Saturday, 27 January 2018

In which a wacky top is somehow not wacky enough

I've been been busily sewing since I finished my navy coat last week, and here are the results.

First, my January project for my 2018 Magazine Challenge. As a reminder, I challenged myself, as many other sewers have done, to make one pattern per month from the 2018 isues of the magazines I receive. I'm a bit more relaxed than most because I allow myself use any 2018 magazine in my collection, and of course I have three active subscriptions: Burda, Knipmode and Ottobre.

Alas, for some reason Knipmode 01/2018 never arrived, although it should have been here in early December. I am actually somewhat furious about this, because I have e-mailed their helpdesk three separate times to tell them the issue did not arrive, and they haven't made any kind of contact with me in response. >:( Admittedly, I have to e-mail them in English and it's a Dutch company, and I would understand if the response were delayed because of the language issue, but not delayed by 3 weeks! Also, let me tell you they've always been able to make themselves understood when it came to billing! I am paying too much per issue to just let this go, but I'm kind of at a loss what to do next given that they just aren't responding in any way on the only contact e-mail address they offer.

Anyway, the non-arrival of my January Knipmode meant I actually only had Burda 01/2018 to choose a pattern from when it came down to it this month. Luckily, there were several patterns than I liked, although, being me, of course I eventually chose to make a wacky top, specifically Burda 01-2018-106:

Burda 01-2018-106 knit top with back drape -- image and technical drawings from
This top is very boring from the front, but on the back it has almost too much going on -- a keyhole back! A weird drapey thing! Thumbholes in the sleeves! I went with the whole design, despite my doubts about the keyhole, except for the thumb holes in the sleeves because I just don't like them. I made a size 40 through the shoulder, blending to a size 44 at the bust and hip. My current measurements put me in a size 44 bust (ish, I am about 101cm compared to their 100cm measurement) and size 42 hip (my measurements are within 0.5cm).

I made a couple of fit adjustments: the sleeves on this are very narrow and so I did a 2cm large bicep adjustment; and I did a 1.5cm rounded back adjustment above the keyhole.

I have to admit while tracing out this top I did a certain amount of whining to myself about the number (6) and size (unusually large) of the pattern pieces, and then I complained to myself some more because you have to cut on the single layer which takes a bit more time. I made my top in a pleasantly drapey white viscose with an animal print pattern in mixed greys. I bought the fabric specifically for this project and, even though it says you only need 1.8m, I definitely needed my entire 2m piece.
My version of Burda 01-2018-106 (front and back view)
 Okay, so positives: I like the fabric, and I think it's a good match to the pattern both in terms of how well the back drape hangs, and in general as a fun print to use with a wacky pattern.

Internal construction details and close-up of the back drape
This is the "sewing course" pattern in this issue of the magazine, which was probably just as well as I don't know that I would have worked out how to handle the back drape without the extra words/images that Burda supplied. As it was, I had to unpick a seam at the end because I accidentally twisted the back drape an extra time before sewing the ends into the side seam. Despite that mistake, I have to say that the way it's constructed is mostly really neat -- the way you construct and attach the drape section to the facing on the inside (see photo above on the left) is really clever and gives you a surprisingly clean finish on the inside as well as the outside. The only construction detail I didn't like is that I don't love that you turn and stitch the non-faced side of the slit feature.

The negative though is that, as surprised as I am to write this, the top is maybe not wacky enough for my taste, which is honestly not something I ever expected to say about a Burda pattern. The back drape in real life is a bit anaemic and not nearly as wacky/dramatic as I thought it might be.

Burda 01-2018-106 side and rear view on me
The main problem is how the top actually fits. In the modelled photo, to me, it looks like it's intended to be a little oversized through the hips -- the back drape seems to hang over the model's hips quite loosely. On me? Eh, not so much, even though that I made a size 44 at the hip and my ACTUAL hips are fully 5cm (2") smaller than Burda's size 44 measurements. If I were an actual size 44 it would be a close fitting top through the hips. In my photos, admittedly, my top is a little hung up on my trousers, but even so, you can see that it is far from loose-fitting and the back drape is more at the small of my back than down over my butt. (You can also see in the side view that the weight of the drape pulls the top backwards, creating those diagonal drag lines below my bust.)

Overall, I don't dislike it -- I am wearing it right now, in fact! -- but I feel like it missed the mark as far as desireable wackiness was concerned and didn't really match the modelled photo the way I expected it to. I am still dubious about keyhole back features. Does anyone need to see that particular sliver of dead-fish white skin? I don't know?

Moving on to my second top, which is the first of a few different woven tops I want to make over the next few weeks for what remains of the winter and early spring. It is also another of my 2018 resolution garments: actually make those long-planned projects! I bought a red/blue/purple/white plaid viscose/cotton blend in February 2016 to make a popover shirt with a front placket. I love popover shirts of this type, but although I've had the idea in my head to make one for a long time, I've struggled to find a pattern to turn into my TNT for this style. Towards the end of last year I bought Burda 6457 in a pattern sale and decided to give it a try as soon as possible to both use this fabric and move that TNT search on a step.

Burda 6457 envelope and line drawings
I made view A, the shorter length with a stand collar and no pockets or shoulder strap pieces. When I opened up the pattern sheets, I had a look at the finished bust size and recoiled. As the pattern has no darts, I had anticipated making say, a size 40 or 42 and having to do a classic FBA and introduce a bust dart. However, this top is designed with 23cm of ease! I also realized as I started work on this top that it has dropped shoulders. I guess you can see that on the modelled photos if you really look, but I don't think it necessarily jumps out at you that that is how it's designed from the photos and line drawings -- or maybe it does, and I was being willfully blind, I don't know.

At any rate, confronted with that much ease, and knowing I wanted to use a smaller size through the shoulders anyway, I decided to do try making a straight size 42, which had a finished bust of 119cm (compared to my actual 101cm bust). Although I suspect I should have narrowed the shoulders further, I decided to leave them as is since they are dropped anyway. I did my usual straight shoulder adjustment and I raised the armhole, which is fast becoming my most favourite adjustment for how it resolves so many irritating sleeve/armhole fit issues I've had for YEARS.

I also did a rounded back adjustment on the back yoke, which was something new to me. Up to now with all my rounded back adjustments I've used either a shoulder or neckline dart, or there's been a centre back seam. It took me a while to find a clear guide to this adjustment when you've got a separate yoke piece and don't want to introduce a dart, so if you need it, I recommend this SureFit video.

My version of Burda 6457 in red/blue/purple/white plaid
I put most of the smaller elements (placket, yoke, cuffs, tower plackets on the sleeves) on the bias as I thought this would look more interesting and also reduce the matching problems. The exception is the collar, which is on the straight grain. I think this was quite effective, especially the back yoke which I think looks great on the bias. The rest of the matching was painful. The front was, of course, cut in one piece anyway, and I truly tried my absolute best with the side seams but the matching did not come out perfectly at all. That's actually a pretty good overall description of my result from this pattern: tried my best, but still not always great.
Some details: the front placket and collar; my sadly non-matchy, flat-felled side seams; the cuffs and tower plackets
Positives: the collar came out really well and so did the cuffs, the latter a HUGE improvement on the crappy cuffs I did on that New Look tunic before Christmas. The front placket came out pretty well on the visible side, although I do not the inside finish at all, which is, unusually for Burda, nowhere near as clean and nice as I see on RTW. I did flat fell seams everywhere but the yoke (which is a two layer clean finish that I did using the burrito method rather than following Burda's non-burrito instructions) and the sleeve/shoulder attachment seam, which I overlocked. I haven't done flat-felled seams in a while but they still came out well except for the matching problems. Although the fine detail matching at the side seams sucks, and you can't quite tell from the version modelled on Flossie above, the sleeve/body plaid matching is great on my actual body (see below!)

Negatives: This was my first attempt at a tower placket on a shirt cuff. This pattern uses the same technique for this as for the main placket, so I also don't like the inside finish. Overall, they are probably not the worst tower plackets anyone has ever made, but they are for sure not the best either! Also, the interfacing I used was just a touch too firm for this fabric. It's not a huge problem, but the front facing in particular feels more rigid than I entirely like.

Fit wise, I am mostly positive. It fits pretty well in key ways -- the bust fit is fine,  and I love the range of motion the higher armhole gives me. However, despite the fact I haven't worn it yet, I've already noticed a tendency for it to slide towards the back, which is somewhat annoying.  It's also a lot of volume, even after sizing down to a 42.
Front, side and back view on me -- just LOOK at my plaid match in the side view across the sleeve though :D :D :D
Overall, I do like this shirt, but I don't think this is going to be my TNT popover shirt. I think I would prefer a pattern with some bust shaping . I also really would prefer a pattern without dropped shoulders, because I think the dropped shoulders make me look even more top heavy/V-shaped than I actually am. If I did make this pattern again, for sure I would want to find an alternative technique to make/attach the plackets, because the inside finish of the placket/sleeve plackets is NOT what I am looking for.

Next up: I'm hoping to finish up a couple of little projects before the end of January, although in one case I am waiting on a zip arriving in the post. After than, more woven tops, plus I need to pick something from my magazines for my February challenge garment!


  1. I have the same problem with Knipmode. Didn't get the January issue and no reply to my emails. I did receive the February issue which was the final one for this subscription. I was very annoyed today to get an invoice for 126 Euro to renew for the next 12 months. I emailed to cancel the subscription this afternoon - it will be interesting to see if losing money provokes a response.

    1. Oh! That's interesting that you also didn't get that issue! I wonder if they had some kind of issue with their international shipment in December? If it is some kind of systematic problem, I am even LESS impressed that they didn't get back to us -- all they need is a little form e-mail, or something on their website/Facebook! I have to admit I was on the fence about renewing when my sub ends (August) and this is definitely making me think I won't.

  2. Ah, Burda and their wacky tops. It’s frustrating when patterns don’t quite match up to their photographs, and I definitely see how much more ease the model has in her top than what the pattern actually provides.

    I do love that popover shirt! I’ve got some beautiful check fabric that I want to make up into one, so this pattern might have to go on the list. I find a forward head adjustment can prevent the shoulders sliding back on my body, but if it’s a really loose fit, sometimes nothing will stop that slide.

    1. The backwards sliding thing is not a problem I usually have -- I think you might be right that its just loosely fitting enough that it's always going to do that. :|

  3. This looks soooo good! I followed your progress on the tunic on IG and am very impressed with how it turned out. Both the front and sleeve plackets look professional - especially with the bias pattern.

    I agree with you about the lack-of-wackiness of the knit top with back drape. It seems like it should be more loose-fitting according to the model's photo. If you're wearing it and it feels comfortable, then it's still a win!

    1. Thank you! I definitely don't like the internal finish of that plaid top, but I am pleased with the outside :D

  4. I am impressed with the plaid matching!! Fab.

    The Burda top fabric is very nice. I do think that it fits well and if you like it, then it is a score.

    1. Thanks! :D Plaid matching is so time consuming, but it is kind of worth it when you're done.

  5. Do you think the burda top would be OK if you just sewed up the keyhole? I'm just curious as, like you, I can't see why anyone would want to see my back, not to mention a bit of bacne (on me anyway)!

    1. Yes, for sure. You'd just have to alter all three back pieces of the pattern and attach the back facing (the part right side out in my inside-out view of the top) in a different order is all. You can't omit the back facing (which is partly to face one edge of the keyhole) because it also connects to the back drape section.

      I did consider making it hole-less but in the end I went with the pattern as designed just for amusement value as much as anything. The skin of my back is OK, but I do have an unfortunately placed large freckle right in the middle of the keyhole!