The Dartmouth top by Cashmerette is the second item on the #makenine2019, and one I was excited to work on. I have a RTW wrap top that I love from the brand Soft Surroundings, and while it “fits” in the places I need it to, it is definitely not perfect.
The v-neck wrap style is actually one of my favorite styles, though I do not wear it much because it is so difficult to find a wrap top that I can wear without having to wear a camisole underneath to prevent flashing. This is where the Dartmouth top comes in – one of its selling points is that it has cup sizes up to sewing cup H (8″ difference between upper bust and full bust), and is designed to lay flat over these larger busts. There is also a choice between a ruching on the sides, or a flat front.
I had previously purchased two separate kits from Cashmerette, one with a blue print rayon/spandex, and the other a fuschia plaid poly blend. To make muslins, I found a crazy orange-based print in rayon/spandex that I had received back with the company Girl Charlee would do their “knit fix” boxes, as well as some left-over tribalesque rayon/spandex.
At first, the only alteration I made to the flat pattern was to adjust the shoulder to make it narrower. I cut a straight size 12 otherwise (cup size G/H), and used the size 28 cut line at the shoulder, grading around the neckline. Even though my measurements put me into the cup size E/F, I had the best results with the Cashmerette Appleton pattern at the G/H cup size.
I used the remnant of tribalesque fabric to do a muslin of just the body, the front two pieces and the back piece, and was able to see another problem right away, with extra fabric directly below my underarm area. It took some thinking through to figure out the issue. I posted some pictures on a few Facebook groups asking for advice, and the prevailing thought was if I attached the arms, things would be fine. However, this is something that has come up with the Concord as well, though due to fabric choices when making that pattern it was not as noticeable as this was.
Sadly, even though I accidentally did perfect stripe matching on the tribalesque fabric, I did not have enough to do the neck band or arms, so it just went into the bin. I then decided to use my crazy orange fabric and make a muslin with the sleeves attached to see if that would solve the problem.
Clearly shown on the pictures, it did not. There is still a bunch of fabric just hanging out under my armpit area. The front fits beautifully. I decided to lay the pattern pieces down, compare the Dartmouth to the Concord, and use my half-finished moulage I had made to compare them all. I was initially wondering if maybe I should have used the E/F cup size, and what would cause this excess fabric there. I also really loved the way this crazy orange fabric turned out, and was hoping I could salvage it to be wearable.
I started by comparing the Dartmouth to the Concord, and noticed that the Dartmouth size 12 G/H was equivalent to the Concord size 14 G/H. I then drew the Dartmouth size 12 E/F cup size over the top. Next, I used my moulage (forgive that it says sloper, it does NOT have wearing ease added) to pinpoint where my bust apex is, my apex line, and really look at how small my shoulder and upper bust area is compared to the Cashmerette drafting. Initially, while wearing the top inside out, I pinned out the excess fabric on each side, then lay that out and drew the line I had created. It was clear that even using the E/F pattern piece would be too much. I fixed the orange muslin by serging through where I had pinned out, and that took care of the excess fabric. It also showed that the shoulders and upper bust area are still too big.
One of the suggestions on Facebook had been to remove some of the length above the bust line, which looked like it might help. I folded out one inch above the bust, and then one inch through the back in the same area. I also tried to manipulate the shoulders so that they were not too large, but ultimately, I got tired of trying to make the pattern work for me from the bust on up. I briefly thought about trying the Cashmerette Appleton, since it has a wrap as well, but since I had to adjust that to fit me at the bust, and ultimately it is too big in the shoulders, I decided that maybe I could mash together a pattern from a different company that does not use bust cups effectively with this one. Since I have a Seamwork membership, I looked through their large catalog of patterns, and ended up choosing the Erica wrap dress. I had a wide neckband, and when I printed off the top of the pattern, found that the wrap angle for both went along almost the exact same line.
When I went to check my measurements to see what size I should use, going off my upper bust measurement of 34″, that put me into a size XS. I literally had the thought “well, no wonder the size 12 isn’t working there.” I used the Erica to trace yet another set of lines on my Dartmouth pattern pieces, both the front and the back. I left the 1″ removed from the length of the upper bust area and just traced right over that. The angle of the shoulders of the Erica was different, but compared better to my moulage shoulder angle than the Dartmouth did, which could have been part of the problem as well. On the back, the Erica has the shoulder out wider than the Dartmouth does, but at this point, I decided to trace and cut as is, which required adding some tissue paper to the shoulder area of the back.
Another big revelation I had was that the Erica pattern as drafted has straight lines directly under the armpit area, while the Dartmouth has curved lines. After stumbling across an old blog post about the “omega” shape of some breasts, it makes total sense to me know why the Dartmouth as drafted has excess fabric there, which does not work for me. I have an “omega” breast shape, and there is no breast tissue or anything else directly under my armpit. In fact, my direct under bust measurement is 33″, the same as my waist, and has barely fluctuated since high school. This is also why I typically need the G/H cup pattern piece, even though my measurements put me into the E/F, and occasionally the back of patterns is too large. All of my width at my bust is sticking out off the front. I solved this by giving myself a little more length on the front in the underarm, and easing that into the shorter back length of the same area.
Using my newest alterations, I made another muslin out of more remnant fabric that went to just my waist, no neckband, but did have the arms attached. I used the Erica XS arms as drafted, because even though I took an inch out of the front and back above the bust, I drew the cutting lines for the Erica XS after that, and it would not cause problems with the sleeve size. I could tell right away the fit was so much better. I went ahead and right away used the purple plaid poly blend to make one of my “final” tops. It has less stretch than the rayon/spandex, so the sleeves here are a tad snug, but not unbearable. I checked the neckband length against the new neckline, and determined it was still at the appropriate length, and cut the size 12 there.
For my ultimate Dartmouth top, I used the blue print rayon/spandex, with no additional changes. The under bust area lays perfectly, and the shoulder points hit at my actual shoulder point. There isn’t a bunch of extra fabric or bunching above my bust, either. I absolutely love it. The fabric is so comfortable, the wrap lays beautifully, and even working at a school, with constant movement and bending, I never need to wear a camisole for modesty.
I am honestly not sure if I will be putting up a review on Pattern Review, considering I truly did use chunks from each of the patterns. I don’t think my journey to make this pattern work for MY body is a true reflection of how it would work on many other bodies. I also wouldn’t consider what I have written to in any way be a review of anything other than the neck and shoulders of the Seamwork Erica. However, if I were to add a mash-up review, here is what it would look like:
A wrap-style jersey top with the choice of a fixed wrap or a ruched front, a thicker band neckline, and three sleeve lengths.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Size cut: Seamwork Erica XS at shoulder, neck, and under armpit, blending to Cashmerette Dartmouth size 12 G/H at bustline, through waist and hips. Dartmouth size 12 for neckband.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
I did not have any problems understanding what was to be done.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like the idea of the Dartmouth pattern, but really struggled to get it to work for my body. I am pleased with the pattern I have come up with, but at this point, I don’t know if what I had to do to get it to work would be redrafting, or just alterations, or what. It was mentally exhausting trying to figure out why the pattern wasn’t working, which isn’t at all the fault of Cashmerette. I learned a lot about my own personal body, the fitting process, and what I need to look for in future patterns.
mostly rayon/spandex, one poly blend
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Mashed the Seamwork Erica shoulders, neck, upper bust, and bust line (just below the armpits) together with the Dartmouth bustline, waist, and hips. This allowed me to cut a significantly smaller neck and shoulder area, and remove the excess fabric under the armpit area due to my personal breast shape.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Now that I have a pattern that has turned out so well, I will definitely sew it again. I would recommend this to many people who have a need for larger cup sizes, but with the caveat that every body shape is different, so it might not be the dream of perfect out of the pattern jacket everyone is searching for.
I really like the wrap-top style look, and appreciate the patterns that Cashmerette comes out with. While I would love if Cashmerette would add additional sizes on the smaller end, for those who need large cup sizes and have “curves,” but do not fit their current size range, it has been made clear to me with my use of the Seamwork Erica in the size XS that just adding one or two sizes below their current range would still probably be too big for me in the neck and shoulder area.
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