Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wrapped (Ottobre 05-2011-11 "Romantic Notes" Top)

Ah, the wrap top. It's probably the most commonly recommended style for those of us who are large in the mammary region and yet not a style I wear very often at all, despite being abundantly blessed in the bosom department. Partly this is because I have a pathological fear of becoming unexpectedly unwrapped during the course of the day. Mostly, however, it's just that I haven't got around to attempting to make something in a wrapped style since my last, mostly failing, attempts in early 2014. (Why I never bought any RTW is another question altogether. I don't remember it really ever being an option, if I'm honest, particularly when I wore plus sizes. Too fitted, I think, compared to the "tent with a hole for your head!" aesthetic that plus-size clothes manufacturers seem to think everyone over a UK size 16 should choose).

New Look 6150, a previous fail
Back in 2014, I made two black wrap tops from a single 3m piece of viscose jersey. I made a (mostly succesful) wrap cardigan/top layer using Burda 01-2012-130, and also made a (mostly failing) attempt at New Look 6150 View A, a.k.a That Faux Wrap Top That Everyone And Her Sister Made In 2013. Alas, the fabric choice was ill-fated, as it was both hard to sew and looked decidedly jaded after only a couple of washes. I wore the Burda top several times until the fabric started to look so dreadful that I had to get rid of it. The NL 6150 View A top was an unmitigated disaster. I did think about revisiting it as, when successful, it's a really lovely pattern. Even my failed version clearly had potential. However, eighteen months and a lot more experience of reading pattern instructions later, I still don't understand the pattern instructions for the shoulder pleats. Maybe if I were 100% healthy I would have approached it in a spirit of adventure and tried again. Since I've felt like death warmed over for most of this month I decided to make my life easier and pick another pattern!

For this attempt I therefore decided to try Ottobre 05-2011-11, the "Romantic Notes" top. I made my version in a navy on ivory print from Tissu. I think it's a viscose jersey, though I've lost the official description. It's a nice weight for autumn and sewed up without any problems. The print is a little loud and busy compared to my usual boringly subdued taste, but I quite like it. It obscures almost all the sewn details (and mistakes!) though.

Ottobre 05-2011-11 "Romantic Notes" faux wrap top, images from Ottobre

The pattern itself is actually very similar to the New Look top, down to the pleated shoulders and the shape and style of the collar, but with the major advantage that I found the instructions perfectly comprehensible. The main differences are the degree of gathering on the low side of the wrap (a very small area with only light gathering in the Ottobre top vs. a lot of gathered fullness in NL6150) and the depth of the "scoop" of the wrap, which, per the images above, is intended to sit below the bust in the Ottobre top and over the bust on NL6150. Of the two, I probably prefer the positioning of the wrap on the New Look top, but I don't find the Ottobre top unflattering at all.

Ottobre 05-2011-11 faux wrap top, as modelled by me
Overall, I think that this top is more of a success than when I made NL6150 (not hard) but still not extremely successful. Part of this is the circumstances in which I sewed it, alas, and is therefore entirely my own fault. Even when I'm feeling really very ill, as I have been the last couple of weeks, I still always try to do just a few minutes in my sewing room every day -- mainly because I feel like even a little time being ~~creative goes a long way to keeping me sane on more trying days. However, as I got more and more frustrated by how long it was taking me to get to the actual MAKING part of making this simple knit top, I ended up taking a bunch of short-cuts, particularly when making adjustments, which I have subsequent cause to regret.

Front and back view, as modelled by Flossie
This top is a size 40 shoulders, and then a sort of cheater's FBA to a size 44 at the armscye down to the hip. The sleeve is a size 40 sleeve with a particularly stupid sizing fudge, which I shan't even describe, and is a little too tight as a result because, no, I do not in any way have a size 40 arm, even with a stupid fudge. The problem with the cheater's FBA is that it gives you extra space, for sure, but not entirely in the right place. I need extra fabric where my bust is, not under my arm. Add in the overly tight sleeve and it's a recipe for the top pulling weirdly through the bust. Note to self: next time, just suck it up and do your adjustments properly.

When I saw this pattern had non-topstitched facings I almost backed out of using it. I am no fan of unstitched facings as they seem to lead inevitably to frustratedly flipping pieces of fabric back inside your top and rising levels of irritability as the day goes on. On the other hand, the facings make the collar/neckline arrangement possible, and that was a design detail I really liked a lot, so I decided to go with it despite my misgivings.
Just about visible design detail of the pleats at the collar, plus a view of the facings/innards
When I was mostly done with the top I tried it on as instructed and instantly hated the facings. HATED. I couldn't see how the top would be wearable without constant facing-related aggravation. The last few pattern instructions, however, are all about the facings, and so really I should have just trusted Ottobre and not become despondent. After stitching them down in various places (and also, I must admit, unpicking and re-sewing two inches of side seam because it turned out one of my facings hadn't caught properly in the overlocked seams) hey presto, I would say 90-95% of my facing related annoyance had faded. I still have some problems on one side of the neckline but most of that is, to be quite honest, bad sewing on my part. I had problems attaching the facings to the bodice at that point of the neckline and tried to hurry through a fix rather than sort it out properly.

Close up of the wrap, and also, I read somewhere that people are really annoyed by garment photos where the model has her hands on her hips because it's a more ~~flattering pose than standing in a more neutral. So, here I am standing somewhat normally/neutrally as well, for completeness. "Normally". As normally as I ever stand in front of a camera, anyway.
In conclusion: I have yet to wear this top for a full day, so I am not totally certain how much I like it. It remains to be seen if this is a top that you have to faff with constantly to make sure it's lying right. Even without wearing it though I am am pretty sure this is not my Perfect Faux Wrap Top pattern -- I love the collar and shoulder details, but I am not entirely convinced by the positioning of the wrap itself or the facings. When I make another version, I think I will try a different pattern (I have several available -- there's another in a different issue of Ottobre, and then a good handful in various other magazines I own).

More generally, today's lesson is that even when I get super impatient with being ill and taking FOREVER to finish even a small and easy project like a knit top, it's not worth rushing. So many of the problems I had with this top are because I tried to hurry through to the actual sewing part of the sewing, and then tried to hurry towards actually having a finished garment. Yes, the part where I actually sew is the most fun part of sewing to me, but it's pointless if it doesn't actually produce the outcome I want!


  1. Oh I love it on you! LOVE IT!!!!!!!

    And yes, I love a good wrap style top or dress. It really is best for us who are blessed in the mammary region! Hahaha!

    1. Thanks!

      I have a MILLION wrap top, wrap dress, wrap everything patterns, and yet: only the one wrap top. /o\ When I am working again (may that day come one day!) I am definitely going to make a lot of wrap style things though, or at least that is the plan!

  2. I like this a lot. I'm bustier than you, but I tend to like wrap styles better on myself when the wrap-over piece ends in some sort of under-bust or raised waist seam, rather than going all the way over the side seam. When they go all the way over to the side seam, I feel like they chop my gigantiboob in half, whereas with the other style, the edge can at least go down and under between my boobs. :P

    1. Thanks!

      I know the style you mean! I have a couple of patterns of that type in my list of possible future knit tops too. My only concern with them is making sure my bust doesn't pull the seam up too high -- burned by previous surplice RTW tops I've owned where the so-called under-bust seam ended up right across my nipples... D: