Open-backed Splatter tank top

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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