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Pattern Review: Raglan knit top – Simplicity 5271

2014 March 4
by elizabeth_admin

Have you guys and gals noticed all the raglan knit tops popping up everywhere in sewing blogland lately?  I am clearly easily influenced.  I have used Simplicity 5271 for lounge pants and PJ’s before, but I have never used the raglan top included in the envelope.  I have to admit that it’s not that attractive on the envelope.  It looks really unfitted and baggy.



But I thought I could remedy those issues in the paper pattern.  But I digress, on to the review…

Pattern Description:  Unisex child’s, teens’ and adults’ pants, cap, knit top and pet bed.  I made View A or B, I can’t tell the difference between the two, the raglan sleeve knit top.

Pattern Sizing:  XS – XL.  I made the child size medium to start for the test run and then adjusted it smaller after sewing it up.  Then I made up a straight up child size small for the final version.  I also tried the adult size small for myself.  

I first compared the kids pattern to a baseball top I had just bought for Jack.



It appeared that the size medium would be a good fit right out of the gate.  Wrong!


RTW on left. Middle is the seemingly matched up fit with the RTW on top and sz medium on the bottom. Right is the badly fitting medium.


And now the wonders of free hand serging the excess off.

Unaltered size medium on left.  Altered size medium on right.

Unaltered size medium on left. Altered size medium on right.


I had to take in the arms and side seams to get the fit even close to right.  I also tried too thin of a neck binding.  It looked ridiculous, so I ripped it out and put in wider one.  That was better, but the neckline on the medium was still too big, as well as a little stretched out probably.

Since I knew I was making two of the same exact shirt, one for my nephew and one for the little boy who lives with me, I thought I would cut out the size small and see how that fit.  Bingo!  The size was spot on (photographic evidence further down).  I gave the size small to my nephew and the medium that made smaller to Jack.  I figured I could make many more correctly sized shirts for Jack in the future and he probably wouldn’t notice this make-it-work moment in his shirt anyway.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Yes, except less boxy.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, except I didn’t use them much.  Especially for the neckline treatment.  I used this tutorial again on how to make and attach a neck binding.  I love it.  It’s super easy, and gives you a great result each time.  It’s pretty quick too.  I thought I would use my coverstitch exclusively for necklines going forward when I bought it, but it’s really fiddly to use for bindings. I find it’s faster to use this tutorial/method than for me to use the coverstitch machine.  Honest!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  


  • Easy pattern
  • Quick to sew
  • Easy to alter


  • Neckline is large
  • Boxy and unfitted
  • Super long bodice

Fabric used:  Cotton interlock knits from Yardage Town for the kid shirts, and for me, a plasticky/glittery snake print knit from the National Swap Meet and faux stretch leather I bought in LA with Sherril and Jeannette.  Unfortunately, I made poor fabric choices for my top.  Sigh.

Pattern changes or design changes made:  

  • As I mentioned earlier, the fit was really boxy and large, so I tapered the sleeves for a more fitted look.  Pro tip:  When altering a sleeve pattern, you must make sure that the side seams of the sleeve where they join together to form the sleeve are the same length.  Match the side seams and fold the pattern in half and that’s your new grain line.  Ta da!  Don’t ask me how I know this now.
  • The neckline is really large for the intended look, so I didn’t use 5/8 seam allowances, but rather a 1/4 inch SA.  I also used a larger binding than the pattern called for, about 2-1/4 inches wide, folded over.
  • I also added a curved hem to the bodice like the top I purchased for Jack.
  • I just serged the hem allowance on both the sleeves and bodice hem for a more casual look.  I think I would do a traditional hem for a more finished look on an adult top.

Any problems encountered while sewing this pattern?  Other than starting with the wrong size, and wrong width neck binding, no.

How long did it take you to make it really?  Including tracing the pattern, making my pattern adjustments, fitting the medium size properly, it probably took me about 3 hours to finish the first one (the size medium).  Tracing, cutting and sewing up the size small was a lot quicker, about 1.75 hours and the adult size, even shorter.  This is a super quick make if you don’t have to fiddle with fitting.

Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction?  Since I didn’t use the coverstitch for the hems or neck binding, her newly made cover stayed on for the entire project.  I did use my serger for construction and to finish the hem of the bodice and sleeves for a more casual look.  I  used my Singer Featherweight to baste the neckline in place.

Will you sew it again or recommend it to others?  I will definitely sew it again for Jack now that I know the proper size.  I could probably whip one up from cutting to sewing in an hour now, provided I have the fabric on hand.  I would definitely recommend it, but you will have to adjust the fit of the sleeves and possibly the neckline.  They are just too big.  For an adult female, I would probably add some shaping in the waistline and lower the neckline a bit.  I don’t like a high neckline.  

Conclusion:  Great basic raglan tee pattern..  Make sure you fit it as you like.  Otherwise, it’s a pretty quick sew.


I gave the size medium to Jack and will give the sz small to my nephew Thor for his  birthday.  I also made him a pair of glow in the dark PJ pants to match Jack.  Here’s Jack wearing the Sz Small shirt with Thor’s PJ pants.







Here are some close-ups of the binding and hem treatments.  Just serging the raw edges was a super fast way to finish those areas.  It looks pretty casual though (perfect for PJs!).


Love that neckline binding tutorial!






My top, as I mentioned earlier, was a victim of poor fabric choices.  My snake skin print has so much lycra or coating on  it that it feels like a condom.  The glitter coating on top of the snake skin print takes this fabric to a porn-tastic level, and let’s not forget to mention how thin it is.  Pair it with a slightly more substantial  stretch faux leather and you have a recipe for a hoochie mama top with a droopy neckline due to the faux leather binding being heavier than the main fabric.  Sounds tasteful, doesn’t it?  Well, here it is in all it’s hoochie glory.



It is constructed well though.  I haven’t finished the hems as I am not going to wear it.  I will admit it does have some hanger appeal, so one of my friends said she would take it.  I’m mailing it to her today.  Hopefully she likes it, or if not, will still be my friend after receiving it.  😉

Happy sewing my friends!

4 Responses leave one →
  1. March 4, 2014

    I have noticed the raglan tops and I just attempted the New Look one. I really liked how it looked on those that have made it. I did not get the same results. I will wear it around the house and like you I am not finishing the hems.

    I would like to know your source for the stretch faux leather. I have acquired about a yard from one source but it is not what I wanted or thought it would be.

  2. Julie B permalink
    March 4, 2014

    Oh my goodness. The description of your hoochie mama top just made my day. Thanks for the laughs!


  3. March 6, 2014

    Although you don’t like it, I like the look. Like you, I have made the lounge pants numerous times and never gave the top a second look. Must retrieve and give it a try. Thanks for the review.

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