My friends – I seem to have happened upon a very happy accident; I took a knit sewing pattern (Named Ninni Culottes) and sewed them out of a woven fabric – and lived to tell the tale! If you have been considering taking a knit pattern that you love, and subbing in a woven fabric – make sure you ask yourself the four questions below to save yourself (and your fabric) from the potential pitfalls.
After my success with the Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes – I knew I wanted to try a another culottes pattern. Having seen all the fantastic examples of the prolific Named Ninni Culottes on Instagram, I knew this pattern was calling me. What I DIDN’T realize at the time, was that the pattern was actually designed for a knit pattern. Luckily for me, this pattern EASILY passes the knit to woven test (with one important consideration around fabric selection), but for other patterns there are several questions you want to consider before you sub in that woven fabric!
How will I get in/out?
Many knit patterns are designed to use the stretch of the fabric to allow you to get into (or out of) the garment. This allows a garment to sit closer to your body, but also protects you from popping stitches when dressing and undressing. Because wovens generally have less stretch than knits, you have to include some sort of closure for more fitted garments (think zippers, buttons, snaps, keyholes, etc.).
For my woven Ninni Culottes, the pattern uses an elastic waistband and gathers. Since I kept the gathers and the knit waistband, I didn’t have to create an opening/closure.
However, if you wanted to take a more fitted pair of pants and convert them from a knit to a woven, Katie has a fantastic tutorial on the Love Notions blog that you should check out (link here).
Is there negative ease?
First let’s start with definitions. According to Wikipedia, Ease is the amount of room a garment allows the wearer beyond the measurements of their body. So, if the garment is smaller than your measurements, than it has negative ease. In those cases, unless your fabric has the right stretch percentage listed, we would recommend that you potentially use another pattern. You MIGHT be able to just size up based on finished measurements in a pant pattern (see the meme below for what might go wrong!), but for a bodice, it could require redrafting armscyes, sleeves, etc — which just feels like a lot of work!
Does it require drape?
For my Ninni Culottes, I used rayon challis, which is a very drapey lightweight woven fabric. It’s honestly one of my favorite fabrics to wear (particularly in the summer), because it breathes. The drape on this fabric is a good match for the pattern, and therefore hangs closely to my body.
Katie also sewed up the Ninni Culottes in a linen-blend (linked here). She had a very different outcome because the fabric did not have any drape. There is no right or wrong answer here, folks, but you should make sure your choice is intentional. You can use fabric to take a perspective on the shape you want for your pants (or other garment pieces), just make sure you are taking into account the difference in the drape required for the intended look.
Will I need to add shaping?
Lastly, you should consider whether shaping is required. For my Ninni Culottes, as I mentioned, I left the waistband alone — which is just about all the shaping that this pattern has! However, if I wanted to streamline the pants, I could remove the width and add darts and the zipper to make them a whole different pair of pants. See Katie’s post for more information on how to do this.
If I was to do the same thing to, say, a tank pattern (assuming there is a way for me to get in and out of it, it was not drafted with negative ease, and my fabric has the same drape properties), I might consider adding a bust dart to mimic the closer fit of a lightweight woven. However, remember that you may need to do considerable re-drafting. Buying a pattern designed for wovens would definitely be the preferred route! MeSewCrazy has a nice tutorial if you are interested (linked here).
Easy enough, right? Have you recently converted any knit sewing patterns to wovens or vice-versa? Let us know by commenting below, or sharing in our facebook group!