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Finding great knit fabrics

Christine Jonson Patterns

Search for Great Knits

Sandra Betzina Online, November 15, 2001

While the ready-to-wear market is full of great knits, unless you are in a major metropolitan area such as San Francisco where we have great resources such as Britex and Stonemountain and Daughter, locating good quality knits is a real problem. While one solution is go online, I prefer to actually have the fabric in my hand so that I can check drape ability and the stretch factor with a physical swatch. The best mail order source for knits that I have found is from Christine Jonson. Christine put out a line of ready wear clothing in knits for years so she can spot knits which make up well in garments. Her cotton and lycra knits have an amazing recovery factor as well as an ability to drape. These cotton lycra knits can go in the washing machine and dryer and don't require ironing if you pull them out of the dryer right away. Since these fabrics have some shrinkage, I would suggest buying an extra 1/4-yard. You can receive swatches as well as a chatty newsletter, 3 times a year for $32 from CJ Patterns, P.O. Box 858, Royal Oak, Michigan 48067, or visit her website - The newsletter is fun to read and filled with tips such as cutting the back of a knit garment 1/2-inch longer to prevent the shirt from shortening in the back as you walk. Ease the front to the back by merely sewing the front and back together with the 1/2-inch long back against the feeddog, letting the feeddogs ease the fabric in without puckers.


Right Length

Sandra Betzina Online, January 22, 2002

The wrong skirt or dress length is clearly visible to others but not always to wearer. Here are a few guidelines that might help you decide what length to make your garment.

For mid-calf length styles, the most flattering length is just below the calf's widest part. The leg has a definite shape from the calf to the ankle.

The perfect stopping point for your skirt or dress is the spot where the leg begins curving up toward the widest point on the calf. A skirt ending at this point will give the illusion that this shapely curve continues up the leg. Whether this is true or not, only you know. Pin the skirt up at this length and slip on the shoes you will be wearing it with. Stand back from a full-length mirror and see if you like the proportions.

If you like knee length, the skirt needs to end somewhere on the knee where it is above the knee, at the knee or below the knee. For below the knee styles, wearing shoes, find a spot on the inside of the leg, just below the ball of your kneecap where your leg is just about to start curving out wider for the calf. Stop the skirt at the narrowest part.

For a skirt which stops at the knee, use the outside of your leg to guide you. Looking in the mirror, find the narrowest curve close to the middle of your kneecap. While the outside of your knee is curving inward, so is the inside of your knee. Stop the knee length at this spot. For above the knee styles, if you exercise or are just plain lucky, you will have an inward curve just above your knee. Right at the narrowest part above the knee is the perfect spot to end this shorter skirt. Some imperfections of the leg can be camouflaged with opaque tights.

If you have long slim legs without bulges, you can wear any skirt length. If your legs widen from knee to the thigh and your inner leg touches in the middle, end your skirt two inches lower that where the inner legs meet. If your legs meet from the knee to the crotch, a below the knee skirt length is more flattering.

By cutting the back of a skirt or dress 1/2-inch longer that the front and easing the long back to fit the front, the hem will look straight when you are moving since movement causes a fitted skirt to ride up in back, especially in a knit.

You can have several jacket lengths that are flattering and they do not all have to cover up the widest part on your hips. If you are short, a high hip length jacket, 3-inches below your waist will make your legs look longer than a long jacket. This often means moving up the pocket. Don't move the pocket higher than one inch below the waistline. The pocket can also be shortened if necessary.

For a long jacket, fingertip length often ends up looking too short, so relax your fingers at your sides, mark the mend of the fingertips and add 1-1/2 inches. For a hip length jacket, a jacket length two inches below the fullest part of the hip is a good starting place, but can look too long if your legs are short.

Always wear the undergarments and the shoes you will be wearing to determine proper length, looking in a full-length mirror. The hem should end at a flattering spot all the way around the body, regardless of what the tape measure says. If you need to dip the hem at the side seams for an even hem at the sides, lengthen the sides. The back of a jacket also looks better 1/2 inch longer that the front so that it does not ride up when you move.

If you liked this advice about lengths you might want to get a yearly subscription to Christine Jonson's CLOTHESLINE which comes with some terrific samples of knits available mail order.

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