Pattern Review

And now for something (not) completely different

I am a creature of habit during the summer, and the longer I sew, the more I figure out what those habits are.

My summer style habits are becoming pretty clear, though — I like separates and I hate sleeves.  So I pretty much live in shorts, pants, and tank tops over the summer.  Oh yes, I’m also discovering that while I love wearing skirts and dresses to work, I don’t particularly care to wear them when I’m home with kiddos on the weekend.  It’s nice to really nail down my tendencies — the things I make get much more wear this way!

Creative Counselor: Alabama Chanin fitted tank top

This pattern is yet another to add to my tank top arsenal — the fitted top from Alabama Chanin’s Studio Sewing + Design.  As far as I know this pattern is only available in this particular Alabama Chanin book, which is kind of a bummer because I really like the pattern.  Still, the book is only $26 on Amazon and there are a number of patterns included as well as lots of beautiful photos and details on how to do the gorgeous hand sewing techniques that define Alabama Chanin garments.

Creative Counselor: Alabama Chanin fitted tank top
Obviously, I did not hand sew this tank top!  I made it entirely on my sewing machine and serger, and I have no qualms about that!  It’s a quick, satisfying make and I really love the finished result.  The neckline is great, the shape through the middle is very flattering, and the length is perfect.

As per my usual, the neckline and armscyces took a certain amount of tinkering to get them to fit right.  My first version suffered from some pretty serious gaping at the underarms in both front and back, and the neckline was scandalously low:

I managed to salvage that tank by shortening each shoulder strap by 2-3 inches, but it’s far from perfect.  I decided to call it a wearable muslin and set off to fix those issues on my next version.

Creative Counselor: Alabama Chanin fitted tank top

Creative Counselor: Alabama Chanin fitted tank top

So for this version, I pinched out the excess at the front and back armscycle, essentially doing a narrow/forward sloping shoulder modification to get the arm and neckline to sit properly.  I also shortened the straps by about 2 inches total to bring the neckline up a bit.

Creative Counselor: Alabama Chanin fitted tank top
With those modifications, I really, really like this tank!  I love the shape of it and it’s super comfy to wear.  It’s not tight in the middle, but skims over everything without clinging.  For this one I stuck with the binding as instructed, but will probably try bands on my next one.

It is nice to find my go-to tank pattern!

Creative Counselor: Alabama Chanin fitted tank top
Pattern: Fitted top from Alabama Chanin’s Studio Sewing + Design.

Cost: $26 USD on Amazon

Size: S.  

Fabric: Rayon/spandex knit from Girl Charlee.  I bought this fabric aaaages ago, so I’m sure it’s long gone.

Difficulty: Adventurous beginner.

Techniques required: Fitting and alterations if needed, sewing with knits, knit bands or binding.

Similar patterns:  It’s Just a Tank Top by Maria Denmark (mine is here), Shoreline Knit Tank by Jocole, Mission Maxi by Jamie Christina.

Modifications: Narrow/forward sloping shoulders adjustment.  Shortened the straps by 2 inches to raise the neckline..

Fit:  Great after my modifications.  I particularly love how the tank fits through the waist — slim but not clinging.  I also like that it scoops in the back as well.

Pattern Format: Paper in a book.  I don’t particularly like pattern sheets from books and this is no exception.  It was cumbersome to work with, but I managed.

Pros:

  • Fairly easy construction.  This isn’t quite instant gratification, but it’s close.
  • Very flattering cut.  It defines a waist really nicely but doesn’t cling to my three-baby belly 🙂
  • The cut of the neckline is very flattering — it shows some clavicle, which is attractive on almost all women.
  • Straps are thick enough and placed perfectly to cover a bra.

Cons:

  • Not available apart from the book.  This will make it more of an investment than some will want, but the book is also really nice.

Overall Grade:  A-.  I’m only marking this down slightly because the pattern is not available to purchase on its own.  Otherwise, it’s a really great pattern.

0 thoughts on “And now for something (not) completely different

  1. I’ve been really curious about this book, so it’s nice to see one made up! I like you tank and agree that having a go to tank pattern is invaluable. How do you find the rest of the book? Are most of the patterns simple block type shapes? And is there still information on the hand stitching techniques? So many questions!

    1. The rest of the book is really nice. There are several patterns included, and they are simple block shapes. This tank is actually one version of a pattern that can be a tank, dress or skirt. There’s also a tee pattern as well as instructions to modify each pattern for a number of variations. In addition to the patterns, the book walks you through the hand stitching techniques, all the different stitches used and includes a number of the patterns that they use for applique. If you’re interested in the Alabama Chanin type of sewing, the book is definitely a good investment!

  2. I love the shape of this tank! The back scoop is especially nice. A basic knit tank is something I haven’t worked on yet, but it’s on my list!

    1. The back scoop is one of my favorite things about this pattern. I think a scoop back is very flattering for summer, and I love feeling some sun on my back 🙂

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