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


  1. I like all three tops and I share your problem of narrow shoulders and largish bust or at least a bust larger than the bust that foes with my shoulder measurements in patterns. Does that make sense?? I have yet to try a FBA but I will, one day! Drinking tea in the garden centre// Oh how civilised that sounds...I am jealous:) xx

    1. I am a great exponent of drinking tea. Hot weather, cold weather, celebrations, when in need of comfort...can't go wrong really!

  2. We appear to be on a similar wavelength again, sewing our knit tops in triplicate! I'm very unfamiliar with the conundrum of adjusting for as large bust and small back as I have the opposite body type, but I've considered cutting different sizes if/when I attempt a t-shirt again. Anyway. From the pictures, these tops turned out beautifully. I think they're quite flattering. Way to jump-start the trend! ;)

    1. Must be the time of year! Although rather like you, by the time I had made three I was so ready to move on. I think everyone else's body types are easier to fit than mine, and am now wondering if everybody thinks this! I reduced the seam allowance in the bust area for the Cocos and they fit quite well so I think in a knit I could maybe get away with just cutting larger where I need it. To be honest, for no logical reason I felt a little intimidated by the cowl. Another time!

  3. Yay! I was anxiously awaiting your post :D Ok, so the back neckline is usually a problem for me on ALL my tops. This is what I have found works for me.... sometimes. I use this method here to slope out 1/2" or so at the top to nothing at the bottom

    Plus I have a rounded upper back (too much computer time). So I also do this slash and enlarge thing a bit. I cut across the back of my pattern nearish the top of the armhole and just enlarge (or raise) the upper back an inch.

    As for the cheater FBA on knits: I trace a smaller size for the shoulders - for me it was a 12 on this pattern, then at the bust I trace a larger size (starting at the top of the underarm) this allows more room at the bust in a fast and easy way (usually only works on knits though).

    Whew! That was lots of info - sorry!
    I think your tops look great on you and I would never have noticed your "fix" on the one - it looks cute! I'm glad you had relative success with them. I just find cowl neck tops to be so pretty on people!!

    1. No, don't apologise - all this information is very useful and just what I need. I haven't figured out yet whether the back neckline was my sewing, the pattern, or alterations needed or (please, no!) a combination of all three. Next time I make a knit top I am going to do as you suggest with the bust area. I did this kind of thing on the Cocos and they worked out fine. Must have had brain fog when I was making these! Anyway I'm wearing the black one as I type and I am really pleased with the fit so I got there in the end. Who would have thought making knit tops could get so complicated!!

  4. These look great, Philipa! And, yes, design detail all the way!!!

  5. Great tops Philippa! Like you, I have many big four patterns to use... I wasn't aware of the many lovely Indie pattern makers until I started to blog. This one is a keeper and looks very flattering on you.

    1. Thank you! I think the black one is the best. I saw a lady in town today wearing virtually the same top, except I assume she didn't sew hers and mine was a better fit!!! This was so exciting it has given me a bit of a boost to keep bashing away. I'll get there in the end.

  6. Hi there trend setter. I think we're at the same stage in lots of ways. I too have been contemplating a drape neck t shirt, I found this pattern which is similar to yours, but I want a top with sleeves. The sleeves from her brigitte t shirt fit it, but that means buying two t shirts and I've never tried her stuff so that feels like a big leap. I have downloaded her free kimono t shirt to try and see if I think it's worth paying for two patterns to get the one I want. However, I haven't actually made it as I don't want a kimono t shirt, I want one with a drape neck. Going round it circles and missing the trend.
    Anyway, she does have a tutorial on doing a FBA on t shirts hurrah. Not sure what the drape t shirt pattern piece looks like to work out if you could do it on that too. She has another FBA on her blog too
    There are also great FBA tutorials for curvier people here and they were super helpful in replying to my comment and helping me work out that despite my F/G cup I could get away with a standard FBA adjustment.
    I also found out about Cake patterns from this blog post - apparently they are easily customisable based on your measurements. I've download the free t shirt pattern to try, which adds into my decision paralysis on where to start.
    So, a super long comment to say, your tops look great, you have my sympathy over fitting, and to share the as yet unused tips I've found.
    Think we just need to take the FBA plunge - wanna hold hands and jump together? Maybe we could do a sewalong type thingy for FBA virgins ;)

    1. Hello I just had to look up from designing my latest collection to respond to your comment (lol). I think you are a mind reader the MariaDenmark pattern was the one I was referring to and would have bought had I not already had this pattern in my stash. I must admit I also have a pattern from New Look virtually the same with short sleeves but I would need to take a deep breath before sewing with it because, well you read my review! I have seen a lot of positive feedback about the MariaDenmark top, but many sewers seem to be so slim up top compared to me it can be really difficult to picture how a style will look. Interestingly a non-sewing friend sent me a link to Cake patterns saying that the designer seemed to acknowledge that 'some ladies have busts' so I think they are a must-try. I have also heard Bluegingerdoll drafts for larger cup sizes, they are quite retro looking styles but I am tempted to give them a try, because a bit of retro is not a bad thing! I totally agree with you on the FBA, I have no idea why they strike fear into my heart. I have bought a dvd showing the alteration on virtually every type of woven seam you can imagine which I will review soon. My plan is: finish the Colette Wardrobe architect garments and then I would be totally up for some pattern slashing. I guess this will take me until the new term though as I have been quite ambitious in the amount I'm making. If you do any FBA type stuff on knits or any at all before then please please post it! It's so great to have someone with a similar body type (I hope that doesn't insult you lol) to discuss with!

  7. Really lovely tops - the dark blue one in particular jumps out at me. I get that mindset, or flash of a thought, sometimes too when it comes to creating handmade cards. Sure, it might be easier and even cheaper at times to go buy them, but then I wouldn't get the soul satisfying feeling that comes from taking raw materials and turning them into something beautiful with my own hands, which of course as sewer you know well yourself. It's this end result and how it makes us or those we give our creations to feel that hows us plow through the rocky moments on the handmade project front and see things through the end.

    Gentle hugs & the happiest of Wednesday wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

  8. These are all really lovely tops, this is a winning silhouette for you. I love it. Make more!

  9. Those tops look lovely. I personally like a cowl neck -it makes a casual top look dressy.
    Enjoy the hot weather!

  10. Very flattering tops - and perfect for the heatwave that you have been having!

  11. Ha, right on trend ;) I think they're all lovely, but particularly the black one.