by Daughter Fish

Last summer, I spent a few weeks making (and singing the praises of) maillots—a.k.a. unitards. Ballet and modern dance classes were a huge part of my adolescence, and my maillots remind me of the comfy ballet unitards I wore back then. Of all the garments I’ve sewn over the past year, I think my maillots have gotten the most wear. This chevron tank top—which is really just a muslin/test garment—is the next evolutionary step of my maillot pattern.

Like my maillots, this tank top has a built-in shelf bra.  For me, a one-stop bra and shirt is the ideal summer garment: super comfy and easy to wear. I usually like to sew cups into my shelf bras, for more shape and support (and to avoid the dreaded “tube boob”). Unfortunately, I was all out of cups for this tank, so it has more of a sports bra look to it (which I will remedy with some cups on my next version).

When I was sewing the tank, some annoying rippling happened  where I sewed the neckline of the shirt and shelf bra together. My regular machine isn’t so hot on sewing jersey, and I’ve yet to find a double needle that will leave clean rows of top stitches. Generally I just sew two rows of top stitches with a regular needle. This time, though, the feed dogs pulled too hard, stretching the fabric, and I got gaping at the neckline.

Lately, I’ve been trying to push myself to finish garments in a clean way, with really good fit, so that I’ll actually wear them.  I tore through a lot of sewing projects last summer that have stayed hidden in my closet because of bad fit or shoddy workmanship. I was learning, so it goes with the territory. But I feel like continuing down that path, at this point, is a little too fast fashion-y and antithetical to why I want to make clothes for myself—i.e. wearing quality garments that are made just for my body, and that express my personal style. So I’m trying to take things more slowly (take more care), and pay attention to details. That meant I needed to fix the gaping issue on  my tank.

I’d already finished the tank’s arms and hem with simple bands , so I decided to try this around the neckline. It took me some time to figure out how to make the mitered corner on the V neck  (I spent a good hour staring at the guts of my husband’s store-bought V-neck T’s). I also found this Threads video on a neckline binding for knits SUPER helpful . The trick to getting a nice binding that hugs the body (and doesn’t gape) is to stretch the binding along the curved edges of the neckline. This technique would have prevented my armscyes from gaping, as well (domage! I’m not tearing those suckers apart now!).

Now I’m excited to try a version of this shirt with a lower, more dramatic back line. I also want to experiment with making some fancier versions (maybe with cut-outs of sparkly spandex? Similar to my Sparkledex Maillot).

If you’re interested in drafting your own version of a maillot (or a tank) based on my pattern, check out my brief tutorial.