As soon as I saw Cabarita, I knew I had to sew it. It’s got some really unique features I’d not seen in other knit tops – the vintage-inspired collar is the most obvious one, but the back V-neck and choice of short or long dolman sleeves really do make this a cut above the average teeshirt pattern.
Cabarita is the first of the “RiFFs” range from Cake Patterns and is available either printed or as a pdf from Etsy (I opted for pdf!) (Though note that if you ordered the printed version, you need to download the back neck binding piece here as it was accidentally omitted!)
Cake Patterns usually have lengthy and descriptive, very beginner-friendly instructions, but Steph started a side-range of “RiFF” patterns that have the same level of professional drafting, but with brief, text-only instructions and no layout diagrams, intended for more advanced sewists who just want the pattern (hello, that sounds like me!). Crucially, though, they still feature the (now signature) “draw your own side seams” method. When I compared my drawn pattern pieces to my knit sloper, they were scarily close (from the bust down), so this method really does work!
Now, a bit of a confession: I wasn’t entirely sold on the the collar at first. I thought maybe it might look a bit too costume vintagey, and might get in the way or flop around a bit. But I’m glad I included it as I really like it now, and it really does add to this pattern, which might be a bit too plan in front otherwise.
When I sew this top again, though, I’ll a) use lightweight knit interfacing on the collar so it stays in place a bit better (rather than the edges folding over, like you can see below right) and b) attach it so that the seam is on the right side and therefore hidden under the collar as it hangs, negating the need for any understitching on a narrow serged seam allowance.
This fabric is a lovely and soft viscose jersey in brown and turquoise from Minerva (and also comes in brown/pink and brown/orange colourways). Minerva don’t do half metres so I took the plunge and only ordered 1m, and I’m happy to report that I could easily fit the shorter-sleeved version into it.
I tried to match the stripes in the back, but with these “painted effect” stripes it was a futile exercise, as they really don’t repeat themselves very often (or at all?). But I still cut out the backs as a single layer, and when I went to cut the second half, I just flipped the pattern piece face down (with the first half of fabric still attached) so I could attempt to match up some brown areas with like, and teal with teal, etc. Much easier than drawing lines on the paper pattern to mark where stripes are!
The suggested order of construction was pretty good, and very close to how I’d have done it, too. Though she did throw me that the sleeve bands were attached to the sleeve edges before sewing the side seams (I’d normally sew them afterwards, and circularly), but considering that the seam is in your underarm, it’s not really a big deal if you get a short section of thread tail peeking out there.
In general, if I get an exposed serged end like that, I take a big plastic darning needle and thread the tail back under the serged seam thread, trim, and then dab the edge with a bit of Fray Check as an insurance policy. In this pattern I needed to do this on the underarm seams, but also the shoulder seams and the centre back at the neckline, too.
In addition to lightly interfacing the collar, I’d definitely recommend using vilene bias tape on both the front and back neckline edges to prevent any unwanted stretching distortion. The pattern instruction recommend stabilising the shoulder seams (which I always do on knit tops), but I also stabilised the neckline here and I’m glad I did.
Even though this was a new-to-me pattern company and one with sparse instructions, this was definitely a Quick Knit Top in my opinion, and one that has some really great and unique features! I sewed this up in pieces throughout a very busy weekend, and it was definitely the perfect pick-me-up after a disappointing jeans muslin. Quick Knit Tops are always good for what ails you!
It should be an endorsement of how much I like this pattern that I’ve already gone and bought the pdf version of the Hummingbird skirt pattern to sew up later this year!