Plantain Sew Along #3 Tips For Sewing With Knits

Hello again! Welcome back to the Plantain Sew Along! We hope you are making progress on your t-shirt and having fun along the way. A few of you have shared pictures of your Plantains on our Facebook event page. Thank you and keep up the great work! We love seeing your Plantains!

Now let’s get to work!


The first thing you will do is take your body measurements at the widest part of your bust, the smallest part of your waist, and the widest part of your help.

It can be hard to get these measurements on your own. So find a friend to help you out. And don’t stress too much about the size. This garment, like most knits, is very forgiving.

Once you have measurements, use this chart found on your Plantain Pattern to determine what size you are. The numbers on a garment pattern are not the same as off the rack garments. This particular pattern uses European sizes. Don’t let the numbers make you feel self-concious! Also, a lot of the time we fall into more than one size on these charts.

We measured a 37 inch bust, a 30 inch waist and a 37 inch hip. So we brought the bust out to a size 42 and graded down to a size 38 at the hip. We used a bright color to draw our line so it’s easier to see.

Sometimes it can be helpful to use a t-shirt that you currently own to check sizing. Pick one that fits you perfectly, or has an aspect that you love about it and use it as a guide.

Just fold the shirt in half, wrong side out, and lay it on your pattern pieces. This will give you an idea of what size to make and how the fit will be. Just take into consideration the type of fabric you have bought in comparison to the fabric used in your t-shirt. If your fabric is more stable and heavier than the t-shrit you are using as your guide, you will need to cut your pattern pieces a size bigger and vice versa.

The t-shirt we are using as our guide in this photo is our Modern Textiles Smart Girl T-shirt. This shirt, like the Plantain, is fitted in the bodice. But the rest of the Smart Girl t-shirt has more of a straight fit. The Plantain is flared at the bottom. This gives us a lot of ease around the tummy.


Ease is a term used in garment sewing. It’s how much room a finished garment has.

The above tuni (modified Wiksten Tank) has a lot of ease. It is a loose garment.

Some knit patterns have reverse ease. This means that the finished garment will be smaller than your body measurements.

The bodice of the above Moneta Dress has reverse ease.

The Plantain has reverse ease (fitted) in the bust and positive ease (loose) through the waist and hips.

Check out Kathleen Bergseth’s 3/4 length sleeve Plantain above.


We like to use Swedish Tracing Paper. This way we can make multiple sizes from one pattern and it’s easier to work with.

If you use Swedish Tracing Paper, make sure you mark all of your pattern pieces with the name of the pattern, size your cut, what the piece is and how many to cut.

Use the cutting layout in your Plantain pattern to cut out your fabric.

Make sure you transfer all of your markings on the pattern.

We are making our Plantain with 3/4 length sleeves and wool elbow patches. We have pre-felted (can be machine washed) 5 inch squares of wool that work great!

Now that we have everything cut out, it’s time to sew!


Of course! You will need to use a stitch that will give when the fabric gets stretched. If the stitch doesn’t give than the threads will break. The more the seam will get stretched when it’s worn or used, the more the seam you sew needs to be stretchy.


10 – Zigzag Stitch – set the width to .5 and the stitch length to 2.5

05 – Stretch Stitch – use the standard stitch length of 2.2

01 – Straight Stitch – set the length between 3-4

Use an overedge stitch (12) to finish the raw edges if you’d like.

IF you have access to a serger, USE IT! It’s so fast and looks really finished. The stitches will give enough for most things you make. There are a few cases like the hem of a knit pencil skirt that will need more. We used a blind hem on this ONE.

Remember, you can always come into the shop and use our sergers in the classroom for $5 an hour! If you’ve never used a serger before, we’ll give you a quick lesson when you come in. Just call ahead and make sure the classroom is open.

With right sides together, pin the shoulders together and sew with your preferred stitch.

We are going to stop here. Next week we will install the sleeves and sew up the side seams.

We like to try on garments every step of the way to check fit. So it’s a good idea to try your shirt on at this point by pinning up the sides. It will give you an idea of how it’s going to fit. If something is off, it’s easier to fix it now.

We’ll see you next week!


We would like you to join in the fun and make a closet full of Plantains too! Share your own tips and tricks that you have with us and ask questions so we can learn from each other. And of course, we want to see your finished Plantains!


Everyone that finishes a Plantain in the month of April and shares it with us is entered to win a $50 gift certificate to our shop!


* Post to our Facebook Plantain Event page

* Use #MTSewAlong on Instagram

* Email us at

* Stop by the shop

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