Finished - Swinging Sixties Top (aka Burdastyle 9/2012 106)

In addition to my Sound of Music costumes I've been hard at work trying to make this Burdastyle 60's style top something vaguely wearable. I bought the pattern last winter, and ran out of time to make it up. I loved the collar, and the gorgeous little shoulder darts, and thought the curved bust darts added a great vintage detail. 

The pattern asks for a fairly stable knit - something like a sweater-weight knit, or a ponte, without too much stretch. I made my muslin in a lovely jade green french terry I found at  Clear It a few weeks ago. It was fairly lightweight but figured for $5/m and with minimal stretch it would do for a muslin. I was always intending to make the top with a round back neckline, not a V-neck, and wanted to make the collar a little deeper, for a real 60's look. 

I made a straight size 38, the second smallest in the pattern. Being more of a jumper/sweater it has quite a lot of ease. It swam on me, and I ended up taking it in at the centre back, and in the armscyes. The shoulder seams hung off my shoulders - accentuated by the darts. 

Sewing these darts really threw me. Unsurprisngly Burda's instructions on how to make them were rather minimalist ('sew the darts'). I must admit to being in day 1 of man flu when trying to nut these out, and I didn't do well (in addition to not sewing when tired or drinking I must add to the list not to sew when incubating disease). The next day I realised I was meant to cut up the centre of the dart to the horizontal line maked on the pattern (but not mentioned in the instructions), then its much easier to sew them to make a lovely sinuous curve. Once I'd worked this out and fixed it all up they did look better but not particularly flattering on me. I think they're a bit low.... The best fitting version I've seen of this top is the lovely black wool version made by Amanda over at Amanda's Adventures in Sewing (my goodness this woman sews so beautifully!). 

The first pic shows the true schematic of the bust dart on the pattern piece marked 1, and the next pic shows how it should be cut out (with seam allowance added). One is expected to work out the dart maneuovre with these 2 pics......

The back neckline gaped, so I took the centre back seam in about an inch in total. I increased the collar depth by about 50% - I didn't have enough fabric to be able to make one wide enough to roll - maybe future versions.... The pattern suggests sewing batting or wadding into the collar to make it puffy! I think interfacing would be adequate in most situations. 

The top was loose, long and frumpy. With little to lose I fearlessly hacked off 6 inches to make it hip length, and added the hem band. I took the sleeves in to make them less bell-shape. I was limited in my fabric anyway with the sleeve length from the start, and had enough scraps to make some nice little cuff bands so that added back some length.

It's left me with a just-ok little top, ok for wearing around the house which I suppose is the best that one should expect of a wearable muslin considering the number of alterations I made.

So for a fairly simple knit top my muslin alterations were:

1 - Curved back neckline rather than v-neck (this is on the pattern as another version - I didn't have to draft it)
2 - deepened the neckband for more of a 60's look.
3 - Shortened by 6 inches, then added a hem band
4 - Took in centre back at the neckline by about an inch tapering to nothing by my mid-thoracic region.
5 - Took in armscye seams by about 3/8 inch as too wide off my shoulders (accentuated by the darted shoulder seam)
6 - Narrowed the sleeves to make them less bell-like
7 - Added a cuff to sleeves.

This is version 2 - made in a lovely lofty almost-felted soft wool rib, also from Clear It. It was a Gorman fabric, and is gorgeous. It was the end of the roll, I think maybe 1.2m, and I scored it for $10. It was delightful to cut and sew - the ribbing made cutting it on grain a breeze, and there was no annoying rolling of edges.

For this version my alterations were:
1 - Took 3/4 inch width off centre of both front and back - a total of 1.5 inch narrowing front and back, which also narrowed the neckline as well - much nicer I think. 
2 - left out curved french darts on front (not sure if I did this correctly but just slashed to the bust apex, and fiddled around until the side seams were trued)
3 - cut the back on the fold instead of seamed centre back (I don't like the centre back seam - I know it adds some shaping but the boxy style suits the cropped length - if I was to do it again I'd consider fish-eye darts to add shaping. And making it smaller - the back looks out of proportion to the front....)
4 - narrowed sleeves and shortened sleeve length as above
5 - Added longer cuffs similar to above to be able to fold back
6 - Deeper collar as above. 
7 - Sewed the armscye seams at 3/8inch instead of 2/8 inch seam allowance.
8 - Cropped total length by 6 inches.

I made the cuffs long so if it was cold I could unfold them - but I think most of the time I'll wear them folded back. The shoulder darts do make me look a lot more broad across the shoulders - I've got fairly narrow shoulders compared to the rest of my body, so if you're broad it's maybe not a feature you'd want in a sweater/jumper. 

The only thing I'm not 100% happy with is the hem band but I'm probably being picky. Initially I made the band the same length as the top and it was really sloppy so I redid it slightly under tension as I sewed and it's a lot better. The top is a very relaxed fit, almost swingy in the back. You can see from one of the close up pics how those bust darts are almost forming themselves when I stand in a certain position, but I just couldn't bring myself to do them in this version. I didn't want to risk ruining my lovely fabric.

Because of the boxy shape it really needs to be balanced with a slim fitting bottom. One of my favorite things to do once I finish something is to have a little fashion parade with myself and see how my new garment matches with the rest of my wardrobe (surely I'm not the only one who does this?!). So I thought I'd share my favourite combinations with my swinging 60's sweater:


I love it with plain skinny blue jeans and my polka dot jeans - chic, comfortable and easy.

Shar-pei/brocade Elle's!

So comfy - sneaky stylish stretchy wear!

Knit mini!

This is an extremely basic French Connection knit skirt I rarely wear, mostly because it's a bit tight around the waist (but I remembered I have a quick unpick and a sewing machine and could/should/will replace the elastic with something a little more... forgiving!). 

Cropped pants! 

This is my MMM outfit for the day.... These houndstooth cropped trousers from Uniqlo are very 60's and I loved this outfit! 

My beloved isn't that taken with it (I believe his words were 'oh yes, I noticed you were wearing something big and sloppy') but it is deliciously warm and I think it's cute. Will I make it again? Not sure. Probably not the same. I love the neckline, and the detail of the shoulder darts, but I think there's probably more flattering patterns out there. Maybe sizing up on the Renfrew and adding this neckline would make a more fitted winter jumper..... I did like the recent Colette cropped sweater Moneta hack but think I could get a similar effect with the Renfrew......

Can you suggest any more jumper/sweater patterns - I also love the look of this Japanese pattern as a top (thanks Jana!):

Source: Tamanegi-Kobo
I think I'll focus on my cardi mission for a while! 


  1. Cute! They look nice and comfy, yet stylish.

  2. I don't think I'll ever sew a Burda pattern as I need A LOT of instructions. This sort of looks a bit similar to Tilly and the Button's new Coco dress/top - maybe that would fit you better (she's pretty petite and it looks good on her shoulders)! The Gorman fabric is doesn't look big/sloppy at all...sometimes boy's don't know what they are talking about.

    1. Thanks Melanie! I did think about the coco, and probably would have bought it if I didn't have this one. I'm tempted, that's for sure!

  3. This looks great. Very 60's and I liked your fashion show section the best. Encore (with more variations).

    1. Thanks Caroline - my work outfits are so boring, it's such fun to play dress ups when I make something new, then I can look forward to dressing up even more on my days off!

  4. I love reading your blog, we have all the same fabric! Yours tend to be used quicker. I seriously love alannah hill fabric selection.
    I recently used jalie cocoon cardigan I quite like it runs a bit big tho.

    1. Thanks Kat - that's so sweet of you - we are lucky in Melbourne having a few little sneaky outlets! I'll check out your cardi!

  5. Well, could your timing have been any more perfect?! I was wrestling with this very pattern this afternoon... So do you just add seam allowance to the dart lines and cut along that? (WHY isn't it printed like that on the pattern??) Yours has come together beautifully, and you've got to love a garment that makes friends with 90% of your wardrobe - well done you!

    1. What a coincidence! So I just left the dart space solid, but cut up the middle to the point of that horizontal line that goes through it. The dart lines up well above that line, and with the fabric cut down the middle you can manipulate the bottom end of the dart. I just trimmed the seam allowances afterwards. The other thing is with the sleeves you need to ease them in so that the dart lines line up with the seam line of the sleeve in right spot. As in, line up the underarm seam and have the top of the sleeve overlap the dart line by your seam allowance, and ease the sleeve in between. I'll email you a pic if that makes no sense at all! Cos I've just read that and it sounds like gobbeldygook but I can't explain it any better!

  6. What about Tilly's Coco? One of her versions has a similar 60's style collar. This is a really cute top though, despite the issues.

    1. Thanks Helen - I'm very tempted by the coco..... I think I'll play around with the Renfrew first and then try coco if I have no luck. There's so many cute versions out there!

  7. Nice! The neckline really makes this top I think - I much prefer your closer-to-the-neck version. And I love your fashion parade! I do this too, although I don't often take the time to photograph it.

    1. Thanks Gail! It's good to know others love a secret fashion parade too!

  8. Your final version is REALLY cute! Love it! And this is coming from someone who used to dislike the look of sewn darts in sweater knits. Researching sweater sewing patterns, I discovered Neue Mode 22560 and 23072. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to sew them yet, but I thought I'd mention them.

    1. Thanks Olgalyn - that means a lot coming from you! :)


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