Tank Tops

But the question for me is still, “How to create the perfect fitting Tank and Surplice Tops in Knit Fabrics”.

I decided to abandon the the surplice top at least for now.   I’ve dressed myself for years without a surplice top. To be truthful, although I like the look I’m not too sure it’s for me.  I’m already very definitely pear shaped. Remember, I’m the one with shoulders 1.5″ narrower that most ladies.  A diagonal line, while exciting and interesting, is also slimming.  I love, love, love when I’m able to incorporate a diagonal across my midsection. Any hint, like a pocket edge, is enough to have the eye just zooming across. Do I want that same zooming across my b ossom?  Not sure, so I’m forgetting the surplice and concentrating only on the classic tank top which I know to be an attractive garment on me.

I’d already been daring and made a sleeveless top in an ITY knit from the HAF. I was amazed at how well that worked.  My dislikes, which are minor, concerns my choice of armscye and neckline finish.  I was surprised that this pattern designed for wovens, which I’ve made multiple times in wovens and each time it fit beautifully and is comfortable; was equally attractive in an ITY knit. An ITY is not a stable knit. But it doesn’t seem to grow when worn and has a touch of  body.  The pattern didn’t seem to have too much ease in the knit.

I want to get from KS3497 to a tank top that fits as nice or nicer as the HAF AND I want to end up with a pattern suitable for knits. What to do?

Well, this post follows about 8 hours of tracing, measuring and fiddling with both the HAF and KS3497.   Also a good night’s sleep.   It’s amazing what happens when you concentrate on your issue/problem for hours and then go to sleep and let your brain find the answers.  Yesterday, I did a number of comparisons between the two patterns.  I dug out my Magolis book and read about dartless pattern alterations.  I even traced the HAF several times and rotated the armscye dart several times.  I traced a new copy of the original each time. I’m glad I did.  I have a folder of about 6 different versions of my HAF for future use.  This morning I traced the original HAF, rotated the dart to the shoulder. Traced that version and using Mardel’s instruction, removed the dart from the shoulder, creating a  dartless pattern.

I had to true the shoulder and the center front. The center front was bowed just slightly, like 1/8″.  Just enough to drive me crazy when laying out the pattern pieces.  I traced this new front pattern piece and the back of the HAF (with narrow shoulder alteration already made).  I wanted to be able to work with these pieces, make changes and throw it all away without destroying my good fitting back or the dart rotation I’d been working with for hours.

I compared the front and back to KS3497 View C front and back. In my mind a tank top has a deep U neckline, deeper armscyes and closer fit through the trunk. I chose to copy the Extra Small neckline as it corresponded most closely with the lines of my HAF.

The armscye and side seams gave me fits.  The armscyes would not match up, not even close.  I was reluctant to depart from my HAF pattern which does fit well. First problem is that a tank top armscye is so much deeper, at least 2″. Add to that, if I align the side seams, the armscye curves nearly into , ummmmm my brown spot marked with the X inside a circle on the front.  If I align the curves, the side seam of KS3497 extends another 1.5″ to the side.   I decided to dot about .5″ in from the HAF armscye, trim that out for the current version and adjust the armscye more in future versions.

Alas the side seams of KS3497, clearly have a waist, both back and front.  As I’ve mention before I have a waist, when my backside is viewed.  From the side, my waist is convex.  From the front, I appear to be an A line with no indention at the waist. One thing I noted about KS3497 when comparing the patterns, was the back of KS3497 was 1/2″ narrower than my HAF which perhaps accounts for those pulls across the back between the shoulders and just above the hips.

One thing I like about knits, is how quickly they can be stitched together.  Especially for a sleeveless, zipperless top.  Less than a day later, I have the first version of my HAF Tank:

I am again using a rib knit.  This one is mostly poly.  It has an interesting texture and is one of the few fabrics in peach that were also suitable for winter wear. Unfortunately it’s not a durable fabric.  It tends to pill and stain.  I’ve had a long sleeve T and a short sleeve T from this fabric.  I confess I was interested in how the changes I made to the HAF effected the fit and sewed it using speedy serger techniques.

The front, not too bad.  I trimmed the neckline 1″ when I cut out the fabric. I’m using self ribbing made by cutting a 2.5″ crosswise strip and folding in half.  My SA’s are 1/4″ which means I end up with a 1″ rib.  The rib hugs my chest nicely but that’s because I basted the first try, ripped it out; cut 4″ off and serged the rib permanently. I also trimmed the armscye 1/2″ when cutting the fabric.  I used a 1″ binding. But probably not a typical application.  I serge finish one side of the binding. Then serge the unfinished binding edge to the armscye.  After that the armscye is folded at the seam and persuaded with a little steam from the iron and some SAS into permanently folding to the back.  I think 1″ is too wide.  Next time I use this armscye finish, I will make that 3/4″ Both neckline ribbing and armscye bindings are top stitched (at the sewing machine) and then the sides are serged together.

On the front I’m seeing just a little much width across the upper bodice. I’m wondering if the first laundry cycle will shrink this down nicely or if this is a problem with rib knits.  After all, the ITY knit didn’t do this.  I like the depth of the neckline and the armscyes.  But for a tank I prefer that both be deeper.  Next version each will be 1/2″ deeper in the underarm area. The shoulder area adequately covers my bra strap.  Should I make that 1/4″ narrower I’d start flashing my bra.

I’m pretty sure the diagonal wrinkles and uneven hem are from the way I’m standing.  You can see I’ve arched my back and lifted my arms. The side seam is almost plumb and almost bisecting.  From this angle the armscye looks to be about an inch too high for a tank top.  But I’ve carefully felt for and located my bra strap.  I’ll only lower the armscye 1/2″.  The back, looks to be too loose!  Is that a result of my posture? The hem, guys, look at the hem. It is not or is hardly flared.  I’ve been working hard at discovering why my knit hems flute and flare.  I think I know what’s going on, but that’s for another post.

I’m just not sure??? The back appears to be collapsing and rolling with excess fabric except for right under the arms, but I can assure you that the armscye is not tight and further more this was not apparent in either the ITY knit or the other woven fabrics.  Is this a characteristic of a rib knit fabric? When I deepen the armscye will this go away?

I hope this is not an error but I’m planning 3 changes to the next version

  • Deepen the neckline, front and back by 1/2″
  • Deepen the underarm, front and back by 1/2″
  • Create hash marks for aligning the front and the back and then only on the back trim a little from the waist to the hip.

I have to tell you, right now, that I prefer a garment that is 1/2″ too large as opposed to a garment 1/2″ too small.

Stay tuned. More versions coming up.


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