grainline split back tank


guys, i have officially caught the self sewing fever.  notice, i’m not referring to it as “selfish” anymore.  some very interesting things are happening as a result.  first, my wardrobe is growing faster than it has in several years.  i’m not a big clothes person, but my fever is resulting in at least one garment per week…far more than i’d ever shop for.  it’s the most productive fever ever.  second, i’m becoming a better dresser.  similar to when i began sewing more confidently for the kids, it’s been a weird transition into realizing i actually can wear what i sew, rather than treat all the pieces as ugly, failed experiments.  i have to consciously divert my attention each morning from my typical ratty tee shirt and $5 jersey gaucho pants that haven’t been cool since i bought them in 2005 that compose my summer uniform and say to myself no, you are a respectable adult, and you can wear this sweet linen shirt hanging in your closet with the aligned stripes and contrast binding.  now put it on and go stare at a waterfall, why don’t you.


notice i did not cite anything along the lines of “i’m becoming a better adult seamstress” above.  in fact, i made some errors on this shirt that are downright embarrassing, but we’ll get to that in a moment.  first, let’s just take in the image on the hanger, which for me was true love and absolutely my favorite thing i’ve ever made for myself.  i got this unique stripey/colorblocky linen from a trip to harts back in june, and i knew eventually the right pattern would come up, something that would really show off the fabric.

enter the grainline tiny pocket tank.  you may have caught on to my hunt for the perfect tank pattern…in theory, it’s the perfect summer wardrobe staple.  loose, light, minimal coverage but not immodest.  it should be easy.  but i’m suffering goldie locks tank syndrome.  the sorbetto was too high necked and too short (obviously, that can be adjusted).  the wiksten was a mumu (which also can be resolved).  could it be that the grainline tank is my perfect bowl of porridge? like sorbetto, it has bust darts for a more flattering fit, but also has plenty of ease from the bust to the hip.  when i saw this tutorial about making it into a unique looking split back tank, and this one about the original, i was all in.

but then i got a little greedy.  i didn’t totally forgo the muslin, but after the effort of redrafting the entire pattern, i wasn’t about to go to the trouble of making a muslin of the whole split back deal.  although that is in fact the entire point of making a muslin.  not rational.  i know this.  i settled on a muslin only of the front, and was satisfied that the darts sat in about the right place when i draped it haphazardly across my chest with no shoulder or side seams (?!).  so, i gleefully chopped up my lovely linen, very proud that i got every single last little stripe of thread to align in spite of all the potential complications from the darts and neckline and open back.

sideviewperhaps the most terrific triumph of all is the binding.  remember i mentioned in this post how i really need to work on matching prints (stripes excluded) and getting bindings to lay flat?  really, this post is already getting too long for me to talk about my growing love for jen beeman, but we can start with her amazing style, her incredible and professional tutorials that shouldn’t even be free, and how she singlehandedly changed my sewing career with this flawless binding technique.  we’ll save how i really think we could be best friends for another day.  for now, i leave you with this image of maybe my favorite part of this shirt:

bindinganyway, you can see that i was beginning to feel really quite pleased with myself.  not in a smug way, but in a revelatory, “i might actually regularly wear something i made” way.  in a “this is way better craftsmanship and style than what i’d buy in a store i can afford to shop in” way.  it was a proud moment in my sewing career.  and then i put it on.

toolooseoh dear.  actually, when i put it on, i wasn’t aware it was this bad.  i noticed my bra showed around the neckline, which irked me, but i like loose fitting tops and wasn’t aware of the utter tentiness.  i figured the neckline got messed up somewhere in the fiddling with the back neck pattern pieces to make the split back.  the linen too is quite loosely woven and might not have been cut precisely on grain, since i tend not be a precise person (except on neck and armhole bindings now that my life has been changed).  something funky was going on with the side seams as well.  but i wore it anyway since it was so beautiful on the hanger, and i got several compliments, so i was surprised to see just how ghastly the fit actually is when i downloaded these photos.

IMG_2206really, i couldn’t bear the thought of my new favorite shirt collecting dust and cobwebs in the nether regions of my closet.  i wasn’t going to chop it up and refit it–i didn’t even know where to begin.  i either had to find a bustier person to gift it to (sniffle), or make a very simple adjustment or two that would allow it to be wearable.  miraculously, just by closing up that nifty split back pretty much completely, it fits more similarly to the photo above.  of course, it’s no longer a split back tank…more like a tulip-bottomed tank.  but the fabric is still pretty and comfortable, the back is still somewhat unique, and the binding kicks ass.  i paused after i typed that, but i’m letting that one slide since i’m not wearing my mommy blogger hat right now.  i told you, i have a fever, and it’s changing me!


but not that much.  anyhow, i’ve since completed my remediation and made a few muslins, and a few of the real deal that i’ll post soon…i might have my perfect porridge yet, and i have plenty of tank top weather still ahead!  in the meantime, i *have* to get something done for this art fair.  this fever is making fulfilling any other sewing obligations very challenging.

8 thoughts on “grainline split back tank

    • thank you, lucinda! the fabric is so neat looking, i’m not sure the photos totally do it justice. you should order some and make a tank for yourself! but for goodness sake, make a proper muslin.

  1. I think you gave me the diagnosis I’ve been looking for: Goldilocks sewing syndrome. Of course if I made adjustments and muslins I’d be cured but I’m too lazy to heal myself! Great blog post and that fabric is superb.

  2. Your bias binding is definitely kick-ass! The fabric is beautiful and perfect for the tank. I like the ‘tulip-bottom’ in the back versus split back and ‘self’ sewing is much more fitting than ‘selfish’. Us mommies deserves SOME decent clothing! Good heavens, what are we suppose to do… go naked?! Well, perhaps our significant others wouldn’t mind, but that’s besides the point! 😉

    Ooo, I wanna see what you make for the art fair… I know it’ll be fabulous!

    • hahaha, thank you for encouraging my potty mouth, my dear friend. i’m wondering if the split back would look better had i cut it in the appropriate size? i will probably try it again sometime because i like the concept and want to give it a fair chance. my art fair endeavors are currently aimless and totally unproductive. i have 4 zippered pouches. that’s it!

      • Uh, yeah. Try cutting the appropriate size and perhaps do a muslin first? I know it can be a pain to do one, especially if the pattern looks so simple. I just did a Muslin on the Lisette Tunic and *ugh* it looks horrible on me! Scratch that pattern. Oh dear… 4 pouches? I’ll email you in a sec… hang on!

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