Tank tops - nerd edition

A few weeks back, I downloaded and printed off a free pattern for a tank top.  Then, when I went to tape it all together, I couldn't bear the thought of doing all that cutting and taping, only to end up with yet another pattern that didn't fit (perhaps I've done too much taping lately).  I've been sewing for years and years, and I still don't have any top patterns that I am happy with.  I have made several different slopers and bought all brands of patterns and tried many methods of fitting myself and still never found the pot of gold.  I decided it was time for something different.

So I took the jacket pattern that I got professional help fitting last year.  The jacket has princess seams.  I used this pattern to draft back to a tank top....probably the opposite direction most people take in drafting.  I changed the princess seams to a bust and waist dart.  Then I took in the sides, raised the armholes and drew on some design lines for the neckline and armhole.  Then, rather than theoretically work out contouring effects for cut-out armholes and necklines, I decided to just make up a bunch of tops and see where things needed changing.

This was my first tank top.

I was aiming for straps in the middle of the shoulders.  Not bad, but some gaping in the armhole.  I had bought the fabric for shorts and decided it wasn't suitable, so thought I wouldn't miss it if I used it for a muslin.  Turns out, I love the colour, so have found myself wearing this regularly in spite of the gaping.

I modified the pattern to remove the armhole gaping.  Tank top 2.

There was a little cutting error, so the straps are a tad narrower than they should be.  I am happy with the fit...it feels like I am wearing nothing.

Next up, I decided that I wanted a pattern for a tank top with wide placed straps.  My first muslin is Tank Top 3.

The drapiness of the fabric exacerbated the problems of a gaping neckline.  This problem was rectified with Tank Top 4, by slashing across the straps and pinching out the excess.

I thought that this one was perfect, until I started wearing it around.  Then I found that the top sometimes formed a ridge at the centre front because there wasn't enough room for cross body movement.  I scooped out the armholes some, which led to Tank Top 5.

It is more comfortable to wear than Tank Top 4, though I wish I had kept a copy of the the pattern for Tank Top 4, as I prefer the look of it, and it may have been okay in softer fabrics.  Tank Top 5 fits well though, so then I decided to try a style with more of a racer back, higher neckline and cut-away armholes.  Tank Top 6.

I only needed one muslin for this style (thankfully!).  Some of the tops have been sewn with back darts and some not; however, they are marked on all the patterns should I want to use them.

Next, I wanted a more exaggerated racer cut, with a lower neck and lower armholes.  Tank Top 7 is not available for photographs, as it has already been cut up (when I was momentarily distracted by the idea of a racer back cami).  My second muslin is Tank Top 8.

There was more gaping in this style, due to the extra cut-out spaces, so I have had to take a second dart going to the armhole, which hardly shows in this print.  I have adjusted the pattern to combine this with the main bust dart, and I am fairly confident that it will work, so I haven't made a Tank Top 9.

At the end of that exercise, I have 4 tank patterns that I am happy with; a basic tank, a wide-necked tank, a high necked tank with cut-away armholes and a racer-back.  An ideal plan would then be to make these up in fabrics I love, possibly adding details and embellishments.  In practice, though, I feel like I have a drawer full of tanks now, even if they were made out of scrap fabric, so have no burning desire to make "real" versions just yet.

Another bonus of this exercise is that I have refined and practised my method of binding the armholes and necklines after all these and am quite comfortable with that process now.

The next phase of my plan is a set of basic sleeveless top patterns.


Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours.....Missoni dress

I have been coveting Sew Indigo's Missoni dress ever since it first featured on the Tessuti website.  Not any more, though, because now I have my very own.

The pattern is Pattern No. 2, the one-piece side drape top, from Drape Drape Vol. 2.  The fabric is from EmmaOneSock (still available).  My pattern wouldn't fit on the fabric as indicated in the book.  To get it to fit, my stripes are more horizontal on the front and vertical on the back. 

 I used my personal tank top pattern to modify the shape of the neckline and armholes.

The fabric is a bit sheer, so on some occasions, a slip may be necessary. Most of my slips are a bit long or have the wrong shape neckline.  I was wearing this slip, now worn as a nightie, when I was sewing the dress, and surprisingly it works okay, possibly because it has shrink a lot (fabric fail) and the straps have stretched out.

I thought long and hard about how I was going to bind the armholes and neckline.  A very long time.  For 6 hours in a boat whilst I  was trying to distract myself from sea-sickness, I was mentally auditioning selections from my fabric scraps.  In the most recent edition of Threads, Sandra Betzina says that she throws out all of her scraps.  I save mine, and am often dependent on them to finish a project.  Admittedly, my nearest fabric store is a plane ride away.   I decided to use a woven binding, to help hold the shape as the main fabric does not have a strong recovery.  This binding is a silk habotai, left-over from a dress I sewed pre-blog.  I used an existing tank top to determine the length of the bindings, and was careful to fit the dress to the bindings, so that it would not stretch out of shape as I sewed it.

The fabric is so gorgeous that I used some of the scraps straight-away to sew a clutch for one of my sisters.  I used the Hotpatterns Crepe Suzette Circular Clutch, which is available for free download from Fabric.com.  The online pattern reviews for this pattern indicated that the marking for the magnetic snap is in the wrong place. 

The online pattern reviews for this pattern indicated that the marking for the magnetic snap is in the wrong place.  I used a heavyweight pellon interfacing that I bought a few years ago for a special project that never eventuated.

I changed the internal pocket to a zippered pocket.  I find zippered pockets to be more secure in these sorts of clutches.

Whilst I was making this clutch I was getting that feeling...you know the one...the "I'm not sure if I can give this away" feeling.  I quickly posted it off before I could change my mind.


Fehr Trade Duathlon Shorts

The exercise clothing I make would have to be my most wears-per-garment sewing projects.  The washing cycle around here is not particularly short and I exercise most days, so I need plenty of exercise clothes.  Ultimately, I get more satisfaction from sewing everyday items, such as exercise clothing or bras, than I do from sewing a dress that may only get worn once or twice a year.  I think it is fabulous that patterns, fabrics and notions for these garments are more readily available now than they were when I first started sewing (though, I still do have to hunt them out...hopefully they will become even more available in the future).

I got to test out Melissa's Fehr Trade Duathlon pattern recently.  The pattern comes in 3 lengths - capri, biker and booty and it has an optional sew-in padding for cyclists.  First up I made the biker length.  My legs are on the short side, so they are a bit longer on me than the design would suggest.

The stripe at the side has an in-built pocket.  Melissa designed it to hold the i-phone 5, but in this stretchy lycra, I can squeeze my i-phone 4 + life proof cover (which I love!) into the pocket.  At first I wasn't too excited by the contrast stripe at the side, but now that I am seeing different versions made up on the internet, I can how fabric choice makes for a really individual look.  Some people have chosen to colour block the top half, some the bottom, and others both.  My favourite so far would have to be Kathy's stripes

Short shorts are my preferred running clothing, just because I live in a really hot climate, so I decided to give the booty length a whirl as well (though, it is a bit shorter and tighter than my typical shorts pattern).  I made some changes to the pattern.  I made them up in a chlorine resistant lycra, so that I could run to the pool and then swim in them (I have made a matching swim crop top, not pictured).  I lined them with swim-wear lining.  I shortened the side panel by about 6 cm and gathered the front and back sides to fit, which makes for a cute detail.

The top in this photo is a previously unblogged project, made from supplex, using Burda 6/2013 114.

 I think my next pair will be somewhere between the booty and biker length.