October 7, 2014

TUTORIAL: Asymmetrical Color-Blocking on Knits

The calendar flipped to October and the air magically turned chillier this weekend, at least in our little corner of the world it did. Time to break out the long sleeves and hoodies! Knit long sleeved tees are the staples of The Peanut's wardrobe (mine, too) once the weather turns cooler. I still prefer shopping for fabric in a brick an mortar so that  I can feel the fabric and see the color. Sadly, the knits necessary for tees are still underrepresented in our local stores. So I turn to appliques and color blocking to keep things interesting. I first put together this tutorial in August, so I'm excited The Peanut can actually wear the top now. And as long as I've pulled it out of the drawer for her, let me pull it out for you, too.

Asymmetrical color blocking on knit can be done with a pattern you already have on hand with the help of this quick tutorial and tips from The Inspired Wren.

Craftsy


This tutorial and the remainder of this post was first published in August 2014 on Sew McCool


Color-blocking is a fun way to customize a pattern you may already have on hand. Frequently color-blocking is created parallel to the seams, creating rectangular fields of color. I saw this image on Pinterest and had a light-bulb moment: asymmetry + color-blocking x casual = cool.

Asymmetrical color blocking on knit can be done with a pattern you already have on hand with the help of this quick tutorial and tips from The Inspired Wren.
The Peanut has grown since August (because, of course) so I may have to go back and add the band at the waist like on the inspiration image.


There are two important things to keep in mind when creating an asymmetrical color-blocked look:
  • Keep the direction of the grain consistent with the original pattern, not with the new diagonal field of color; this is particularly important when handling stretch fabrics.
  • As with all color blocking, don’t forget to add consistent seam allowances as you slash your pattern into areas of color.

Asymmetrical color blocking on knit can be done with a pattern you already have on hand with the help of this quick tutorial and tips from The Inspired Wren.


Let’s recreate my inspiration look kid-sized to practice these two lessons. Unfortunately my inspiration image is a great visual but fails to link to the exact garment pictured. [Don’t you hate it when that happens? It’s bad Pinterest etiquette, but I keep the pin, and its twin, anyway because they’re such strong inspiration images on their own.] I made an assumption that the cowl-like collar is a hood and that it was created wholly in the top, blue color. I also nixed the hood’s drawstring because anything that hangs anywhere near my model’s mouth will inevitably end up in my model’s mouth.



MATERIALS

  • Basic long-sleeve tee pattern
    In this example I worked from a raglan tee pattern (by Ottobre Design) that I had on hand, you could easily recreate the look with any long sleeve tee pattern. I also added a hood from another pattern in the same size, by the same designer. 
  • Blank paper (large enough to fit the pattern pieces), pen/pencil, and straight edge ruler for tracing
  • Knit fabric in three colors
    I purchased a ½ yard of each and just barely eked out the blue sections (including the hood + hood lining) for a size 5.
  • Coordinating thread, needle, and notions to sew the pattern as originally written


CUTTING

1.       Trace the original pattern pieces on to the blank paper, including any necessary marks. If any of the pattern pieces are to be cut on the fold, trace the original piece and then add the mirror image onto the tracing to create the full unfolded shape. Because we’re working asymmetrically, you will need two separate arm pieces. NOTE: You will draw on and cut apart these pattern pieces, so don’t skip this step or you’ll ruin your original pattern.

2.      Working on your new, traced pattern pieces, draw lines where you plan to create the color breaks. Draw two diagonals from the wearer’s upper right down to the left on the front bodice piece, creating the three fields of color.

Asymmetrical color blocking on knit can be done with a pattern you already have on hand with the help of this quick tutorial and tips from The Inspired Wren.
Add caption


3.      Align the hem and sides of the front and back bodice pieces with the wrong sides together and trace the lines of Step 2 from the front bodice onto the back bodice.

4.      Align the right arm at the armhole/armscye on the right side of the front bodice and mark where the top line of color will hit the seam. Then turn the arm pattern piece and align the side seam starting at the armpit/bottom of the armscye and mark where the second line will hit the seam. Extend the two lines across the arm parallel to the wrist hem.

Asymmetrical color blocking on knit can be done with a pattern you already have on hand with the help of this quick tutorial and tips from The Inspired Wren.


5.      Repeat Step 4 with the left arm pattern piece.

6.      Carefully label each section of the pattern and also indicate the grain and/or the direction of stretch. Cut the pattern pieces apart. Be sure to label each piece with the pattern name, size, piece, and color plan/section. (For me, if I don’t do this now I’ll be “over it” when I go to put the pattern away, I won’t label it, and it will be useless if I go to sew another version in the future. So take my advice, and properly label it now.)

7.      At this point you can retrace each pattern piece adding a consistent seam allowance at each line that you drew onto the pattern; OR, you can note on each pattern piece where seam allowance needs to be added at each line that you drew onto the pattern. I opted to label and managed to cut it all out properly this time – check back with me in a few months when I try to use the pattern again, and forget to cut the pieces with the added seam allowance.

8.      Cut the pattern pieces from each indicated color, carefully aligning grain/stretch. Transfer any marks from the original pattern. Keep each piece of cut fabric pinned/attached to the labeled pattern piece until you are ready to sew it (as I’m sure you do with every pattern you sew, smart person that you are). Not counting the hood or neck binding you will have twelve pieces for one tee.




CONSTRUCTION

Construct each pattern piece back to its original form. Sew along each of your slash lines with a stretch stitch using the seam allowance you added.

Asymmetrical color blocking on knit can be done with a pattern you already have on hand with the help of this quick tutorial and tips from The Inspired Wren.


Not counting the hood or neck binding, you should now have four pieces for one tee: one front bodice, one back bodice, and two sleeves. Finish by sewing the tee following the instructions from the original pattern.



YOU’RE DONE!

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to think outside the color-blocking BOX (get it? ‘cause most color-blocking is rectangular-ish?). Take a look at patterns you already own and start thinking how you can make diagonals work for you.

Asymmetrical color blocking on knit can be done with a pattern you already have on hand with the help of this quick tutorial and tips from The Inspired Wren.


Ren Murphy writes for The Inspired Wren.

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8 comments:

  1. Great post! I'm definitely going to try this...

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    1. Thanks, Vera! Let me know if/when you do.

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  2. You did an excellent job in replicating the sweater! So pretty! Now, it's a shame that she will rapidly outgrow the piece. You'll have to keep adding stripes...

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    1. It was right after this piece that I finally started making everything larger than it needs to be -- I'm tired of watching her grow out of things after just a few times worn.

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  3. Your top looks amazing! I want this for my daughter and myself :)
    Thank you for the tutorial!

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    Replies
    1. Right, Annie?! Every now and again I sew for her, what I would really rather sew for myself -- this is one of those times.

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  4. I'm wondering how you adjusted the hood to wrap further around in the front

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    1. To be honest, it's taxing my memory -- this was originally sewn Summer 2014. The shirt is a Flashback Skinny Tee, but the hood was from Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids -- Pull Over Parka and I *think* I hand drafted it to extend out for the overlap. The Bimaa Sweater pattern has that overlap built-in if you don't want to draft one for yourself.

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