Written by Shannon Gifford
Illustrated by Emma Podietz
Edited by Linda Podietz
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Mesh Knit Tops

Mesh knit tops are a fantastic, fashionable and versatile addition to any wardrobe. They can serve as the perfect transitional garment to be worn in any season. Mesh knits are of the right weight for warm weather wear, as well as the perfect weight for layering in cooler weather. The splash of color that a mesh knit top can provide under a tailored jacket is a great way pull an outfit together. A mesh knit top is the perfect quick, affordable and versatile project!

Ready-to-wear (RTW) offers us many fabulous inspirational pieces for mesh knits. Because of the light weight and beautiful drape of this fabric, you can use a variety of garments as your idea guides. Look not only at ready-made mesh pieces, but also look at garments made from fine wovens such as silk crepe or georgette. The drape of these silks is similar to that of a mesh knit, so the designs can be easily adapted.

By the same token, do not feel limited to choosing only those patterns that recommend knit fabrics. Mesh knit works beautifully with patterns originally intended for woven fabrics -- especially patterns that recommend soft, medium weight fabrics with good drape.

The five RTW pieces referenced below were all originally created in mesh knits. Any of them will work well as stand-alone pieces, or layered under a jacket for cooler wear. As we review the individual pieces, we will look at potential home sewing patterns that may be used as a starting point for your similar creations.

Wrap Top

The wrap top is a classic piece that is universally flattering. This type of garment can become an investment piece, to be worn for many years. If you choose to make this garment trend-proof, choose a subtle print for your top. If you choose a bolder, more trendy print, clever and artistic placement of the print features can flatter your figure and create a fashionable focal point for any outfit. Make the bodice from double layers of mesh, and the sleeves from a single layer.

While there are dozens of wrap top patterns available, my favorite is Simplicity 4076. This pattern is beautifully drafted, and has a wide range of sizes. You might also enjoy using Christine Jonson # 426 for a slightly different version of this design.

Twist Top

Our second option is the style of the season! This top is the current update of the twist top we’ve seen for the past few seasons. Instead of a complete twist, this top features a drape that originates at the center front. A half-sleeve, which does not extend to the underarm, provides just enough arm coverage while remaining cool to wear. Lengthen this top to knee length for a great dress.

Simplicity 2898 is a good starting point for this design. If you have a copy of Burda World of Fashion, 4/2008, take a look at #116; it’s a line-for-line copy of this top! Other options include Jalie 2806 and Burda 7758.

Classic tee with trendy details

The classic tee is always welcome in a wardrobe. This top features a couple of interesting details. First, the edges are trimmed with ribbon, topstitched about ½” from the raw edge. The edges of the mesh are left raw; no need to clean-finish this fabric! Also, note the asymetrical placement of the trim on the sleeves. For additional detail, you could use a contrast fabric for the cuff area of each sleeve.

Simplicity 3556, View C is a good option for this type of top. You might also use Vogue 8451, adding a bit of flare to the sleeve hem.

Tunic Style

If you prefer a bit of volume in your tops, this one is perfect! The gathering under the bust and at the neckline adds just enough volume without overwhelming the wearer. Mesh knit drapes beautifully, which is perfect for this type of design. Make the skirt area from several layers, cutting each layer slightly longer than the next, to make a graduated hem.

McCalls 5699 or Butterick 5246 are good patterns to use as a starting point for this top. For a top with a similar overall shape, but with slightly different detailing and more volume, try "Malissa" from BurdaStyle.

Using contrast

Finally, think about adding interest with contrast. This top is made of two layers of mesh; the upper layer is of one print, while the lower layer is a second print. You might choose to use a solid fabric for the under-layer, or mix graphics with florals for a boutique look. This design takes the classic v-neck tee and steps it up a notch!

Begin with Butterick 4684, view E; add partial bands of trim at the neck, and cut two layers of the bodice and sleeve. Cut the upper layer of the sleeve and bodice shorter than the underlayer.

When it comes to mesh knits, the possibilities for inspiration are endless! So many RTW styles currently being shown are either made from mesh knits or can easily be adapted to them. Snoop around your local shopping mall, or just browse the high end stores online. Once you pick some styles that you love, look for a pattern that approximates the look. You’ll love the ease of construction and you’ll adore the stylish and versatile results!

Copyright (c) 2008 by EmmaOneSock, all rights reserved.