A few weeks back, I downloaded and printed off a free pattern for a tank top. Then, when I went to tape it all together, I couldn't bear the thought of doing all that cutting and taping, only to end up with yet another pattern that didn't fit (perhaps I've done too much taping lately). I've been sewing for years and years, and I still don't have any top patterns that I am happy with. I have made several different slopers and bought all brands of patterns and tried many methods of fitting myself and still never found the pot of gold. I decided it was time for something different.
So I took the jacket pattern that I got professional help fitting last year. The jacket has princess seams. I used this pattern to draft back to a tank top....probably the opposite direction most people take in drafting. I changed the princess seams to a bust and waist dart. Then I took in the sides, raised the armholes and drew on some design lines for the neckline and armhole. Then, rather than theoretically work out contouring effects for cut-out armholes and necklines, I decided to just make up a bunch of tops and see where things needed changing.
This was my first tank top.
I modified the pattern to remove the armhole gaping. Tank top 2.
There was a little cutting error, so the straps are a tad narrower than they should be. I am happy with the fit...it feels like I am wearing nothing.
Next up, I decided that I wanted a pattern for a tank top with wide placed straps. My first muslin is Tank Top 3.
The drapiness of the fabric exacerbated the problems of a gaping neckline. This problem was rectified with Tank Top 4, by slashing across the straps and pinching out the excess.
I thought that this one was perfect, until I started wearing it around. Then I found that the top sometimes formed a ridge at the centre front because there wasn't enough room for cross body movement. I scooped out the armholes some, which led to Tank Top 5.
Next, I wanted a more exaggerated racer cut, with a lower neck and lower armholes. Tank Top 7 is not available for photographs, as it has already been cut up (when I was momentarily distracted by the idea of a racer back cami). My second muslin is Tank Top 8.
At the end of that exercise, I have 4 tank patterns that I am happy with; a basic tank, a wide-necked tank, a high necked tank with cut-away armholes and a racer-back. An ideal plan would then be to make these up in fabrics I love, possibly adding details and embellishments. In practice, though, I feel like I have a drawer full of tanks now, even if they were made out of scrap fabric, so have no burning desire to make "real" versions just yet.
Another bonus of this exercise is that I have refined and practised my method of binding the armholes and necklines after all these and am quite comfortable with that process now.
The next phase of my plan is a set of basic sleeveless top patterns.