June 15, 2015

Back to basics: v-neck silk Colette Sorbetto

Sometimes you just have to go back to an old friend. I spent the past few weeks trying to find a woven top that would fit over my bust without being absurdly tent-like. After multiple failed attempts with big 4 cup-sized patterns (why oh why don’t they actually draft them for the cup sizes rather than just doing sketchy grading?), I decided to go back to that old stalwart, the Colette Sorbetto.

Colette Sorbetto v-neck in silk

As it happens, I just wrote a piece for Abby Glassenberg’s blog, While She Naps, on how the Sorbetto kick-started my sewing and fitting career (prepare yourself: it’s a little sentimental). It’s a pattern I’ve come back to time and time again, and I’ve cropped it, split the back, and used precious fabrics that I didn’t want to mess up.

Sorbetto montage

As my pattern still bore the signs of my first ever FBA (!), I decided to start afresh this time. I did a 2 inch FBA on the size 18 (and now I think I should have done a 2.5 inch one), moved the dart down 2 inches (the Colette ladies must be extremely perky) and rotated some of the bust dart into a new waist dart. I also made it a v-neck and added a good 4 inches to the bottom, curving the hem.

Believe it or not, despite half my RTW tops being v-neck I’ve never actually successfully  made one myself. To try to offset the invariable stretching of the bias v I used woven stay tape on both the outer silk and the crepe de chine lining, and I used twill tape on the seam allowance, and I understitched. It was… mostly successful. There’s still some buckling, although I wonder if this is inevitable given my body shape – the line between my shoulder to bust is far, far from straight (there a lot of space in there.. enough for an iPhone, in fact. Handy!) – so unless a neckline is pretty sturdy or under tension, it’s going to be free-floating through that area. It’s not a problem in knits, because they have the tension of negative ease. Does anyone else have this problem, and have solutions?

Colette Sorbetto v-neck in silk

I’ve been saving this lovely silk that I got on my first outing to Fabric Place Basement, which miraculously had a job lot of BCBG silk when I visited. I knew the placement would be tricky – triangles are almost never your friend… but I think I managed without anything too obscene. The downside is I didn’t notice until it was way too late that I’d cut the front of the middle of my yardage and there wasn’t enough for the back. So let me introduce you to my on-trend design feature: the black bum flap! So de rigeur, darlings.

Colette Sorbetto v-neck in silk

Construction wise, I chickened out of trying to finish the V with binding (tried that once before, with terrible results), so instead I went for the lined approach. That meant making two identical tops in full (all French seamed! *pats self on back*), then putting them right sides together and sewing all the way around the neckline and flipping over. Then, I basted the two layers together at the armholes and finished with self-bias, and hemmed them separately.

The final thing isn’t perfect – I definitely need another half to full inch in the bust and to fix the v-neck, but given my current lack of floaty summer-appropriate tops, I’m sure it’ll get a lot of wear!

So, dear experts, your v-neck wovens on a big bust tips, please?

39 thoughts on “Back to basics: v-neck silk Colette Sorbetto

  1. Andie L. says:

    Love the top! Such a gorgeous print. 🙂

  2. Katie says:

    That’s so pretttty. I always have that gape along v-necks too because my upper chest is small/hollow. I often cut down to the bust dart to make a ‘hinge’ and fold out a little bit at the neck, opening up the bust/waist dart a bit more. Helps tighten it up a bit. Another tip from Grainline is to make the V ever so slightly concave (curving outwards) as a straight line can ripple or appear to be convex.

    1. I’m definitely going to try the concave trick and see if it works!

  3. katemcivor says:

    Great job with great fabric. Good placement of the triangles — so flattering. I also line my v-necks. I am envious of how stable yours is!

  4. Sandra v says:

    I LOVE the Sorbetto top, I’ve made 3 tops allready (I did my first FBA on a Sorbetto top aswell, yay!) and I love how versatile this pattern is. I never thought of a V-neck, must try that next time.

    Love your version and the fabric looks so gorgeous!

    1. Yes, isn’t it great for messing around with? It basically operates a my woven block now, even though I’m always trying to tweak the fit

  5. Brenda says:

    Katie has a great suggestion above. My sewing teacher tells me to use small strips of silk organza like stay tape, but he organza is lighter weight. Lay your pattern on the table, and lay your fabric on top. Lay the strips of organza on the v (you can slightly stretch it and press to fit the curve if needed, or cut it on the bias). Hand stitch/baste the organza to the fabric on the seam line, making sure to keep the shape of the pattern. If you use silk thread for your hand stitching , it will come out easiest. You may want Roberta Carr’s book Couture, the fine art of sewing. It sounds fancy, but the process works for everyday sewing, too.

    1. Brenda says:

      I really meant to start with saying your top is lovely and the stellar print placement is the first thing I noticed. Then I got side-tracked with sewing geekery!

      1. Thanks! I did use very lightweight tape in the V, but will definitely give silk organza a try next time!

  6. wallmv says:

    I always have this problem myself. I found this info on “gape darts” to be most useful:

    1. Ooh, thanks for sharing!

  7. Lynn says:

    That is a very pretty top made from a beautiful fabric. I read with amusement and amazement that the Sorbetto works so well for you. I detest that simple little pattern. I found the darts too long, too low, and the armholes huge. I had to completely redraw it to make it even close to fitting! The upshot of this rant is that everyone is built differently and the pattern that is one sewists dream is another’s hot mess begging for hours of alterations to make it work.

    1. Well, it worked for me after a *lot* of adjustments – major FBA, moving the dart down, and adding a waist dart for shaping. However *now* it fits me pretty well ):

  8. Liz says:

    I can’t stand the sorbetto either! It makes me look square (not so hot when you’re 5 foot nothing!) and is so unflattering on me even with a 2.5″ FBA and waist darts. I’ve got Sarai’s book and use the Taffy blouse pattern for wovens, cutting them on the bias so they ‘stretch’ to go on but actually have a bit of shape in the waist. I’m quite addicted to this now, and it’s meant only teeny FBAs are required. I now skip the sleeves, finishing neckline and armholes with bias tape, and playing around with V necks (nicely stable given the bias cut!) and slash necks so I have a variety of summer tops. Worth a try!

    1. Liz says:

      PS Meant to add at the beginning – this looks great on you! I’m always surprised to see how flattering the sorbetto is on so many people when it looks so terrible on me. I completely agree with Lynn, everyone is different, but that’s what’s so fabulous about sewing!

      1. Hey Liz – yeah as I mentioned to Lynn above, I did hack it pretty considerable, as it doesn’t look good on me as-is. I have the Colette book but never tried the taffy because I didn’t like the sleeves, but perhaps I should try a sleeveless version after all!

  9. michelleinsea says:

    No tips on the v-neck beyond the “make it slightly concave” tip that’s already been offered here. I just wanted to say that I think this top looks great on you!

    One question (on more the technical side of things), is there any reason that you’ve removed the pleat from your later versions of this top? (I’m, like, the one person who never made this top because I was always torn between liking the pleat as a design detail but being skeptical as to how it would behave over my large bust, and I don’t think I’ve seen many of these made up *with* the pleat on large-busted women.)

    1. I’ve done it both ways and I think the pleat is fine on my bust – it stays totally flat because its’ totally sewn down all the way along the length (i.e. nothing flaps around!). Sometimes I just take it out for a change:)

  10. Nancy K says:

    Coincidentally I am altering a v neck woven top that has one French dart for my DD cup bust. It works on knits, but my first muslin(I’ve never made a woven top with just a dart) was not so great. Anyway I’ve been looking at Fast Fit by Sandra Betzina and she says that “a large bust tends to create a hollow just above the bust. To avoid this take a 1/4″ horizontal pleat 1/2″ total, out of the front neckline on the pattern.Smooth the pleat into obscurity.” I will be trying this since my first muslin needed a dart taken out of the neckline.

    1. The approach of taking a pleat out of the neckline seems to be a popular suggestion, so I’m definitely going to try that!

  11. Love your top! The front placement looks great, and it’s always nice to have summer tops that are floaty and look good.
    I’ve been taught to put on the shirt. Pinch out the amount needed to make it lie flat, and then cut a wedge like you do for a sway back adjustment, from the area in the neckline that needs to be pulled up, using your pinched area width at the neckline to zero at the armhole, Works for me. Good luck with this. It’s always wonderful to have great fitting clothes.

  12. gilliancrafts says:

    It’s lovely!!!

  13. Janet says:

    Wow! What a beautiful top and wonderful sewing tips in the comments too.

  14. Lucinda says:

    I totally recognized that fabric when I saw it!! I’m right down the street from Fabric Place Basement, I’ve been stalking those BCBG silks – I just need to commit to one! It made a lovely top 🙂

    1. That’s right! and they still have more of it. I was there yesterday and saw the Monique Lhuillier but after your little disaster I decided to skip it!

  15. Wendy says:

    This is what I do: before finishing the neckline, I run a little machine basting stitch inside the seam allowance, and gather it a bit–my body needs it for about 3″ above the point of the vee neck, but it looks like your body wants it above there. It will pull the neckline toward your bust, and not show if you’re subtle. To see if it will help your sorbetto you might try doing it by hand on your lining, right up against the neck edge, And if it does show, smile and call it ruching!

  16. Shelly says:

    I do as the Wendy does and gather the stay stitching just a bit. If the neckline needs more than an eighth or a quarter inch removed, I do as Nancy K. suggests and dart the pattern neckline when cutting the material. As a DDD person, I always have to adjust the cup size patterns, to make them more curvy and less boxy above and below the bustline.

  17. I’m with the slightly gathered stay stitching, and the organza selvedge brigades. I also like the Taffy [was wearing mine yesterday] although the sleeves can be a bit much. My current favourite is the Style Arc Dixie, which I’ve made in woven/stretch and combo. Not a V, but a nice little keyhole effect. Very wearable.

  18. Martha Hughes says:

    Make a dart in the neckline tapering to nothing at the armscye in your pattern. This is not a sewn dart.

  19. Abigail says:

    I love your top! As for bust-fitting tips, I’m sorry to say I have none, but good luck

  20. Why don’t you make a muslin with the v neck and dart out the excess? Then you can create the dart on your pattern and close it. I rotated the dart on mine to be a French Dart which drapes really nicely over my bust and adds some subtle waist shaping. I’ve been debating the merits of converting the pleat to gathers and letting it fall. When I tried leaving the hem free with the box pleat, it looked really maternity.

  21. Caroline says:

    Wow – that’s a fab top Jenny! I think the V neck works really well with that striking angular patterned fabric. 😉

  22. symondezyn says:

    I’m so glad you posted this!! I literally JUST did the exact same thing – a V-neck Sorbetto with FBA, only when it came time to finish the neckline, I hummed and hawed and just did the bias tape finish. It sits relatively flat, but I think I may have needed to use a smaller size because the shoulders sit awfully wide on me and the whole thing is quite tent-y LOL. Yours is lovely – the fabric is KILLER!! 🙂

    One thing I recently learned is that when drafting a V-neck, the angle of the V on the flat pattern needs to be ever so slightly curved in order to appear straight when worn. Unfortunately, I have no scientific method of calculating just how much the curvature should be 😛 That could account for some of the buckling, but as others have mentioned, it may need a small dart pinched out on the flat pattern as well 🙂

    Why oh why is it so hard to find a basic V-neck woven top pattern? I’ve resigned myself to the acceptance that I probably need to make a collarless V-neck button-up blouse to get the tailored look and perfect V-neck that I want 🙂

  23. Dart out the excess is written above… and Lynne/Ozzyblacky said that sometimes you can shorten the shoulder seam at the back not the front and it lifts it up as well … I had a floppy v-neck from my Spring for Cotton and two different seamstresses (well, one was a guy seamster) suggested the dart option…

    As others have mentioned, V-necks are very hard to find… I need that shape for my busty & petite shape but I don’t want it tooooooo plunge-y!

    This fabric is gorgeous! And it’s great that you have the patience to re-visit and keep going with a pattern… I try and sometimes I get bored!

  24. stacy says:

    Does the waist dart pull the lower part of the shirt back in closer under the chest? I can’t tell from the pics where it is, but I feel like this is my issue with a big chest and non-knit tops, particularly tanks! I haven’t read much or considered a waist dart though! Thanks for sharing your ideas and tips on this top! I’m going to go check out the pattern!

  25. Hi there, I just came across your blog and we both live in the Boston area. In fact, I have a sewing school in Arlington. I’d love to meet you. Maybe, you could stop by and see my place. We could talk about all sorts of techniques for fitting and sewing. My site is http://www.laurassewingschool.com. I’ll be on vacation until July 6th, but after that, it would be great. You can check out my work there or on Facebook.

  26. Megan @ TheGreenViolet says:

    I do a hollow chest adjustment on almost everything (woven) I make. I’m not sure if this would solve your problem or not but it works for me when I have lots of gaping. Which I almost always do, especially with v-necks. I think I did something like a 2 inch adjustment on my anna dress bodice, which is kind of crazy to me! I think this explains it best: http://www.sewnews.com/content_downloads/Fit_for_You_Hollow_Chest_May1999.pdf
    Even a small adjustment can make a big difference for me!

  27. Dalila says:

    That gaping in the neckline is very easy to fix.
    1. In your pattern, trace a line from the armscye to the neckline.
    2. Put on the top and pinch the gaping fabric. Take note of the amount of fabric you need to get rid of.
    3. Then, back to the pattern, draw the ‘legs’ to form a dart as wide as the fabric that is gaping in the neckline to zero un the armscye.
    4. Redraw the neckline to fix any angles. Never mind the weird shape of the neckline and straps of the top, once you wear it it’s gonna be/look fine.
    5. Cut new top, sew, be happy.

Let me know what you think!