Boy sewing

It’s nice to feel appreciated …

Every morning for over a week, J has asked me the same question, “Mommy, did you make me a new shirt?” And every morning my answer was, “No sweetie, not today.”

Well last night, I finally broke down and made the kid a shirt. When I showed him in the morning, he asked to put it on immediately, even before he got out of bed. And this coming from a kid who usually puts off getting dressed as long as he can — typically until about 10 minutes before he’s going to walk out the door for the day (which means I sometimes come home from work to find him still in his pajamas!).

Creative Counselor: Blank Tank
J’s new blue tank top — he loved it!

J had requested a blue tank top, and selected gray for the trim when given a choice between gray and white. I used the Blank Tank pattern from the original Blank Slate Basics collection from Blank Slate Patterns (boy, that’s a lot of “blanks” in a single sentence!).

The crazy thing is, even though I was a tester for this pattern when it was released last summer, this is actually only the second Blank Tank I’ve made! You might think from that that I don’t like the pattern, which couldn’t be farther from the truth — I actually love it! It’s a quick sew (traced pattern pieces in a new size, cut fabric, and sewed the whole thing up with some added details not in the pattern in not quite 2 hours), and is super-comfy for an active little boy in the summer. And what kid doesn’t love a comfy, breathable knit tank top on a hot summer day?

Creative Counselor: Blank Tank
The back view

The only thing I’m not particularly keen on in this pattern is the finish on the neck and arm openings. The pattern instructs you to simply turn the edges under 1/2″ and sew with a zigzag or double needle. While getting a top on and off, J always seems to pull at the neck and arm openings so much that the seams break when they’re finished in this way, which means I’d constantly be fixing it, or it wouldn’t get worn (again reinforcing my desire for a coverstitch machine so I have the ability to sew a stretchier seam!).

However, that was a really easy fix. Instead, I just used a gray contrast binding on the neck and arm openings that matched the gray pocket. Using a binding definitely takes longer since you’re adding a few more steps, but I also think it gives a more finished/polished look. I did use a zig zag stitch to attach the binding because I don’t trust my double needle to give enough stretch on knit items for J — he just pulls on them too much. I can’t tell you how many double-needle hems this kid has broken!

Creative Counselor: Blank Tank details
The details … and a big smile from a happy boy!

Not much more to say — J loves his new shirt! It’s always nice when the kids really love or appreciate the things I make for them. It doesn’t always happen at this age. I will make something that I think they’re going to love, and then they want nothing to do with it. Take N’s purple mouse Geranium dress — everything about that dress says “a two-old-girl will LOVE me!” Cute, swingy pattern, purple fabric, adorable animals all over it. And she’s only worn it once. She likes to look at it, but gives me an emphatic “no, no, no!” every time I try to put it on her.

Since there’s still a lot of summer left, I should probably make J a few more tanks. I have a great orange bamboo jersey knit sitting in my stash — I’m thinking an orange tank with a big tiger decal …

And since I’ve never done my full pattern review break-out on this pattern, here you go:

Creative Counselor: Blank Tank
Blank Tank

Pattern: Blank Tank by Blank Slate Patterns ($7.95 USD).

Size: 4T, with no size modifications.

Fit: Perfect fit for my skinny 4-year-old. He likes his tops a little loose, and this one gives him room to move and grow. J is 40th percentile for weight, and 60th percentile for height, and is very compact, to give you a reference.

Fabric: Blue organic medium-weight jersey from Near Sea Naturals. The contrast is a lightweight gray heather jersey from Girl Charlee.

Modifications: I added a contrast binding to the neck and arm openings, as indicated above. When cutting the fabric, I left the arm openings as-is, but cut the neck opening about 1/4 inch deeper than drafted to account for the fact that I wouldn’t be turning the raw edges under. That also raised the neckline just a bit since the pattern has a 1/2″ seam allowance at the neck. The result is more like a muscle tee, which I like.

Physical pattern: This is a PDF, but it’s not too cumbersome to piece together. Just 3 pattern pieces.

Pros:

  • Quick, easy sew. If you follow the instructions and don’t add binding, I think the whole thing, from piecing together the PDF pattern to finishing touches would only take a couple of hours.
  • Great basic summer piece for girls or boys.
  • The construction is simple enough that it would be a good “intro to knits” pattern for a beginner. No fussy collars to mess with and no sleeves to set in.
  • As with all Blank Slate patterns, particularly those in the original Blank Slate Basics release, this pattern is easy to customize.

Cons:

  • I’m not a fan of the included finish on the neck and arm openings. I think it’s easily remedied, but it does add time and complexity to the pattern.
  • The price is on par with other indie kid patterns, but this is a very basic pattern with no included variations or modifications. As such, some may find it a little pricey for what it is. If you are inclined to draft your own patterns from “a well-fitting t-shirt,” this would be a good one to do it with. There are also a few free patterns out there that can give you a very similar look. Dana’s Basic TEE (size 4/5) would work, and she did a tutorial on how to turn it into muscle shirts. Also the Toddler Swing Tank (size 2T) from True Bias has a very similar silhouette.

Overall grade: B+. I love this for a basic summer tank. The only reason I mark it down is because of the simpleness of the pattern compared to the price.

0 thoughts on “It’s nice to feel appreciated …

  1. That is sweet…my daughter has been asking me to make her a dress for a while now, this has motivated me to bump her up to the top of my list! She used to be like your daughter and refuse to wear what I made, so I bet yours will come around too. My husband told me today to find a coverstitch machine that I like, I think he’s tired of me talking about them, ha.

    1. I hope she comes around — until then I might just sew for J! He has ready requested more tanks. I so covet a coverstirch machine! Maybe for my birthday…

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