Friday, September 11, 2009

The (not so) simple top

I thought that this Burda top would be a nice quick garment to knock together, but appearances can be deceiving!

While it is a very basic pattern, with only a CB seam, arm and neck binding and a cute back panel detail, it is essentially a tube and therein lies the problem, because I am not!

I cut a size 40 which generally speaking was a good fit, except for some serious underarm gaping. And as there is no side seam, this presents a bit of a dilemma in terms of how to adjust the pattern.

Here is the original pattern.

What I needed to do was take in the underarm, but without altering the hip too much, so how to go about it?
There were a couple of options:

1. Slash through the pattern where the side seam would be ( Burda very kindly included a notch to indicate this, thank you!) and close out the extra under the arm (in my case I needed to take it in by 4cm under each arm), and widen the hip slightly.

2. As above but pivot the dart into the gathered section of the back so as not to alter the hip width.

The trouble with these 2 options is that the CB is thrown off grain, which in a plain fabric is not too much of a problem, but would look seriously whacky in a stripe or print.

3. Overlap the side seam evenly from underarm to hip and add extra length to the CB back panel to maintain the hip width.

4. Or just whack in a side seam to create some shape from underarm to hip.

After mucking around for far too long with the pattern (and taking dodgy photos of the pattern pieces on my unwashed floor) I came to the conclusion that such a simple pattern shouldn’t need so much major surgery. So I decided to just sew an underarm dart.

It’s not pretty, and it kind of defeats the purpose of the original pattern but it fits, and I will most likely wear this style of top under layers, as the world doesn’t need to see my underarms jiggling around these days (still photography is allowed, it’s amazing what a bit of teeth clenching and arm flexing can achieve!).

So what about the construction?

The instructions seemed way to complex for a simple tank top, so I ignored them and just whizzed it up on the overlocker, substituting self fabric arm and neck bands for the facings.

The Burda instructions advised to sew the hem first, and then apply the back panel, but I didn’t want any visible topstitching in this fabric, so instead I gathered and pinned the back to the panel, keeping the hem allowance free, then turning the allowance up behind the panel and then sewing the top to the panel.

The hem allowance can then be flipped over and you have a nice neat finish.
Because this method secured the hem, and I had a fairly generous allowance (1.5 inches) and the hip fit quite snugly, the hem naturally sits in place without needing any stitching.

I also fused the back panel and this helps it to keep its shape (word of warning, it helps to use stretch fusing, I didn’t as I was being stingy, oops frugal, and as a result the hip fits a little more snugly then it probably should!).

Look Mum, the back panel matches perfectly with my jean pockets (on purpose of course)!!

Another gratutious shot of me pretending to have taut underarms.

All in all I am pretty happy with the result. So much so that I made another in my black and white spotty fabric AND it took less than 2 hours AND that’s with Miss C ‘helping’.

Phew, I think that this has been my longest post ever! Now I had better get back to my real job and pay some attention to that Uni assignment that has been lurking in the background.


  1. Hi Sandra. I really like this style and I've been meaning to make this pattern all summer but never did. Now I'm very glad to read your review which will be very useful when I do get to it. All the trouble you took was worth it because your top looks really great - I love it.

  2. Hi Sandra - it's me again! I have been enjoying reading your blog and, as a fellow new blogger, have nominated you for the Kreativ Blogger Award - please drop by my blog to collect it, with my best wishes.

  3. I love this shirt! It's very hip - wish I had a few in my wardrobe. Impressed with all of the pattern alterations you made.