Prepare yourself for a tale of two Nikko tops! Really this blog post should be called ‘Nippy Nikko’ given how quick these two tops were to make, but I feared it might have alternative connotations… Anyway!
Ever since True Bias released the Nikko top, I’ve been itching to try it. Eventually I want to make the midi length dress with slits up the sides, but to tip my toes into the Nikko top waters (where is this analogy going…?) I thought I’d give the sleeveless top version a go (View A). For this version, there are only 5 pattern pieces (Front, Back, Neckband and 2 x arm facings) so it couldn’t be simpler.
I sewed up a straight size 0, ignoring my hip measurement as I was only doing the top version, and it does fit really well. I cut off a couple of inches from the bottom to make the most of the limited fabric I had, and in retrospect, I wouldn’t haven’t wanted it as long as the original pattern anyway.
The fabric is a grey rib knit I bought as part of Sarah’s (AKA Like Sew Amazing) destash a few months ago. It cost just £4 (plus postage), quite a steal. The fabric didn’t quite measure a metre, but I did end up managing to cut two (yes two!) Nikko tops out of the fabric (!). The first was the Nikko top as intended, the second omitted the neckband and instead added a neck facing (as with the arm facing).
The fabric itself is really stretchy and relatively lightweight, which I think makes it really perfect for the Nikko top. When I make the dress version, I think I’ll pick something with a bit more weight to it so that it hangs properly and gives more coverage.
As I said, the Nikko top is such a quick make – all in all, I think it took a morning to sew it up, and maybe add on an extra hour for the cutting I did the night before. I made two versions, one as originally intended and one hacked to omit the neckband.
The construction of the Nikko is relatively simple, but it also helps to follow the sew along if you get stuck. That being said, the instructions are written for the top to be sewn only on a sewing machine and don’t really give any hints or tips if you’re primarily using an overlocker. For instance, the first step is to sew stabilising elastic, sandwiched between the shoulder seams, using a zig zag stitch. However, on an overlocker I found this pretty tricky to master; the elastic moves about so much, you obviously can’t use pins and overlock over them, and wonder clips didn’t really grip onto the elastic very well. In retrospect, I do think that I could have zig zagged (or overlocked) the elastic to the front (or back) at the shoulder, then attached the back on top of this (if that makes sense!). Other than that, it’s pretty simple to adapt the instructions to overlocking, but it does take a bit of thought.
One issue I did encounter with the original Nikko top was that the neckband is pretty small, and it’s a bit of a tight squeeze to get through! In fact, when I first tried it on, my overlocking stitches ripped… didn’t realise I had a big head..! Now, I take a lot more care putting this top on and taking it off!
The hacked version of the Nikko I made afterwards with the remaining material overcomes the neckband issue, as I slightly lowered the neckline and added a neck facing in the same way the arm facings are attached. I actually really like how this turned out, and I’m so impressed I managed to get two Nikko tops out of such a small piece of material!
Finally, let’s talk about hems. I’ve written before about my hate of hemming (it’s never straight, something always goes wrong, with knits they’re wobbly… you get the picture.. I won’t go on). In preparation for this make, I decided to invest in some Soft Stretch from Heat n Bond, which Kelli from True Bias and Allie from Indie Sew both recommend. In particular, Allie’s insta story highlight showing how you use it is really helpful (go check it out if you’re thinking about using it). Honestly, this stuff is wondrous. If you’ve had a problem with a wavy hem when sewing knits, add this to your sewing arsenal. In effect, it glues your hem in place for you to sew on top (I used my lightning stitch), whilst also maintaining the stretch in the fabric. Ge-ni-us.
All in all, I love this top. It’s so quick to sew but ends up looking like a really professional make. I also love that it fits me so well without any adjustments, and it also used so little fabric! I’ll definitely be making more of these, in particular (as I mentioned) a midi length dress version and some long sleeved top versions (I can see them working perfectly for a skiing wardrobe!). Go buy this pattern, you won’t regret it.