Hello hello hello!
I’ll start with a confession, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic at the start of this project. One, I was itching to crack on with another coat but knew I should hold off until I had more time to dedicate to it. Secondly, because I really love this vintage-y vibe stripe jersey I’d earmarked specifically to make a top to wear under the pair of Jenny Overalls nearing the top of my sewing queue. I just couldn’t decide on a pattern for it!
And I didn’t want to buy a new one. I had thoughts about revisiting the disaster that was my Paola Turtleneck Tee, routing through my pattern stash to pull it out. Turns out I’d binned it in a fit of pique. Rather than print it off again, I took it as a sign to sew something else. I came across and pulled out the unsewn Brigitte Top by Tessuti instead; I’d forgotten I had it. I felt a bit dubious. Why? Well, …
… it’s designed as a fitted top; my bust measurement puts me in the highest bracket (a 16) but my aged scribbled notes on the cover question whether Tessuti design with a B cup in mind. If so, I’d have to trace at least a size smaller at the shoulder and upper part of the top. There isn’t much shoulder; the Brigitte has a classic boat (bateau) neck. Had this adjustment alone previously put my less-experienced self off? I think it was a combination of that and a scepticism about the way the wide neckline was finished. It’s simply turned under.
However, as I sat on my haunches in front of my pattern cupboards flicking through the instructions, I spotted a cute little trick described in the construction of the neckline and that, my friends, was that…I was well and truly sucked in.
I creakily straightened up and immediately traced out the pattern. Quickly measuring the pattern pieces to check, I simply cut a size 14 for the upper part grading out to a 16 at the underarm – no fancy knit FBAs needed here as my fab spandex blend jersey comfortably stretches over 50% widthways with decent recovery. I did the same with the sleeve, cutting a 14 at the head again grading to a 16 at the underarm.
I debated whether to grade back down to a 14 at the waist and hip and decided against it. My fabric is a T-shirt weight and I didn’t want it tight-tight; just slim fitting enough to go under the Overalls. So I left it at 16.
The instructions do give finished sleeve lengths (there’s cap, elbow, 3/4 or full length) so I went ahead and took out an inch from my pattern piece at the elbow. I took nothing from the bodice. I like my tops long enough to avoid any danger of riding up; when I’m stretching to reach that tub of Nutella on the top shelf, for example! I could deepen the hem later if need be.
The pattern has only three pieces, front, back and sleeve…meaning, whoop whoop, it’s possible to get a cap sleeve version of this top out of a single metre!
I cut out on the single to account for the drape of the fabric and to aid pattern matching the stripes. The stripes are very irregular (in width and colour) so I figured as long as the sleeve stripes matched to the bodice I’d be happy enough. As for the stripes placement on the bodice, I put the widest (cream) stripe at the waist.
The instructions have you sew this all on the Overlocker. Not happening with these stripes. I basted the side seams and sewed them with a straight stretch stitch on my regular machine, finishing up with the serger. Same with sleeve heads; I always baste them in first even when sewing them in flat.
So, yes, you simply serge the neckline then flip under and twin needle in place. I’d been convinced this was just going to make for a baggy saggy mess. But not so. Remember that neat little trick I mentioned earlier? The very last instruction has you sew a dart-like row of stitches starting a half inch from the finished neckline tapering to nothing at the sleeve head.
Et voila! This gives a really neat finish to the neckline as well as giving you the opportunity to widen the shoulder if need be (to hide bra straps sufficiently etc). (NB I stabilised the shoulder with tape as well when sewing them together).
Having said that, on all these pictures of me wearing it, the neckline does looks a tad saggy. It really isn’t! Must be the way I’m stood or sumfink.
Anyway, long story short. What a bloomin’ brilliant surprise; I adore this little pattern! My only gripe is that the largest size is a 16 or a 39.5″ bust (however, if you’re more ample than this, it’s such a simple shape I’d imagine it’s fairly easy to grade up). On the plus side – stripes not withstanding – you can sew one of these up in no time! And I love the fit. No flaps of fabric radiating from the armpit; nicely fitted through the sleeve; my love for that neckline is strong; I’ve now got another neat little trick in my arsenal (I figure that neckline/shoulder dart would be transferable to other necklines to help them lay flat) and I lurve my retro stripes; my 8 year old self – who definitely wore something similar – absolutely approves!
Now I’m agonising over a completely different decision. Next week, do I start on that raincoat or do I batch sew a tonne of these Brigitte tops using all my suitable offcuts of leftover jersey?!
Until next time, hugs
* You can source a paper or PDF copy of the pattern here