New Look 6838 – a popular boatneck knit top

New Look 6838 - boat neck top -

Hi, I got this New Look pattern a while ago – mainly for the boatneck top. This neckline is one of my favorite styles. New Look 6838 is likely out-of-print because I couldn’t find it on the Simplicity website. I discovered that the pattern has been in print for several years when I noticed that my envelope looks like this…

New Look 6838 - knit top and pants

… and I saw the pattern envelope on Pattern Review, which shows this old New Look design.

I searched for the oldest PR reviews for this pattern and saw that reviwes went back to 2002! Wow. I didn’t realize that some patterns can stay in print that long! It must have been a really popular pattern.

New Look 6838 boat neck top, pants, separates

I skimmed a couple of reviews and learned that for most people, the neckline on version A of the top (the striped one), was too wide and the 3/4 sleeves were more like full-length sleeves.

However, I didn’t read the reviews until I had already cut and sewn everything but the hems. Oops. I was using fabric leftover from other projects so it didn’t really matter. This is my mockup. The houndstooth knit was a fabric from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics sale floor. I used it to make a pair of wrap pants from a Vogue pattern. The fabric doesn’t have much recovery.

Houndstooth and black jersey knit fabrics for New Look 6838

I’m not sure where I got the black prom gown fabric for the sleeves. I have quite a lot of black jersey and other solid black knit fabrics in my stash.

New Look 6838 pattern adjustments

I did a 1/8″ square shoulder adjustment on this top – probably not really necessary considering this was a knit top.

The hem of the so-called 3/4 sleeves landed about an inch or so above my wrist – too long. So I cut off about 5 inches from the sleeves to make them 3/4 length. I have long arms but even these sleeves were too long for me.

I also have broad shoulders so I thought, “Why not sew a 1/2″ center back seam instead of 5/8″ seam?” That was just a whim as I was pinning the back before sewing it. But I didn’t need to make it wider. (Note to self: Measure the pattern pieces before making an adjustment.)

One of the results of making the back a little wider is that the neckline gaped in the back. My fabric also got a little stretched out so I think the gaping was the result of fabric and the seam allowance. This houndstooth knit doesn’t have much recovery. So I unpicked the neck hem around the center back seam. My first attempt wasn’t quite right because my seam wasn’t gradual enough to lay flat. I drew a line for my second attempt. The stitching on the right is the original seam.

New Look 6838 center back seam

I didn’t make any other changes to New Look 6838.

Stabilizing the fabric

This houndstooth jersey fabric needed some stabilizing at the neck, which I neglected to do. If this were my fashion fabric, not a mockup, I would have played around with the fabric – stretching it out and looking at the recovery (how quickly did it spring back).

I hemmed this top with a zig zag stitch at the neckline and for the sleeve hems. I used a twin needle for the hem of the body.

For the hem of the body, I used Design Plus super fine bias fusible stay tape. It comes in white and black. I had white in my stash so I used that. I usually get it at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. (Here’s an affiliate link to black super fine stay tape.)

Note on New Look 6838’s sleeves

I used some lightweight black jersey that was in my stash. It was a lighter weight than the houndstooth knit I used for the body.

The sleeves of New Look 6838 are treated like sleeves for a woven: You sew a straight stitch in between the notches on the sleeve head, slightly gather the seams and ease the inset sleeve into the body with the side seams already sewn.

I thought I could sew the sleeve head to the body and then sew one long seam from the sleeve hem down the side seam to the bottom hem of the body. But my sleeve fabric was too fiddly. So I pretty much followed the instructions. Maybe if I used a knit fabric of the same weight for the sleeves and the body, sewing it the other way may have worked.

It rained over the weekend so I didn’t get a chance to take any photos of me wearing the finished top. I’ll have to do that in a separate post. I’ll be sure to wear a fun hat for those photos.

Lastly, here are some questions for you: Do you make a mockup (aka toile or muslin) before you sew your fashion fabric? When you are trying a new pattern (or new-to-you pattern)? I’d love to hear from you!

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

7 thoughts on “New Look 6838 – a popular boatneck knit top”

  1. I have this pattern buried somewhere in my stash too. I liked the neckline, especially of the v neck. I don’t often make muslins either. If it is a wedding dress or a formal dress maybe, otherwise no. I love your blog, btw. I don’t often comment but I do read it.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Nothy! After making it, I think if I make it again, I wouldn’t bother with a center back seam unless I could do something fun with a print. So glad you like my blog!

  2. I selddom reply to blogs, but since I do have this pattern and I have never made it, I decided to write a response. No, I don’t make muslins, unless it is for something really important, like a mother of the bride dress with expensive fabric. A t-shirt no. I can pretty much check the measurements and adjust the pattern as I copy it. I also have a tried and true tee that I make and ofter just lay it over a new one to check out the fit. But your review of this pattern is thorough, so thank you. I bought it for the exact reason you did, for the neckline, and I continually pull it out, so this should be a motivation to make it already.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Vivian. It’s a good idea to compare other tops to the pattern you’re making. When I make this again, I will compare my RTW boatneck tops to this pattern’s neckline. I do like the wide neckline so I don’t think I will change that. But the shoulders are a little too wide on me.

  3. I am really excited to see your write up about this pattern because I was given this pattern (uncut and in perfect condition) by a woman in the Oakland Hills who was getting rid of her sewing stuff last year. I love a knit top with a boatneck. This style looks great with a beret, too! I almost always make a mockup when I am trying a pattern for the first time, even for the most simple pattern. I find that the extra effort spent in making a mockup and altering the pattern result in a final garment that fits well and gets worn often. Thanks for this post! I can’t wait to see the finished top!

    1. You’re welcome, Barbara! Mockups are helpful for new patterns. I like this pattern but it does run large. I recommend measuring the pattern pieces of this pattern before you make a mockup. 🙂

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