I love polka dots. A lot. I don’t have enough of them in my life. I also love buying fabric. A lot. But I am pretty much out of room for storing more stash, so something simply had to give!
After my recent trip to Birmingham, I decided the best way to stash bust as well as tart up my wardrobe a bit was to start with the newest fabric and work my way down into the depths of time (and the bottom of my storage boxes…). The navy and white polka dot was destined to be the first project – I had initially thought this was cotton but I now think this is a viscose blend. It’s very soft and light, with lovely movement and drape. Not bad for £1!
As someone who has up until recently had lost all love for sewing, I knew I needed to start with something and build up to more complex projects in time. I am by no means a complete novice as I have studied dressmaking, textiles and costume construction for several years, but I was off my game for a while so I’m taking baby steps, starting with a simple sleeveless tank. I wear a lot of RTW tanks to work so I knew it would be something I would get use out of – I have a tendency to make clothes I never wear (dresses, mainly dresses… I don’t even wear skirts normally so why do I keep doing it?!). It’s also the wrong end of the month financially so I wanted to spend as little money as possible, so I had a potter about online until I came across the Sorbetto tank by Colette Patterns. I used this pattern several years ago for a tank in a gorgeous silk so I knew what I was getting into, plus it being totally free is an added bonus!
Now I’m probably a bit mad but I quite like putting together PDF patterns, even though its more labour intensive than a printed copy, but as this pattern is only 2 pieces, it didn’t take long to stick it all together. I even decided to do the sensible thing and trace the pattern first and make a muslin to check fit, as when I had made it previously it had come out too small all over. In hindsight this may have been down to not printing the pattern at the correct scale, but I had double checked this time so I knew that shouldn’t be an issue this time.
Based on measurements, I’m just shy of a 12 on top and almost a 16 at the hips, so I graded out to the larger size to account for my pearshapedness. But when I made the muslin up, the top half was enormous! I took out 2 inches in total from around the bust and it still ended up being a little on the roomy side when finished. I also altered the shoulder seams slightly as they just slipped off my shoulders. I lengthened the back piece a little as I prefer tops to end under my hip bones – I don’t normally have to worry with RTW items as I’m not very tall! Once this had all been transferred to the pattern I felt quite accomplished. No botch jobs for me this time!
When cutting I really wanted to have a line of polka dots running centrally down the centre-front and centre-back so I placed the pattern pieces accordingly, but the fabric is very slippery so it’s a little wonky! I think unless you’re really looking you won;t see it, which is good enough for me.
I don’t own an overlocker yet and the fabric is quite fine so I decided to French seam. So simple to do and it looks so neat. This went together really quickly, which is great. But it all went a bit downhill from there. I wanted to make bias binding from the same material, so I made around 4 metres of bias tape ready to pull through the bias maker. However the fabric was just too slippery, and after almost all of the tape and 2 steam burns later (ouch) it just didn’t play ball – the tape kept twisting and folding inside the tape maker so when I was pressing it, it just would not fold into bias binding. But did I give up at this point? No, although this was definitely the point where I should have done because it just went more wrong from there. I persisted with the crappy bias binding, and then started to attached to the neckline of the tank. Trying to be clever I decided to sew it on the wrong side first with the intention of folding the other edge and top-stitching on the right side of the fabric. It looked rubbish, but by the time I had realised how terrible it looked I’d sewn up most of the neckline. Whoops. I had gone too far. Couldn’t face unpicking, so I took the lazy way out and just cut it straight off. Problem solved! In the end I used white binding from my stash to neaten the neckline and armholes, and it actually looks better than my original vision. The neckline has stretched a little from being handled so much, but it’s still completely wearable. I didn’t want to lose too much length when hemming so I zigzagged the bottom edge to catch up any frays and then just folded over once to reduce bulk, and it looks surprisingly neat!
It’s so comfy and light, hopefully when the weather picks up a bit it’ll be nice for summer. I still have the pooling problem at the back but I didn’t want to add darts as I wanted quite a loose fit. It’s no worse than a RTW top so I’ll live with it!
Total cost – £1. Winning.