Thursday, January 7, 2010

Technique -- Drafting a Knot-Front Top

This tutorial describes how to start with a well fitting dolman sleeve top and use it as a basis to draft a knot-front top, similar to this design from Burda World of Fashion, May 2004:

Drafting Instructions

  1. Start with a well fitting dolman sleeve top.

  2. Hold the pattern up to your body and decide where you want the knot. Make a mark, shown on the following diagram as point A. The knot is located at this point and this is where the seam will be.

  3. From point A, end the CF line approx 2 1/2" above that point. This may mean drawing a higher neckline, or it may mean lowering it. The image above shows the neckline being raised (see the dotted line). The new neckline is marked by point C. The distance from point A to point C is 2 1/2".
  4. Draw in the seam from CF to the side seam/underarm. Precisely where to end this seam at the underarm is a judgment call, but the Burda pattern places it about where I have shown.

  5. Mark point D, about 2 1/2" inches from CF on the new seamline.

  6. Trace off the two pattern pieces: upper front and lower front. Make sure you maintain point D on both pieces.

  7. Adjust the CF line on the upper front: extend the neckline 1/4" from CF and taper that line back to the original CF. The drawing shows the original CF line with a dotted line. The solid line is the new CF line. This adds a bit of extra fabric at the neckline to accommodate the twist.
  8. Mark point E on the lower front. If you look at the photo of the Burda top, they located point E so low that it exposes the bra. (She must not be wearing a bra, but trust me on this one.) I suggest you make that point much higher, maybe 1.5" from the top of the pattern piece.
The back dolman pattern piece is left unchanged. You can now add seam allowances to the paper pattern, if you like. Or you can add them as you cut out the pattern (which is what I do). Either way, make sure to add seam allowances to the CF of the lower front, which now is a seam. The CF of the upper front is cut on the fold.

Cutting Instructions

This pattern assumes a knit fabric, since the fit of the original t-shirt assumes a knit fabric. The stretch needs to go around the body. It might be hard to find a fabric wide enough to cut the back and upper front pattern pieces on the fold. In that case you can shorten the sleeves, or you can use a 4-way stretch and cut the pattern across the grain. (I believe this is exactly why Burda didn't provide the pattern in a larger size.)
  • Back: Cut one on fold.
  • Upper front: Cut one on fold. Make sure you transfer mark D with a snip in the seam allowance.
  • Lower front: Cut two. Make sure you transfer marks D and E with snips in the seam allowance.

Construction Instructions

I have made this top a few times now and I found I prefer a different order to the instructions as those provided by Burda, which are pretty terse. (One of the reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review shows the Burda order.)

This is how I construct it:

  1. Finish the neck edges of the front and the back.
  2. Sew the CF seam on the lower front, from the hem to point E. Press the seam open.
  3. Sew the left bottom front to the left upper front, stopping at point D.
  4. Twist the upper front 360 degrees.
  5. Preserving the twist, sew the right bottom front to the right upper front, stopping at point D. It should look something like this:

  6. Form the knot: Place the top corner of the right front under the twist. Twist the top corner of the left front over the twist. Line up the CF to CF, right sides together, and stitch on the sewing machine as far as you can go to point E.

  7. The finished knot should look something like this:

    (This is my muslin, so I have not finished the neck edge.) The front is now completely constructed. The final steps are the same as they would be for any t-shirt.
  8. Sew the shoulder seams.
  9. Sew the underarm/side seams.
  10. Hem the sleeves and bottom.
Here is my first muslin:

This created a nice v-neck, but was a bit lower than I wanted. For a second draft, I would raise the location of the knot even higher. I would also move the seam a bit -- make it more horizontal over the bust.

That's it! It's pretty easy to draft this pattern and I hope my instructions haven't daunted or confused you.

If you make a top following these instructions, please let me know!

Technique -- Drafting a Dolman Sleeved Top

For some time now I have been saying that I wanted to draft a knot top, similar to #111, from Burda World of Fashion, May, 2004. You can see that design here:

This top features a high knot, rather than a knot at the bustline, as you more commonly see. That style is too revealing for many women, such as myself. Some women solve the problem by wearing a camisole, or by using modesty panel, but Burda's design makes that unnecessary.

Unfortunately, this issue is not easy to obtain and, even if you do manage to get your hands on a copy, the pattern is provided only in sizes 34 to 40.

In order to draft this pattern, you need to start with a well-fitting dolman sleeve pattern. This tutorial explains how to draft a dolman sleeved pattern. It is assumed that these pattern pieces do not have any seam allowance. Cut away seam allowances from your original t-shirt pattern. At the end, you can add the seam allowances back.

  1. Start with a well-fitting long-sleeved t-shirt pattern.

  2. Lay the top on a large piece of paper, and trace around the shoulder, center front, hem, and side seam. The dotted lines indicate the lines we don't really need.

  3. Extend the shoulder line.

  4. Fold the sleeve in half, the long way. Lay the should point against the shoulder, lining the fold against the lengthened shoulder line.

  5. Trace around the sleeve hem, and the sleeve. Join the sleeve to the body with a curve. The higher the curve, the tighter the fit under the arm. If you make it too high, the top may pull at the bust. If you make the curve too low, it may be too baggy. Make a best guess and you may have to tweak the curve when you make your muslin.

  6. The final pattern. Repeat this process for the back.

If you are going to test this pattern, make sure to add seam allowances. If you are going to use this pattern to make a knot top, do not add seam allowances yet.

Next, I will post instructions on how to create a knot front top.