Monday, October 05, 2015

Summer top #3...and almost a 4th.

The third summer top is not my favorite and the fourth, well that review follows this one.

This top is from Burdastyle 7/2012. It's number #117

It doesn't look too bad here.
But it seems much too big around the torso.

Here's my review:

Pattern description:
Short sleeved blouse with darted, raglan sleeves and a front keyhole. The neckline is gathered and secured by bias tape that ties in a bow at the front. European sizes 34-42.

Pattern notes:
I cut a size 42. I increased the side seams starting at the waist and increasing to about 1/2 inch at the bottom edge. Knowing that Burda tends toward low cut in the front, I raised the front slit by 1 inch.

Construction notes:
I used the sewing machine for all construction. Except for the dart on the sleeve, I sewed French seams throughout to create finished seam allowance edges because the fabric is a bit translucent and I didn't want to serge the edges and have them show, though I did use the serger to finish the raw edges of the sleeve dart.

The pattern uses lots of bias tape to finish the sleeve edges, the neck edge, and to act as a tie for the front. I first tried packaged bias and that was far too stiff, almost like paper. I thought maybe the bias tape had sizing in it, so I rinsed a sample, which softened up a little bit, but the bias binding was still too stiff. I could have made bias strips out of my fabric, but I wanted a bit of contrast, so I looked for some lightweight cotton. I didn't have any in my stash and the best I could come up with at a local fabric store was some off-white linen. I cut 3 cm wide bias out of the linen and that worked ok, still a bit stiff though. Wish I'd held out for some cotton instead. The fabric store had some pre-made bias in a color that would have worked but the fabric was silky - maybe polyester or rayon. I wish now I'd bought some of that and experimented with it. At the time I had "off-white" stuck in my head and they didn't have any of the pre-made bias in off-white.

The instructions say to use 1/2 inch, pre-folded bias. But when I used the bias marked on the package as 1/2 inch, (double folded) the result is a 1/2 inch finished binding - much too wide. In fact the instructions say that the finished binding should measure 1/4 inch (6 mm). So you really want to buy the packages that say 1/4 inch. Actually you don't. That packaged stuff is too stiff for use in garments!

The neckline instructions call for gathering the front neck, shoulder and back neck edges, each to a certain width. I did this, tried it on, and determined that the resulting neck line was too high for my liking. So I let the gathering out a bit (about 3-4 inches more than called for) and then attached the bias binding to this new dimension.

Overall impressions:
  • Despite cutting a 42, which is on the small side based on my measurements, it was a bit too large, or too blousy for my taste.
  • The off white trim on the blouse now reminds me of some smocks that my chiropractor had his patients wear (and that had been made by his receptionist). Not what I was looking for.
  • Not sure I will wear this blouse. :-( 
Possible new techniques for a beginner:
  • Using bias binding to finish a raw edge.
Lessons learned:
  • When in doubt, make samples. Making a sample using the packaged bias tape showed me that I wouldn't like it, even after washing it.
  • I should have gone ahead and spent the few dollars for the premade bias from the fabric store if only just to try it
  • I probably should have made a muslin first because the blouse is big, but looking at the picture in Burda, it's supposed to be blousy.
  • I'm happy with the alterations I made to increase the hip circumference.
Recommend it?
If you're looking for a voluminous, raglan sleeve top, with bias trim, then this is perfect, but I recommend checking the dimensions first. Also, make your own bias binding!

And now for the last, summer top. I didn't finish the last top because it's not fitting right in the sleeves and there looks like a problem with the back neck.

This top is from Burdastyle 7/2013. It's #103.
Almost done, but not right.

The back armhole is much larger than the front.
My review thus far:

Pattern description: Sleeveless top with v-neck and twisted shoulder straps. The top is intended to be cut out of a double layer of fabric so that the wrong side of the fabric is not visible.

Pattern notes:
Based on my measurements, I cut a size 44. I increased the hip circumference by increasing the side seams starting at the waist and increasing to 5/8 inches at the bottom edge. I eliminated the front and back seams and traced one front pattern piece and one back pattern piece.

Construction notes:
I used the sewing machine for all construction. I sewed French seams throughout because I didn't want any raw edges nor did I want serged edges to show.

Because I sewed French seams, it was a bit of a puzzle at times. My fabric did not have a wrong or right side but it was very thin, so although I could have done one layer, it would have been too transparent. Sewing the French seams, I had to keep track and remember: "wrong sides together first, then right sides". Further complicating matters was that I chose a plaid fabric.

When I went to sew the shoulder seams I found two problems. First, my front shoulder strap width ended up wider than the back where it would attach. Then, when I tried it on, it did not fit.

Progress thus far...
I carefully matched the plaid and was feeling good about this top until I tried it on before sewing the shoulder seams. If only I'd made a muslin, or at least basted it together first to see how it would fit. The top is too big at the armholes and maybe too low in the front too. There might also be an issue with the back neck, as it looks too high on my dress form. I think I was so distracted by the challenge of matching the plaid that I didn't even think to baste it first, let alone make a muslin. It might work as-is if I wear a tank underneath, but I don't want to wear it that way, so I'll need to make some adjustments. But now it is fall so I am leaving this as a UFO until the spring when I can approach it in a better mood about it and can assess the alterations I need to make. I do think it will be a cute top when finished and I look forward to wearing it next summer.


  1. Not sure about #3. Number 4 has potential - although maybe not in its present incarnation. I agree that the armhole at the bottom is too low. But dang, that twist is interesting. And the fabric you chose is so perfect. If I were you I would try to rescue, but a too low armhole is really hard to rescue. UFO for now is good. On to fall/winter sewing.

  2. Cute tops! I do like the Burdastyle 114 top. It's what we used to call a peasant top. It's suppose to be very full around the middle. The fabric and trim you used are perfect together. You have to like it to wear it....but I still say it's cute. :)

  3. wow! These are very pretty! Thank you for taking the time to post this.