I was a bit late to join the Bronte top brigade, but am I glad that I did?
The Bronte top by Jennifer Lauren, as you may be aware,is designed for knits, and its most defining characteristic is the cutest envelope neck – well that’s what I call it, reminiscent of baby vests. This neckline is so flattering! But it is also a joy to sew (but more of that later). The top is designed to enhance your natural assets, & is shaped to accentuate your waist, rather than a straight down tshirt. Narrowish sleeves – I made the long sleeved version as this is a winter top for me, it was destined to provide some good solids for wearing throughout the season, and allow me to keep my print skirts in rotation.
I have made this three times, out of three different jerseys and what I found intriguing is how they all behaved differently. Well of course that is not rocket science, but when I was choosing my fabrics online, I did not think about performance, I just assumed they would all fit the bill. [Hint, they did not!!!] I chose them all from Minerva, having made things previously out of Minerva jersey, which can be incredibly reasonably priced, the scrooge in me hunted out some more interesting looking jersey bargains.
My first Bronte top was made using the blue & was a huge success. The neckline is such a clever feature – not only looking darn cute but also if you are a tshirt newb, it’s a great way to get the neckband on without the hassle of “how much stretch” as the neck band is attached as one of the first steps – to the front & back separately. My only frustration in sewing it, was in using my Coverstitch machine to top stitch the seam allowance down – my machine (OK, I shouldn’t blame my machine, but the person steering it!) did not want to keep straight & neat, so I have to say I avoided this step in my next versions, no topstitching at all, just a hearty press with the iron.
If it wasn’t for my Coverstitch issues, my blue Bronte top would have been a very quick make. The sleeves are inserted flat, then sewn closed with the side seams. I forgave my Coverstitch machine enough to allow it to hem the sleeves and top itself, and it did that without fuss (thank goodness). Apart from hems, I sewed all of it with my overlocker.
The neckline is secured using invisible stitches or buttons. Any opportunity to add a pop of button would not be avoided by me. Red in the case of the blue top, seeking suitable candidates from my button jar.
So feeling plumped up on how well the Bronte goes together, and how well it fits (nice length too, both sleeves and body will certainly keep me sung this winter), I cut out two more, the red and the ecru. If they were closer in colour, I would have sewn them in parallel, such was the confidence I had in blasting through their construction quickly. But overlocker threads were from two extreme colour groups, I had to sew in series. The red was the next one to be made, and without the Coverstitch fuss proved that this really is a quick make – an hour and a half tops. The fabric had a dense quality to it – I thought it would be nice & cosy as I was making it.
I then made the ecru version, and was really loving the fabric. I used the wrong side as the right side, so that it’s got more nubbly texture on show. Attaching buttons was the last step, and something I hadn’t quite got to when I took these photos (it was pre hem too).
So what I found was that the red Bronte top is like a straight jacket!
The sleeves are like plastercasts ! hahaha!
You see I made no reference to its stretch factor. This fabric is pretty stable, or certainly stable enough to not want to give in the right places for a body flattering top like the Bronte top.
How I chuckled when I realised my mistake. I have only tried to wear it for an afternoon, and then couldn’t wait to change out of it. Maybe it’ll be better with short sleeves.
The ecru version though has loads of room & is very comfy to wear.
If anything it has come out slightly larger than the blue one. It just goes to show that this thing I have about not all fabric behaves the same, is something that I continue to fall foul of!! I’m not the only one am I?