Lazy Tips for Fixing Knits: Too Much Print!

fix-2

I’ve got a new series for you! Or rather, a variation on a series I started 3 years ago called “Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits“. You can find that series linked in my header above – basic stuff like finding the grainline, getting the right length for a neckband, etc.

In this series, Lazy Tips for FIXING Knits, I’m going to highlight some of the ways I tweak a knit garment once it’s done to improve fit. Nobody’s projects turn out 100% of the time, but that’s no reason to give up on an imperfect garment! I’ll be gathering all of these posts under Lazy Tips in the header so that all of my knit resources are in one place.

Behold project #1: TOO MUCH PRINT!

Ladyjack Dress

Remember this lumberjane dress from a few days ago? Well, when you saw then was a reworked version of something I initially didn’t like wearing. Yes, even for me it’s possible to get overwhelmed by print! I wanted to much to like this dress, and it didn’t look terrible in pictures… but when I put it on to wear for work, I just couldn’t figure out how to balance all that plaid. I tried all my cardigans, different colour leggings, belts, scarves, you name it, but it still felt awkward. Even my husband agreed!

So here was my solution:  More skin!

Lumberjane Dress

Left: The original dress. Centre: Dress with lowered neckline. Right: Also with shortened sleeves!

  1. First, I cut off the neckband, and scooped the neckline lower. I was a little overenthusiastic, so I used a nice wide neckband stretched snuggly to pull the neckline in.
  2. Out of curiosity, I also tucked the sleeves up so they end at the elbow – aka. in line with the waist.  I think it accentuates the waistline more by creating a horizontal line at the pint, so I’ll make the change permanent!

Tweaking neckline and sleeve length are some of the easiest ways to change a garment once it’s sewn – no unpicking needed, just hack off the old and sew in the new.

Now, I’m not saying any of this is new or revolutionary! In fact, it’s a rather silly premise for a blog series… but I spend a lot of time on the CSC talking to beginners, and I think there’s a need for basic resources and practical advice! Tweaks like this can take a garment from “meh” to “win”, and I bet every one of us has something in our closet that could be easily improved!

Am I crazy for making this a series? Do you think my dress looks better after the tweaks? Let me know!


58 thoughts on “Lazy Tips for Fixing Knits: Too Much Print!

  1. I think the simple things are often the best, and I like the thought that you put into it. When I copied you for my duaghter’s dress, she added MORE plaid to the outfit – but that’s her!!!

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    1. Hahaha – well, let’s be honest, in these pics I’m standing in the show in a rayon dress, so so was never going to be warm! 😉 I don’t find that a few inches either way really makes a difference. Realistically I would always have a sweater or scarf on hand! My work is usually pretty warm though.

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  2. Your premise is interesting Gillian. I do like the “after” pic better but I wouldn’t have necessarily said it was because of the print – I would wonder more if it’s the style you suit better with a deeper and wider neckline? You’re so right though – we can be quick to judge a garment as just barely okay and toss it into the closet never to be worn 🙂 (in my case normally into the bin) and there might just be a couple of things we could do to it to bring it to a class of wear-often. I second the notion of this series! I enjoy seeing what you’ve done to a garment to make it more suit you more! You have a creative and discerning eye 🙂

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    1. That’s interesting and is making me think! The reason I originally used this pattern though is that I’ve got two favourite dresses with that high neckline, and I love them. (One is the black on white circle scribbles dress that was in my top 5, and one will be blogged next week… I love those dresses with long necklaces though, and all I could think to wear with this was black or wood necklaces that felt heavy. Maybe part of why this seems better to me is that it prompts me to accessorize differently?

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  3. I don’t think you’re crazy at all, sounds like a great idea for a blog series! I too prefer the dress with your alterations, it’s amazing what these little changes can make to how we feel about something. I just made a knit tee dress out of a pattern mash-up I’ve used twice before but this time I had to take in the waist, hips and hem. I used thicker fabric and somehow just felt it needed more shaping whereas with the previous versions it felt fine. So much is down to the fabric rather than the pattern I’d say.

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    1. Fabric matters so much, doesn’t it? I made a Comino Cap out of cheap polyester knit the other day (an online purchase that disappointed) and it didn’t even fit, although I’ve made the pattern endless times before!

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    1. Oh good! I know sometimes it’s just helpful to store little ideas away for later, so next time you have something that doesn’t turn out quite right, hopefully you’ll have some ideas for fixing it filed away! 😉

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  4. I like the idea of the series. Little changes, to hem length etc, make such a difference.
    As I’m not fond of a low scooped neck, I confess I preferred the before to the after! But it’s all personal preference.

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  5. Fabulous idea to post this! I so often tweak garments after the fact. I also get the too-much-print thing, especially with plaids! When “more skin” doesn’t do it, adding contrast sleeves or a yoke (in a plain fabric) often works. And I think the dress looks much more balanced on you with shorter sleeves and the lower neckline!

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    1. Oh yes, contrast sleeves or a yoke are such good ideas! I’ll file those away for some as-yet-unmade garment that needs help! 🙂

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  6. Gillian, it’s a brilliant hack and one that I too have used for prints (and even solids) that seem a bit too much, even for me. I’ve also removed sleeves and changed neck and arm bands to contrasting colours. But I find lowering the neckline is usually the easiest fix, even as you said, the pattern was perfectly fine as is in a different print.

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    1. Oh yes, contrast neck and arm bands can really help, can’t they? I find I rarely have the right fabric on hand for that, but I do try to keep some nice black knit around for when I need a contrast colour!

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  7. Maybe it’s a difference in the lighting (or maybe I’m crazy) but in the original, I notice the red in the print more, and in the altered version the black catches my eye first (I think because the neckband is more noticeable and it seems to have more black than red?). I wonder if that doesn’t also help to make the print seem toned down? Again, it’s probably just the lighting, but that’s what made me like the final version better (though I still loved the original!) — glad it won’t end up as dog bed filling!
    -Jen (aka JugoNevas on IG 😉)

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    1. Ooh, that’s interesting! I tried to keep the photos quite consistent, even though they were a few weeks apart… but you are right, the higher neckline pic is a bit bright, and it is shifting the red brighter too! 🙂 And yes, thankfully saved from dog (ok cat!) bed ignominy! 😉

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  8. I think this is a great idea, Gillian. I never muslin with knits, because as long as I am sure there is enough body circumference, the rest is pretty fixable on the fly. My usual fixes to take something from frumpy to wearable are adjusting the hemline, adjusting the sleeve length (its amazing how many sleeve lengths I find unflattering), and adding or tightening the waistline elastic on a dress. It really is amazing how small changes can affect the overall garment.

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    1. Those are all my go-to changes too! Like you say, it’s amazing how one inch more fabric at the hem, sleeve or waist can throw the whole thing off!

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  9. I think this is a great idea for a blog series, especially if there are before and after pictures – it’s amazing sometimes what an impact small adjustments can make! I’ve been sewing for a while but only recently started sewing knits (already love it!) and was very happy to find your other knits series, so thanks for putting that together! And yes, I agree your tweaks make the dress look better, especially the neckline change.

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    1. I”m glad to hear you’ve started sewing knits and enjoying them! I’ve really lost any motivation to sew with wovens… even when I do for my sister or someone else, I just don’t enjoy it as much! 🙂

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  10. Totally, 100% not crazy. I mean just what is it about a garment that makes us love it compared to another similar one that we hate? I think that this is a fabulous idea. You really inspired me to try sewing some knits and getting my overlocker back up and running. After half a year of accruing and not sewing I have a ton to use up. This will come in very handy indeed so thank you for taking the time to share your wealth of knowledge with us noobs. 🙂 Xx

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    1. Maybe you just need a good t-shirt or dress pattern so you can whip something up in an hour or two? Get the sewjo going again!

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  11. I love the “after” and the opportunity to clearly see the difference the scooped neck makes! I never would have thought of “more skin” as the solution, but it works! I also like Alessa’s idea to add contrasting fabric. I am excited to see the rest of this series, as well as look back on your previous sewing-with-knits posts! 🙂

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  12. I think it’s a great idea for a blog series! And it’ll likely be a wonderful reference. I know that when my projects don’t turn out as hoped, it’s so easy to just get frustrated and give up on it. (I’m also selfishly hoping that something pops up here that might help me with one of my maternity/nursing maxidresses over the next few months, because I love the print, but haven’t ever been satisfied with the fit!)

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      1. No, it’s one of the maternity ones that I made during my first pregnancy. It’s too wide in the back, but I can’t just take in the side seams without having to undo the zipper that I inserted under the bust for easy nursing access. So I’ve been debating whether I should just add some darts or a faux seam or something.

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  13. Definitely not crazy and I love that you are including before and after pics! I think both your changes here were an improvement and I’m looking forward to seeing more hints 🙂

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    1. AGH! Don’t get rid of things! I swear, there is almost always a way to fix things… unless the fabric is awful or it’s way too small. Those, sadly, are not worth the trouble. 😉

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  14. Definitely prefer the lower neckline version, print can best overpowering but more skin really helps and not everyone would think of this so I think some posts like this is a fab idea. I wouldn’t of thought about raising the sleeves but it really helps the look.

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    1. Sleeve length is a funny one! I almost always go for 3/4 sleeves on myself, becuase I’m one of those people who chronically pushed up their sleeves if they are full length… but an inch or two longer or shorter can really affect the look!

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  15. I like the series idea! I always find it really helpful if people go back to a previously posted garment and tell us if it ended up being wearable or needed tweaks. Really keeps it real 🙂 and can be helpful if we have awkward garments of our own.

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    1. I always love posts where people revist garments, too… it’s one of the things I enjoy about Me-Made May. You get to see how things are actually being worn and styled, and what has continued to be worn long after the blog post!

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  16. Looks better with more skin. I would have taken the middle, one plaid strip over and then the next, or the second from the edge of your boobs and done a straight black row, plaid width wide down both sides to kinda set an hourglass figure detail? I’m really lazy would just sew it over the plaid strip and then cut out the bottom layer if I didn’t need the weight.

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    1. Ooh, interesting! I think I’m picturing what you are describing – pleating the fabric so two black rows are joined as one, to make a contrast band?

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    1. Are you enjoying working with prints? I’m obviously all about the prints… i get blue if I sew too many things in solid fabric in a row! 😛

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  17. It’s amazing how those little fixes totally transforms the dress! That’s what I’m discovering with my reknitting of the asymmetric sweater (I’ve basically made it 4 times given how I’ve ripped it back to obtain optimal fit). All I did was remove a couple of inches here and there (and add length). But it’s the difference between meh fit and great fit.

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    1. I”m enjoying watching your reknitting adventures on IG! It’s nice ot know that sewing and knitting are never set in stone – there’s usually a way to fix things!

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  18. This is a great series! Rather than completely ditching something, its essentially a refashion – great idea on changing only a small detail to better suit. For me, it would always be a v-neck instead of round!

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    1. V-necks look so good on some people! I haven’t found one I love, though I do ejoy a good wrap dress, and that’s a v-neck of sorts!

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  19. I’m always inspired by posts like these that show how to salvage an underwhelming project. After all that time and money spent making the darn thing, nothing is more frustrating than not wearing it.

    Your sleeve-to-waistline theory is so interesting! Never would have thought about that design trick to even out my proportions! Keep these posts coming, even if they seem simple to you: they inspire me to go back on certain projects to see how I could redeem them.

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    1. I”m so glad you are looking forward to the series! I think there are so many talented sewists out there, who can do tutorials on complex techniques… but that’s not my jam, so I’m glad if I can contribute something on a more basic level! 😉

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  20. I’d say the neckline change was the big win and the sleeves a coin flip choice. And you hit a sweet spot as the neckline is still work friendly.

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  21. I love the before dress! The neckline, sleeve length, and skirt length all combine to make a really elegant but still casual dress, even in the lumberjack-ish fabric. But if it wasn’t for you, then oh well! Smart to try to salvage it. 🙂

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