I bought a thin black turtleneck last year because I wanted to layer it with something or other and I wasn’t sure how well it would suit me. In the end I quite liked it and am definitely digging the layered look this year, so wanted to make a couple of such tops myself. I had both the Freya, from the Tilly and the Buttons Stretch book, and the Ruska from the Named Breaking the Pattern book in my possession and couldn’t choose between them. So I figured why not try both to compare? Both patterns have other versions and views I like, so getting a decent fit on the sweaters would open up a ton of other pattern variations to me.
For the Ruska I traced off the size 7 at the shoulders, graded to 8 through the bust and hips. I sized down to a 7 for my Saraste shirt as that had a fair bit of ease, but the finished measurements for the Ruska seemed like this would be a better idea. I flirted with cutting a straight 7, but didn’t necessarily want a tight fit, so decided to give myself a bit of leeway for the first sew.
For the Freya, the straight size 8 seemed to be closest to my measurements, with perhaps a smidge of ease and I haven’t made many Tilly patterns before, so I went for that size.
You can see from the pictures that the patterns are actually shaped quite differently. The Freya underneath is hourglass-shaped compared to the more rectangular Ruska (shape slightly altered by my grading – it’s more straight than that) and is also quite a bit longer.
Now, one important factor is that I used the Ruska tee pattern, with long sleeves, and in retrospect perhaps the Ruska dress pattern, shortened, would have been a closer comparison, but it didn’t occur to me to use that until afterwards, when comparing the technical drawings. One quirk of the Ruska tee is that it has a front centre seam, presumably in order to construct some of the other versions. I eliminated that by cutting on the fold.
The neckbands are also quite different. The Freya seemed rather short at first glance and the Ruska neckband came in two pieces! I’ve never seen that for a knit band before, where you have to join along the horizontal. Normally you just fold over, but I was willing to try something new, even if it seemed a little like unnecessary work!
The seam allowance is a more standard 3/8″ for the Ruska and a little larger at 5/8″ for the Freya, so that was something I had to keep in mind. Both tops had identical construction order, which was nice, and so I started off by stabilising both sets of shoulders the same way – by sewing in a piece of selvedge into each shoulder seam as I serged. This was the way described in the Ruska instructions and cuts out a step or two, which I am fully behind!
Next, the neckband was stitched in and the sleeves sewn in on the flat – all standard knit top fare. Finally the side seams were sewn and the hems and neckline coverstitched.
Fit and Fabric
You can see from my pics that they are different in fit. One thing I have to say is that I tried to use similar fabrics, but there is a bit of a difference between the thinner, stretchier ponte (on the Freya) and the brushed sweater knit (on the Ruska). I also made them in colours that are the trickiest known to man to photograph normally, never mind in the fading light and so, hence my basement pics. Hopefully they’re clear enough!
I think I used them the right way round, because the Ruska definitely has more ease and that straighter profile is good with the sweater knit. This would be a good one to wear as a standalone top and it’s nice and cosy. The shoulders are still slightly wide and the front is pulling up, so I would narrow the shoulders slightly and add some length to the front – an inch or so.
The Freya is tighter and more form-fitting, but still very comfy in the ponte, which is perfect for layering under dresses and pinafores. I actually need to shave a bit off these shoulders too and the neckline is higher and smaller than the Ruska.
Another point to note is that I didn’t need to adjust the sleeves or length for either pattern. I often need to shorten sleeves a little, so that was… interesting. I’m going to go all out and say I think the Ruska sleeves will be short on many people. The Freya sleeves are a little longer, so may be okay.
I like these patterns and will definitely be using both this A/W. I can see making a few more versions with the adjustments, and I may try the Ruska dress pattern to see what a difference the other draft makes. I would redraft the Ruska neckband as it seemed like unnecessary faff, to be honest, and made the seams a little bulky. Otherwise – these tops do what they say on the tin!
Notes for future:
- Lengthen Ruska front
- Lengthen Ruska sleeves by 0.5 inch
- Narrow shoulders on both by 0.5 inch
- Redraft Ruska neckband to one piece, as is usual