Monday, October 12, 2015

Works in Progress: Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank muslin and Slow Fashion October

Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank muslin -- hey, at least I've figured out that hemming curves issue!

Here is a muslin for the second of three patterns I've been experimenting with in an effort to find my One True Woven Tank. This is the Tiny Pocket Tank by Grainline Patterns.

It's been a while since I last posted about this project, so to refresh your memory, the first pattern I muslined was the Wiksten Tank, but I decided it probably wasn't for me because (1) no bust darts, and (2) janky shoulders.

As for the Tiny Pocket Tank...I am not sure what I think. When I first tried it on, I thought it was great. When I put it on again to take these photos, I thought it was awful. But when I look at the photos, it seems...ok-ish?

Grainline tank muslin, side view...this is passable, I think.

I do think the Tiny Pocket Tank fits better in the shoulders than the Wiksten Tank, and I think I have some insight into why.

In the photo below, the Wiksten pattern is laid on top of the Tiny Pocket pattern. See the shoulder seam up at the top? The Wiksten tank has much more sloping shoulders compared to the Tiny Pocket pattern.

Direct comparison of the Wiksten and Grainline tank patterns.

So I think, when I lay that angled seam on top of my broad, straight shoulders, the inside portion of the shoulder seam is forced upwards, resulting in exactly the sort of janky shoulder fit that I saw with the Wiksten tank.

Wiksten tank -- janky shoulders.

You wouldn't think such a small angle would make such a big difference, but look what happens when you align the shoulder seams of the two patterns: the Wiksten tank swoops WAY out and up.

A little angle makes a big difference

I suspect this is why I initially wondered if I should lower the armholes of the Wiksten tank. In fact, looking at the patterns, I can see that the Wiksten's armholes are actually markedly lower than those of the Tiny Pocket, and yet the Tiny Pocket tank fit me much more comfortably in the underarms.

So, all in all the Tiny Pocket tank is a much better fit for my body. But it's not perfect. To make this closer to the Woven Tank of My Dreams, I'd need to raise the front neckline (by an inch or maybe a bit more, I think), and also shorten the bust darts (currently they go well past the apex of my bust). I have a short torso and a small bust, so neither of these alterations is very surprising.

I also notice a bit of horizontal pulling above the bust. I see this in a lot of Tiny Pocket Tanks made up online, and I'm not sure what the cause is (in my case, it's obviously not that it's too small there), but I suspect it would bother me a bit.

Horizontal pulling above bust. 

The fit across the back seems not quite right, either. Just under the arms it's very tight, and I suspect that's why I'm seeing that gaping at the back neckline, too -- the too-tight back is forcing the garment upwards.

Too small across the back, no? (Also, sorry for the involuntary sideways-thumb -- which actually sums things up pretty well, come to think of it -- and for the awkwardly placed bathtub faucet -- we only have one wall mirror in the house.)

And yet, from the front, let's be honest...I'm still swimming in this a bit, aren't I? The Liberty lawn that I plan to use to make these tanks will probably drape better than this vintage bedsheet, but it's still a fairly crisp fabric, so I can't rely on drape for a flattering fit.

But...kinda shapeless and blocky from the front.

What I think this adds up to is that the pattern needs the following alterations:
-raise neckline
-shorten bust dart
-cut a size larger (?) at the upper back
-cut a size smaller (? front and back ?) through the torso/waist

But I think I'll muslin my third pattern before doing any of that, to see if it is a better fit in any respect and also to see what additional insights I can gain.

Whew! Are you tired of me nattering on about all this? Me, too. To be honest, I'm feeling a bit demoralized about this project -- rather overwhelmed by the number of tweaks that need to be made in order to get a flattering fit in this very simple sort of garment (a feeling that is magnified by not really being sure how to diagnose what is wrong with the fit or how to fix it).

But I think I need to persevere. Which brings me to Slow Fashion October, an event/experiment/Internet-related happening initiated by Karen Templer. I recently started following Karen's knitting blog, Fringe Association, and I don't knit -- not even one little bit! I think that really says something about how thoughtful her posts are and how compelling her sensibility is.

I'm posting this a bit late (hey, so I'm slow about Slow Fashion October, that ought to be allowed right?), but my thoughts here are inspired by last week's theme of "SMALL," which Karen describes as being about:

handmade / living with less / quality over quantity / capsule wardrobe / indie fashion / small-batch makers / sustainability

I think it's pretty obvious from my last post on the capsule wardrobe topic that I'm not really a minimalist, in terms of either numbers or aesthetic. (Actually I suspect it is easier to be a numbers-minimalist when your aesthetic is also rather minimalist.) But I do care about sustainability.

I think the way that I might square those two things is with the concept of longevity. That is, especially when I add something made with new resources to my wardrobe -- either bought at retail or made from retail-purchased fabric -- I want to aim for it to stay in my wardrobe for a good long time. I mean five years, or preferably ten. Or even longer!

And that means that the thing has to be really pretty much perfect. The right color, the right style, the right details, and the fit spot-on. A big part of the appeal of handmade, as I've previously alluded to, is that it offers the potential for lots of control over these things.

And, looking at my existing wardrobe, I see the same silhouettes repeated over and over, most of the variation being in color and pattern. This means that all this fussing with fit is likely to pay off, if I can get it right; I am an excellent candidate for getting good use out of tried-and-true patterns. But I have to admit that I was hoping the trials would be shorter and I could skip straight to the true!


  1. I think it's amazing how much difference just a small change in the pattern can make to fit. It's helping me understand why some clothes feel so much better than others. And why really quality clothing should cost more. I'm with you: I truly want fewer things but I want them to last longer and be perfect. And now, off to check out some of those links...

    1. Yeah, it really is amazing how subtle the changes look on a flat pattern but how different they are on a body! Just for the record, I don't think the Wiksten tank is a bad/poor quality pattern -- just that it's not drafted for my body. I hope you enjoy the links, lots of food for thought!

  2. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for you; maybe the 3rd pattern will be perfect right from the get-go, no alterations required! FWIW, you've inspired me to haul out my sewing machine again, and next week I'm going to stop at the fabric store to pick up another pattern. I too, see the same silhouettes repeated over and over in the tops that I love to wear, and I too, see the appeal in figuring out how to sew my own, rather than depending on fashion to stand still around me :) . (Oh, and I'd never before heard of "Slow Fashion" but the theme of "SMALL" certainly strikes a chord with me as well!)

    1. I'd love to hear how your sewing experiments go, it would be great to feel like I had a virtual partner in crime. :-) And yes, I think you might connect with some of the "slow fashion" (which might be a term made up by that other blogger? at least, I don't think it's anything "official") ideas!

  3. How I wish I could use good staple patterns over and over! I like too much variety in silhouettes to make it work for me. Although I did like the fit of the Vogue 1204 cords I made last year that I may make a pair of black wool trousers from it (I'd eliminate the separate yoke and back pockets).

    1. See, and I wish I had the skills to be able to just casually toss off plans like eliminating the back yoke on a pants pattern! Making a pattern from two very different fabrics -- like corduroy and wool as you're planning -- seems like a good way to get at least some of that feeling of variety. I hope the pants work out!

    2. Just ordered some black wool from Mood, so we'll see! I definitely need to make a muslin before I cut the wool, though. I'm keeping an eye on your tank experiments, too - I'm still looking for the right pattern for my blue silk fabric. And thanks for the 'slow fashion' link - definitely something that resonates with me.

    3. That sounds good, let's keep each other updated then!

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