Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cowl neck top

Here's my July Burda Challenge! Although I'm posting it in August, I did actually make it on the very last day of July. You see it here worn with my re-re-make of my self-drafted jeans skirt, which I will make a post for shortly to show you the fit and details better.

Pattern description

BurdaStyle Magazine 07/2013/110: Loose-fitting sleeveless jersey top with gathered cowl at front and contrast straps.

Pattern sizing

36-44. I cut the 42.

Fabric used

A very drapey ITY knit from (I think it's poly), with a poly duchesse satin for the straps.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope when you were done?

Pretty much, yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow?

Hmm... I don't usually think Burda instructions are as bad as everyone makes them out to be, but these were actually pretty terrible, despite it being a very simple pattern with only 3 pieces! I got extremely confused by the instructions for sewing the cowl and facings...

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

... But once I'd figured them out, it actually gives a really nice finish! (Although I forgot to take any photos). Sadly, this nice finish doesn't extend into the strap attachment. I've spotted that Kristy also made this top and figured a simple and neat way of finishing the strap attachment and arms, by adding a back facing and sewing the straps on as the facings were sewn.

I like that the strap pieces are slightly shaped, rather than just rectangles - this is well drafted and means they don't slip off your shoulders. Be warned that the cowl is quite low - it's totally fine and flattering when you stand upright, but when you lean forward, there's a lot on view...

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made

From flat pattern measurements, I could tell that the back was way too wide between the straps. I didn't want to change the loose fit too much, so I took the width out the centre back and added it on at the sides. I could have actually taken more out the centre and added less on the edge, but it's not too bad as it is. I also added a facing strip to the upper back edge, rather than just folding it over as suggested in the instructions.

I did a slight fudge FBA - I added a small amount in length at the level of the bust point, easing this to the shorter back side seam, and then just added width at the side at bust level. With the cowl neck though, it doesn't really need extra length added, so I'll take this out if I make it again.

I didn't want to add a centre back seam, so I did a slight swayback adjustment by rotating the back shoulder and neckline down (see the explanation for this here). There is still a lot of pooling at the small of my back, so I will probably increase this a bit if I sew this again - although I know I won't be able to completely get rid of this without a CB seam, as it's also because of a large bottom/back high hip, not just the swayback. I also shaped the side seams in a little at the waist, as I knew the rectangular shape as drafted is very unflattering on me.

Construction details

This was mostly constructed on the serger, using a three-thread overlock to reduce bulk at the seams and keep it drapey. I didn't bother to add the interfacing on the armholes and upper back as I didn't want it too stiff, and I figured the topstitching would keep these areas from stretching too much.

The straps are just serged to the back piece, with the seam allowance held downwards by the topstitching. The front of the straps are sewn to the front piece by hand. I think I will use Kristy's method if I make this again, as it would give a much neater finish.

I finished the hem with a rolled hem on the serger. I haven't used this much before, and I think I could probably do with tightening the looper tension a bit more so that it rolls more. Any advice is welcome from those who use this stitch more often...

I decided against adding the topstitching on the straps - with the patterned jersey, they looked much better plain.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I would definitely recommend this to others. Even with the fiddling with the gathering and straps, it's super quick to sew, and looks very pretty. I may well actually sew this again as it's a versatile top and quick to make.


The last few projects I've posted on here I have felt extremely pleased with when I finished them, but when I've come to wear them they have disappointed me. Either the fit isn't as good as I thought, or it's uncomfortable to wear, or I don't have the right things to wear with it, etc etc... However, this top is actually useful and wearable. It can also be worn into autumn and winter under a cardie or jacket. Overall, a successful project.


  1. Very nice top. Regarding the rolled hem, yes you do have to play with the tension a little bit. I also have to slide a setting on the foot of my serger so it encourages the material to roll under.

  2. This is gorgeous! The fabric really goes nicely with this design.

  3. Thank you for the great review - I was just planning to make this top up.

  4. What a cute top! The contrast strap is a nice touch. When I'm doing a serger rolled hem, I shorten the stitch length to less than 1 so I get a nice dense roll of thread, in addition to tightening the lower looper as tight as it will go. I have found, though, that a serger rolled hem is one thing that I *always* have to test on a scrap to get the tension/stitch length/differential feed settings right.

  5. Thanks everyone. Trena, thanks - it hadn't even occurred to me to shorten the stitch length! I will try that next time.