2014: The Rise of the Raglan

I feel like raglans took over the blogosphere this past year: be it Papercut, Grainline, Kitschy Koo, Hey June, Capital Chic, or my personal fav, Jalie, there are raglans everywhere! I hadn’t sewn one until I got the Jalie pattern last winter, and boom: now I’ve made about 15!

Now clearly raglans are nothing new… but after we’ve all sewed a million Plantains and Renfrews, I think it’s nice to have a change. I love how well they work with colour blocking, which means they also are perfect for awkward scraps. My favourite thing about this pattern is that it works equally well in sweater knit, ponte, French terry, or jersey. No adjustments needed! (**Edited: Since drafting this post, I made raglan in quilted polyester double knit, and it’s far from perfect. Sigh.)

In my Ginger jeans post you might have noticed my new raglan tops as well… since they are the first projects I’ve made with my new coverstitch machine, I thought they deserved a post to themselves!

Ginger Jeans and Jalie Raglan

First up is a fairly light sweater knit that I picked up locally and cheap. (Turns out that the strange Len’s Mill local chain store in my sister’s city is WAY better than the one in mine!) I started out trying to pipe this one with decorative elastic, but the seams ended up wavy and I cut it all out. Keep it simple! The hem is perhaps slightly stretched out from trying to iron a fold, but whatever!

Ginger Jeans and Jalie Raglan

Next, my fav: a refashioned combo of a Japanese sweaterknit tunic and plain taupe t-shirt, both about 6 years old. Both tops were now too tight (thanks to changing fashion and too much eating!) but together they make a very wearable shirt.

Ginger Jeans and Jalie Raglan

Remember this fabric from on of my Top 5 misses? Well, I had most of 1m left, and I decided I’d rather have a top I’d wear loads than try to fix the dress. Voila! Raglan!

**edited as I write: Uhhhh… I wrote this whole post then looked more carefully – I think this last top is a Renfrew, not a raglan! Ooops! There goes my title…**

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Two of the lines of stitching are refashioned RTW… one is from my new machine. I”m pleased that I can’t tell the difference!

What’s really exciting for me is how the coverstitch makes is possible to sew a different silhouette. Because of the stretchy hem, these tops skim the hips nicely. Until now I’ve been using a banded finish like a Renfrew, or very often leaving the hem unfinished, which often clings a bit because there’s no body to the edge. No longer!

I hemmed all of these tops a little shorter, and I like how it’s balancing my wide hips. I do notice that the back rides up sometimes in the pictures… I could make the back wider for my booty, but I wonder if that will make the overall shape more tentlike? Or if I add to the back and take from the front, will it help with the fit issue at all?

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Look at those pretty cover-stitched hems! My third Brother machine is as well-behaved as my sewing machine and serger. I didn’t have to change the settings at all between the different types of fabric. It just WORKED!

Is there any style of clothing that snuck up on you over the last year and took over your sewing? What do you think might be the next trend in 2015? What would you like it to be?

(Me, I’d like it to be cosy sweater dresses, like the Lola. I’m also into knit princess seams, in theory, but I don’t have a pattern that I love. Today I dug this sweatshirt Go Anywhere dress out from the closet, and was thinking how few knit patterns have really interesting seamlines right now.)


57 thoughts on “2014: The Rise of the Raglan

  1. Those are lovely shirts, Gillian!🙂

    From 2014, I was surprised to sew so many skirts. I wasn’t a big fan. And now, I have about 6 skirts planned for the beginning of this year! It’s all I want to wear. I imagine this year will be all about sewing tops to go with them, because I have a shortage of those in my closet. These raglan tops are great inspiration for me.🙂

    I especially love the taupe/sweater knit combo! It’s so awesome!

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  2. I’m so jealous of your coverstitch – such neat hems! I love the look of raglans but have yet to settle on a favourite pattern – they’re hard to fit on me because I have very narrow shoulders but average width arms – yet to find one that’s snug around the shoulder/neck area but not tight on the arms. Grainline’s Linden is next to try🙂

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    1. That does sound like a difficult fitting combo! I’ve only ever had to change the raglan sleeves on the Lola dress… and I think that was mostly because I was sewing in very stable sweatshirt, and it just couldn’t cope!
      I hope Linden works well for you – I could see you wearing that a lot!🙂

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  3. I’m so glad that raglans were a popular pattern option this year… I’ve lived in RTW ones for the past 15 years or so and mine are all so grungy that I was desperate to replace them with sewn versions! I started buying a couple of raglan baseball tees from a sports store when I was a teen, and replacing them every few years when they got too ratty (they were about $3 each as they were meant to be customized for Little League teams!). And I had an American Apparel raglan pullover that I wore to death set aside to cut up and copy, but as I really stress out when I do that, I was glad that a pattern option appeared before I had to start hacking away!

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    1. Raglans are totally a style I associate with you! I like how casual they feel, even though I’ve never made a full-on baseball version. Do you have any more sweatshirts planned?

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  4. I love raglans, but after reading this post I’ve realised that I think I have MAYBE two left in my wardrobe! As soon as I get back into sewing-shape, I think I’ll start with some raglan tees, since I think they’d be a nice and easy ‘warm-up’ pattern, and they’d be SO used in my sorry little wardrobe!

    I love these on you, they look great! I’d definitely try to steal that refashioned tee out of your closet if I could!

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    1. Raglans would be a perfect warm-up project as you get back into sewing! I like how magically quickly they seem to come together. You just get started and they are finished!

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  5. Raglans are fun! Though I think I’ll be staying away from that trend for now, for obvious reasons.😉 Cozy sweater dresses sound lovely, too. Especially since I’m currently in the Year of the Everything Knits, myself. If only it was easier to find nice, thick, not-wool sweater knits…

    I’m also quite jealous of your coverstitch. The serged edge-stitched hem thing has been working ok for me, but I’ve never, ever been able to successfully get the twin needle stitching thing to work for some reason. Maybe it’s my machine, since it’s an older model? So then I have to hem everything twice.

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    1. Truth: I tried double-needling once, broke the $7 needle immediately, and never tried again. Other people seem to get good results, but I just never felt motivated to learn!

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  6. Sooo envious of your coverstitch! I made a bunch of raglan tops this year as well, thanks to the Linden sweatshirt. I am still working on tweaking the sleeves to fit my arms in general, but I can’t stop making them!

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  7. I love raglans – super easy to sew and super easy to customize!! Yours all look fabulous and I love that Renfrew too – I’m glad you used that fabric as the colour looks awesome on you.
    It may just be that I am currently on an Archer binge and that Tasia just released a couple new ones, but I think it may be the year of the button-down. Or is that just wishful thinking….
    I would love to see a new sweater dress too. I love the Lola, but I’m not sure that it is the most flattering on me with that weird curved waist seam – maybe I just need to get used to it – I do love that banded hem on it though. Maybe you should draft one Gillian – oh queen of knits!😉

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    1. Do you iron your button downs after each washing? That’s always been the reason I don’t wear my RTW ones… but you must have a system going that works for you!😉
      I remember on my Lola I changed the waist seam pretty significantly… I think I raised it at least 3″ in the back so it would hit the small of my back, and maybe altered the front too? I think it was drafted for someone taller than me, maybe? Did you find the same thing?

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      1. Lola was definitely drafted for someone taller than me – I ended up chopping mine up and removing 3 inches, so it actually has two waist seams now. Crazy!
        I don’t iron my button downs all the time. I try to get them out of the dryer ASAP and hang them so they don’t get too wrinkly. And it depends on the fabric too. My flannel one never needs ironing, and my cat one looks fine right out of the dryer, but my tencel denim one always needs to be pressed. I’m a pretty casual gal so I don’t worry about a few wrinkles here and there LOL.

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        1. I just bumped into a TO sewist who mentioned that she follows you, and we had a chat about how awesome you are and how impressed we are with what you sew after only one year!!

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            1. Her name is Janet – I’m not sure if she has a blog (shame on me if she does!) but her IG handle is Sew Sister. Do you know her? (We’d met at a Toronto meetup before, and we both happened to be shopping to avoid writing report cards at the same time!😉

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              1. I thought it might be her (I don’t know very many people from TO) – that is so cool!! She doesn’t have her own blog but she’s on Kollabora, and she and I follow each other on Instagram. She’s a really great lady! I can’t believe you guys talked about me – I’m blushing!

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  8. The refashioned one turned out really, really good! I’m usually not a fan of those colors or that print, but that’s my favorite one. It’s very flattering on you!

    Are you going to do a post reviewing your coverstitch? I honestly had no idea what a coverstitch machine was until I got a serger (as a gift) and realized it didn’t do what a coverstitch does.And then I thought, ‘well sh*t, that’s actually what I wanted….’…lol!

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    1. Yes, I’ll do a review at some point! I’ve also started drafting a post gathering coverstitch resources from the web, bt it turns out there aren’t that many, and most are from Debbie Cook! So basically my post will be: “Go ask Debbie.”😛

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  9. I love all of these shirts Gillian! My fav is the refashioned one though. Love it!! I have made a couple of raglans and will agree that they are pretty awesome. I think I surprised myself with circle skirts in 2014. Who know what this year will bring…I never know what’s next.

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  10. Raglans are great! I’ve also switched over from regular sleeves during the last couple of years.🙂 My surprising style this year were maxi dresses. Ok, I only made two but wore them loads over summer, when I’d always thought they were a no-go for me. Alas, I wouldn’t mind if sweater dresses became the new trend, since I’m currently living in my most recent Lola, made from fluffy-backed, star-printed sweatshirt fabric. Btw, why don’t you try using the Lola pattern for a princess-seamed knit dress? I’ve made several where I just left out the pockets and more or less taped the bodice to the skirt pattern pieces and it worked without a hitch.🙂

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    1. Lola without the pockets is a great idea! I’ve got to get sewing at least one more lola… for some reason my brain thinks it has lots of pieces and takes more time to sew… I’ve got to remind myself that it’s still a pretty quick project!

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    1. Ha – like I ever double-needled in the first place! I tried it once and gave up. Nothing but sloppy unfinished hems over here until now!😉

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  11. I love the post title – it makes me feel like I should have a lightsaber at the ready🙂 I do like sewing raglan tops as a nice chance from set in sleeves. My two versions of the Lane Raglan buggered at the neckline (major puckering!) which soured me considerably but I am thinking about giving the pattern another go as I want to make a sequin front jersey top. In pink, of course.

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    1. OOOH! Sequin front top? Your daughter is going to want one too, and so will I! I wonder if you could cut off the bands on your lane raglans and try again? Annoying, but worth it if they become more wearable!

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  12. Hurrah for coverstitch! It looks great! I also favorite the refashion! I noticed it in the last post and thought it was cool…
    ast post and thought it was cool…

    Knit patterns and regular patterns seem to be trending for simple shapes… what kind of style lines are you looking for in knit patterns?
    I’m planning some knit hacks for myself. I’m going to make a shawl collar dress and try grafting a pleated woven bodice onto my TNT knit bodice for a “sweater knit” I ordered online with almost no stretch and no warm fuzzies!
    Knit patterns and regular patterns seem to be trending for simple shapes… what kind of style lines are you looking for in knit patterns?
    I’m planning some knit hacks for myself. I’m going to make a shawl collar dress and try grafting a pleated woven bodice onto my TNT knit bodice for a “sweater knit” I ordered online with almost no stretch and no warm fuzzies.

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    1. You know, I can’t figure out what I want in a winter knit dress pattern! I just keep hoping someone will magically design one I”ll crave. A shawl collar does sound nice though!

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  13. I agree that it seems like most of the knit dress patterns out there right now are pretty basic. I haven’t made the Lola yet, but I purchased it on sale last month and I really want to make it. Your Go Anywhere dresses are really cute–I hadn’t realized that pattern was for knits!

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  14. So very, very jealous of your coverstitch! The double needle and zigzag have just never done it for me! They’re never stretchy enough and I am not a huge fan of leaving things unhemmed. A skirt or dress? No problem! But I like T-shirts to be hemmed (sleeves and bottom). One day!

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  15. Looks like you’re having a great time with the overstitch – as we knew you would! I have to switch settings on my serger every time I want to use the overstitch option, and it doesn’t love thinner fabrics, but it’s serviceable. No space for another machine!
    Looking back on 2014, I am surprised by the number of dresses I made, and actually wear. But I think 2015 will see a bit of a return to separates – my list is getting longer by the day!

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    1. i’ve been trying to work on seperates too. Because as much as I love knit dresses and leggings, it’s nice to be able to wear pants, too!

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  16. Those coverstitch hems look amazing! It was definitely a life-changer when I got mine… the professional finish just can’t be matched with a twin needle! I’m pretty in love with raglan tops as well. So fast to make! Yours look great.

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  17. I’m soooo jealous that you got a coverstitch machine😛 You’re putting it to good use, you’ve made so many great things and we’re only two weeks into the year!

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  18. Fabulous job, as always. I am also surprised by my raglans. Well, my Belcarras, since that’s the only raglan pattern I have right now. I wasn’t even sure I liked the pattern at first, then I went ahead and made five of the things!

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    1. You really do well with Sewaholic patterns! Speaking of which, I’ve got copies of Alma and Pendrell, if you ever want to long-term borrow them!🙂

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      1. I have developed quite the collection. I have the Alma and made a not terribly successful version of it because it turns out I have broad shoulders, so I might actually need to make a muslin.

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  19. Raglans are great. I have broad shoulders and raglan sleeves work well for me. I’ve made a few jackets with raglan sleeves and didn’t have to do a wide shoulder adjustment.

    I didn’t make very many things last year but I made more dresses than I expected and wore them to work. Culottes might be making comeback, if so, I’d make some.

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    1. I think culottes are totally making a comeback! At least in the sewing world – I can’t say I’ve seen any IRL, but who cares? They look fun to wear!

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  20. I think I finally get the point of a coverstitch now, thanks to this post.🙂 I always thought it was like a junior serger.

    Maybe you just need to do a small swayback adjustment to make the tops hang properly?

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  21. I love your tops, and I am so jealous of your coverstitch. I haven’t quite decided if I should take the plunge yet. I’m giving Maxi-Lock stretch thread a try as soon as it arrives in the mail. Maybe that will help take the pain out sewing on my standard machine.

    Also, my shirts ride up in the back no matter how much room I give it. Adding to the back helped, but I think what it comes down to is the cotton knits gripe to the jeans I am usually wearing instead of gliding over smoothly. And the fabric will always catch against my butt because my upper back is more forward than my large butt. The only way it wouldn’t ride up is if the weight of them hem is enough to overcome the friction between the shirt and the pants. does that make any sense?

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