Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Experiments on a Tank Top

Sewing should be fun, right? While I am capable of sewing things like buttondown shirts and fitted pants with zip flies, those aren't my favorite kind of sewing. I really prefer the loose, improvisational makes. The ones that grow organically, just like my garden. I just had an A-ha moment. My gardening philosophy is so similar to my sewing philosophy, which shouldn't be too surprising really. Of course our thoughts and beliefs shape our behaviors, it's just funny when you notice it. My garden is definitely informal. It's definitely always changing. My favorite things to grow are flowers that are native and hardy and vegetables that are more expensive to buy organically grown. When I sew I focus on making things in better, more sustainable fabrics when possible (or upcycled) and on casual, practical pieces. Huh.

The point of this post is to inspire you to let loose with your sewing. If you're a beginner and think you have to follow the rules, I say no. Well, some rules are important, especially when working with knits, but you can have a lot of freedom too. You don't have to follow the pattern. You make the rules.

This tank began with some pink jersey from CaliFabrics. I didn't love this fabric. I used it for a cute top for Elena and loved it for her, but for me, I wasn't sure about the color so I figured I'd try it and no big loss if I didn't like it in the end. I think it is called light coral, but it's more pink than orange. It's on the thin side too so I did 2 layers which gave me some cool options. I wanted a tank so I started with the Deer & Doe Plaintain Tee minus the sleeves. I narrowed the armscye by 1/2". I sewed the shoulder seams and then put the outer and lining pieces right sides together and sewed around the neck opening. Then I used the burrito method to finish the armscyes nice and neat. (More on that later.)

Time to embellish. So many choices. I mulled it over and decided to pick one of the decorative stitches on my machine and do multiple rows around the neck. There are 2 rows that go all the way around and 2 more only on the front from shoulder seam to shoulder seam. The plan was to make them each drop a bit in the center, like a necklace. Only I probably could have been more precise and measured and marked lines, but I didn't so you can see it's a bit off. Whatever, just having fun here. We'll see how much people stare at my boobs I guess.

It was seriously looking like granny jammies at this point so I trimmed away the fabric of the outer layer around the stitches to give a quasi-Alabama Chanin feel. That's a big stretch, but that was the inspiration anyway. Then I felt like the shoulder straps were too wide, so I carefully (this time) marked where I wanted to narrow them and trimmed them a good inch at the top tapering to nothing at the arm curve. I have to back up a second. Before I did that I trimmed 2 inches off the bottom outer layer to mimic the layers of the top portion.

That trimming came in very handy because I used it to make bindings for the armholes. Clever, huh? This is why I like to sew in silence. I know some people watch Netflix or listen to podcasts, but I prefer silence or quiet music. It's the only way I can keep focused and get in a creative space where ideas come. Of course that isn't necessary when I'm just following a pattern like I sometimes do. But even then, I might miss out on an opportunity to add a detail or change something little.

The bindings are really my favorite part. I copied something I had seen on a ready to wear dress before. I sewed the bindings into a loop and pinned them to the inside of the shirt and sewed them on. I trimmed the seam allowance a little and folded it around to the front and sewed it down 1/4" from the edge, leaving the edge free to curl. Nice detail, and easy. It aso makes not hemming the bottom make sense too. Win-win.

I don't have any real modeled shots, but I do I have one mirror selfie so you can see how it fits. A little bit flowy because of the Plaintain flare, and rather light and pretty in the end. The straps could still be even narrower, but it's good.

I hope I've inspired you to let loose and have some fun with your sewing. Be creative and do something different now and then so you have something uniquely you.