Tiny Pocket Tank in silk

I’ve made several Tiny Pocket Tanks over the years and I wear them all the time in the spring, summer, and fall—definitely a wardrobe staple for me. I’ve always sewed it up in rayon challis, so when I spotted this great designer silk crepe de chine I decided to make a slightly more luxe version. I guess I was a little gun shy about cutting into this fabric since it sat in my stash for a few months. It’s not that I haven’t worked with floaty silks before, but you know how it is—must not ruin the pretty fabric!

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shorts are my favorite thurlows

I had a good think about how I was going to finish the neckline and armholes and in the end, decided to draft an all-in-one facing for a nice clean finish. I made sure to trim about 1/16″ off the facing at the neckline and armholes to ensure that it stays neatly tucked to the inside. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when I remember to do that! Between that and tacking the facing down at the side seams, the facing feels super secure with no risk of it flipping out.

I usually do that little trick where you sew the neckline and armholes completely by machine, but sometimes I feel like pulling the top out through the straps makes for unnecessary manhandling of the fabric. For this reason, I decided to go a different route, which includes hand sewing part of the straps to the facing. Hard to explain, but it felt more appropriate for this delicate fabric. Then I french seamed the side seams, and machine stitched the hem.

Since I’ve made this pattern so many times (though not much blog documentation—sorry!), I’ve been tweaking the fit as I go. I’m pretty close to perfect, however the top still seems to pull to the back. It’s almost as if the front straps are just too long, which may be partially due to some of the alterations I’ve made to the pattern. Grainline junkie though I am, this tank has been a real mind bender to fit properly! I’ve done a SBA, raised the bust dart, raised the neckline, and opened up a wedge into the neckline to adjust the angle of the strap at the shoulder seam. I’m sure I’ll continue to tweak this pattern, but in the meantime, all my iterations are perfectly wearable.

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I’m definitely loving this top in silk. Since it doesn’t require much yardage, I don’t mind splurging on nice fabric!

—lisa g.

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orange silk blouse | mccalls 6793

my last post was of a scout tee in silk, but this blouse is actually the first one i made, and my first real foray into the world of floaty silks! natch, it comes with a convoluted narrative, so bear with me…

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last winter i entered the sewing for children pattern review contest and came in second for the coat i made my daughter. my prize was a $50 gift certificate to sewitup.com. truthfully, most of what they sell isn’t really my thing (haven’t looked recently though), but they do have a small selection of fabrics. i ended up treating myself to two yards of a silk crepe de chine. the price tag was a whopping $23/yd, so i crossed my fingers that it would live up to my expectations. at the time i didn’t know my chine from my charmeuse and had hoped to use it as a fancy jacket lining, but duh it’s totally the wrong type of silk for that. so… it sat in my sewing room for months and i kinda forgot about it until recently.

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i decided to make a blouse (though i wasn’t completely convinced that orange would look good on me) but in typical i’m afraid to ruin this fabric mode, i agonized over the details. for weeks. you know how it is… the longer you hold onto a nice cut of fabric, the harder it gets to use… then on a whim i decided to use mccalls 6793 and make the bow blouse with the peplum gathers and blouse-y sleeves (i love those sleeves!!), but as it turned out, i didn’t have quite enough fabric for that version. however, it led me to trying out the pattern on much less expensive fabric, specifically the bow blouse i made recently. i’m glad i did because i realized i really don’t need many bow blouses in my wardrobe. also, it was perfect to test the fit so i could confidently cut into my precious fabric. since i had the fit worked out, i decided to make some design changes. i browsed a ton of blouses online and decided to do the following:

  • raise the neckline to be more scooped
  • add a front button placket
  • bias bind the neckline
  • add a back yoke
  • add 2″ to CB of lower back piece for light gathers
  • add 1″ to back length, curve hem up at the sides

from my last version, i only tweaked the sizing a tad. i cut a straight S on the back piece (but added 2″ width at CB gathered to the yoke). on the front i also cut a straight S, but slashed and spread from the waist to swing the width out to a M at the hemline (just as i did for my last scout). anymore i prefer the “slash and spread/overlap” instead of grading between sizes because it feels more accurate and it’s more obvious what pattern changes i’m making to get the fit i need.

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even though i had all the details worked out in my head, i still procrastinated starting my project because i had about zero experience on dealing with silk. after a bit of online research and some swatch testing, i felt pretty confident that my fabric would not fall apart if i machine washed it, so in it went on the cold/handwash cycle. i threw in a color catcher sheet for good measure. after washing i line dried it, and that was it!

construction was slow, but all went well. the first thing i did was make the front button placket, and let’s just say i’m glad that i’m very comfortable with this process otherwise it would have been a nightmare. it’s still not perfect; even though i was using a microtex needle, it had a hard time piercing the layers. i encased the yoke seams as i would a regular button up, and french seamed the sides. the armholes i trimmed way down and serged.

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i realized i haven’t done a proper bias bound neckline in… i can’t even remember when, if ever! it’s a bit nerve-wrecking since you have to chop off the whole seam allowance. no turning back once you choose to go that route. fortunately it turned out pretty darn good. in the future, i think i need to “pre-stretch” the binding before cutting it to the right width. as in, cut bias strips wider than needed and actually stretch them out, then cut to the width i need. i think that would have made the bias tape more stable and easier to bind. if anyone has thoughts or experience, feel free to chime in on that one!

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i love these feminine bloused sleeves. they have a continuous binding placket and bias bound cuff/hem. if i had to do over again i wouldn’t bother with cutting the cuff on the bias (per the directions); the bias made it extremely difficult to sew since my fabric is cray cray stretchy on the bias. i had to meticulously measure the cuff as i gathered the sleeve to it to make sure it ended up the right length.

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anyways, i’m glad i finally got over my fear of silk, and i’m glad i fretted over every detail. even though i had the difficulty ramped up in my head, i would have regretted skimping on the details. i think the hardest part sewing wise was getting used to the feel, or lack thereof, of the fabric. the stuff is so thin and floaty that it almost disappears under your fingertips. other than that, it was pretty well behaved. and oh yeah… i love my blouse!

—lisa g.