The tale of the Bronte

The Bronte Top and I had a good start, but things quickly went sour. In the beginning, the pattern was quick to trace and put together. The way the PDF* was designed, it’s so brilliant for piecing!, you can quickly cut and tape and trace your size. As usual, I traced my standard 16 bust, 14 waist with grading to a 20 at the hips.  I read Heather’s post about it, and trudged forward. After basting I had a bit of tugging at the armpit/boobs, and bra straps showed. I tugged at the overlapping sections and stitched buttons to help correct the issue, as that seemed to help. However, I still felt I needed to try to perfect this top. Why? Because I am glutton for punishment and hardships.

Here is the offensive side folds of fabric.

So I tried again. This is a forward shoulder, hollow chest, sway back adjusted Bronte Top II in a french terry fabric. The softest most wonderful french terry in the world. However, the fabric was so very stretchy it wouldn’t hold the correct shape, and my serging or something made super wonky seams at the shoulders. I had to unpick serged seams twice. And, as you can see, bra straps still visible, and even more folds of fabric at my lower back. How is this possible?



To correct these issues, which I thought were worse than the original but, in fact were not, I spent an hour reading my Vogue book on adjustments, and finally guessed maybe I have what they call “pigeon chest”, which, as evident by an even worse Bronte Top III, I do not, indeed, have pigeon anything. I am certain it got much, much worse. The fabric is a stretchy wool blend rayon. Disastrous. I didn’t even hem it because I was too frustrated by my somehow making this pattern worse and even worse.



Below is the original Bronte Top. I really had to tuck the buttons together to get the shirt to cover bra straps. It is rather quite snug at the boob/armpit area of doom. DOOM. It’s cute overall (after seeing my two alternate disasters) but too snug, with weird folds above the bust, which are not from a FBA. I am sure of this. And not from a pigeon chest or a hallow chest or a narrow shoulder. What is in this pattern that is so hard for me to fit? I dislike doing dart-fba’s in knit fabrics a great deal. I just find it unappealing. However, I fear it may be my only hope.

I don’t have a massive stash of fabric to test patterns in the same type of fabric. I wish I had similar fabrics. I was going off the Bronte tops from the creator, with French Terry, Merino and cotton blend knit being suggestions she herself used. The original, untouched expect for my standard grading, is now the best fit I have. So I shall start over anew.



OR I give up and just sew menswear. I’d rather deal with structure than curves.


*Not the best hairday for me to be sharing self pictures. However, I dig honest writing, and the adventure of sewing has many ups and downs. If I weren’t so darn broke I would try more real muslins and fewer “wearable” muslins but honestly, I actually need clothes and must sew them with the fabric I have in my stash. Many sewists I know sew for luxury, or fun. That was how I started sewing and how I hope to be again one day. At this point, I sew with the lovely stash fabrics and patterns I have because I need clothes. So I am going to do my “nip tuck” and see what I can do to get these three Bronte’s into a pleasing form. Thanks for reading friends, hope your own Sewing Month is going a bit better than mine.


12 thoughts on “The tale of the Bronte

  1. I love the first version – it looks really good on you! I am not a luxury sewer either. It is so painful when stash fabric doesn’t work out in a garment. I sew because I need clothes, and I’m cheap too so I hate throwing out makes that don’t fit.

    When you stand from the side in the blue shirt I don’t see a hollow/pigeon chest. I wish I had helpful advice for you. Fitting is no fun!

  2. I really like version #1 – the polka dots are charming! The shoulder area looks like a great fit! Don’t beat yourself up with it not being perfect (wear it anyway!) – you are learning so many things even if it feels slow.

    My hunch is that the armseye is just a little too high – the wrinkles you are getting look a lot like the kind I get when I need to drop the underarm a little. If you have another knit shirt in your closet that fits you well in the sleeve and underarm, compare the two. I recently discovered that cutting a sleeve one size larger than the main body size you are cutting and adjusting the underarm to fit that bigger sleeve is the simpliest solution. (I will blog about this in detail once the pattern on which I made the discovery is officially released.)

    Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to compare to other patterns or clothes in your closet – you have more information than you realize in garments you already have.

      • I know all too well how that goes. Of course we think the mistakes are glaring, because we know the project so well. But I try to remind myself, most people are only going to look at my clothing for a second and develop a snap judgment based on their first impression. As long as their first impression is a good one, I try to be happy with that.

        I do have a terrible habit, though. When people compliment something I’ve made, instead of just saying “Thank you,” I start telling them all the things that are wrong with it.

      • My husband calls that habit (which I also do) “turning yourself in.” Basically, we notice faults others won’t, and when we give them attention, it lessens the value and workmanship. Let’s try not to do this ourselves! Even to our sewing pals!

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