achievement unlocked: the bronte top

well, this could have gone better.


let’s dish about this strange pattern. incidentally, this project is the last thing i’ve sewn that has gone unblogged. at this point i’m all caught up & will have to start some sewing some new stuff.

so, this is a top designed by jennifer lauren vintage. it’s a contentious design due to the neckline detail. it folds over the shoulders envelope-style, not unlike a baby’s onesie. not AT ALL unlike a baby’s onesie.


my two brontes.


a baby’s onesie. (in fact, the first onesie i ever bought for ramona, like two days after i found out i was pregnant.)

some people really hate this neckline detail, but i actually loved it. i wanted to sew more tops, but i didn’t want to just sew a bunch of banded tees. i mostly only wear basic cotton tops, but i like the idea of there being SOME kind of halfways unique design feature to them. so i was very intrigued by this pattern.

the first problem i ran into was that i was confused about what fabric to use. i somehow got the idea that this pattern requires more than an average amount of stretch, & i busted my hump looking for winter-weight-type fabrics (because i wanted to make a thermal shirt-type top, a layer to go under a hoodie or sweater) that had more than 50% stretch. i don’t know where i got this idea. was it maybe in the pattern somewhere? because jennifer lauren actually has an entire blog post devoted to choosing fabric for this pattern in which she specifies the need for a fabric with like 40% stretch (which is not at all difficult to come by).

anyway, i went with a gorgeously thick black waffle knit, & a cozy heather gray french terry. even though i looooaaaathe heather gray. it was my tester fabric (& was like $3 a yard), & i figured gray is a perfectly fine neutral for under hoodies.

i graded between a size 18 & a size 20 to best match my measurements & sewed the heather gray shirt together. i had some troubles with the neckband. part of it was user error. i didn’t read the instructions thoroughly & failed to attach the ends of the neckband in the right place. the result was an incredibly ripply neckband that could not be completely fixed even with a lot of steaming. apart from that problem, the shirt came together quickly. i mean, a knit shirt is not exactly the world’s most challenging sewing. i was a little bit confused when it came time to overlap the shoulder pieces. there aren’t really any instructions for how to sew those bits together & get a smooth line over the shoulder. i just did my best & it turned out okay.


& this was the finished result. (ps–sorry about the weird half-green picture. my preview program putzed out halfway through the upload & distorted the photo & i have no idea how to fix it, nor did i have the patience to try to get a different shot.)

you can see the rippling at the neckline & it’s also pretty obviously too big in the shoulders. & look at all that pooling fabric at the wrists! i don’t know if my fabric stretched as i sewed of if this is an egregious drafting error, but i don’t think most people with 45″ busts also have twelve-foot wingspans. there’s no need for the sleeves to be that long! obviously i could hem them to be shorter, but i just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

i was pretty confused by the fit on the finished garment. it just seemed way too big. but i wondered if maybe it was because of the fabric. the black waffle knit was thicker & plusher, so i decided to take a (dumb) chance on sewing it up in the same size to see if it would result in a closer fit.


obviously it’s kind of hard to see details on a black shirt, but this one is perhaps even bigger! i did manage to sew the neckband properly, but i still got some rippling & it just kind of seemed too big for the shirt. it was weird & confusing.

i also had like a thousand yards of excess fabric around the shoulders. i had to tuck a lot under the shoulder join to get it to lay smoothly.

at the end of the day, i think i should have cut a pattern based on my high bust measurement to try to get a better fit through the shoulders & done a full bust adjustment. i just don’t think these shirts fit like they are “supposed” to fit. however, i still wear them all the time. that’s why it took me so long to blog them: i’m always either wearing them or they’re in the laundry. i mean, they’re too big & the sleeves are ridiculous, but they’re really cozy due to the fabric i chose.

the buttons i chose to decorate the shoulders though…*sad trombone*. i put dinosuar-shaped buttons on the black one, which ramona loves. she loves reptiles of all sorts. but i personally think it looks a little sad. probably just because the shoulders are so droopy & ill-fitting. i put vintage pearlescent buttons & red heart-shaped buttons on the gray shirt & somehow that just ended up being a kind of gross-looking color combo. i imagined it being kind of fun & valentine-y, but i don’t love the way it actually turned out. but since i mostly only wear these shirts under other layers, i haven’t done anything about it.

i do want to try this pattern again, just to try to get the fit better. it’s hard to judge if the pattern is a dud or not when i clearly sewed the wrong size. i have some baby rib knit (how perfect is that?) earmarked for that purpose, but i’m dragging my feet because i chose pink & blue & i kind of regret it because i kind of only wear black shirts.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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