Category Archives: Silhouette 500 Tank

Tank #500 from Good to Gone

Sometimes patterns just don’t work for me. No matter what the designer has done in their drafting, my body still needs at least 13 pattern adjustments and that’s just the issues I can’t live with. There are several other issues that I continue to ignore because, hey, I don’t look worse than anybody else out there. But I thought after 2 muslins and 8 hours of rip and stitch I had reached an understanding with Silhouette Patterns Tank #5.   I thought that blue tank felt and looked pretty good on me. I was confident enough to use it again on a loosely woven silk.  My silk is soft, but not smooth like satin. This is considered a lesser grade of silk maybe Tussah.  I bought it in the remnants section  of the soon to be history Hancocks Fabrics. It was marked ‘silk’ with the original and sale price. I thought it had a nice drape and hand. At 45″ wide and 32″ long there would be enough for a pillow, craft item or sleeveless top for me. Guess which I chose?

I wanted to punch it up. Add a little pizzazz to a plain garment. I’m so tired of plain garments made because I’m fighting with fit. Besides this is what I think is the fun part of sewing (the embellishments). So I chose to create a faux center panel.  I machine embroidered three  FSL medallions and appliqued them to the center front. At 2.5″ from each side of center, I added a 3/4″ wide trim.  It looks like a center panel but has not been cut as a separate piece.  Heavens, I didn’t want to cut this fabric into anymore parts.  As suspected when purchased, it raveled like the dickens. At the time I cut the silk,  I added 1/2″ to the side seams. I feared that the crinkled cotton added ease which a loosely woven silk would not.  I taped the neckline and armscyes before serging the shoulder seam. Then finished neckline and armscyes with  commercial bias tape. It’s one of my favorite finishes because it completely encloses the seam. Turned and top stitched it looks like a high-end RTW finish.   I top stitched twice. Once at the edge and a second time 1/4″ away.  I switched out my all-purpose thread for water-soluble before basting the side seams for the first try on.

Two more notes before examining the fit and reason for this pattern being gone.  I wanted an updated look. Searched the internet and found this interesting tank, I think at HSN.com:

I knew I wasn’t making the overlapped boat neck or the sleeves. I wanted a tank top for late-spring and summer use.  I was interested in the ruffle hem hem added which was at once romantic, current and nostalgic. Before cutting my fabric, I trimmed my pattern 8.” above the hem.  After cutting the fabric, I cut 8.5″ strips to form the ruffle. Too bad I never got to use them. I’m sharing pics from 2 of the 4 fittings. The first totally shocked me:

I’m not sure if you can see, but the bust dart is crossing my apex. Also there seems to be a lot of dart.  The hem is not level (hem of the blue tank was).  There’s a horrible amount of ease (why did I think the crinkle added ease) and the ugly side diagonals are more prominent than ever.

It’s too late to work with the shoulders. No, I’m serious. They are taped, bound, serged and stitched 3 different times.  I’m not ripping those out especially since I’m dealing with a loosely woven fabric.  I’m more likely to ruin the fabric then fix the fitting issue. So I start working with side seams and the bust darts.  I back the dart apex off 1.5″ and deepen the bust dart 1/4″. It’s not a humongous dart, perfect for a paper airplane. I take in the side sides 3 times for a total of 2.5″ and then reshape slightly because they have developed into a bubble instead of being hourglass-esque (is there such a thought?).  After 2 more mirror fittings, I’m a little encouraged and hoping that the back at least doesn’t look so bad.  I know my back is rounding. It’s one of those alterations I probably should make but am choosing to ignore. At no time has it ever been as noticeable than the fitting above.

Pics from Fit 4…

…are not encouraging.  Had I not known  the front has deep bust darts, I would have thought someone put this tank on backwards.  I’m fairly sure I don’t have moles or skin tags or other ‘things’ right there but it sure looks like an A cup boob topped by a small n*pple with a few ugly drag lines below. From the side, I’m still experience some armscye gaping — one of those things I spent the most time correcting during the muslin state. At least the bust dart looks like it might be about the right length if only it pointed at my apex instead of above.  Oh,  and this is the 2nd side. I made sure to pull the shoulders forward and made them sit properly for this pic because I could tell in the previous side view they were wrong. Still displeased with the front view.  My error  making the center panel the incorrect width.  There is a sweet spot with proportions and I didn’t hit it. But ignoring that, I’m seeing these truly disgusting drag lines going over to the side seams.  I spent hours. Tweak after tweak. Rip and stitch. Rip and stitch.  I swear they look about the same as the original muslin; like I hadn’t spent any fitting time at all.

I am NOT pleased. This should have been quick. Minor pattern alteration followed by cutting fabric with extra ease. Stitch and finish neckline and armscyes baste and check ease. followed by permanently stitching side seams and adding the ruffle at the hem. 4 hours max. Not counting the FSL because I had the machine running on that while I was working on something else. Excluding the FSL,  this tank should not have required 4 fittings over 2 days and about 8 hours work.  DH says I have no patience. I say enough is enough.  I see no point in continuing to fight with this pattern.  I’ve no intention of fitting a pattern that can be used only once or with only one specific fabric. I don’t have the resources (both time and money) to make 10 copies of a garment and choose the best.  (That’s the RTW solution.  Make multiple sample version, multiple sizes, multiple fabrics, multiple finishes then market the best.)   Right now I’m putting this pattern away. I’m doing a pattern purge and this pattern may end up in the trash. (My Goodwill takes uncut patterns. I’ve cut the major pieces apart for ease in tracing and I toss facings because after all my alterations the facings have to be redrafted.)

I would prefer to have a tank top which to me is a deep scoop neckline (front and back).  If it’s sewn in a knit, I do not expect bust darts or any darts at all.  If it’s sewn with a non-stretch fabric, I expect side seam shaping and a horizontal bust dart.  That’s my expectations.  CLD’s HAF doesn’t quite meet my ideal.  Happily I’ve found it works for both knit and woven fabrics. The neckline can be scooped. I run into problems when I try to scoop the armscyes as well. I tinker with the armscye dart and usually ruin the pattern. But while I’d rather not have a armscye dart, I much prefer that style to what I’m seeing above.  I hereby anoint CLD HAF as my personal tank top pattern. I’ll toss #500 and push the HAF as far as possible. If that means armscye darts; so be it. At least I’ll have something like a  tank top to wear.

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Silhouette 500 Tank Top

Maybe I really am disfigured and just cant see it.  Like the blind man who can’t see the mote in his own eye.  I keep saying I’m not horribly disfigured because while I don’t look like an 18 year old or Hollywood Starlet, I  look around and see many of my peers seem to have the same figure as mine.  But when I struggle to fit a pattern, as I have for the last several, I start questioning. Am I measuring myself correctly? In the correct places? Am I working on the correct alterations?  Or should I be using a different alteration? Am I too picky?  I mean I searched to net to see if others success with Flo.  I was astounded to see what people called ‘wonderful fit’.  Got to tell you,  I would have kept fitting or thrown away what they were bragging about. Once, it was easy to fit me . Two tissue  alterations and I could serge that puppy together and be done without basting or trying on even once.

Not with Peggy Sagers Tank top.  You may be wondering why I’m even interested in this pattern.  Didn’t I just fit CLD’s HAF? Well yes I did but the HAF has an armscye dart. Works really well until I want to change the armscye.  Mid-summer I really appreciate a deep scoop neck and a tank top shoulder.  With the HAF I can modify the neckline however I like but when I start messing with the armscye I make a wadder.  So I want a shell top that fits smoothly in the upper bodice and skims the curves below.  I’d like just enough side shaping -the HAF has none- to suggest a mature, feminine figure.  To achieve that fit, I need a bust dart and a little waist shaping.  I prefer the horizontal bust dart. Hence I’ve been looking for Tank Top patterns.  I decided to try Peggy’s because she has two excellent videos on fitting this very pattern; and she claims she has fit hundred of women easily.

I followed the instructions in her video ‘All about Tops’. The video is a few years old but still an excellent resource. I struggled to decide which  pattern size to use. I really am  pear shaped.  If I choose my size by my shoulders, I needed to add mucho ,mucho ease from bust down.  If I choose according to my preferred bust and hip ease, the shoulders are far too wide.  I compared carefully with HAF and opted to use the 5W because the shoulders lined up.  I’d rather add side-seam ease than try to shrink the upper bodice and armscye. While I describe this choice process in a few sentences, it took an hour of carefully measuring and then pattern comparisons. I measured patterns rather than garments.  This may have been in error. I thought it would be more accurate to measure nonwiggly tissue than slippery fabric.  But OK , if you insist I made an error, I admit I didn’t follow exactly the ‘measure your favorite garment’ rule. I added 1.5″ to the front and back side seams because that’s what my measuring said to do.  I knew I would need a sloping shoulder alteration. For some fit assurance added 1/2″ to the shoulder seam.

I chose an ugly, lawn, 100% cotton for my muslin. I copied waistline and bust darts before stay stitching and basting the muslin together with water-soluble thread.

All my careful measuring and comparing failed me.  Th shoulders did not sit on my shoulders but flopped over the edges and down the sides of my arms. At the same time, my the muslin would not slip down over my waist.  First change was to let out the side seams to a bare 1/8″.  That didn’t help the shoulders. I wanted to work on shoulder slope first but since they wouldn’t even sit on my shoulders,  I jumped to the conclusion I needed to do Peggy’s version of a narrow shoulder alteration.  Her version involves pinching the center front and center back until the neckline lies flat.  I pinched 3/4″ in front and 1/4″ in back. After making the pinches, Peggy says to sew a dart from the neckline, by the amount pinched, tapering  the dart to zero at the hem.  Well at least this fabric would cooperate.  I basted in the CF and CB neckline darts. Lo and behold, the shoulder sat on my own,,,barely.  The seam allowance peeked over my shoulder’s edge. I reasoned this was good enough because I would be finishing  and removing 3/8″ in some way — Peggy has several suggestions for neatly finishing the armscye.

So now the shoulder sat beautifully and the neckline was free of gaping but there was this terrible mass of wrinkles on the side.  You know those U’s and Underarm Swags I always complain about and have only been able to solve by increasing the shoulder slope?

Oh if you are wondering why no pics, I was doing all this in the mirror.

Peggy, like Connie Crawford, says to pinch the shoulder seam at the armscye until the wrinkles disappear.  So I pinch and pin 3 times, all the while in front of the mirror. Hey this works!  All the U’s disappear.  I measure and discover I’ve pinched a full inch.  That’s more than the 5/8′ I used before but it is what it is.  I baste the shoulder line to create a 1″ slope and try the muslin on yet again. The shoulders stand up in 1″ peaks at my neckline.  I think, maybe  1″ was too much. I rip that out and baste at 1/2″. Peaks are down but still not smooth along the shoulder .  Baste at  1/4″.  Another improvement but I still have little tents at my neck and of course the U’s under my arms are returning.  Put the shoulder back to the default. Shoulder and neck lies smoothly but  the masses of underarm wrinkles are back.  Ah but Peggy has seen this before and says if pinching the shoulder doesn’t work pinch the side seam at the underarm. This does remove most of the U’s but forms an armscye dart.  I’m trying to get away from an armscye dart.  If I must have that dart, I may as well toss this pattern and use my HAF.  Ah but Peggy has seen this too.  She says clear as much as you can at the shoulder and underarm seams. Then and only then, measure the armscye dart that forms; draw on your pattern and rotate it to the hem.  I am not pleased.  I did that with the Otto tank and created a full ruffled front.  I want a standard tank. No ruffles. No frills. At the present time. But I’ve got a lot of effort invested already and the dart is smaller than the Otto dart, so I follow instructions.  I also cut a new muslin both front and back pieces. Not only did I have significant changes to the muslin so far,  but I also had put on and taken off Muslin 1 multiple times as well as stitching and ripping multiples times.  Personal experience says this much handling distorts the muslin. Besides this pattern doesn’t need much fabric.  About 24″. Surprisingly Muslin 2 is close to perfection and I am all smiles —

Just need to back the bust dart off from the point. Yeah!

Then I take pictures and see the back. At drafted length, this pattern barely reaches my hip yet I’m seeing masses of CB wrinkles. I know Peggy, if not some of you, will insist that I need a sway- back alteration. I make 3, in turn 1″, 1.5″, 2″.  Although the wrinkles diminish, they dont go away.  Instead the hem now curves upward and flips outward totally clearing my hip

My fit issue is not sway back. It is Prominent butt. See  how I stick out:

The solutions that work for my back is (a) center back seam that curves outward adding ease over my rear, or (b) more hip ease added at the side seam. Not pictured, I released the side seam from just below the waist to the hem and the wrinkles disappear.

So time for a real garment with nice fabric.  Thinking summer, I choose a lightly crinkled, almost gauze in royal blue.  It’s not really lawn but not transparent like gauze.  I’m not sure the proper name for this fabric but I know it’s heavenly for summer. 100% cotton. Lets the air in but keeps the eyes out.  Before cutting, I make sure all my fitting changes have been copied to the pattern.  I  move the bust point back 1.25″. Add another 1/2″ ease for the hips and 5″ length at the hem.  I prefer that my garments disguise my curves between waist and prominent seat.  5″ will handle that nicely.   I stay stitch and serge the shoulders before finishing the royal blue fabric with black bias bound neckline.  I have a couple of tops in this royal/black color way and like them very much.  I’ve decided to add this tank to that color collection. I serge, turn and top stitch the armscyes with black thread before basting the side seams with water-soluble thread.  One more try-on before nailing in place.  I’ve learned through bitter experience that fabric makes a difference.  Sure enough, I need  to increase the 1″ deep bust dart to 1-3/8 deep and increase the side seam depth at the underarm 3/8″.  I think even the light crinkle must have affected it.

I can’t correct the gaping which has developed in the neckline. I wish I had taped instead of stay stitching. I find cutting and taking the  fabric  immediately to the ironing board where I tape the curves with fusible bias or straight tape, does a much better job of preventing these areas from stretching out. I even think that sometimes stay-stitching stretches the curves. Sigh, I was in the mode of following the expert’s advice even though I knew her advice was meant to ensure you could do this with what you had on hand and not prevent the use of favorite methods.

So the back, if you look closely

has the same wrinkles without sway-back alteration (left) and with  2″ (doubled that is 4″ fabric removed) sway-back alteration (right).

I think what’s needed is some kind of horizontal dart extending from the side seam about 4″.  BTW on my pants I always trim at least a 1/2″ dart just below the waistband on either side of the side-seam tapering to zero about 4″ from the side seam. Interesting that removing this wedge also removes  the diagonal wrinkle which forms over my hip joint (look again at the side view of the rust colored pants. The diagonal wrinkle as not been removed).

So am I done with this?  Will I use this pattern again?  I need to make that horizontal side dart mentioned at the end of my previous paragraph. I’ll also need to pay attention to the armscye and neckline for gaping- they could need more tweaking. Plus, unhappily, my alterations have lost the lovely curve Peggy drafted.  I’d like to recover that too. But I can and probably will use this pattern as is. I’m curious about selecting a smaller size, one that would match my shoulders. That’s what I intended this time but didn’t manage.  But I won’t make the fitting effort again unless my weight or shape changes again.

I am swearing off Silhouette Patterns. I’ll eagerly watch Peggy’s videos. I love them and some  of her advice can be applied to my fitting issues; and her styles adapted to my basic blocks although I never really create the exact style. I spent close to 8 hours fitting what is advertised as a simple easy fit easy sew top. Try on. Pinch. Baste. Repeat. EIGHT friggin hours. I don’t want to do that again.  If I’m horribly disfigured, why is it that some patterns are a cinch to fit?  I adapted the HAF for my figure in 5 minutes. 1 fitting. 1 pinch. 1 baste. Done.  TJ906 (pants). 1, maybe 2 fittings. (It’s been so long since I fit TJ906 that I don’t remember. When I change sizes, I just trace the next size and shorten the leg.).   I have several patterns that were quick to fit. A few that I copied the shoulders and armscye of an already fitting pattern and merged with the new pattern. Trace. Done. But others? I’ve tossed not only the muslin’s but the original pattern too.

I have a new list in my life:

Pattern Companies I love but will not use for fitting reasons

  • Butterick
  • Mccalls
  • Vogue
  • Hot Patterns
  • Silhouette

You know, I think I’m acquainted with at least one other person who says they can’t use any commercial or very few commercial patterns. She doesn’t look deformed either.