydia I made from this same fabric needed to be taken in, as the fabric has little to no recovery. So the bodice wound up a bit looser and bulkier than I might have liked… but still wearable. It also looses length significantly as it stretches in width; I should’ve added more length to the sleeves.

I had the most trouble with the neckline. I was quite worried about it stretching out of

Lekala raglan-sleeve tee, slightly better shot of the body

shape (see above about the recovery of this fabric). Initially I went to bind it with a a strip of self fabric cut on the lengthwise grain (as I’ve done with all my Lydias; the technique is the same as Sherry uses in her tank-top post, minus the serged edge and precision). However, I remembered (as I was sewing it on) that this fabric has no lengthwise stretch. The resulting binding looked great and didn’t sag, but when worn it pulled the neckline very high, making the whole shirt very tight through the armpits, but most importantly not providing that lovely almost-off-the-shoulder sweep of skin. So I cut it all off, went back, and sewed 1/4 clear elastic along the wrongside, and then just folded this under and topstitched. I started out the topstitching with a double needle, but one of the needles snapped within the first four inches of topstitching (first time using that needle, too… #$$%#%$@#@$), so I did two rows of single stretch straight stitching. Grrr. Well, it looks all right from a distance, anyway. In hindsight I could’ve been a little more aggressive snugging up the clear elastic; it flares out a bit more than necessary especially right at the sleeve seams.

The pattern called for a drawstring placket to make the gathers at the bust. I had no idea how to do this, the

Lekala raglan-sleeve T

instructions were less than edifying (I’ve never applied a surface placket like this before), and I didn’t have anything  I thought I’d want to make drawstrings out of anyway, so I used the same method I did on my blue tank top and sewed a stretched elastic on the inside. I could’ve made it a bit longer, but on the whole the detail worked.

I definitely want to repeat this in a nicer fabric (this isn’t an awful knit, it’s reasonably stable to cut and sew, but the lack of recovery, lack of vertical stretch, and boring colour irritate me). And maybe stick a big floppy collar like the Manequim Cowl on top.

I wish all the nice knits at Fabricland weren’t so frickin’ expensive. I know, I know, buy online… /sigh.

Here ends part 2 of my Lekala odyssey. I’m pretty sure there will be more in the future…

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Knit Tops: the Raglan Experiment

  1. Nice job on this. I’ve been cranking out some knit tops. Not my favourite project but I’m preparing basics for the next “Me-Made” challenge.
    Aren’t the indoor photos so uninspiring? I feel like photoshopping the background on mine this week.
    And I love the theme!

    • Yeah, basics are good. I need more (and more colours)—but they need to have some feature of interest. The Lydias get super boring super fast. I hear you on the indoor photos (though I find lack of light even worse than lack of setting). Maybe props would help?

  2. Corinne

    Love the new look by the way, very clean and easy to read. This T looks really nice on my computer. How nice to see a simple design detail give so much character to a simple T!

  3. Sue

    Lovely top, looks really good on you! I think the Lekala pattern designs are great.

  4. Joy

    Well, after all that, you made it work! It’s nice you have altered Lydia to compare it to. It’s a great basic.

  5. Nice! I didn’t know about Lekala. I was intrigued by Sherry’s double layer hem, too. How did you get around the A4 print size? Or is it pretty much the same size?

    • It’s “close enough for government work” :P. There’s basically no overlap on the short ends, and a very small one on the long sides. Of course, if you actually order the pattern from them, you can choose which paper size you want it made for.

  6. This looks great! I’ve never tried a Lekala pattern (despite having downloaded at least 45 patterns when they were all free a few months ago… hmmm… what did I do with those downloads anyway??)

    Cool!

    • Isn’t it so easy to download a free pattern, and then never touch it? Sometimes I think I don’t trust them just because they were free. I was at least half-convinced they would be totally wonky or something… but they seem to sew up nicely, if you can get past the instructions.

      • Cathy

        I downloaded a ton of them in September too. I’ve tried two so far and both went together well, no complaints. But the instructions are so hard to follow, I’m still a bit scared to try some of the more advanced (to me) patterns I picked. So far I’ve done lingerie, no one but my husband needs to see that if it doesn’t turn out great. Seeing your review builds my confidence.

  7. Marie-Christine

    Lekala patterns, while theoretically custom-sized, don’t allow for bust adjustments which have to be done on paper. So it’s good if they fit you :-).
    You don’t have to worry at all about A4 paper, it’s smaller than your lettersize 8.5×11″, so it works in that direction.

    • Yeah, I’m not an FBA candidate in anyone’s world. There was something about them now requiring an underbust measurement, too (apparently a new feature), do you think that would help?

  8. Cute! I too, downloaded a ton of the patterns when they were free a while back, but then forgot about them. I should probably see what I’ve got. Your top turned out very cute, hopefully you’ll be able to find some nice fabric on the cheap to make more of these soon! :-)

  9. It’s crazy how these simple knit tops can end up being so frustrating to finish easily, but it looks great! I also love the free-form top stitching on your jean pockets.

  10. super cute top!! i really like the redesign too. i read about it via google reader and wasn’t sure how i’d feel not seeing the red and black, but it’s nice and clean looking :)

    btw, how is it that you have more responsibilities than me and manage to crank out 3X the sewing (or more!) and 3X the blog posts than i do??

  11. Thanks! :)

    I’d like to say “excellent time management,” but probably “obsession” is more accurate… :P

  12. Nice! What a great basic layering top. The raglan seamlines are really flattering on you!

  13. chefaerztininspe

    That turned out lovely! I could definitely see it in a fun print!

  14. soundstitches

    Hiya, you’ve gotten so many comments you probably don’t want to respond to mine, but: Is the cotton knit called “cotton interlock”? If so, it has more “recovery,” as you say, than I thought it would and I might try to download a similar pattern. Also, FYI, bust adjustments generally aren’t as important in knits because of the give. The top looks lovely on you — thanks for your post. – Kris, http://soundstitches.wordpress.com

    • The cotton is a thrift store find, so even the content is my best guess. It’s about what I would call a “light T-shirt” weight, with plenty of stretch crosswise, none lengthwise, and relatively little inclination to regain its previous width after being stretched (although I have seen knits worse for this).

      Comments are always welcome! :)

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