(or why I don’t sew big 4 patterns)
As summer often zaps all of my creative energy, I often look for a nice easy knit top to help ease my hot weather angst and to help me feel productive.
Unintentional Back Cowl
I have a nice summery knit I picked up in Santa Fe when my husband and I were there celebrating our anniversary (sans kids) last month. It’s some sort of cotton blend from Santa Fe Fabrics (go there if you’re there–the sales staff is friendly and very helpful…their prices and quality are similar to Emma One Sock). It had pretty similar stretch in all directions, so I decided to play with the grain, cutting the yoke on the crossgrain, the back on grain, and the fronts on the bias. Should have been a perfect storm of good things, right?
I pulled out Butterick 5429, a now OOP wardrobe pattern with a fun cut-on sleeve with a front neckline twist.
I don’t have much to complain about in the way of directions–they yield a fine top. I suppose from the drawing here you can see that the twist leaves a rather large “loop” open to the world. Really it’s more of a gaping 2″ hole, so I unstitched my topstitching on the loop and stitched up the CF seam until I reached the twist after I had finished all of the other raw edges. Annoying, but it was not unexpected and it’s an easy fix.
It’s a little annoying that I can’t wear 90% of my necklaces because the height of the neckline twist is right where my necklaces sit. Annoying because I’m a necklace wearer, but this is a cosmetic problem.
My issue with this pattern is that it’s enormous. It doesn’t bother me so much that I had to take in the sides a little bit (I exaggerate again–according to Butterick’s sizing charts, there’s 5″ of bust ease on an 8 and something like 9″ of waist ease for this “close fitting” top), but the neckline is so absurdly wide–hence the unintentional back cowl.
If I were to wear the shoulders where they actually lie on the top, they are 1.5″ too wide on either side. 3″? on an 8? This is wackadoodle.
And this is my frustration with big 4 patterns. Some of them are sized perfectly fine, and others might as well be muu-muus made by a tent maker. When I sew a 32 in Burda/Ottobre/or Jalie, I get a 32. Period. No guessing. It’s not falling off my shoulders and creating back cowls because of a too wide neckline**, it’s a 32, and it’s going to fit. So what if I have to spend a little time in crazy tracing land getting my eyes a little crossed. If the end result is something that is constructed well, has great details, and above all FITS, I will happily trace away.
It makes me rethink my resolution to purchase what otherwise looks like a very pretty Butterick 5796.
My full review is here. I promise it’s not too vengeful. I gave it a “OK but did not work for me” rating. It’s wearable, but not comfortable in the way I’ve grown accustomed to wearing.
**The knit that I’m using is fairly lightweight here. On beefier, heavier knits I would guess that the weight of the faux cowl would be distributed across the shoulders and the shoulder seams fall would off the edge of the shoulder instead of creating a back cowl. This was the first fitting challenge that I had to overcome when I started garment sewing. I initially thought it was a problem with CB and for a while I was darting out the neck at CB or cutting down CB and making a seam there and narrowing it down the whole seam. Both of those narrowed the neckline for sure, but came with their own problems like “poofy neck”. It was a revolution to me when I discovered I could just cut a smaller size in the neck and shoulders and not have that problem. It’s taken me years to understand that Burda’s drafting is consistent enough in the neck and shoulders to be trusted. Whatever company you use the most–spend time figuring them out and stick to your findings–you will have a lot fewer wadders, I promise!