Sewing for Me: Clover Pants + Stripey Batwing Top

I mentioned that I have a stack of Burda magazines last week, and to date, I haven’t tried a single pattern from them, though I’m constantly entertained by the extreme level of styling hits and misses.

You’d think that someone so used to Japanese patterns would find Burda to be no sweat, but the way they cram those pattern pieces onto one sheet of paper is no joke. I got a sense of what other people must feel like when attempting Japanese patterns without any familiarity with the language. I hunted down the green lines that I needed and found myself asking, “Where’s the grainline arrow? Which is the front/back side? Is thatย Russian?” — I had so many questions… So I eased myself in with a very simple batwing knit top pattern (#113 from the September 2013 issue). It requires only three pattern pieces (technically two, since you’re supposed to “glue” together two pattern pieces. I used tape).

I love batwing aka dolman sleeve tops. I never left the eighties apparently, and I’m all about drapey, easy clothes and I’ve lost count of the number of tops and sweaters with these roomy sleeves I own. I sacrificed a thin-striped jersey knit that feels like a rayon/cotton blend for my Burda experiment, and I actually modified the pattern here and there to make it more to my liking.

1. I reduced the seam allowance to 3/8 inch instead of 5/8 – that’s my Japanese pattern training rearing its head.

2. I added a folded band at the bottom instead of hemming it. This is my favorite way of finishing knits.

3. I added a neck band cut on the bias, and reinforced it with topstitching. Judging from the photo, they used a different binding method from the one I did.

It’s a little big – I cut size 40 based on the measurements, but I might’ve been able to get away with a 36 due to the stretchiness of the knit. Still, it’s the kind of top that I’ll reach for time and time again. Navy and white stripes + Dolman Sleeves = Love.

The pants have been in the making for several months. Like many women, I’m a huge Audrey Hepburn fan and have always wanted an expertly tailored crisp white shirt and black cigarette pants. The Colette Clover pants pattern seemed to be the answer to my sartorial yearnings. So earlier in the summer, I made a muslin out of a hideous blue and gold fabric because I’d read about how challenging it is to get pants to fit right and sure enough, it was too, too large. I wadded it up, tossed it somewhere and promptly forgot about it.

The flowy top needed a more fitted bottom, so I unearthed the Clover pattern, trimmed it down a size, and happily discovered a large amount of black denim in my stash. In retrospect, I think the fabric may have been a little too thick to provide the slim silhouette I craved, but I was surprised that with very little modifications, the size 8 fit me so well. I suppose I could have slimmed down the thigh area a bit (I had to reduce the seam allowance to accommodate my not-slim calves), but the waist through hip is nearly perfect. My invisible zipper sticks a touch, but this too was fairly painless, and the pants came together quickly.

Yep, your basic black cropped pants. Much like Oliver + S patterns, Colette patterns offer up a wealth of sewing tips and tricks, which I adore. The polar opposite of the Burda sewing experience, I’m inclined to say.

The requisite scarf styling:

This is pretty much my uniform — stripey top, slim-fitting pants, scarf. Maybe I’ll make a few dozen more batwing tops and Clover pants! I definitely want to make a pair with the longer length. And oh, I haven’t forgotten my pledge to sew more from Japanese pattern books. I have one cut out but didn’t have time to finish it up for this week, but next week or the week after is looking promising…

39 thoughts on “Sewing for Me: Clover Pants + Stripey Batwing Top

    1. Thanks so much, Fiona! Pants are surprisingly straightforward when there aren’t too many fit issues. I’m going to credit beginner’s luck with this one ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. You made pants! Cool ones! Great fitting ones! Pretty good.
    If I will ever be ready to do this I will try the sewaholic Thurlow trousers because they are made for “curvy hips, fuller thighs and a narrow waist” :-). That sounds like me and I hope that way I wonยดt have to change too much. But you did not have to make too many changes, that gives me hope! I love your top also! I made a Hemlock Tee (great pattern!) with very similar fabric. And I can totally understand your problems with Burda. I tried one pattern last summer and could not get it to work and totally discouraged did not pick up sewing again until nearly a year later!

    1. And since I donยดt know if I will be able to tell you tomorrow: Have a wonderful class on sunday! Filled with laughter and creativity and happy students! You will be wonderful, I am sure!!!

    2. Burda patterns are crazy! And the written instructions are often bare bones or confusing too…it must be confusing in German as well, as I’m assuming you got that version? I’ve been wanting to try Sewaholic patterns! They get such great reviews all over the place and the pants sound like they’d be fun to try, Ute!

  2. Love love love this outfit! These are just the kind of clothes I always reach for too. I apparently never left the 80s either because I love the dolman sleeve as well. The pants are awesome! They look great on you!

    1. Even my pajama shirts have dolman sleeves, that’s how much I love them ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your sweet comment, Meghan!

  3. Love the top and pants! I have sewn up a similar top (with 3/4 sleeves) self drafted from a make it love it tutorial and I love it too…. which reminds me I was going to make another for fall! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Oh, 3/4 sleeves would be so cute! I like that the sleeves on these are extra long for those chilly moments, but I think I might try another version (in a smaller size) with 3/4 sleeves – thanks for the idea, Kristi!

      1. You can’t see it but inspired by today’s post I’m wearing the shirt under the jacket I submitted for project sewn. (McCall’s 1969 is the label, I think!) Now to decide which knit to sew up the long sleeve shirt in!

  4. Ooh lookin’ awesome Sanae! This is a perfect fall uniform. I so need to make those pants… Must overcome my intimidation of sewing pants for myself. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Robin! Yes, you totally need to make these pants – they would look great on you! It’s funny, I’ve been intimidated by pants for a long time too because I’ve read so many horror stories about fit issues, but I think the Clover pants make adjustments pretty easy to figure out because there are so few pattern pieces.

  5. Pants!!! They look awesome, and I’m so glad you didn’t have to do much to them aside from honing in on the correct size. That’s huge – now you can build other kinds of pants from them or at least compare different patterns to them for fit.

    1. Yes! I wore these all day and they are really comfortable, but I’m finding the side zip to be a little tricky for me when it’s on my left side, so I might switch it to my right (is that weird? probably). I dream of one day sewing up a pair of jeans that fit just right!

  6. You made pants! And they fit! You have entered a whole new world of sewing:) They look very smart, esp with the loose fitting top. I had to chuckle at your description of the Burda pattern (and yes, that’s how non-Japanese speaking people feel with the pattern books. just sayin’:). I made my first Ottobre pattern the other day, and tracing it out was the toughest part of the whole thing. I imagine it was much like Burda, and felt my eyes crossing while trying to follow the pattern line. So brava for sticking it out – and with such a great top as a result:) Do you do anything to stabilize the bias neckband so it doesn’t stretch out too much while sewing it on? I made a knit top for my daughter this week and had to cut the whole neckband off as it stretched out to huge proportions. Wondering if I’m missing a trick . . .

    1. Thank you, Lucinda! I didn’t add any stay tape or anything to stabilize the neckband, but I did stich-in-the-ditch to keep the seam allowance from flipping up and to help retain the shape. What helped for me was to make my bias neckband the exact size of the neck opening. I took a piece of string, got the exact measurement of the neck opening, and then cut a 3cm x [exact measurement] bias piece. I sewed the bias piece into a band with a 1cm seam allowance, and makes the neckband slightly smaller than the opening, but this keeps the neckband from gaping, I think. Does that make sense? I could draw it out if it would help…

      1. I can picture what you’re describing. Did you serge the neckband on, or use your sewing machine? Perhaps that was my problem, as I used my sewing machine the first time when it got all stretched out. Thanks Sanae.

        1. I always use my sewing machine (zig zag stitch) for knits first, then I finish the seams with my serger. I used to use only my serger, but then the seams started to unravel…the kind of knit used makes a difference too, I find. The thinner the knits, the more they stretch out. A walking foot helps, I hear, and I want to get one!

  7. Yep, I’d live in this outfit. It looks great! I’m totally envious of the fit you got with the clovers without having to make too many adjustments, I bet you’ll get loads of wear form them!

      1. Haha! Thanks, Cate! It’s very satisfying sewing up pants since I’m definitely more partial to them than to skirts. I really love my Clover and think the pants will be worn lots and lots!

    1. Thanks, Fiona! I think I’m going to try a color-blocked version of the top, which would be sweet, I think ๐Ÿ™‚ And maybe some Clovers in fun colors…oh, the possibilities!

  8. you made pants! When you refer to an adult pattern as being like Oliver and s…..that makes me very intrigued. This girl needs good instructions

    1. Thanks Tara! Colette patterns are extremely well-written, and the results are very professional. Because of the many tips and tricks included, they could be time-consuming, but I highly recommend their patterns!

  9. the knit finishing looks awesome! and nice work on the pants…i feel like that’s the final frontier of women’s sewing. one of them, at least. they look very well fitted. your scarf stash is almost as impressive as your fabric stash ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Ashley! Pants do loom large and foreboding on the sewing landscape, don’t they? It’s the darn fit….because the actual sewing of them is so easy! I might not get as lucky with fit next time, but now they’re not as scary. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just need to tackle coats and jackets for the final, final frontier…

  10. Wow Sanae, at the risk of repeating what everyone else has said: You made pants!
    I also think you’ve made the most flattering pair of pants I’ve seen you wear. The fit looks superb and the mid calf finish really suits your legs.
    I’m also somewhat inspired to trace around a similar shaped top I have and try to make another seeing yours here. Great outfit, well done.

    1. Thanks Shelley! It’s funny, I love the reaction pants create in the sewing community because we all know how shockingly hard these innocuous looking things are! You should have seen my muslin – I looked like a clown! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I love that top and found the pattern on the Burda site as a download. Is it the one that calls for a lace knit? It looks great on you and is totally something I would wear as well. I love the pairing with the slim pants and think you did a great job on the pants.

    I’ve been debating buying a serger for a while and can’t decide which one. Reviews are helpful, except when you start reading too many of them and get overwhelmed. Any recommendations?

    1. Thanks, Alana! Yes! It’s the lace knit one. So great that you found it online.

      You know, it took me forever to start using my serger (Brother 1034D) because I was intimidated, but now I can’t live without it. It makes finishing such a breeze and is obviously great for knits, though I tend to sew with my sewing machine first and finish with serger just like I do with wovens for more control and durability. I recommend the Brother as a starter serger since it’s on the affordable end of things and quite easy to use. However, I’m hoping to be able to upgrade to a Babylock or Janome one day….:-)

      1. Thanks for the response! I didn’t check back until tonight. I’m amazed at (and jealous of) your prodigious output. If I put half as much time into sewing as I do following crafty blogs…

        I hope you’re feeling better!

  12. Woaaah beautiful! I think you found your perfect silhouette (flowier shirt, slim fit pants) which actually teeters on making my body look frumpy unless the proportions are just right. Kind of cool figuring out more about what makes YOU look your best, eh? And it all looks so comfy too!

    1. Aw, thanks Kristin! I’m definitely a comfort first kind of dresser. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do love that I get to experiment with different shapes and silhouettes with a greater degree of control now that I’m sewing for myself. Congrats again on your happy news!!

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