Fun Burda Top!

This week’s remnant project features 2 remnant size lengths of a finely woven cotton/poly knit jersey in chocolate brown. I haven’t ventured into sewing knits much because I’ve never had success with them, until very recently. That’s when I began to employ such modern details as using designated “stretch” needles, special stitches on the machine, specific interfacings and seam bindings, etc.

These have been in the stash for years.

The inspiration for this project came when I got my first issue of Burda Plus Fashion, the Spring/Summer 2011 edition, in the mail a few weeks ago.

You can find Burda patterns at JoAnn’s or at online fabric stores, but the magazine, people write authoritatively, carries the true up-to-date source of what women in Europe are wearing now.  Oooh! Ooooh! I want to see what women in Europe are wearing now! The main publication, BurdaStyle, can be purchased at a subscription price of $90. Ouch! Worth it if you do a lot of fashion sewing, because it carries loads of patterns in every issue (loads more than I would make, also.) I bought this one-time issue of Burda Plus on Amazon, because according to Burda, some of my measurements fall into their plus-size category, which corresponds roughly to our RTW sizes around 12 to 20.

I am happy with being in the plus-size category because the pattern selections are somewhat modest compared to the regular BurdaStyle fashions. And, while you’re working up your pattern, you can of course adjust it to any cutting line you wish, even add some that aren’t there. You do have to add a seam (5/8″) and hem (1 1/2″ or whatever) allowance to these patterns, because they come to you mostly without.

The pattern sheet that comes with the magazine

You must take the pattern sheet out of the center of the magazine, find the pattern for your selected project, and trace it onto your own pattern medium (I use pattern-ease). If this looks like insanity to you, then I suggest you go to the store and buy a pattern in an envelope. But if you like doing impossible-looking things that cause you a lot of stress and work and obsessing (which you must or you’d be instead out buying clothes off the rack and not reading a sewing blog, right?) then proceed! This pattern is rated “A little sewing experience and/or time needed” which is half a mark below “General sewing knowledge required!”  It has a gathered front center seam, elastic-casing short sleeves, a low V-neck with a top-stitched neck facing.

Inner and outer sleeves, from patterns I traced

The notions include Vilene Bias Tape/Stay Tape.  Curious, I looked everywhere for it, and finally ended up buying it from Sew Essentials Ltd in Walsall, UK.  I bought 4 meters in black, which seemed like a lot, but when it came in the mail, it was only this much:

Vilene Iron-on Bias Tape

This bias tape [that you iron onto the places you will sew an important seam that you don’t want to stretch] has a chain-stitch along the center, for you to line up your seam stitching. I put it on the shoulder seams specifically, but several of the Burda patterns call for it. Having never seen it, I HAD to find out what it was all about. Considering that the shipping for this and the few other items I purchased, was $7, I figure I can get by using twill tape for the next similar task. It really is light-weight and the adhesive is very light but I was able to iron it on with no problems, unlike the Steam-a-Seam II. Why don’t we have Vilene in the US?

The other thing that Burda (and other patterns) want you to do with knits, is to finish the hems by stitching them from the top side with a double needle. I have tried this many times using different size needles, different threads and settings, and consultations with the staff at A-1 Sewing,  and I always end up like this:

horribly bent and disfigured double needle

So, I guess I’m more prone to just single stitching, although I did use the flatlocking stitch on my machine for the lower hem. I was happy with it, but I think a single row of stitching on the neck and sleeve hems is fine for me. The finished top has a  luxurious soft, clingy feel to it; it weighs 6.5 oz, compared to an Old Navy t-shirt that weighs 5.2 oz.  I have no doubt I will make this top again, maybe with a higher neck so I won’t have to wear a dickey under it.

#420 Top from BurdaPlus spring/summer

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