Thursday, March 21, 2013

Basic Woven Pullover Top

Woven Tee Thumbnail

I have been so thrilled with my TNT t-shirt draft that I've been wanting the same for a woven pullover top.  I have made many Simplicity 2938 tank tops, but (1) a recent attempt to add sleeves to the pattern was a disaster, and (2) I don't always want the front pleat detail or the front princess seams to break up a print.

 I started with Burda 12-2007-123 and got it about 85% of the way there last year when I was attempting to duplicate the DVF Grandie Top.  As warm weather approaches (I hope?  pretty please?), my thoughts turned again to a basic pullover woven tank so I pulled out my pattern and brought it over the finish line...or at least to 95%.  I went to ScrapDC to find a muslin fabric and found this perfect piece!  I think I need to shorten it a teeny bit between the shoulder and bust in the front and the hem is difficult, as explained below.

In the closeup photo it looks like the hips are winging out (the dreaded Mickey Mouse Hips where they stick out like round ears), but I think it's just the camera angle.  You can see in the full-length shots that the hips have an appropriate but not excessive amount of ease.  In the fitting process, I narrowed them as much as possible.  If I take out more than a smidge of width they will be too tight and the top will ride up.  I could also make them less obvious by adding to the waist, thus reducing the curve.  But the point of this top is that I want to be able to wear it without a belt, so I don't want to give up the waist definition.

Hand Sleeve Hem

I will most likely make this pattern sleeveless most of the time, but I wanted to make sure it could accommodate sleeves as well.  For this piece, I thought I would baste the sleeves in to confirm they worked and then take them off and have it as a tank.

But I actually liked the way the sleeves looked so I kept them.  I didn't have much length for a hem allowance, so I did a narrow hand hem on the sleeves.

Machine Blind Hem

For the lower hem I used a machine blind stitch.

I found the lower hem the most difficult part of the whole top!  The long back darts meant that the lower edge was too wide to be folded up.  I had to put mirror darts into the hem allowance before I could get the hem to sit smoothly.  I would like to figure out a way to make the hem easier on later editions.  I might need to use a hem facing.

Bias Tape Wider on Underside

I finished the neckline with vintage(?) bias tape from Scrap.  The tape was folded so that one edge is longer than the other.  Maybe all commercial bias tape is still done like that--I haven't bought bias tape in forever because I make my own.

Sew Bias Tape with Blind Hem Foot

Because of the fold, I could sew with confidence right at the edge of the shorter side, knowing the longer side underneath the garment would catch.

I used my blind hem foot and clicked the needle to the right.  I ran the shield thingy (don't know the actual name of the metal part) along the fold, and had the needle to the right of the shield to catch the tape.

Bias Tape Finish

I would normally do a double-fold bias tape finish in a two-step process, but with the fold of this I was able to stitch it in one.


I suspect this fabric is a home dec; it's a rather stiff cotton that had a satiny finish on it.  The pre-wash took out a little of the stiffness and the finish.

Anyway, it was an oddly shaped remnant, and only the front or the back could be sewn with the paisley in a symmetric pattern.

With the symmetry in the front, it was very "Behold my sacred heart and my exploding spleen!"  From the back, it is more, "Observe the elegant architecture of my spine."  So I went with placing the symmetry in the back.

One thing I realized when making this and deciding on the length is that skirts and jeans call for different lengths.  I wear skirts at natural waist, but even my relatively high-waisted jeans are well below natural waist.  On the pattern I marked a hem 1 1/2 inches shorter for tops to be worn with jeans.

Now I'm eager to find ways to chop up and reassemble the pattern!  Any suggestions for tops that start with a woven pullover base?

All photos are here and the pattern review is here.


Source: via Trena on Pinterest

The skirt is Burda 01-2008-127, which I made three years ago in a green silk.  I'd always meant to come back to the pattern, and this Halogen Seamed Pencil Skirt ($69 at Nordstrom)--a favorite of Corporette readers--reminded me.

Petersham Waistband

I re-used the petersham waistband of the fail skirt that ended up with my niece.  I wasn't sure whether it would be uncomfortable to put a non-stretch waist treatment on a stretch skirt, but it wears well.

I wish I'd thought to stitch the petersham to the wrong side of the skirt rather than the right side of the skirt before folding it down and topstitching.  The seam allowance of the ponte makes a noticeable ridge in wearing.  If the seam allowance was hanging over the petersham, rather than underneath, it wouldn't show.


In the past, I've always made ponte skirts as a simple two-piecer with an elastic waist.  I realized with the last one that I really needed to add back darts.  With that much work, it's better just to make them real skirts rather than elastic waist.  I don't mind putting in zippers.  It's a flattering skirt in a nice shape, though there is a little bit of tummy-danger-zone arrow-pointing depending on how recently I've eaten.

I have a couple of ponte pencil skirts planned--unlike woven pencil skirts, they are fairly bikeable--so I took the time to perfect the pattern and it's on my TNT bulletin board. Although now I'm wondering if there's a way to eliminate the side seam....


Lucia said...

I love your pencil skirt! And I can wholeheartedly recommend ponte pencil skirts as perfect for biking. They are close enough to the body that the wind doesn't blow them around, and they are stretchy enough that they don't interfere with your motion. I bike 20-30min everyday on my commute, so I've tested out all sorts of garments! LOL. Also, I omit the zipper altogether and just attach the waist facing (also from ponte fabric) with a thin zigzag stitch to make it stretchy enough to wiggle over my hips. Then sewing goes even faster!

L said...

"With the symmetry in the front, it was very "Behold my sacred heart and my exploding spleen!" From the back, it is more, "Observe the elegant architecture of my spine." So I went with placing the symmetry in the back."

Hah! Great. Nice outfit, T.

Anonymous said...

Great job on the TNT woven top. I think a hem facing would be the way to go with the shape and curve both in play there.

Question - do you raise the armhole 1/2" for a sleeveless top to prevent peek-a-boo side boob? Dropping it 1/2" from the block is pretty standard when making a sleeved garment and I just wondered how you handled the armhole if you're making it a multi use pattern.

As for losing the side seam on a ponte skirt, if the side seam shaping was minimal you could swing the shaping into the princess seams and cut the sides as whole panels. Worth investigating.

Lovely garments (as usual)!

T. Sedai said...

Looks good! I think the shirt could end up being a great TNT, and the skirt definitely should be. The style of skirt looks great on you.

The Slapdash Sewist said...


I prefer a high armscye with or without a sleeve, and the Burda draft is high. So I don't change the shape/location of the lower armscye regardless. Also, with my small bust I kind of don't have side boob so it's just not a consideration for me!

Clio said...

LOL-ing at your thoughts on pattern placement. What a great top. You could do SO many things with this as a jumping off point - a peplum top or make it up in lace or just with a lace back... actually in my fantasy this would be guipure lace with a row of buttons down the back. You could rotate the darts to the armscye and then convert them to princess seams and do some color blocking or pattern blocking - or cut it up horizontally and do the same. Wow, I really need to get me a woven top tnt. Ha!

Miasews said...

That's a great outfit and I admire you for being so organized about your TNTs!

Adelaide B said...

Having a woven Pullover TNT is awesome. I'm glad you found one that works for you. Especially one that is flattering.

LinB said...

Oh, I love the colors of this big paisley print on you! I much prefer woven tees my ownself, and have a big ol' box of patterns for them that I drag out all year long to replenish my supply (I really should sew up a bunch of bibs, so that I don't irreparably stain my blouses, but I'm not quite old enough to get away with that in public, yet). When you get a reliable tnt tee pattern, try doing some reversible shirts. You can get away with a much flimsier fabric when it is backed with another layer, and there are no facings or hems to futz with.

Karin said...

I agree the skirt is flattering. A woven t shirt is a great idea, too. It would be a good pattern for making one of these ace tops that are popping up everywhere.

badmomgoodmom said...

> Although now I'm wondering if there's a way to eliminate the side seam....

As a matter of fact, I did just that last weekend. Ponte side panels, stretch woven F&B panels. It's from an OOP Calvin Klein design.

Stay tuned. I will post pix soon.

judidarling said...

This may be one of my favorite color combos for you. I love the top fabric-so elegant. Together with the skirt, you've knocked it out of the park. Brava!

HeathersSphere said...

Fabulous looking ensemble, Trena!

Little Hunting Creek said...

Very nice! You could totally get rid of side seams by doing what Grace says above and doing panels.

kbenco said...

A TNT woven pullover top is one of my holy grails as well. This looks like a very good candidate, and the print is awesome, but I agree that the exploding heart needed to go on the back (chortle, your writing is terrific). The skirt looks great too.

Do you object to a tiny neck opening? I am on a 10-10-118 burda roll at the moment - without the scarf this pattern makes a very quick and easy work-suitable top IMO.

MushyWear said...

Great pattern placement on the back and I love how you finished the neckline. The whole outfit looks fantastic!

Elizabeth Made This said...

Oh TNT woven pullover...that sounds like heaven as I contemplate the coming hot weather in the next few months...
These colors look great on you, and I love the idea of using the blind hem foot on bias tape. The guide would certainly keep me more honest than trying to eyeball the edge.

Jan said...

My TNT pencil skirt pattern is from Magic Pencil Skirt. Two pieces, four darts, an elastic waistband done without a casing, and a blindstitched hem. You could probably adapt the basic pattern all sorts of ways, too. It's excellent.

Vicki said...

It has been on my mind for awhile to draft up a TNT basic top and then to do variations. Yours looks like a good one to have a go at variations. With your skirt you could eliminate the side seam and have the curve at the waist as a dart. Nice outfit.
Riding to work sounds like a good way to incorporate exercise into your day (and good for the environment) but I worry if I did that my makeup would melt and I would make my clothes smelly...I wear suits that can't easily be washed,

Kyle said...

Aww, love your "Scrap" top. :)
and the placement of the pattern in the back!

Thanks for your comment on my blog!

Mrs. Micawber said...

Great fabric and really cute top. Loved the exploding spleen.... :)

Why isn't all bias tape made that way? It would be wonderful.

Mirror darts in the hem - very impressive! I think a hem facing is a good idea too - I've done that on darted tops (I have swayback too) and it works pretty well. I like to use bias fabric/tape and roll the seam slightly to the inside. And hand hem for flexibility.

McVal said...

lol! Love the logic of placing the exploding heart in the back!
Very nicely done! I've done a tunic type woven pullover with a cowl neck that I love. It's from The Sewing Workshop called the Hudson top and pant. I've only done the pants once and they were huge... But the top, I've done a few times now. Very roomy because I like it that way..

LauraM said...

I seen someone already mentioned it, but in the 'Pattern Drafting' book by Helen Armstrong, she discusses how a sleeveless top should have the armhole raised, and brought in --- it is how we wear the styles differently -- sleeveless versus sleeves.

SEWN said...

Cute top. Love the fit on you.