Granny chic and chambray self-drafted racerback tanks

Chambray and granny chic racerback tanks

Today I’ve got 2 finished summer tops to show you, drafted from scratch by me!  Hooray for actually using my sloper to create some finished garments!  You’ve already seen the chambray tank on the hanger a few weeks ago, and I also sewed up a floral version that I’m calling “granny chic,” since I can’t decide whether this print is granny-fabulous or just plain eye-searing.  I do think it looks good with a white skirt though, so I’m calling it a win!

Project Stats:

Pattern: Self-drafted from my sloper

Fabric: Robert Kaufman cotton chambray dots in burgundy, Bonnie Christine Aves Chatter Voile in Dim, Heather Ross Briar Rose Cricket Clover in pink/white (all 100% cotton).  Embellishments: “vintage” (?) piece of lace from a mystery box of goodies, metallic tailor’s tape.

Modifications: Starting with my bodice sloper, I added a deep V-neck, deepened the armholes, and added an aggressive racerback.  The “peplum” (not actually a flounce) is the top portion of a maxi skirt that I drafted from my skirt sloper.  I added a slight shirttail/curved hem.

Level of crafty satisfaction: Although I fully admit that these tanks look a bit like “my first drafting projects” (which they totally are!) and have a few fit issues, I’m excited to have finally used my sloper to create some finished garments.  I’m sure drafting your own patterns is a journey, and I’ve just started to take my first steps.  Lots to learn!

Granny chic tank
Granny chic racerback tank - front

So, does this floral/shamrock print make me look like an Irish granny, or is it springtime chic?  🙂  I purchased this fabric at the Gather Here sidewalk sale a few weeks ago, and I must have picked up and put down the bolt 4 or 5 times before I finally made up my mind to buy some (it was on sale, after all!).  I just couldn’t decide if this puke-green color would look good on me, and to be honest, I thought it looked pretty awful when I tried on the finished top.  It wasn’t until I saw these photos that I started to like it, especially with the white skirt, but I’m still not completely sold on it.  At least my pasty white winter skin blends in with the white garments, LOL!

Granny chic racerback tank - back

My favorite part of the tank is the racerback.  I’ve always liked the sporty look of a racerback, and it’s super comfortable to wear for someone with broad shoulders that tend to bust out of most tops.  Here, I have complete freedom of movement!  Ah, how I love summer clothes.  🙂  When deciding where to cut the armholes, I made sure that the top of the back bodice would be high enough to cover my bra band.  No back/side bra here!  Yet another one of the many joys of sewing is making sure your clothing and undergarments work well together.

FYI, I’ve just recently “discovered” a good bra style for racerback tops: a strapless bra with detachable straps that criss-cross in the back.  Or, a racerback bra of course.  Why did it take me 35 years to figure this out?  Geez.  🙂

Granny chic racerback tank - side

The shoulder straps of the top are a little loose, as you can see above, so there is a bit of bra strap peek-a-boo going on, but this doesn’t bother me too much.  As long as the band is completely covered, I’m comfortable.  From this side view, you can also see that the curved hem along the bottom is just slightly longer in the back than in the front.  I’m debating making the difference a little more extreme if I make this top again – we’ll see.

Overall I’m fairly happy with this top, if a little unsure about the granny chic print.  Maybe it will continue to grow on me.  🙂

Chambray tank
Chambray racerback tank - front

While I love the fabrics in this top, it’s hard to ignore the drag lines from the bust to the side seams.  As I said, this was my first real drafting project, and it shows!  (For the record, the same drag lines are present on the granny chic tank, but the print does a good job of camouflaging them.)  I don’t think the fit issues are so extreme as to make this top unwearable, but my eyes gravitate toward those drag lines like Batman looking for the bat signal, LOL.  Part of the problem is that the bust darts go all the way to the bust apex, resulting a pointy situation there.  I need to move them back an inch or so.  Plus my sloper just needs some tweaking.  I’ll get there one day.

Another issue is that I can’t decide if this little piece of lace is really “me” or not.  The top looked a little plain without it, but I think I would have preferred more of a geometric embellishment as opposed to the feminine, scalloped lace.  Ah well, it’s good to try different styles sometimes!  You never know what unexpected shapes or silhouettes might work for you.
Chambray racerback tank - back

I’m really happy with the fit in the back, and I like the transition from dots to birds as you move down the top.  It’s a unique combination that I would never be able to find in RTW.  Go sewing!
Chambray racerback tank - side

From the side, you can see the drag lines again, in addition to some slight gaping in the shoulder straps.  Overall though, I think this top is fine, and I’m sure it will be light and comfortable in the hot summer weather.  I’m looking forward to trying it out!  You can see from these photos that we don’t have any leaves on the trees yet, but there are buds everywhere.  Spring is coming, and summer will be following soon.  Finally!!  🙂

Construction details
Granny chic racerback tank - stripe detail

I already shared some detail shots of the chambray tank, so here are some from the granny chic version.  Like the chambray top, I thought the floral top needed a small embellishment to transform it from “homemade” to “handmade.”  I added some strips of metallic tailor’s tape in pink and white, simply topstitching them to the center front and folding the bottom edges under.  Confession: these strips aren’t completely straight!  Can you tell?  This entire top was sewn with a “close enough” mentality, which is unusual for me.  But, this is just a simple unlined tank, and I just wanted to forge ahead.  I got **this close** to unpicking the strips and then decided to screw it, LOL!

Granny chic racerback tank - edge finishing

I used the same edge-finishing techniques as for the chambray tank: a narrow double-folded hem for the armholes (getting even narrower around the tight curves of the racerback), and a shallow topstitched facing for the neckline to preserve the point of the V-neck.  Neat and simple!  I pressed everything really well before sewing the edges down, and I used a LOT of pins.  No shame in using a ton of pins, people!  They’re there for a reason.  🙂
Granny chic racerback tank - inside view

The top features deep bust darts and shallow fisheye darts on the front.  The seams are sewn on the sewing machine first, and the edges are finished on the serger.  Again, nothing fancy here!  It’s just a simple tank, and I didn’t go overboard with finishing like I would with an Archer, for example.

Granny chic racerback tank - side seam zipper

And speaking of sloppy finishing, look at this hilarious invisible zipper installation in the side seam!  The body of the zipper came out well (thanks to my invisible zipper foot, which you should really go out and buy right now if you haven’t already), but check out the mis-matched edges at the top.  Hahahahaha.  I just have to laugh at myself when I do things like this.  I’m not sure if the sides were different lengths to begin with or if I was just sloppy about how much I folded over when finishing the edges.  Regardless, this basically sits in my armpit during wear, so thankfully it’s not too noticeable.

Granny chic racerback tank - zipper interior

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  What can I say?  It had been a while since I inserted an invisible zipper, and I wasn’t really in unpicking mode when sewing this top.  Oh, and I decided that I hate sewing invisible zippers.  It’s funny how I enjoy sewing some fiddly things (like sleeve plackets) but not others (like zippers).

Final thoughts

Granny chic racerback tank - spring poseOverall, I’m fairly happy with these tops, and I’m excited about more drafting projects from my sloper.  Between these tops and my awkward attempt to pose with a watering can, I think I’m nearly ready for spring!

Do you have any tips for translating a sloper into finished garments?  What’s the most elaborate self-drafted garment you’ve made?

14 thoughts on “Granny chic and chambray self-drafted racerback tanks

  1. I’m super impressed by these! I think that my most elaborate self drafted item is a skirt made from two rectangles of fabric with an elastic waist. It’s so nice to have Spring in the air and start making sleeveless tops again!

    • I like the details you’ve added to both of them, and the green one is not granny looking at all, you have paired it really well with the white skirt.
      Do you name your patterns? I like giving names to my patterns(only 2 by now), why should pattern companies only name their patterns?

      • Thanks so much, and what a great idea to name your patterns! That honestly never occurred to me, since I don’t plan on drafting patterns for sale. But yes, I think names would be great! I’ll have to think about it. 🙂

    • Thanks Teri! Drafting is tricky, and you have to start somewhere. There is so much to learn, and I’m excited about digging in a little more. I’m so happy spring has finally arrived – I haven’t touched my winter coat in about 2 weeks!!

  2. I love your tanks! Good job on the drafting, and I do like the granny-green (especially for summer).
    BTW we have the exact body type, and racer-backs are a favorite for me as well. I wear racer-back bras underneath so nothing shows.

    • Thanks Roni! I’m glad to meet a body double. 🙂 I think our body type is fairly uncommon, and the pattern companies are definitely not drafting for us! I’m excited to learn more about drafting and hopefully stop relying on patterns that need a bunch of alterations every time.

  3. Hello! I’m back from my internet drought and slowly catching up on blogs. I recently attended a trouser fitting workshop and I “almost” have a trouser sloper. It still needs a bit of work and refining though, but I think I will get there! I hope to use this sloper to modify the fit of some patterns I have rather than to create new ones from scratch, but who knows? Maybe I will eventually be bitten by the drafting bug!
    I loved your recent Archer BTW!

    • Thanks Vaire, and welcome back! That’s super exciting about your trouser class and sloper!! I’ll be curious to hear how you wind up using it and how your sloper compares to commercial patterns. Pants fitting is still so confusing to me, and the more information we can learn from each other, the better. 🙂

  4. Very cute! I think the green tank is super cute, not granny-ish or eye-earing at all! (Although, given how I wear color …. hm.) Love that the strips down the front are different lengths — it’s such a cool touch that you don’t notice at first! And the lace on the maroon tank is so cute — maybe a little different for you, but what is sewing for if not for exploring and stretching the boundaries of your self-presentation?

    And great job sewing from your sloper! It’s not easy making them, but you’ve done that AND you’re designing from them — kudos to you! For your first project (heck, these would be really good even for your second project) from your slopers, these are really well done. Huzzah for you!

    • Ebi, thank you for all the kind words! These tanks definitely aren’t perfect, but I’m learning as I go and enjoying the process. I really enjoy putting special touches on my garments, even a simple trim like I did here. If you’re going to take the time to make something by hand, you might as well make it a little special!

  5. You drafted your own top! Awesome! The floral one, I like it! It’s just that when it’s next to the chambray, I’m not so sure because I like the chambray a lot.

    You know, after reading how you drafted your own sloper, you really made me want to do the same. I’m really excited about that!

    • Thanks Kathy! I would highly recommend drafting your own sloper! It’s a time commitment up front, but I learned a LOT about pattern drafting just by going through the process, and there is SO much more to learn once you start using the sloper to draft your own garments. Honestly, it’s the most fun and challenging sewing I’ve ever done. Totally worth the effort! 🙂

  6. These are both very cute tops Carolyn. I’m sure you’re going to get a lot of wear out of them as your weather heats up. I really like mucking around with pattern drafting. Sometimes I just want to get a project done so it becomes a “good enough” garment. Honestly though, I still end up wearing them as much as the “just right” garment 🙂

    • Thanks Vanessa, that’s good to know! With these drafting projects, I was so excited to see how the finished garment would turn out that I didn’t go overboard on perfecting the construction. I feel like I’d do a more thorough job once I know the fit will work out how I envision. I’ve been wearing my not-quite-right handmade pants a lot lately, without really caring about their imperfections. It feels awesome to have made some pants, so I’m wearing them with pride, LOL!

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