Sunday, 20 July 2014

New Look 6470 Drape Neckline Tops

bought this pattern during the big trend for these necklines. I have seen some indie versions since, but before I started connecting with other sewers on the internet I didn't know about independent pattern designers. I have a lot of 'Big 4' patterns to use up but I am hoping to try out more indie designers as time goes by.

Anyhow, I made three of these. This seems to be an excellent number for basics, it's not as demanding on laundry efficiency as 'one on, one in the wash', especially when summer tops need washing after every wear.

I choose the style to cover my thick bra straps. (This is my main consideration when choosing summer vest tops.) I thought it would be quick to sew, but I had problems with fit due to my large bust and relatively narrow shoulders. It's not like this is news to me, I had already made a toile out of some non-precious jersey which fit beautifully. This was complete waste of time as two of my three tops were single knit (t-shirting) which behaved completely differently, i.e. has a lot less cling and recovery. 

My real top had underarm gape and the back neckline stood away. (This might be partly due to the very high back neckline for this style as well as my body shape.)

Googling revealed there is no one way to solve this problem. Here are the options as I understand them (my comments in italics):

1. Cut a smaller size and live with the negative ease - I'm not comfortable in very tight tops.

2. Cut a smaller size and do a FBA - this seems most obvious but I can't figure out how to do it on a knit. Would adding a little width to the front work, does anyone know?

3. Cut a smaller back and a large front - not sure about this as I experimented with this with a woven (here) and always wish I had done the FBA. Might work better on a knit?

4. Alter the armscye - this looked complex and would only solve one of the two issues.

5. Lift the shoulders and dart the back - back darts would look strange on a knit.

6. Lift the shoulders and lower the back neckline.

7. Lift the shoulders and create a CB seam which can then have excess taken out of it.

(6) seemed like the only option that wouldn't add darts or seams to the top, so that's the one I decided to go with, then I struggled with getting the tops of the straps aligned (having already top stitched the armholes in the round). Unpicking left a hole in one of the straps and at this point I nearly threw in the towel. Why don't I just go to the shops and buy my clothing like everybody else! (OK almost everybody else). 

Don't answer that....

It seemed such a waste to throw this top on the scrap pile so I have tried to fix it. Here is the finished article. 

Any sewer would know these bits at the top are a half arsed attempt to cover up a mistake, but would a non-sewer know?

I am fortunate to have two teenage daughters, who will generally give an honest and straightforward answer. They thought it was fine. In fact, I had to point out my shoulder amendment. So I will wear it and call it a 'design feature' (mentally, obviously, I won't be pointing it out to people!).

There follows not the most flattering set of photographs I have ever posted and I am making a funny face but hopefully they will give an idea of fit.

As you can see the underarms are still maybe a little low, having said this they cover all necessary when I am not holding my shoulders forward in that weird way. Also excuse wrinkles (in clothes!) had just returned from a cup of tea at the garden centre with my parents, this is what English people do when it's hot :))

For my next version I altered the pattern and remade the top in red. Still some of the back stood away. I was reluctant to make more pattern alterations because I liked the fit everywhere else.

By this point I became convinced I had either chosen the wrong fabric (although the pattern says pretty much any jersey), or was unknowingly stretching out the neckline as I sewed. Although I really wasn't. Honest.

The above are made from GOTS certified organic single cotton jersey from I think the fabrics are well priced and it's lovely to find a site that specialises in organic and fair trade fabrics with a decent amount of variety (there are some especially gorgeous wovens, too). I think they will be my suppliers of choice when second hand fabric isn't available. I was impressed enough to splash out on their sample box (this was some months ago, so it might look slightly different now):
It's an innocent pleasure, going through all the samples and imagining what you might sew. It's also a good way of avoiding nasty internet ordering surprises.
Finally, I made the top again in black. This time I stabilised the back neck with iron on tape to see if that helped then turned and sewed. I should mention I stabilised the shoulders too, although it wasn't mentioned in the instructions, because that's what sewers do.

I used the large top below (bought for £3.20 from the Red Cross shop) to get the fabric from. This was a money saving move. Fibre content is 95% viscose 5% elastane. 
It resulted in a much softer, drapier cowl and is probably the best looking and smartest of the three and the back neck fits better. If I made this again I would stabilise the back neck as a matter of course. The fabric was marginally harder to sew but not unbearably so as I now have stretch needles and they make a massive difference.

Embarrassing post-script:
I had written this and was just waiting for a free teenager to photograph the tops when I found out Kristin is making the same pattern, and Colette patterns have just released a dress with a drape neckline! So I'm reviewing my opening statement; this trend is hot right now!! If you want to see more trends before they happen, you know where to come :))

Happy sewing, 'til next time,

Philippa x