Grainline Studio | Willow Tank
My beloved Wellington continued with its long and glorious summer right through until this week, really, when temperatures plummeted, southerlies started howling through and hail became a regular visitor. So it's kinda bittersweet to look back to this lovely summer make and dream of wearing it again in approximately seven months.
This is the Willow Tank and Dress from Grainline Studios; gosh now but aren't her designs simply lovely? The pattern comes in two variations, this tank and a dress version, which is already on my sewing agenda for next summer. The dress version looks like it would lend itself to some lovely colour-blocking. The tank is a great little staple top. I made it out of a single metre of 45" wide ikat, a remnant piece from The Fabric Godmother, and this fabric, man is it dreamy! You know how if you beat sugar and butter together until it's smooth? This ikat is the fabric equivalent. I wish I had about ten more metres of it.
Process and Progress
My lovely husband bought me this pattern from Sew Indie NZ, a really great resource for New Zealanders looking for printed indie patterns. Grainline Studios print on pattern paper, which I'm slowly getting used to. I've mostly sewn on copy-shop paper, but with time and practise using pattern paper, I'm learning there are pros and cons to both types. I find Grainline Studios patterns are very good and easy to follow, and they're always backed up with excellent sew-along tutorials. Willow is no exception: it has an eight step sew-along and two free variations to make a cropped version or a split hem version.
I can't say how much I appreciate the time and effort that goes into sew-alongs and tutorials! These resources represent hours and hours of sewing, writing, photographing, editing, thinking, revising and so on by the designers and I encourage everyone to use them. Some pattern companies have them for free and others charge a little for them: to my mind, those companies that put them out for free are wonderfully, amazingly generous, but I completely understand when companies choose to charge for them and I'll happily pay when necessary. They are incredibly rich resources that must take so much time, and I'm eternally grateful that they are there to use, whether for free or as paid content.
Fit and Finish
I made a size 12; I should have graded up to a size 14 at the bust, but because I had such a tiny amount of fabric I decided to make a straight 12. It's a little tight across the bust, but it does the trick. I managed to get it out of a single metre by patching together the long lengths of bias tape required from several smaller lengths. This is totally easy and doable so I'd encourage looking at the layplans of your pattern to see if that's an option with designs like this.
Given the simplicity of this design—front piece, back piece and bias tape—I decided to French the seams for a little added tidiness. I used Grainline's tutorial for this, which you can find here, along with several other tutorials on French Seams here. I had never used bias tape for garment sewing (only in quilting) and I found the tutorial here excellent to guide me through the process and produced one of the best necklines I've ever sewn. With all these French seams and bias tape, inside of this simple little garment is lovely and neat and makes my heart happy.
This tank is such a great design: with different fabrics it's one of those designs that would look professional under a suit jacket, comfy and causal for knocking about at home, and beautifully elegant on a night out in a more lux, special fabric. Its nature would change a lot depending on the fabric, and because of this I think it will be a tnt pattern for my wardrobe.
Notes to future self for future makes
Grade up at the bust to a size 14. But also maybe look at a broad back adjustment and/or a full bust adjustment.