Where do you stand in the knits vs. wovens battle? And which do you like to sew more?
Right now, I lean toward knits. I love wearing T-shirts and cardigans. And my serger makes sewing knits easier than ever.
But… I do like the crispness and body of wovens. And I’m firmly on Team Wovens when it comes to pants (at least for pants worn in public).
This summer, I made two dresses, one knit — the Megan Nielsen Briar — and one woven — the Cali Faye Valley. (These are patterns for tops, and I hacked them into dresses.)
There are different things to love about each of these frocks. Let’s put them head to head in a knits vs. wovens battle royale!
Knits vs. Wovens: Our Fabric Contenders
The Briar is a smooth, soft, and springy bamboo-rayon knit.
The Valley is 100 percent linen; it’s light to mid-weight. (This specific fabric is no longer available, so no link, friends.)
Both fabrics were scores from Harts Fabric.
Length and Mass
The Briar is 37 inches in the front and 43.5 inches in the back. It’s 9 ounces.
The Valley is 36 inches in the front and 37.25 inches in the back. It’s 8.25 ounces.
(In case you were wondering, I weighed the dresses on my kitchen scale.)
Construction and Finishes
I sewed the Briar on my serger. The neckline is finished with a band, and I used a twin needle on my sewing machine for the sleeve and hem finishes.
The also sewed the Valley on my serger. A self-drafted all-in-one facing finishes the neckline, and I used a blind-hem stitch (on my sewing machine) to finish the bottom hem.
In lieu of hanging the Briar, I fold it and put it in my dresser. I worry that it would stretch on a hanger (although I did sew twill tape into the shoulders #paranoid). The bamboo doesn’t get very wrinkled as long as I fold it nicely. And when it has some wrinkles, they fall out fairly quickly.
The linen Valley… acts like a linen dress. It looks rumpled a lot of the time because I’m not really into ironing. Hey, if you can’t get over wrinkles, don’t wear linen.
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✔ I loved working with the teal swan bamboo-rayon knit. Most important, though, it’s a D-R-E-A-M to wear — opaque, soft, and springy. Should you be interested in checking out this fabric for yourself, Amazon has you covered. Amazon has loads of bamboo-rayon knit fabric by the yard by Telio, the same brand I used! Check out these Telio options:
It’s a smorgasbord, people. (P.S. All these aff links are Prime shipping options, score!)
✔ In the Department of Wovens, I recommend trying Robert Kaufman Brussels Washer linen. It’s the linen I used when stitched my hot pink Victory Patterns Ulysses trench. It’s a linen-rayon blend, and it’s soft and has drape for days. Plus, it’s stupid easy to sew. Here are some Brussels Washer linen options from Amazon, also eligible for Prime shipping:
- Pod (green)
- Yarn Dye Flax (a slubby-looking cream)
- Ocean (bright teal-turquoise blue)
I would love, love, love to sew another By Hand London Anna dress — this time in the maxi length — in Brussels washer linen. Wouldn’t that be regal?
The Briar is like a nightshirt, friends. If you like to wear nightshirts, git yerself some bamboo knit. It’s exceptionally dreamy and stretchy.
The Valley also is very comfortable, but it doesn’t feel like pajamas. It feels like clothes.
Suggested Pattern Applications
The Valley dress is good for subterfuge: hiding bloat, food babies, and secret pregnancies. (I’m not pregnant.)
The Briar is good for showing off curves in a way that’s not lewd.
I think I could add leggings and a cardigan to the Briar for an ensemble that transitions between seasons. Part of that is the rich teal color.
I don’t think a berry-colored linen dress is going to work as temperatures drop and the sun goes away in my part of the world. Linen in Wisconsin in fall and winter is odd. I don’t think I can layer my way out of this one.
The linen Valley, if I baby it, will look great for a long time — and it will get softer with age. To compare, the knit Briar has a shorter lifespan, and I’ve already noticed an ever-so-slight deterioration in the bamboo knit’s surface and color. Whelp!
The Briar, as a knit garment, was easy to fit. It might be a little tight in the back/shoulders, and I probably could have made a swayback adjustment. But I’m nitpicking here. A knit will mold to your body, often making fitting adjustments unnecessary.
Because the Valley is a loose-fitting dress, I didn’t make adjustments with it, either. But let’s pretend that the yoke didn’t fit my upper chest and back. For the dress to hang correctly, I would have needed to make some adjustments… unlike the Briar, which hangs just fine because it’s a knit dress that’s not obviously over- or undersized for my body.
Really, both of these patterns fit my body well right out of the envelope. In general, you will have fewer fitting issues with a knit garment vs. a woven garment.
Because the Briar is clingier and has sleeves, it loses the cool-temperature challenge to the voluminous, sleeveless Valley. A breeze through the linen Valley is a soothing treat on a steamy day.
In general, wovens are dressier than knits. Knits reign supreme as lounge wear and active wear (which sounds counterintuitive but is not). And now there’s even athleisure, the spawn of these two categories.
If I wanted to fancy up the Valley dress, I could iron (and maybe starch) it. There’s not a great way to fancy up the Briar dress. Maybe with shoes? But super-dressy shoes with the Briar fabric would be strange. These brogues are about as fancy as I think I can get.
I wash both garments the same — delicate cycle with cold water and Woolite. Then I hang them to dry on a clothes rack. I do this with most my me-mades.
With the linen Valley, I give it a good shake to toss out as many wrinkles as I can. With the Briar, I make sure very little of the dress hangs off the clothes rack; I don’t want it to stretch out when it’s wet.
Valley has ’em; Briar does not. IMO, the Briar is too body conscious for inseam pockets. Perhaps patch pockets could work for Briar (I mean, patch pockets in lieu of the breast patch pocket).
Over to you: Which do you fancy more: knit or woven dresses? Overall, are you Team Knit or Team Woven? Do you like to sew one more than the other? Please sound off on knits vs. wovens in the comments! Thanks!
P.S. ICYMI, here’s the previous post about my new sewing room setup, and it includes a video tour of my studio!
P.P.S. Here are some other times I sewed the Briar and Valley patterns, should you be interested:
- Batch Sewing a Bunch of Briar T-Shirts: 5 Tips I Learned
- Mom status: Effortlessly cool in a Megan Nielsen Briar top
- Cali Faye Valley blouse pattern hack: A mini muumuu with no regrets