Psychedelic Leopard 1: V1282 Donna Karan cowl neck top

If you were reading this blog April last year, you’d know I bought this pattern hoping it’d be The One for this leopard print fabric. It only took 10 months for me to finally get around to it. During that time I of course flirted with other ideas. But in the end, true love was meant to be. So voilà, a top that I’ve already worn twice to the Office this week. Score!

The Pattern

Style Shots & Mug Shots

Fabric & Notions Used

Size Used

I went for size 4, down from a recommended size 12 and my current norm of FBA’ed size 8!

This is partly on the advice of the Pattern Reviewers (with their complaints of how big and low cut the pattern is). I compared the sizes against the adjusted pattern for the M6078 cowl neck top I made last summer and 4 come out the closest (I went down to XS or 4-6 for that top as well).

I also roughly compared the pattern’s B-W-H measurements with my B-W-H to ensure the negative ease won’t too much for my fabric to handle. Eg if pattern hip = 30-3/4″ and my hip = 35″, then 30-3/4″ − 35″ = -4.25″ (negative ease) ÷ 30-3/4″ (pattern hip) = -0.138 OR 13.8% that the fabric cut at 30-3/4″ would need to stretch to fit my hip of 35″.

I checked all three measurements and took the largest % number, then compare this to how much my fabric would stretch. In this case, 10″ of fabric stretched to 12-1/2″ OR 25% (12-1/2″ − 10″ = 2-1/2″ ÷ 10″ = 0.25 = 25%). So the fabric stretches more than required by the pattern size I chose and I’m fine to go with the 4 – for widths at least.

Changes Made

v1282-2

  • Wide Shoulder Adjustment: 1/2″
  • Rounded Upper Back Adjustment: additional 3/8″ on back shoulder, eased during sewing
  • Narrowed upper back by removing 1-1/8″ per side (2-1/4″ total) from CB at neck level tapering to nothing at bust level.  This was on advice of Pattern Reviewers as well, but the precise amount was based on a comparison of this pattern with my  adjusted M6078 which now fits relatively well. Also raised CB neck 3/4″ so the CB neck angle is closer to original pattern.
  • Widened 3/8″ per side (3/4″ total) at hip level to avoid hip being too small and riding up.
  • Short-Waist Adjustment: shortened at waist 1-1/4″. The way I did this also narrowed the upper front 1/4″ per side (1/2″ total).
  • Shortened hem 1″ – I’m taking the Pocket Stylist‘s advice that a top length closer to the high hip is more flattering than one ending right at the hip.
  • Raised armhole 1″ and reshaped it to scoop a bit out at the back. My arm joints seem shorter and wider than standard. So the shallow curve of the original looked uncomfortable. In the end though I should have scooped out more or not bother raising the armhole as the result feels a bit tight.
  • Reduced CF stitching line (step 6) by 1″ after basting the seam and trying on the top. The smaller size and my short-waist adjustment resulted in a higher cowl neck opening – unlike for most Pattern Reviewers.  I decided I can show slightly more skin and avoid what to my eye is a strange contrast between the drapeless CF seam and the drapy cowl below the bust line.
v1282-1

Compared with the original before short-waist alteration.

v1282-3

Final pattern compared with altered M6078 which fits well.

Verdict on the Instruction

The instruction is pretty straight-forward. And having step-by-step illustrations is helpful for beginners. So as long as you have a Walking Foot and stretch stitch of some sort (zig-zag would do) then any beginner can whip up this stylish top. Picking the right size is probably the trickiest part.

Having said that, I did deviate from a few steps.

  • I ignored the layout instruction that called for a bias layout and just used the standard lengthwise layout (with the stretchiest crosswise grain running around the body). First of all I didn’t have enough fabric because I wanted to squeeze 3 projects out of just over 2 yards. And while I love bias results in wovens I loathe the fabric wastage. Plus this is a lycra knit. So I see no point as the knit bias doesn’t seem to have the same obvious advantages as woven bias.
  • I also interfaced the back neck area with So Sheer tricot interfacing. The stable direction of the interfacing runs across the back neck to prevent it from stretching out of shape during sewing or wearing. Shoulder seams were stabilized with clear elastic and armhole with Vilene Bias Tape – which I had to remove later because I shortened the armhole too much.
    v1282-4
  • For step 8, I used 3 pennies for weight. And while the weight did enhanced the CF drape, it didn’t prevent the drape from flipping out like it did for one of the Pattern Reviewers. So I tacked the tip of the weight pocket to a fold in the underbust drapes. With so much drapes there, plus the busy print, the stitch is hardly visible.
    v1282-5
  • I skipped steps 14-16 for adding hanging straps. I don’t know who would want to hang up knits. Isn’t that asking Gravity for trouble?

Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others

Hell Yeah! I want a shiny one like Clio & Phineas’ or SewEllen’s. I also really like Merche of Aventuras de Costuras’ partly because she modeled the combination of this top and Burdastyle 2012-05-113 draped skirt for me – saves me from having to use my unreliable imagination! 🙂

I just hope I have enough pennies left for a few more tops!

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7 comments on “Psychedelic Leopard 1: V1282 Donna Karan cowl neck top

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for posting all your alterations to this pattern. When I first stumbled across your blog a while ago, it was another Donna Karan design that caught my eye and your alterations of it were very instructive. Keep posting all your alterations, please! It’s a lesson just reading your post. And I love your top. It’s a great top pattern!

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