PATTERN REVIEW: Bonny Knit Sailor Top by Cake Patterns RiFFS

Even though this blog is in its infancy, it should be abundantly clear already that I am a HUUUUUUUUUUUGE fan of Cake Patterns and the companion blog, Sewing Cake.

Cake Patterns is a new company, so it has only put out three full patterns so far. But, MAN are they AWESOME!  Currently, I have sewn 4 Tiramisu knit dresses, hacked the pattern to make a Tiramisu knit top, 3 Pavlova skirts (one in knit), 2 Pavlova wrap tops, 2 Hummingbird peplum tops, and 3 Hummingbird skirts. That 15 garments, if you are keeping track.

Here is the short list of why I keep sewing more and more Cake Patterns:

  • They are mostly knit based
  • They have revolutionary sizing
  • They are re-make-able, meaning you can sew them several times with slight variations and make a great wardrobe
  • You can make them basic, wardrobe staples, or you can jazz it them and make them frosting
  • They have pockets. Hell yeah!
  • The instructions are phenomenal, and there are many video and photo tutorials to “go along” with the written instruction provided with the pattern at Sewing Cake.

Even though there are only three FULL patterns (there’s that word again, full, what does that mean???), there is a sparkly new line of Cake Patterns called RiFFs, which I may love even MORE than the regular Cake Patterns. Maybe.

So…………., what’s a RiFF, you ask? Well, according to Cake Patterns,  RiFFs are “sewable, wearable, re-make-able patterns for intermediate to advanced sewists who need little more than pattern pieces, fabric suggestions and written instructions for assembly.” Simplified, it’s a pattern without diagrams for assembly, only written instructions. And, usually less than a page of text. With wide margins. And bullets. You catch my drift?

Anyway, the idea is once you get to a point in your sewing career you don’t look at the diagrams anymore, so why have ’em? I know every “good cook” I have ever asked for a recipe of a delish dish look at me funny and say they didn’t follow one. Same idea here, only with sewing.

So far, there are two released RiFFs, the Cabarita Knit Top and the Bonny Knit Sailor Top:

Cake Patterns RiFF Cabarita Knit Top 30"-55" (76.2- 139.7cm) Full Bust Paper Pattern

Cake Patterns RiFF Bonny Knit Sailor Top 30"-55" (76.2- 139.7cm) Full Bust

I own both of them. I ordered them as soon as I possibly could and stood by the mail box (well, not literally) until they arrived. I have sewn each of one of these tops once already and have plans in the works for at least one more of each. The rest of this post will focus on the Bonny Knit Sailor Top.

Here she is:

Front View

Back View

I am quite pleased with her. Notice the subtle shaping of the side seams?? Cake Patterns revolutionary sizing system (more on that here).

I went with a true Kelly Green  95% Cotton/ 5% Lycra knit fabric from Girl Charlee Fabrics. The fabric is very soft, pretty standard “t-shirt” weight and an amazing color. The fabric does curl a bit on the edges, but, whaddya gonna do?

There are a few interesting things about this pattern:

  1. It has the customizable sizing that we now come to expect from Cake Patterns
  2. The collar is attached using 1/4″ double for bias tape for a nice, clean finish. This gives you the chance to match your fabric or coordinate with something fun. I went with white to match the ribbon and buttons. You can see it poking through a little in the front view photo.
  3. You can make it without the back collar if you want. I guess you CAN have too many sailor tops in your closet.

I will say that if I hadn’t attached collars before using bias tape the directions would have left much to be desired. But, I have, so I was OK. Also, Cake Pattern RiFFs are supposed to be for advanced sewists, so I guess the implication is you should know how to do this already. If you don’t know, I found this photo tutorial and this one a while back that helped me learn to attach a Peter Pan collar onto my bodice sloper while making a blouse. It’s not *quite* the same, but it will get you close enough to achieve success with the written instructions.

I did make a few alterations to the pattern to make it fit a tad better, on top of customizing the side seams. You can see the markings on my pattern piece below. Here’s what I did:

  • I used size 35 shoulders, based on my full bust measurement.  Technically, my full bust is 40″, so I should have gone with the size 40, but I have narrow shoulders and know from experience with Cake Patterns that size 35 fit me better.
  • I used size 40 sleeve to make them a little longer
  • I moved the underarm curve about 1/2″ closer to the size 40, away from the size 35 to give me a little more room under the arms. I find I get a little pulling in the back right under the back of the armpit. But, if I move this curve just a tad it gives me enough room for full range of motion without making the back too big.
  • I used the side seam shaping I worked out for Cabarita, tapering in at my front waist height (17″) to my waist size (36″), and then tapering out to my hip size (46″) and the length  I wanted the finished top to be + hem allowance (23″).
  • I removed a 1″ wedge to prevent pooling of fabric for a swayback. The final length I wanted was 23″, so I drew a line from the side seam at 23″ to the 22″ line at the CB seam. It looks odd on the pattern, but it creates a perfect fit on the top.
  • I skipped the bottom binding piece and instead folded up the bottom 1/2″fold  and secured into place with my twin needle for the hem. If you choose to do this, make sure you add the extra length to the top to make up the difference.
  • I added a piece to the neckline. The neckline was a tad too low (I have a short torso below and above my bust. This is another reason I went with size 35, but it also makes some necklines a little low for my taste) so I cut the neckline facing out of a white knit remnant I had in my stash. I cut two pieces, making them a little longer on the ends. Then, I sewed the top line, turned and pressed, and then finished the other three sides with my serger. Then, I topstitched it into place.

Close Up of Neck Line Modification

I WILL be making this top again, at least 2 more times. I certainly want to make one without the back collar for a basic wardrobe staple. But, before I do that I got a super cool idea to incorporate a cotton lace collar.  After it’s sewn up I’ll post it as a finished object (FO). This pattern is super cute, and an easy sew, even with “limited instructions.” I think even if you are a beginner sewists you could tackle this pattern without difficulty. As long as you check out “the internets” for tutorials to attach collar using bias tape. In my opinion, this is the only part that may give beginners pause.

Happy Sewing! 🙂

11 thoughts on “PATTERN REVIEW: Bonny Knit Sailor Top by Cake Patterns RiFFS

  1. I can’t decide whether to pick up Bonny or Cabarita! Your Bonny is super-cute and may push me in that direction.

    • Totally get both, ha! Have you seen Steph’s solid Bonny without the collar? It is really cute! It is a nice, flattering “basic” top without really being basic, since it has the cute almost sweetheart neckline and the princess seams.

  2. Beautiful! You know, I really think that Bonny top could be your best make yet. The fit is great, and I love the colour you chose.

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