Friday, 7 June 2019

Free Pattern Friday: Women's Super Basic Tank Top

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes a women's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

For as long as I can remember, my hot-weather-clothing game has been weak. Even when I lived in Spain, I owned very little suitable clothing for when it all got hot and sticky. Last year I made some real improvements in this area, but there was still a gap where some knit tanks should have been. Twice previously I've tried to fill this gap with free sewing patterns (here and here), but neither of those patterns quite hit the spot. Well, today I can finally announce that the spot has been hit and the gap has been filled! This Super Basic Tank Top pattern by Halfmoon Atelier, free when you sign up to their monthly newsletter, is exactly what I needed all along. Thanks to Meghann for sharing her hard work for free. 

Pattern type: 

Super basic tank top by name, super basic tank top by nature. The scoop neck, skinny fit style is great as standard, warm-weather wear, but is equally handy for layering under jumpers when it's cold. The arm and neck holes are finished with bands of fabric, and the straps are wide enough to cover your bras straps. 

(image source: Halfmoon Atelier)

Sizing info: 

This pattern has been graded to ten sizes, which cover 30" to 44" busts. For my first version (the blue and white striped one) I followed the pattern's measurement chart to the letter, using a size 4 at the bust, grading out to the size 5 for my waist and hips. If you don't know how to grade between sizes, information on how to do so is included in the instructions for this pattern. 

I also pinched out 2cm from the length of the waist at the shorten/lengthen line, which is a standard alteration for me to account for my short-waistedness. The sizing and fit turned out perfectly so I made no additional alterations for my second version. 

It is also worth noting that this pattern includes not one, but two methods for making a full bust adjustment on this pattern (depending on how much bust you need to accommodate). 

Fabric info:

Light- to medium-weight knits like jersey, rib knit and interlock with a 4-way stretch work best for this pattern. Details on ideal percentage of stretch are included, as are some suggestions of suitable fibre types. Personally, I wouldn't like to use a knit that didn't have a lycra/elastane/spandex content. 

For my first version, I used a thrifted knit maxi dress that I bought at least a year ago because it had so much re-useable fabric. Ironically, this tank has ended up looking very much how the top part of the original dress did anyhow! 

For my second version, I wanted to use this secondhand New York Dolls T-shirt that had been in my stash for over five years. Although the original T-shirt it looked like a standard rock T-shirt, the fabric it was made from wasn't the regular 100% cotton you'd expect, and had a decent elastane content. Annoyingly, it was too narrow around the hips for me to cut both the front and back from the same T-shirt, so I used some black regular cotton/spandex knit from Girl Charlee UK that I had lurking in my stash for the back and the bands. It's hardly noticeable, but on this version, I made the arm and neck hole bands a smidge wider. 


The pattern PDF and the instructions for this pattern cannot be faulted. Most of my sewing these days involves PDFs rather than paper patterns, and I appreciate the layers function if present (as is is here) to save on printer ink. The detail and info included in the instructions goes above and beyond what you'd expect for a basic tank pattern, and the level of both make this an ideal pattern for those new to, and nervous about, sewing with knits.  

As I'm sure you've guessed by now, I'm more than pleased with the finished garments. I like the shape and proportions of the front and back neck scoops, and the skinny-but-not-too-skinny fit through the body is just what I was looking for. From the images on the Halfmoon Atelier website it wasn't clear if it was designed to be worn bra-less, but I was relieved to find that the width and positioning of the tank straps covers my bra straps with zero tweaks required.  

The only thing I wasn't wild about, was how the lightning flash stitch looked where I'd topstitched down the seam allowances of the bindings on the blue and white version. I've decided that that tank will most likely be used for wearing down the allotment in the summer. I used a small, regular zigzag stitch on the black version to a more pleasing effect. 

Customisation ideas:
  • Try contrast coloured bindings round the neck and arm holes (solid bindings on a printed knit tank would look great)
  • I'm not sure if it's exactly my style, but I'm tempted to use some stretch lace on the back with a solid or print opaque knit on the front
  • You could break up the front and back pieces to create a scrap-busting colour blocked effect
  • If, unlike me, you can use a twin-needle successfully on your machine, or you have a coverstitch machine, you could use contrast thread to stitch down the arm and neck hole bindings and  hem the bottom edge. 

Would I make it again?

Absolutely! If the right knit falls into my stash, I'd definitely make more for wearing in hot weather. If I didn't already have a ton of vests made from my free vest/camisole/singlet pattern, I'd most likely make a stack of these super basic tanks for wearing in bed and under jumpers in colder months too.


Meghann Halfmoon said...

I am so touched by this amazing review! Thank you so much for sharing this with the (sewing) world!

Jo said...

Love the stripy one, it has great shoulder coverage. I saw this free pattern and thought of you. The skirt I mean not the playsuit. I think a navy one with a trim would look fab with your vest.

Zoe said...

@Meghann, thank YOU for releasing this awesome pattern and for generously making it free!

@Jo, thanks for your comment and for sharing that skirt link, agreed, it's an awesome style.


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