Bonjour et bienvenue to my latest little projet. It’s the DP 004 batwing top from the French design team over at DP Studio.
I have quite a collection of DP Studio patterns now and they have been on my “must-crack” list for, well, years now actually. I had a bit of a dud with the first one I tried – the Le 5001 – but as I mentioned in the 2020 fails post in which it appeared, that’s not strictly speaking the fault of the pattern. I then started Le 603 but got waylaid for supplies when Covid hit and just haven’t found the life essence to finish it since. I pull it out of its project bag every so often, puzzle over the instructions for a while (incomprehensible to my brain) and then gently fold it away again, sighing.
On the bright side, I did notice that Beck from I Sew, Therefore I Am did make one recently, so I must go and read her blog post. Perhaps it will spur me on to finish! She’s made of stronger stuff than I. Anyway, my solution to that UFO was to go for something slightly less demanding. I felt like a knit pattern with only a few pieces might be my ticket to unlocking that DP Studio achievement bonus! I hope you get a sticker or something, because I FINISHED this one. You better believe it.
DP Studio have completely rejigged their offerings, but I’m pretty sure this pattern was originally one of their “easier” range they brought out a couple of years ago. By easier, I mean simpler in terms of construction and less requiring of technique, but, as you can see, that doesn’t mean this is just a simple boxy top. Far from it! It’s a batwing sweater, which is a shape I love. And it’s a really full-on batwing with big swooping under-sleeves.
The waist is cinched in with a wide fitted waistband and there is a box pleat in each sleeve for extra dramarama. The neckline is finished with a neat facing.
Sizing and Fabric
I made this top with a verryyy soft and beautiful French (appropriate) Terry I got from the Drygoods Design stall at Sew Expo a couple of years ago (in fact the very last event I went to before we realised the severity of Covid-19). In the instructions, DP Studio advise to use “a jersey or knit fabric to keep the model as fluid as possible” but I think that, gorgeous as this fabric is, it might actually be just a little too drapey for this pattern as the box pleats don’t hold as well as I’d like and I’d also like the gathered folds to be just slightly crisper. Still, it’s lovely to wear! And look at those lovely gathers at the back (below).
DP Studio patterns come in a fairly limited range of EU 34 to 48. I just about squeeze into the 48, which corresponds to roughly 44/35/46 or thereabouts. There are no finished measurements I could find, so I had to assume a B cup draft, but a decent amount of ease through the upper body due to the batwing and then less, or even negative, ease at the waist. I decided just to go for the 48 and see where we landed…
Fit and Adjustments
…And where we landed is that it doesn’t quite fit properly. Now look, it’s very wearable and I will wear it because I like it, so I’m not fishing for sympathy. It’s very forgiving because it’s a drapey knit, but it’s not quite right.
The most obvious place was the sleeves. I ended up taking 4 inches from the length, which seems a little excessive. To be fair, three inches removed would have been fine (I regularly remove 1-2 inches from most patterns) but of course it needed to be through the whole sleeve, not just the end, and so the box pleats hang too low on my upper arms.
Compounding the issue is the fact the shoulder is too wide. If I made the top again, I would size down one or two sizes for my shoulders and then grade out at the waist and hips. This is what I do for most patterns and it turns out I should have done it here too. Additionally, I need a little more length in the front to account for my larger bust. The sweater is being pulled forwards slightly because of the bust difference and it’s not helping the intended shape of the top in any way.
Finally, the waist is too small, but that is as expected from the sizing measurements and an easy fix. The fit is not terrible, but it’s a bit annoying. I have to pull it around a bit as the day wears on and, of course, for this top you want the maximum effect from those lovely design features sitting in the right place. I will say the sizing seems very true to size and if you are more of the slim with broader shoulders type, I suspect it will fit you beautifully right out of the packet.
As I have already alluded to, the translation of the English instructions in DP Studio patterns is somewhat variable. Even in the original French they’re probably assuming a fair bit of sewing knowledge. Despite the fact that this is a fairly simple top, there are a couple of tricky little bits where one could get tripped up. Therefore, I’ve conjured up a little walkthrough, highlighting those pitfalls for you (and me, if I make this one again).
Cutting and Translation Issues
One very important thing about this pattern is that you cut the pieces on the crossgrain, which is rather unusual, but they are so wide they don’t fit the regular orientation. That is what this part means in the instructions: “In view of the width of the front and back, they are to cut in edge way.” Which brings me back to the aforementioned translation issues. See what I mean now?
In this case, I didn’t realise until after I’d cut the pieces (note the facings are intended to be cut on the fold too as the diagram is a little misleading) with the intention to join them at centre front and back. Unfortunately that looked pretty rubbish in this fluid knit, so I almost threw the lot in the bin, but then had the bright idea to try and disguise it. I wasn’t convinced it would work but I had this beautiful length of silk ribbon from L’Etoffe Fabrics and carefully sewed it over the centre seams and – whaddya know – it actually worked out! I’ll even go as far to as to say I think it adds a little summin.
After cutting your pieces, it’s time to gather the front and back. The back is gathered all the way across and the front in two sections to the notches marked on the waistband. I used a 1/4″ gathering stitch as the seam allowance is 3/8″.
Be sure to pin the gathered ends and wrap the threads around the pins to secure the gathers as you won’t sew them in place for a few more steps.
Next, sew the front to the back along the top and sides. I used a narrow zigzag and then overlocked the edges afterwards.
Now we form the pleat by folding over the weird sticky out bit at the top to the back of the garment so it’s doubled over. It will follow the sleeve line of the top. Sew a line of stitches along the top seam you previously stitched – marked in blue below.
The instructions ask you to hem the sleeves now, but I wanted to leave this til last as I could already tell they were going to be fairly long on me. So I moved onto the waistband. You sew the front to the back and then fold one layer back to form a double thickness, just as if you’re making a regular knit waistband for a tee or sweater.
Pin the waistband RST with the bottom of the top so the three layers of raw edges meet up (2 waistband layers and one body layer). Sew and then overlock.
Interface the front and back facings and sew them RST at the short ends to form a loop. Pin the looped facing to the right side of the neckline and sew at 3/8″. Fold to the wrong side. I then sewed the facing firstly along the top of the neckline on the right side and then also at the bottom edge when it was clear that it wasn’t going to behave nicely and stay put. I was a bit nervous as I don’t always find this easy, but I basted first and then sewed verryyyyyy slowly and carefully and it turned out great!
This is, like all DP Patterns, a garment with a little extra. Some of their patterns have a LOT extra. It’s beautifully designed and the draft is super. There was a notch every time I looked for one and they all matched up perfectly. No complaints there. The only issue I have with them is that they’re a little tricky and you have to assume that the instructions will not help you much sometimes. I’m okay with that in principle, but the reality can be a bit frustrating.
Nevertheless, I feel like I have a handle on their block now and I am READY to take on another DP Studio pattern. Just not that crumpled Le 603 in the project box. No, not that one yet.