My ongoing search to build a handmade wardrobe that I will wear regularly (not just quarterly when I break out the iron to press my cotton dresses) led me to Butterick 6101, a Katherine Tilton pattern. I liked that it could be done in knit or in woven, and had multiple sleeve options. Plus, it has a bit of lagenlook, which is something I love in moderation.
What follows is a story of infatuation, then doubt, then reconciliation, then enduring love. If there was a Lifetime channel for sewists, Butterick 6101 would be the Friday night made-for-TV movie.
Butterick 6101, View D
XS – XXL
What size did you make?
While my measurements would put me at a size XXL, I sized down for two reasons. First, I can almost always go down one size in Big 4 patterns. Plus, because I was sewing a knit, I knew I wanted a tiny bit of negative ease through the bust for nicer shaping. After looking at the finished bust measurements, I cut an L at the shoulders and bust, grading out to an XL in the waist and hips.
What are your measurements, height, and body type?
Body type: awesome
What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
Aside from grading the pattern between a Large and XL, I cut and sewed this pattern exactly as directed. If I had sewn this pattern with a woven fabric, I would have done a quick muslin to determine if I needed an FBA.
I really liked the original fit of the finished top – it was relaxed, had interesting detail, and pockets. I LOVE THE POCKETS. The gray jersey had a touch of spandex, which gives it nice recovery. It was so cozy and comfortable – basically yoga pants for my upper half.
What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
Overall, construction was quick and straightforward. I used my serger for everything except for hemming the sleeves and a bit of topstitching. The only tricky part of construction was the bottom hems/facing – I don’t know what happened, but things did not line up and I ended up having to kind of mash the edges together, sew them together, and hope for the best. It’s barely noticeable (especially because the knit is forgiving) but I will rethink the construction of the hems the next time around. This is an issue that other people have noted online, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear solution, so proceed carefully on that part of the process.
How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
After wearing the top around the house for a couple hours, I realized that it was TOO comfy. A closer inspection in the mirror, along with a very technical “grab handfuls of fabric on each side of your body” technique, I realized that I needed to slim down the silhouette. A lot.
It took me a couple of runs down the sleeve and side seams, but I eventually took off EIGHT inches at the bust, tapering down to 2 inches at the biceps and hip. The final version is still just as comfy, but looks less bulky.
Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
I will definitely make this pattern in a woven – either a chambray or a voile. I think that both options could offer great warmer weather options, especially with the sleeveless option. I’m not sure if I’ll make another knit version – this pattern is pretty distinctive and I think one (however delightful) might be enough for now.
One thing I do want to mention is that the neck band is a little weird in a knit fabric. In a woven, you would interface it for additional stability, but I didn’t do that in my version. As a result, it’s a little wobbly – not quite strong enough to stand up briskly on its own, just a little wavy. (I have a vague recollection that the instructions called for knit interfacing, but I didn’t have any on hand so I skipped it.) I find myself fiddling with the collar frequently, trying to get it properly situated. Next time around, I would either make the band taller (for a cowl look) or do a simple binding.
On the other hand, I have worn this top almost every day since I’ve made it – it’s so easy to toss on with yoga pants, over a maxi dress, or over my pajamas on a cold morning (or, you know, when I take an afternoon nap). I’ve even taken to wearing it on my afternoon round to the chicken coop – those voluminous pockets can easily accommodate a dozen eggs on the short walk back to my kitchen. At this rate, I’m going to wear holes in it by the spring, so perhaps I need to make a back-up now.
Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up?
There are no darts in this pattern, which make me nervous about sewing it in a woven. If you are a B/C cup, you can probably get away with the flowing shape. But if you are a D cup or bigger, you’re going to want to think seriously about whether inserting some darts (along with an FBA) are necessary to give you flattering shaping.
Size Range (1-5): 4
Instructions (1-5): 3 (because of the hem/facing situation that most people seem to be struggling with)
Construction Process (1-5): 3 (is the hem problem about construction or instructions? I don’t know, but it was irritating so I’m taking points off in both categories)
Final Fit (1-5): 5
Overall Rating (1-5): 4