When you have a pattern you love and want to extend its contributions to your closet, making fabric changes is a great way to expand the pattern’s use. It only takes a few simple tricks to change a woven pattern to knit pattern.
I took my new favorite pattern, Simplicity 9702, and morphed it into a knit dress with the help of Silhouette Pattern 195, the Sweater Set.
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The Sew Along Video
In this Sew Along Video we cover:
- Positive ease for a woven fabric vs negative ease for a knit fabric
- Making a practice garment
- Changing the bust darts from yoke gathering to bodice gathering
- Adding knit sleeves and knit arm hole
When I was scrolling through designer Fall 2023 Ready to Wear runway shows I was struck by this Elie Saab knit dress. The dress featured one of the hottest trends from this summer and carrying over into this fall — plunging necklines.
Saab’s green creation has a close body fit, gathered bodice, and godets in the side seams, I was struck by the casual but dressy feel — a combo that works great in any closet. It seems to be constructed from a stable knit fabric.
The garment wasn’t on Saab’s website, but similar dresses are in the $4,000 range. While I love Saab’s creations, I don’t have anywhere to show off a $4,000 dress, let alone have the resources for one to hang in my closet.
Thankfully, we can take inspiration from this stunning piece and create our own version of a plunge neck, full length dress.
I have made two dresses with Simplicity 9702 already. Both dresses are made with a light cotton lawn and have a fully lined bodice. You can find my Simplicity 9702 Sew Along to walk you through step by step construction of this fun and floaty dress.
Both 9702 and the Saab dresses have some similarities and a few differences. The biggest difference is the woven vs knit fabric. Morphing a pattern intended for a woven fabric to a knit fabric takes some sewing gymnastics. Another big difference is where the bust darts (gathers) are placed. We need to move them from the high waist seam on the 9702 pattern to the bodice on the inspiration piece.
The second pattern I used is Silhouette 195, the Sweater Set. I used the sleeve and arm hole from this pattern which is drafted for knit fabric.
I received this lovely, lightweight knit fabric, Minerva Core Range Organic Cotton Jersey Stretch Knit Fabric in Beige from Minerva. I used just 1.5 meters to make this dress. The lightweight, fluid fabric was the perfect stretch knit for this sculptured dress. The cotton jersey is light weight like a t shirt knit, but has more structure and opacity.
It was the perfect option to construct my knit version of 9702, proving you don’t always have to follow the recommended fabrics on the back of the pattern.
You can read my review of 9702 and the Stretch Knit Fabric at Minerva.
Modifying The Bust Darts (Gathering)
To transform 9702 bust gathering you need to remove the gathering from the body of the dress and add it to the bodice. Adding the gathering to the bodice also helps reduce the plunge of the “V” neckline. I did buy a plunge bra from Knix — if you go through my Knix link you will receive $20 off your first order.
For detailed information on how to make this shaping happen, please see the video.
Tips To Adapt Patterns Designed For Woven Fabrics Into Knit Fabrics Patterns
Make A Practice Garment
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of making a muslin or practice garment. Since you are changing the entire structure of this dress, making it first out of a knit fabric from your stash is vital. Choose a muslin fabric that is a similar weight and stretch as your fashion fabric. If you are lucky, you may end up with a wearable muslin.
In this case, it worked out for me, but that does not always happen — sometimes it just ends up as a marked up first make. I did have to take the bodice apart and shorten up the gathers. For the gathers, I had about 5″ in the first make and it was too much fabric. I also realized I needed to go down another size to get the desired fit.
I was happy I made a muslin before cutting into my final fabric.
Go Down One Or Two Sizes
photo pattern tissue measurements
A woven fabric has positive ease, it allows the fabric to move over your body. A knit garment has negative ease, it is made to fit close to the body and stretch as you move.
The first place to start with changing the garment ease is looking at the finished garment measurements on the tissue. This way you can estimate what size to make your pattern pieces.
Use A Knit Sleeve And Arm Hole
Your finished garment will fit better if you use knit pattern arm holes and sleeves. Take your favorite knit pattern and overlay the arm hole on the woven pattern.
See the video for a visual of this woven and knit pattern transformation.
A godet is a “a triangular piece of material inserted in a dress, shirt, or glove to make it flared or for ornamentation.” In this instance, we inserted the godet to add flare when we walk.
Woven Fabric Vs Knit Fabric
As you can see from the photos below, these two dresses look nothing alike. However, they came from the same basic pattern — isn’t that great! Find a woven pattern that is a good candidate to morph into a knit pattern and you can extend the usefulness of your patterns.
Woven Version Of Simplicity 9702
Knit Version Of Simplicity 9702
A few simple tools will make the job of shifting the gathered shaping much easier.
I love using washers as weights. They are inexpensive and are faster than pins. Plus they don’t distort the pattern the way pins can.
Gridded Pattern Paper
I use whatever paper I have on hand. However, sometimes it is best to use gridded pattern paper for more accurate pattern drafting.
Using a jersey needle will make sewing your knit patterns easier. You should also use your machine’s stretch stitch, that will help your seams move when the knits stretch.
Bias Binding Video
Bias binding is easy to make and you will love the results.
Have Fun Experimenting With Sewing Patterns
Switching up a pattern from a woven fabric to a knit fabric extends your pattern stash and makes you an intrepid fabric chameleon. Can you change a woven pattern to knit pattern, the short answer is absolutely.
I love my Bernette 38 Sewing Machine. It is perfect for sewing beautiful garments.
Make your garments better with my 21 Tips To Take Your DIY Garment From Homemade To High End
Do you love Sew Alongs and Sewing Tips and Tricks? My Youtube channel Barrett’s Custom Design is filled with great sewing techniques served up with a few laughs.
My Sewing With Sandi Etsy Shop has over 500 hard to find women’s, men’s, and children’s patterns. You will find little girls’ bows, a few sewing notions, sewing kits, but mostly lots and lots of patterns. You will find little girls’ bows, a few sewing notions, sewing kits, but mostly lots and lots of patterns.