As part of my wardrobe organization this new year, I have been trying to find a basic knit top pattern that is flattering and fits me well. I’m not opposed to doing a FBA (full bust alteration) or other fitting refinements, but I want something that I don’t have to mess with too much.

When I critiqued my wardrobe at the end of last year, I realized that I was missing solid color work-suitable basic knit tops that could be worn most of the year. These can easily be accessorized with scarves and jewelry for different looks.

My criteria is this: boat neck (or a wide round neck), 3/4 length sleeves, somewhat fitted (not tight), about hip length. I plan to make up several of these tops, most in a rayon knit so that they will be wearable most of the year in the Mid-Atlantic US (they will need layers or a cardigan for the coldest winter days, and may not be the garment of choice for the hottest summer days, but rayon is wonderfully breathable and so they will be wearable for many warmer days).

Here were the pattern contenders I found:


On the left, McCalls 6571. On the plus side, this is a Palmer/Pletsch, so I imagine there will be fitting guidelines and the like in the instructions. On the minus side, BACK FACING. I hate facings in knits. In the middle, New Look 6838. No facings, and it has a back seam (which can be a plus if you are fitting a sway back, but if you hate back seams, it’s a minus). One big negative about 6838 is that the reviews I’ve read over at Pattern Review say that this top’s neckline is extremely wide! On the right, the most recent of the three, and the only indie pattern in the group – Blue Ginger Doll’s Bonnie Top. On the plus side, Blue Ginger Doll patterns are drafted for hourglass figures, so I may not need an FBA, although I will likely need to cut an 18 above the waist and a 20 below. Those sleeves are gathered at the shoulders – but every made-up picture I’ve seen suggests that it’s not really obvious gathering. Also, the seam allowance is only 1/4″, so there’s not much room for error (although that works out ok with a serger).

I knocked out McCall’s 6571 from the start due to the facings. Maybe it was unfair, but I’d had a recent bad experience with a similar knit facing (Hot Patterns Mighty Aphrodite shirt, although the back facing wasn’t the worst of the problem). I made up one top in New Look 6838 and had to take the shoulders in (and it’s still really wide).

Finally, I made up a “muslin” of the bodice of Bonnie in some leftover fabric, with my suspected sizing of 18/20 and it fits…heavenly! No wrinkles under the arms, so it’s likely I won’t need an FBA!

This weekend I plan to make up the Bonnie in a wearable fabric, so I’ll be back to report on my results.