Kerry's Vintage Pledge Project: Jane Tise for Butterick Top

In addition to being a skilled quilter, Kerry of verykerryberry sews her own wardrobe, using vintage patterns and beautiful fabrics to create a soft and feminine silhouette. I am delighted that she is sharing a 1970s pattern with us for her guest post:
Hi and welcome to my turn on the #VintagePledge July extravaganza!  I'm Kerry and I blog at verykerryberry. My favourite vintage patterns are from the 1970s, especially those with a 1940s feel and I've been trying to make more separates and get away from the temptation of making lots of dresses. In my daily life, I wear maxi skirts and tops more than anything else and my wardrobe needs to reflect that rather than have a tonne of dresses that rarely see sunlight so my pledge this year has been all about tops.
I have a particular fondness for Butterick young designer patterns from the 1970s, especially those with a 1930s/early 1940s feel - think Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde,  Diane Keaton in Annie Hall or Ali McGraw in Love Story. This one, Butterick 4685 is from Jane Tise.
These patterns offer so many little design details- sometimes very simple with lines of top stitching, sometimes it's the cut which is often quite exaggerated. I also love the illustrations, so fluid!  I chose this top because it was a knit and it had a contemporary feel. I'm in my mid 40s and I sometimes find that  wearing clothes sewn from vintage patterns can have a costume effect on me. Fashion is so cyclical that you can usually find a vintage version of a current shape and that helps get away from the 'dressing up' look and you have a pattern with some extra details. I don't think a placket jersey top really dates although it is hard to find a modern pattern for one - the closest is McCalls M6747 which I made last year. This vintage version has woven details- the placket, collar and pocket trim which makes top stitching and buttonholes a lot easier than with 100% knit fabric.  I checked the fit against another knit pattern that I use a lot and I could see it was virtually the same in key areas so no need for a test garment.
In a vintage size 12 I can fit all the jersey pattern pieces side by side on folded 150cm width jersey fabric so I could squeeze it into a metre. Although the pattern says moderate stretch, I think that relates more to what was around at the time, I chose a lightweight 95% cotton 5% elastane mix (like this, although different colour) and some Liberty lawn for the trim details. This pattern was still factory folded so I ironed it with a warm iron.
When cutting fabric with a rotary cutter, I love using the add-a-quarter ruler- this is the longer version, I have both. This quilting ruler has a lipped edge which is for foundation paper piecing , but for garment cutting, it acts as a secure edge which the rotary cutter blade leans against as it cuts and helps to keep your fingers safe. I tend to pin on a board placed on a large surface area like a floor.  I then roughly cut out and rotary cut each piece on a smaller table. I transfer the markings with Clover chalk pencil and use pins to find the exact points. 

With tops it always helps to add centre front and back marking even if they aren't on the pattern. Before sewing I stabilised the back shoulders with Vilene  tape- standard for a knit top, although not mentioned in the pattern instructions.  I used directional sewing- it's good practice for most dressmaking - you can read a good explanation of it here.  I followed the pattern construction throughout apart from the sleeves. I didn't stay stitch the armholes as  suggested as I thought it would make them tight and I added the sleeves flat and without ease stitching - the stretch was sufficient to get them to fit.  I used my serger for the shoulder and side seams and my sewing machine for the placket and neck.

The neck edge piece is a rectangle on the bias and fitted perfectly, easier than any jersey neck band I've ever sewn too, who'd've thought it? Any sewing with a woven and a knit layer together worked best with the woven layer on top. I also found a stiletto tool helped with precision e.g. topstitching - it holds the fabric very still when stitching at the edge. Other useful tools included fabric glue for the placket (Sewline stick) and a walking foot on my sewing machine. 
As the cuffs and lower hem were quite close fitting and were going to need to cope with a fair amount of stretching, I used a zig zag stitch rather than  a twin needle hem. I use a method from my old Bernina 830 Record 1973 handbook where the hem is stitched over a taut thread to provide tension and pulled out afterwards. The hem is hand basted in place which provides the line for zig zag stitching. No waviness and a flat elastic hem.

I'm happy with the result.  I really wanted to use Liberty lawn for the contrast details but I think the end effect has slight echoes of pyjama top - I already rejected the pocket as the original placement was too high and it contributed to the nightwear vibe. I might try a bit harder to resist print next time and use a jersey with a matching solid colour cotton lawn. I love the shape though, totally out of season even for a British summer and great for winter layering. It could be more fitted through the back- you can see the excess fabric in some of photos but I know I don't like my jersey tops too figure hugging - I don't want every outline of my body on show. Enjoy the rest of the July #VintagePledge posts, I need to get back to the other two tops I planned to make!

Thanks Kerry! What a versatile top, definitely a pattern you could use over and over. I love the little highlight of Liberty print. Also great to have your tips about directional sewing and cuff hemming too.

K x 


  1. I loved the print trim details, just wish it was a modern pattern I could get hold of :)

    1. It's worth keeping a look out for this pattern on eBay and etsy. As its a vintage pattern it will only come in a single size so bear that in mind!

    2. Hope you manage to get your hands on a copy, Helen. You might be able to find a different pattern in a similar style from the time even if you can't get this exact one


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