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Open-backed Splatter tank top

23 July 2013, 17:45

It’s not quite a “Quick Knit Top” in my eyes, but I wanted to try out one of the running top patterns I selected in my Spring/Summer 2013 Sewing Ideas before I jumped headfirst into sewing another pair of jeans. I pulled out KwikSew 3672, which my mom bought for me a while back in one of the pattern sales you all get in the US. Otherwise KwikSew tend to be pretty expensive over here and I’d probably never got around to trying it!

Despite being a fairly recent pattern, it’s already OOP so act fat if you like the design lines! I’ve only made the top this time, but I think the skirt could be perfect for travelling if made in a hefty jersey. The splatter-print jersey I used here is from Minerva – it’s a bit 80s but I thought it’d do nicely as a test-top as its soft and has a nice weight. For the shelf bra lining I used a lingerie nylon(?) but in future I’d suggest something more supportive yet breathable like power net. Obviously for heavy-duty running I’d use a wicking supplex for the exterior, but for several reasons I’ll go into below, this pattern isn’t suited for running anyway.

I never trust Big 4 sizing any more so even though my measurements matched up perfectly with size Large, I still laid my jersey sloper over the nested pattern and ultimately decided Large was probably the best bet anyway.

Even though my fabric isn’t anywhere near as stretchy as the guide on the pattern envelope (who actually uses those, anyway??), the fit is still very nice, and as far as I can tell, very true to size considering I was smack-dab in the Large measurement range! I’d definitely describe this as close-fitting though, and the length feels just about perfect to me, too. The only fitting issue that surprised me is how high the neckline is in front! This feel seriously matronly to me – I’d normally have this at least 3 or 4 inches lower in a running top!

This pattern has an shelf bra, which contains the bulk of my problems with the pattern: the finishing of the under-bust elastic leaves exposed elastic against the skin (what?), an unfinished (albeit small) top edge inside, and unflattering and bad gathers that neither support nor make for clean finishing.

I couldn’t do my better elastic waistband technique here as the seam allowance was WAY smaller than the elastic width and I didn’t want the under-bust elastic to ride too high. So I improved on their elastic finish as best I could, but in future I’d a) take out the gathers as they just create ridges against the elastic that will really chafe – better to either dart them or just stretch the elastic to fit, and b) add the elastic width onto the bottom of the pattern so I can completely enclose it in fabric and create a better finish.

But for this time, I just serged the elastic onto the right side of the lining, then flipped it around and zigzagged (or coverstitch or twin needle). At least this way the exposed elastic is away from the body.

The neckline and back/armhole edges are all elasticated, and their technique is pretty much identical to swimwear finishing: Overlock/serge the 1cm wide elastic onto the wrong side, then flip under and zigzag/coverstitch from the right side. This creates an awful lot of thread underneath though, and the elastic keeps it taut against the body, which is basically a recipe for chafing if you’re a distance runner!

This finishing method is absolutely fine for low impact sports like yoga or swimming and casualwear, but is really unsuitable for distance running – the only edge finishing that really is in my opinion, is the coverstitch binding, part of the reason why I stumped up the cash to buy mine!

Even though the back is such a focal point of this pattern, I don’t feel they finished those two vertical bands well at all – they just have you turn under the vertical edges and zigzag/coverstitch the seam allowances down. In my opinion this would be far better finished by cutting them again in lining, serging the long edges right sides facing, then flipping right sides out. Or Kathy, who has just made this pattern, too, suggests doing the same narrow elastic finishing to these back pieces that are done to the neckline edges.

I’d intended this pattern to be a nice running top, but the finishing techniques plus an un-supportive shelf bra means that it’s really unsuitable for running or other high impact sport, which really disappointed me. But it turns out it’s actually great for hot weather casual wear, and I wore this to work on the hottest day in the past 7 years(!) and it was cool, comfortable, and flattering. I could also see this used as a fantastic tankini top, or you could even extend it into a one-piece swimsuit and add a claps into the back next to get it on and off. I’m already planning on packing this on our backpacking trip round Mexico this Fall, as it should hide sweat and grime, unroll nicely, and be comfortable!

Oh and one last thing to leave you with – while I was tracing out the pattern I couldn’t help but guffaw at KwikSew’s ridiculous warnings about blending sizes:

Yes, how dare my body not conform to your exact specifications (also note that the URL listed for advice doesn’t exist!) Slow clap, KwikSew…

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  1. While it sounds like some of the suggested techniques seem a bit absurd, I love the finished result! Great job!

    CGCouture    Jul 23, 06:26 PM    #
  2. the finished top looks awesome, the fit and print is great.

    m    Jul 23, 06:33 PM    #
  3. Even if the techniques foiled you using this top as a running top, the finished result is nice and it suits you. As you rightly say in a previous post it has been T-shirt weather for perhaps the first time this summer [in the UK that is] lately and one needs a wardrobe that is as cool as possible. I made a Kwik Sew frock and it was a bit loose on me so when and if I get around to making it again I will definitely need to adjust and cut between sizes.

    — Patricia O    Jul 23, 07:21 PM    #
  4. Your top turned out very nice! I never understood Kwik Sew’s warning not to blend between sizes. It’s so absurd.

    Amy    Jul 23, 07:26 PM    #
  5. Oh wow, this is beautiful! I love the fabric you used. What a nice change from the usual racerback tank.

    Shannon    Jul 23, 07:26 PM    #
  6. This does look really great on you and is perfect for casual wear! The 80s-esque print is killer ! I feel vindicated seeing that you had all the same issues as I did! And what the heck… they actually print on the pattern “do not blend sizes”!! I purchased this pattern as a download and didn’t get that special bit of info. I’ve not really used Kwik Sew much before and wonder why they say that… I don’t get it at all, I think I’m missing something! (PS The pattern is available on SewingPatterns.com if anyone is looking for it)

    kathy    Jul 23, 08:18 PM    #
  7. I think that the higher neckline on this top actually suits the slightly cut away armholes and the lower back. Overall, the look is flattering. I’m sure you could adapt the pattern to be more suitable for running.

    Katherine Howison    Jul 23, 09:59 PM    #
  8. I find that Kwik-sew sizes often don’t nest nicely like Burda and Big-4 patterns. Grading between sizes really can create a disaster on some of their patterns. For example, the CF or CB folds are sometimes NOT the same line on the various sizes. This is one reason I don’t sew Kwik-sew even though it has a lot of loyal fans.

    — PetitePear    Jul 24, 01:04 AM    #
  9. All sewing issues aside, you look super fit in this top.

    velogiant    Jul 24, 11:48 AM    #
  10. Thanks again for being so cluey Melissa.

    velogiant    Jul 24, 12:36 PM    #
  11. I am from Brazil, and I gave up buying the Manequin magazine, they only make the patterns on certain sizes, usually the smaller size (which doesn’t make any sense to me, since Brazilians are not the skinny type…), and they also put those warnings that you shouldn’t blend the sizes… Why they don’t bother to grade the patterns as Burda?

    — Tatiana    Jul 24, 03:57 PM    #
  12. I really appreciate the level of detail you go into on making athletic wear. I will be appreciating it more when I start on the leotards for the dance performances due in February 2014. And I will be blending sizes! Oh no! Rebel!

    Stephanie    Jul 25, 12:25 AM    #
  13. I like this top!

    Mary in FL    Jul 25, 12:59 AM    #
  14. That warning against blending sizes is ridiculous: “how their you have the different body shape than standard we intended. And don’t even think about thinking…”

    You bring up some interesting points about exercise wear. I had never considered that. I think there would be a way to finish those back pieces more smoothly, but still have elastic in them. It’s the way some RTW swimwear is finished nowadays and I’ve used the same technique for my bikini last year. You line the pieces but when sewing the sides, you serge/overlock on swimwear elastic (uncovered elastic, about half a centimetre wide) inside the lined piece. You can understitch the first side you sew. Of course, you have to make sure the lining is a little narrower (and not much more stretchy) than the outside piece so it won’t show.
    Although I think it makes sense you won’t be using this pattern for running gear.

    Lauriana    Jul 25, 06:29 AM    #
  15. Love the back details.

    Gail    Jul 25, 10:23 AM    #
  16. I think that the url on the KS pattern is probably left over from before KS was purchased by McCalls. KS used to have a message board to go to for additional information or to post a question about pattern construction, etc., but that was when the company was still independent. Just a thought.

    Also, I have constructed a shelf bra similar to the one described, but I try to use brush-back lingerie elastic. It used to be easier to find. And a million years ago KS pattern directions used to specify that type of elastic. It’s much more comfortable to wear next to the skin and less bulky than making a casing.

    — Amy    Jul 25, 08:26 PM    #
  17. I’m sure I’ve passed over this pattern dozens of times and not seen it. Now I want it! This is a popular style at my gym. Very nice tank.

    The Slapdash Sewist    Jul 27, 05:17 PM    #

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