Pattern Review – Simplicity 4020 (Top)

I wanted to experiment a little, and I’m waiting for my niece’s counselor to get back to me with her measurements so I can make her another dress, so I decided to play with this pattern. This is a little out of the norm for me, but it’s kind of cute, so I pulled it out of the pattern stash and had at it.

Description: Wardrobe of tops, includes blouson tops with sleeve and collar variations and empire waist tops with kimono neckline and sleeve variations. I made View E, the short sleeved kimono top.

Pattern Sizing: 4 to 20

How were the instructions? They were pretty good. There is one tricky part, attaching the bodice top to the bodice bottom, that could be difficult for a beginner. But they illustrated it quite well.

Likes/Dislikes: I’m honestly not sure if I really like it. That has nothing to do with the technicalities of the pattern itself. It’s just not my usual style. But I wanted to try out a new fitting trick and it was the perfect canvas for it.

Fabric Used: Leftover Don’t Cross Me Jersey from my second New Look 6429 dress. I like the fabric, and I had enough, so let’s do it!

Pattern Alterations? Okay, sit back and relax. I mentioned I wanted to do some experimenting, so here’s what I did. Empire lines don’t usually suit me. The empire line has a tendency to fall right across the – well, to be blunt – nipple line, and I’ve been too lazy in the past to even deal with it, so I avoid the style. But this year is the year of the Empire, it seemss, so I decided to take that bull by the horns.

Because the Girls are D cup, and because the bust point is lower than the bust on this pattern, I decided to alter the pattern. The first thing I did was measure from my shoulder seam over the fullest part of the bust to my rib cage. That gave me how long the bodice top piece needed to be. Here’s a picture of the original pattern piece:

If you can see it, notice that I did two things: I extended the grainline to run the entire length of the pattern piece, and I drew a line at the bust, perpendicular to the grainline. I slashed the pattern along that line, but only to the side seam of the bodice:

Now, at first I was going to slash/spread/true up the bodice piece, but I decided it would be easier, and more elegant to look at, if I just redrafed the bodice piece with the change. So I did that:

This required one other change: I needed to adjust the neckband. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a disaster. Ask me how I know. So I lengthened the neckband, below the double notches. I lengthened it there because that is where I added length to the bodice piece, so this way all notches would match:

(sorry, I didn’t take a pic of the adjusted band, but you get the gist, I think)

One minor mistake or misjudgement that I made (yes, I make them – frequently), is that I added the length, but I also extended the front neckline. It’s not really noticeable in the finished version, but I know that the notches on the band don’t fall where they should. To fix that in the future, I may re-draft the front neckline so that it comes down at a slightly steeper angle and so the notches on the band and the bodice pieces match more precisely. I may not, though, because that may cause a deeper decolletĂ© than I want. As it is right now, it gives me the coverage I like:

This is, admittedly, a pretty bad self portrait. Liana, how do you do it????
Technicalities of my photographic abilities aside, the fit on the bust is pretty good. The empire line falls where it should – under the bust.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it? I don’t know if I’ll make it again. As I say, this style is out of my comfort zone. But I’m pleased with the results, and I’m glad I got a chance to try this experiment. I’ll definitely use it or a variant on the next empire line garment I make.

Conclusion If you like this style, but you feel like you are a little too busty to wear it, try fiddling with the bodice like I did. As I say, I’m pleased with the results. I’ll play some more with it on other styles. HTH!

Happy Sewing!

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