Do the Twist!

When I first started seeing side knot/twist tops pop up around town, I was intrigued but not immediately sold. Other than an interesting design detail, what was the purpose of the knot? Would it feel weird during wear?

I decided to find out. When I’m faced with a trend I’m skeptical about, the easiest thing for me to do is to sew one up, and see how I like it. It’s faster (and cheaper!) than browsing the mall, and results in a better fit anyway! Plus, I’m on a RTW fast, so me-made is just the name of the game.

My first knot tee was the Harbor Knot by Striped Swallow Designs last year. After making up a multi-generational series of Harbor Knot tees and tanks (check them out here and here), I decided that I did indeed find them cute and wearable, but as fall turned into winter, I put aside my knotted tees/tanks and turned to other new patterns and styles.

Until last week, when Kennis Wong, designer behind Itch to Stitch, put out a testing call for her Nottingham top. I was reminded of how much I enjoyed the style last year, and always being impressed with her drafting, decided to give the Nottingham a try.

I also really enjoy a good research project, and I looked forward to being able to compare and contrast the two patterns. Make sure you read to the bottom for a quick photo comparison if you’re also curious!

~The Nottingham: It’s all in the details~

The Nottingham first caught my eye for those gorgeous bell sleeves- this is a detail that looks very delicate and feminine in a lightweight fabric, and I had just the thing in my stash from last year’s swap meet adventure at the National City Swap Meet.

Annnnddd…..I’m going back soon, so I really need to use up what I bought so I can justify some more purchases- it just doesn’t get better than $1/yard!

If you’re not into bell sleeves, the Nottingham also has options for elbow and long sleeves- something I’ll be sure to keep in mind when the weather cools down again. For now, it’s bell sleeves all the way!

Another thing that sets the Nottingham apart is the all in one front piece construction. With my Harbor Knots, I needed an additional front piece and a good look at the video to make sure I was sewing them correctly- the Nottingham is cut all in one piece for the front, and the twist is intuitive and easy for me to do with just the illustrations as a guide.

I didn’t want to grade the pattern out, even though my hip size is slightly bigger than the size 0, and it worked out perfectly in this fabric. If you’re using something with more structure than my ITY, I would recommend grading for fit. The finished hip measurements are a bit deceptive, due to the knot, and you don’t want it too tight there.

One thing that I do plan on changing for future version is the neckline- it’s pretty high, and I like to show a little more skin in the summer, as well as have easy nursing access. I also wish there was a tank option included- the racerback option on the Harbor Knot is perfect for warmer weather, and I missed that here.

I did think about mashing the Nottingham with the free Lago tank (see my review of that pattern here), or drafting the neckline and racerback of the Harbor Knot onto the Nottingham to make the best of both worlds 🙂 I should get to have my sewing cake and eat it too, right?! (Lago pictured below)

Here are a couple quick comparison pictures, if you’re curious. The purple floral is the Harbor- the blue is the Nottingham.

What are your thoughts? Do you like to compare similar patterns to find (or hack!) your favorite fit? Share with  me your favorite pattern mash in the comments!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which help cover the cost of my Swap Meet purchases and keep this blog running. Thank you for your support!




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  1. Jenn Meitin williams on May 18, 2018 at 6:32 am

    Oh woooow!! I love the Nottingham!!! I need it now!

    • Sarah on May 23, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      Thank you- and yes you do!

  2. Stephen on May 18, 2018 at 7:25 am

    I was a big fan of the harbor knot last year. The Nottingham looks really great also. I think the solid color fabric shows off the Knot a lot better. Does the knotingham come in toddler sizes also?

    • Sarah on May 23, 2018 at 7:30 pm

      No, Itch to stitch has never made a kids pattern, as far as I know. So the Harbor Knot is your only option for a kids knot top pattern- but its still a great one! Made for Mermaids also has the Tara top, which I’ve also tested. It’s not a true knot, but more of a fold? I made one for my daughter and myself and I love wearing them.

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