Time for a little experimentation!

Summer is the perfect time for experimentation – new hairstyles, new skills, new styles! Through the school year I sew lots of TNT patterns because sewing is my outlet for stress, but in the summer holidays I’ve got time to have fun.

Which is a long way to say: I cut up the Plantain t-shirt pattern and made two different-but-similar swingy tank tops!

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Whatdya think? It’s a totally new shape for me – so much volume isn’t usually my thing, but I’ve been pinning lots of similar shapes. The rayon jersey (same as K-Line used here, I think) was only $5/m, so no pressure if I messed it up.

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(Enjoy – this is the only pic where I managed to get my feet in the shot!)

#1: The Ruffled Tank

The blue tank came first. The neckline is finished with folded bands, and the ruffle is left unhemmed. The first time I did the ruffle, I only used one width of the fabric, and it came out totally wimpy and barely ruffled. I cut it off and used 2 widths, one for the front and one for the back. It’s better now, but I wonder what it would be like with even more fullness?

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I gathered the ruffle with my serger, and then serged it on… but no matter how I cranked the tension, it still stretched out the seam and left things a bit wobbly. Should I have reinforced the tank top edge, or gathered the ruffle in a less lazy way?

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See where there’s a seam down the centre back? The neckline turned out totally huge, so ta-da! Design feature!

Here’s the good and the bad about this design experiment:

The low neckline is fun to wear, but it’s pretty darn low and I think it would just keep getting lower through the day with the weight of the ruffle pulling things down. I like the idea of the wide ruffle, but it does tend to bunch up in the back where it catches on my jeans. I think the proportions of a top like this matter a lot – it would take lots of experimentation to get the depth of the ruffle and the length of the hem *just* right!

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(I got so excited by the beautiful red door behind me that I didn’t stop to think what pink-on-red would do to the colour meter in my camera. Forgive me!) 

#2: The Double-Layered Tank   This is the same slashed-and-spread-Plantain pattern, but this time it’s a short and a long tank nested together. The neckline is just the two pieces serged together. The only trick is to make sure the lower tank doesn’t have any exposed seams as it hangs down.

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For a little more fun and volume, I tried out the “lettuce leaf” edge on my serger for the first time. I really like it the look! How fun would a dress length version of this be? I like the texture it give the solid knit – otherwise the two layers would just hang as one.

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(Feet! My kingdom for feet in this photo!)

The Good and the Bad:  I like this top better! The neckline is a little less worrisome, and I like how the two layers float around in a breeze. This one also catches on my jeans a bit, as you can see in the pic above, but I guess that’s just life! I think the slight high-low hem works better in this design.

(Oh, and the pants I’m wearing aren’t Ginger jeans, for once – these are my Cake Espresso leggings-turned-pants that I sewed back here! The rise is crazy-high, which I think is why they look saggy in the crotch in a lot of shots. I might reattach the waistband down lower, because otherwise they make great comfy “skinny” jeans! I wish I could find more of this stretch twill, because it’s great.) 

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Which do you like better? Have you been pinning/eyeing any new shapes you’d like to try this summer? Jumpsuits, rompers, culottes, midis, crop tops… are they calling your name?


52 thoughts on “Time for a little experimentation!

  1. These tops are so cute! I love the colours on both. I agree with you though, I like the pink top better- it looks a little less fussy. It’s always so fun trying new patterns🙂

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  2. That is the same pink jersey fabric as mine – but you got yours for less than half the price that I spent?! I really like the pink top. I’m not a fan of lettuce hems but it works really well with the style – it’s a bit flapper, a bit flirty, and the colour really suits you. Well done.

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    1. Yeah, lettuce hems have always scared me! So old lady. Hopefully the hot pink and low neckline balance that out here! (That rayon is still $5 at my local store – I bet it is at yours too!)

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  3. They are both fun silhouettes! The pink one really works! I did a layered plantain dress last summer, but cut the top layer too short. Oops. I think the proportions on yours are perfect.

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    1. I find the proportions had to figure out, too! Maybe if I had a really accurate croquis of myself? But until then, I guess we are both just experimenting til we get it right!🙂

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  4. Love both tops! I think the pink one has pretty much perfect proportions and swing. The blue one looks a tad at risk for stretching out at the straps, but a few tweaks would get you there. Great tops!

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    1. I can’t figure out why the blue neckline is so big compared to the pink! Yes, the pink is double layered, but it’s only the serging holding it in shape.. the blue has folded bands, which I thought would support it better! You are right though, I could definitely tweak the fit or reinforce the straps. Or maybe just keep wearing it over a camisole?

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  5. Ooh, I love them both! I’ve developed a weakness for layered tank tops this summer – I’m actually about to adapt a Sorbetto I made a while ago into one (in no small part because the Sorbetto always ends up weirdly short on me and I always forget to add length!). But now you’ve got me craving some knit ones as well as wovens… I actually think I like the blue one a bit more myself, but they’re both seriously cute.

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    1. Sorbetto is REALLY short! My theory is that is was released just before long tops became popular? I made a few, but it never really worked for me!

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  6. Another one for Team Pink here! Although, with the neckline from the pink one the blue would be as awesome. I love the somewhat whimsical feel of it, like a little girl’s dress. For some reason I have the feeling though that the blue also needs a bit more interest. Maybe a pattern or the ruffle made in a different color? Or the hi-lo being more pronounced? Anyway, both are awesome but the blue needs a bit of additional TLC to be perfect.

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    1. Team Pink is definitely winning!😉 I think maybe the blue one needs more “swing” in the back, and perhaps a deeper ruffle starting a bit higher? I did consider doing the lettuce edge on the blue ruffle, but I can’t decide if that will make it too crazy! What do you think?

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  7. I love both as well. Great hack! Thanks for pointing out the problem of the ruffle weight – this is something I would have overlooked. And your new haircut is wonderful. You look fabulous!

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  8. I love…no…ADORE the pink top! I want one. I might even need one. There is a pile of bamboo knit in my stash, but I fear the knits after that dress!🙂

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    1. Bamboo knit is my absolute favourite! It works really well with Plantain (which is free, of course). I hope you give it a go!

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  9. I love these tops. The pink one is my fave and the colour is superb on you. Could you use your differential feed on your serger to help with the ruffling? I think I read that somewhere but have never tried it out. Have you ever cut a ruffle as a circle? Is that a flounce instead. That also gives a good sense of movement. I used them on Sprogzilla’s skirts wen she was wee. Xx

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    1. I did use the differential feed on my serger… first to ruffle, then to (attempt) to stop the seam from stretching as I attached the ruffle. Not quite enough though! Oh well.😉 A circle flounce would be really fun! I’ve used them to decorate a neckline, but never a hem. Hmmmm!

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  10. Hmm, tough call. I think they both turned out great! I really love that red on you and the lettuce hems but style-wise I prefer the blue one – reminds me of RDC Lucie! As for proportions, I don’t think you’re far off! The only suggestion I’d make is to add a bit more swing to the back bodice so it’s more similar to the front. Also, sooooo jealous of your T-shirt weather, winter’s starting to get boring now😉

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    1. I was definitely inspired by the DC Lucie, so I’m glad some of that same through! I think you are spot on about the ease in the back – I’ll add that next time!
      (Sorry we are hogging this nice weather – sounds like a rough winter this year down under!)

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  11. Love these – especially the pink top. I haven’t tried the lettuce edge function but it looks great – I need to be braver with my serger rather than just leaving it on the overlock stitch so that I don’t have to re-thread😅

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    1. I”m exactly the same! I have never once done anything other than 4-thread stitching! I didn’t change anything for the lettuce edge except drancking the differential feed to stretch the fabric. Easy peasy!

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  12. I love both of these. I have been interested in more boxy shaped tops and I really like ones with ruffle bottoms. I think they look really great with skinny bottoms. You are so great at experimenting Gillian! PS: you pictures look awesome, even without feet.🙂

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    1. Uh, the feet!!!! How the hell did I cut them of EVER SINGLE TIME??? And my shoes were cute, too!😉
      I think this shape would look great on you! Better than on me, actually because I’ve got such wide hips that they cut off a very wide point. Now that you’ve got your Greenwood fitting nicely, you could use that as a base to slash and spread! (Hehe, I always feel so professional when I alter patterns properly instead of just freehanding something – even if I’m doing the alterations all wrong!)

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  13. I really like the double layer. It’s got me thinking about layering two fabrics that are just 1 or 2 shades off from each other… Both of these look great with the skinny jeans. I have the same issue with tops, but they get caught on my hips or scrunch up if the waist is too long. It’s funny, a couple of years ago, I made all of my tees to hit at my high hip. Though I like my jackets to end there, tees are a little too short there. I wear those tees all the time, and I’m always a little uncomfortable, feeling like I need more coverage. So scrunched up or too short, pick the poison.

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    1. A tonal different in the jersey would look so cool! Like if you lightly dyed one layer? That would be fun!
      You are spot on about shirt length – I’d always rather too long than too short. All I wear is high-waisted pull-on stretch pants, and man, that waist should never been seen!😉 Gotta have room to raise the arms, bend and move around without things riding up too high.

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  14. Super fun! I love them both. I think I prefer the double layer too – would make a great dress! I experimented with a t-shirt hack too. Tried tippy ends (does that make sense?) I discovered I needed more length and probably won’t make it again….. 🙂

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  15. They are both great but my favorite is the pink. The lettuce leaf hem is really pretty. Ive never tried that. I really like the photos in front of the red door, very arty!

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    1. Thank you! That door was so pretty I just had to take pic there… even though I realised I was looking in at a homeless person’s home under the bridge while I took the pics! No one was home though, and it *was* a nice location!

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    1. Thank you! I wish I was brave enough to change my haircolour as often as you – I used to, when my hair was short like yours. Now I just live in fear of roots and growing it out!

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  16. Both tanks look really cute, with a slight preference going to the pink one. The floaty look really does it for you! I love how you matched the background to the tanks colour-wise, too!
    Not a lot of experimental stuff going on in farbenfreude land, I’m afraid. I’m whishfully thinking about a time when I still had summer holidays, instead.😉 My current fav outfit is jersey maxi dresses. I made a second one a couple of weeks ago and may need a few more, as the two I own are in constant rotation!

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    1. Hopefully after a few years, you can find a practice that lets you have more flexible hours? Here, at least, being a dr is quite well paid, so some people choose to work less hours so they can have better quality of life.
      In the mean time – you know I love a jersey maxi! I think it’s the most bang for you buck – not much fabric, looks fabulous, comfy to wear, and easy to sew!

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  17. They’re really fun experiments! I think the pink is my favourite too – I’m not usually a massive fan of lettuce hems but they work really well here. The blue is cute too though!

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    1. Lettuce hems just conjure up visions of old ladies wearing pastels, don’t they? Makes for a fun top to wear though!🙂

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  18. I’m actually on team blue, so much so that I really want to make one for myself now! I love voluminous tops like that with skinny jeans and cute shoes, so I’m pretty much in love with your outfit as pictured! I think you nailed the proportions, and the ruffle amount is just right too.

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    1. Thank you! I wore the blue one yesterday, after adding a folded band to the neckline to make it less indecent! (Without a camisole underneath, it showed half my bra) It was perfect for a really hot day! You should definitely make yourself one!🙂

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    1. I think all your swingy ruffled tops have been gradually convincing me that I need my own! They really are fun to wear. I’m converted!

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  19. Way to go with having fun and playing around with new styles – it’s just fabric after all! I love that blue cover but I can see how after a while you might want to avoid leaning too far forward. Right now I want to make a Sallie romper but I’m having problems finding a fun print that hopefully won’t make me look like an overgrown toddler!

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    1. I dug out my fabric scraps and added a wider neckband to the blue tank yesterday, and now it’s perfect!
      I share your Sallie dilemma! I’m very tempted by the pattern but can’t think what I’d make it in! Hope you find just the right print!

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  20. i love both of these on you. The colours first of all suit you beautifully. I can understand your fear of the blue neckline though! I like the look of the pink one, a nice layered effect. Rayon knit will always stick unfortunately.
    As for new shapes, I’ve been thinking of trying a cocoon coat, I tried on an RTW one the other day and was pleasantly surprised.

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