Digital-print Cowl neck top

Every now and then, I feel like I really crack a garment – I end up with something that truly blends the most perfect fabric with the perfect pattern. I wasn’t entirely sure until I wore it for a day, but this top really nailed it! It feels 100% designer, special, and yet me at the same time.

The cowl-neck tee pattern is from the October 2014 issue of Burda magazine or available to buy individually as a pdf, and it came in three versions – a plain top (which is the one I made) – a tee sliced into various colourblocks, or a plain dress.

But this garment is really all about the fabric, and the pattern itself plays a supporting role. In fact, most of the time, care, and attention to the entire process was in placing the pattern pieces! Look what I had to start with:

I bought this digital print lycra from Ditto Fabrics when I was down in Brighton this summer (an Italian designer offcut that I snagged for £15!). Originally I thought I’d have the main body in the trompe l’oiel knitted houndstooth as that was what drew me to the fabric, but the houndstooth portion wasn’t quite long enough for the front and back, so I placed those over the “lace” portions and cut the sleeves from the houndstooth instead.


Worn with my Colette Beignet skirt I made back in 2010 that’s sadly, a bit too big for me now (it’s really relying on cinching that belt!

I used a size 40 for the first time here, which is my “new” Burda size since I’ve lost a few cm through training, and the fit is just as I’d like it, really. I loooooove the slim fit sleeves in particular on this pattern. They’re extra long here, too – it’s noted in the instructions are that the sleeves are 10cm longer than normal. I wasn’t sure if I’d keep them extra long or not, but as I was laying out the sleeves, I saw that the piece overlapped into the lace print area nicely, creating a sort of cuff-effect at the sleeve that I really liked the look of:

I’ve made a lot of cowl-neck tops in my time, and some work better than others. I suspected when I saw the construction of this that the cowl might be particularly nice here as it sits high on the chest, and I was right! There’s just enough drape there to be cowl-y, but not enough to have the whole world looking at your navel when you bend over. So two thumbs up on the engineering here.

The shoulders here are both a feature and the only really non-standard step in the constructions. I found Burda’s wording to be a bit, umm, obtuse, so here’s what they actually want you to attach:

It’s worth marking the placement line in chalk on your fabric as it’s really important that the angle is right or the edges won’t line up when you fold the Back back over itself. Here’s what it looks like when finished!

I love that I was able to place the front panel so that the houndstooth print bleeds in at the shoulder – it makes the intersection at the shoulder look so much more fluid, and further enhances the abrupt seaming with the pale lace from the back.

As I wore this tucked into a high waisted skirt, I wanted to show you the full length of the top, even though I wouldn’t wear it this way with this particular skirt. You can see on the front in particular the way the faux-lace print has shadow lines printed into it, which I just love!

And finally, because I know I’m not the only sewing science geek out there, I wanted to show you the most expensive photos ever seen on this site in it’s entire 9+ year history. The backdrop here costs millions of pounds to build, run, and maintain…

Yes, I wore this top to tour a particle accelerator (Ok actually, it’s a synchotron, but no one seems to know what that is What you can see behind me is actually where the beam travels, and the light is split off to do hundreds of amazing experiments at a time. A good friend of ours is a sys admin there and got us in to one of their open days to tour the facility. If you’re near Oxford, it looks like the next Open Day is in March.

So I actually wore a top that makes me feel like a million bucks next to a device which cost even more than that! Sometimes things just work out, eh?

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