Pattern Reviews

2 Cantebury Skirts (Style Arc). Woven & knit versions.

Today I am sharing two Cantebury Skirts from Style Arc Patterns I made using a woven fabric and a knit fabric. The original design is drafted for woven fabrics such as Silk, rayon and Crepe de chine. As noted, knit fabrics are not recommended by the designer for this garment. So why did I decide to go ahead with a knit also? I will discuss this further.

As a summary, this pattern is available in sizes 4-30 (Australian) and will serve body measurements at the waist from 22”-50” and at the hips 35”-63”. The front and back yokes are fitted and asymmetrical. The closure is with an invisible zipper on the left hip and there is a rectangular waistband. The large skirt piece attached to the yoke is interestingly drafted to create the drape and symmetry. Fabrics recommended are silks, rayon, crepe de Chine.

Source: Style Arc Website

Pairing a design to fabric is not a straightforward skill and it usually takes experience and trial and error to grow the confidence in these decisions. When sewing is a a new skill in development, following the designer’s recommendation is usually the path that will lead to less frustration and better outcomes. The designer recommends certain types of fabric for several reasons and the recommendation is not on a whim.

I often read a question in diverse platforms. It’s repetitive…

Can this pattern for woven fabric work with a knit? has anyone does this?

Anonymous

Whenever I see this question, the answer that pops up in my mind is not a black and white “yes or no”. My answer is: DEPENDS.

In regards to designs suited for woven fabrics, the shape, intended drape (or not), constructions techniques, drafted positive ease and overall look is what can determine if the rules can be bent and a knit fabric could be experimented with.

Garments made with woven fabric have more or less positive wearing ease built into the drafting of the design. Woven fabric doesn’t stretch and we need the garment to be larger than our body measurements in order to be able to move and breathe. This is what is referred to as positive ease. A skin tight garment without ease will not be wearable.

Knit fabrics have some component of stretch and this will vary with the fiber content and the weaving technique utilized. Knit fabrics may stretch horizontally only (one way stretch), or both horizontally and vertically (two way stretch). Not all types of knits can be used for woven designs without some thought about the intended original design and what type of knit could work to achieve a similar look and fit.

The Cantebury skirt is designed to hit at the natural waist and be fitted (minimal wearing ease) and semi fitted at the full hip (2 inches or 5cm of positive ease). This is achieved with an asymmetrical yoke with back waist darts, a left hip invisible zipper and a rectangle waistband. Below the yoke there is a large asymmetrical piece that will give the skirt volume below the yoke and requires the fabric to drape nicely. I had a good look at the sizing chart and the finished garment measurements on the website to choose my size. I made a straight size 14 for the woven version and chose a medium weight poly crepe with white/black print. It is slightly sheer and I’ve always intended to wear it with slip, rather than lining it.

Let’s look at this skirt in a woven fabric. I had some natural wind favour some of these photos too! You can see the beautiful drape of this design.

Now, about the knit version:

I chose a medium weight textured stripe double knit fabric composed of Polyester, Rayon and Spandex. You can see this fabric here. Before cutting the pattern pieces, I pre-washed it, held it up and moved it to assess the way it would drape. This is not a light weight fabric, but the rayon/viscose component gives it a pleasing drape. The horizontal stretch I tested at 40% and the vertical stretch at 20%. The recovery of this fabric is not the best. I knew I didn’t want a very very fitted skirt and decided to size down only one size. Instead of the size 14 that I chose for the woven version, I chose a 12 for the knit version, being very conservative.

Source: Minerva.com

Sizing down one size would result in a skirt with 2″ of negative ease at the waist and zero ease at the hips. In retrospect, I could have sized down two sizes because the waistband was not small enough to hold up the skirt without elastic being threaded into it. A size 10, instead of a 12 would have resulted in 2″ of negative ease at the hips and would be more flattering.

As I mentioned before, this is all trial and error and I could always bring in the skirt a little on the side seams to achieve a more fitted look.

To make this skirt pattern work with this knit fabric, a pull on style would be best and most practical. The left hip invisible zipper could be skipped (yay!) and the waistband sewn on folded onto itself, in this case with elastic inside.

To see a full pattern review and practical video footage of both versions including stripe matching galore, centered zipper insertion, waistband solutions and more have a look at the vlog on my channel below.

Other knit fabrics I would choose for this project:

  • French terry in its medium weight versions: This fabric will be easy to sew, will have the drape required and will not be too thin to allow negative ease at the hips to show lines of undergarments.
  • ITY in its medium weight versions: For the same reasons above
  • Double brushed poly: also will have a beautiful drape and stretch required.
  • Rayon/spandex medium weight.

Knit fabrics I would not choose for this project:

  • Ponte Roma: while it would provide structure for the yoke and waistband, the bottom of the skirt would be stiff and would’t drape as intended.
  • Cotton/spandex: Would not drape well and due to poor recovery, the garment would stretch out and loose it’s shape.
  • Light weight jerseys like rayon/spandex and ITY: While the skirt would drape beautifully, the yoke being fitted would share to the world our lumps and bumps. The waistband would also require a heavier knit fabric.

Have a go at breaking the rules a little. A pattern can go a long way further by experimenting with different types of fabrics and the results will be surprisingly varied and fun. This knit skirt is so much more comfortable and casual. I have a feeling it will be worn a lot more than the woven version, even though I love both….. comfort wins at the end of the day 🙂

Woven version
Knit version

DISCLAIMER: I purchased the PDF pattern and woven fabric myself. I was provided the knit fabric without cost from minerva in exchange for a blog post on their site. This blog post will be different to this one and showcasing the project in a different perspective.

I DON’T have affiliate links in this post to the pattern company and the pattern. I do, however, have them on other posts and they are always disclosed.

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