My daughter seems to love the little knit camisoles and tanks I’ve made her. The Brooklyn tank top was the next project as listed in my Farbenmix sew-up project, and yet the weather is not really tank-top weather. I chose to make a double-layer tank, providing more warmth than it might first appear. Yesterday Sophie layered it under a close-fitting jean jacket. She survived outdoor walks in the wind and indoor frolics in the dance studio equally well.
Good quality knits hold up well during their usage, do not pill, and have intelligible grainlines to work with. Purchasing good-quality knits isn’t exactly easy unless you live in a city and know where to find them. You can order online but then, since you are not able to feel and see the fabric, you are at a slight disadvantage. I do order fabrics online, but when I am matching something I prefer to see them in the flesh. Case in point: nine yards of silk velvet burnout are on their way to my house for a bellydancing skirt. I won’t purchase fabric to make a coordinating top until I can carry a swatch of the skirt fabric around in my hand.
Back to this tank top: fortunately, finding very nice-quality t-shirts is an option where I live because we have a few wonderful thrift stores. These shirts are from Thrift City here in Aberdeen and are high-end brands in Pima cotton.
At first I’d thought to dress this top up a bit. I’ve been sewing a bit of Alabama Chanin projects – making an armchair pincushion for a practice run – and I thought to decorate the bodice with reverse applique. After experimenting with both hand- and machine-sewn versions, I decided to just keep the shirt simple. It wasn’t working out for me. To put it politely.
Instead I added a couple subtle tucks at the hem of the outer jersey fabric to expose the dusty rose of the underlayer. The double-layer makes for a sturdy garment; the soft hand makes for a very cozy shirt for my girl.
This top was very easy to sew. If you are a beginner sewing with jerseys, I might suggest using strips of stabilizer or a stabilizing spray when you are sewing directly on the jersey (my mother-in-law tells me you can dissolve scraps of stabilizer in water and use it as a DIY spray or paint to stabilize. I am sure this works, and it is cheaper than buying a stabilizing spray). Your aim in using these products will be to stabilize the edges of the jersey. Such persnickety handling is not needed for the entire project; for instance, after you’ve attached the trim and are topstitching it things go easily without stabilizing (the woven fabrics are against the feed dogs).
This brings me to my favorite aspect of this project. The notable thing about this top was the construction of the trim. I chose to use a woven fabric on the bias, as opposed to a knit. For any novice stitchers reading here, bias trim is made from long strips cut on the bias of the fabric and used at hemlines and seamlines or as detail. These bias strips serve as ties and trim both. Using the bias is important, as only then will a woven perform a bit of stretch and can easily go around a curve; a strip cut on the straight-of-grain would not work well at all.
In this version, you attach the 1 1/4″ strip’s long edge to the right-side of the garment edge, flip the trim to the backside, and triple zig-zag topstitch all layers:
A triple zig-zag is a thready stitch, but such a great one with knits. You can pretty much use it with impunity. The results are a firm, slightly stretchy, and very sturdy trim application. Given I have a very small stash of fabric, a project like this is perfect for using scraps to trim the top.
You can read a few more details in my Flickr tagset.