Like all of Grainline Studio’s patterns, the Willow Tank is a classic. It’s a slightly boxy, sleeveless A-line top with bust darts and a large turned hem. I don’t remember when I actually bought this pattern, probably on sale at some point. And it was never specifically on my to-sew list. But it’s a one of those quick and simple makes that makes it a perfect impulse sew.
After finishing a dress that turned out to be rather disappointing a few months ago, I needed something that would be quick and satisfying. I had a little bit of fabric leftover from the dress and I thought it might be just enough for this tank. Based on my recent experience with the Alder Shirtdress, I selected the size 10 and made a 1” FBA. This top is a little boxier than the Alder so I may not really have needed the FBA but at the time I was on a FBA roll so I did it. Really it only takes another 20 minutes so it’s definitely worth it. Surprisingly, I didn't add any length to the top. It's designed to hit mid-hip but I like having it a little shorter.
So for my first Willow Tank (seen on IG here and here), I used a cotton-poly from The Fabric Store. I didn’t have a lot leftover so I cropped it a bit and made a standard 1/2” hem. I took it with me on my trip to Portland in early August and it was perfect for the excessive heat. A few weeks after my trip, I visited The Fabric Store here in LA and was inspired to make another Willow Tank. I have a partnership with them and receive free fabric from time to time. I honestly love their shop and can’t say enough good things about it. It’s a perfectly sized boutique full of the most beautiful, rainbow-organized fabrics. I had looked at their lace fabrics before but this time I knew exactly what I could make. A Willow Tank! The oversized lace design pairs so nicely with the simple shape of the tank. I chose the lace in black (available online here) but they currently have it in other colors too. The fabric is a cotton-nylon blend so it’s nice and soft against the skin and has some drape too.
This fabric was honestly a little tricky to work with. Fortunately, the pattern was very simple so I didn’t have many seams to sew. First, I reinforced the shoulder seams by adhering a small strip of black fusible interfacing to the seam allowance. When starting to stitch a seam, the fabric tended to not want to move through the machine. To solve this, I put a piece of tissue paper (extending behind the presser foot about an inch) between the garment and the feed dogs. I only needed the paper for the first inch or so of stitching, to get it started. After stitching, I gently tore the paper away. To finish the seams, I used a serger. French seams were too challenging and honestly, you can’t see the serging through the holes in the fabric.
To finish the neck and armholes, I cut bias strips from a lightweight black fabric that was in my stash. I machine stitched it to the top but instead of topstitching it down, I hand stitched in place. It took a few hours but the finish is so nice. And hand stitching can be relaxing and meditative. (BTW, I watched the movie Hidden Figures while stitching. I highly recommend it.) Both times I made this pattern, I found that the bias binding for the neckline was not long enough. This could just be my fault though. You can always cut it extra long and then trim the excess.
Instead of doing the bias binding, I could have added a lining to the top. But I felt like a lining would have made it look more dowdy and weigh it down. Plus, I already had a black Ogden Cami that I was pretty sure would be perfect paired with this top. And it totally works! I love the deep V in the back of the cami and how it shows off the pattern of the lace. I’ve written about the Ogden Cami before here and here. It’s another great basic pattern and perfect under a lace top. I really like this top and I've already worn it a couple of times. Worn with all black it feels a little edgy which is a nice way to balance out the feminine lace. This pattern is a true classic and I'm glad that I let it jump the queue. I'm sure that I'll be making it again and again.