Gemma Tank

I'm currently obsessed with Meg over at Sew Liberated. I'm trying not to fan girl all over her on Instagram, but I've found her approach to clothing and making an intentional wardrobe really refreshing. I'm looking forward to her Mindful Wardrobe Project, because I've needed a dose of it in my life.

I know a lot of women struggle with post-baby bodies. Weight fluctuation, carrying a little more than you'd like, and proportions that have changed. I'm definitely in this camp. I haven't been as proactive as I could be about doing yoga or not having that second glass of wine. Meanwhile, most of my pre-baby clothes don't fit. So I've purchased a few loose t-shirts and some comfy lightweight sweaters to get me through. But it doesn't make getting dressed every day fun, or god forbid, inspiring.

So the concept of being mindful about your clothes in a way that fully embraces your body as it is right this moment is a very appealing concept. I keep telling myself that my body has done something miraculous. Created another human, fostered life itself, blah blah blah. All that is true, but sheesh I wish all my cute jeans fit. I've been sorta waiting to revamp my wardrobe until I lose weight, but in all honesty, I really want to be comfortable and cute, RIGHT NOW.

The Gemma tank by Made by Rae is my first step toward this.

Meg wore it in so many cute ways, as you can see on her Instagram account, and I kept drooling over it in that beautiful Nani Iro linen. So when I was strolling through Joann Fabrics and saw a beautiful, drapey and buttery Modal that had a very similar indigo dye inspired print, I had to make it mine. I was trepidatious because I don't wear a lot of wovens. I am an extremely flexible person, and tall, so I've never found wovens to be particularly comfortable. But I had this one top...

It's from Old Navy. It's an XL, but feels like an XXL. It has elastic shirring across the shoulder blades. It's in a beautiful bohemian print. It's long enough to cover a bit of my butt. It's loose enough that it's comfortable enough to sleep in. And every time I wear it, even when I was 9 months pregnant, I feel great in it, and really that's the most important thing.

As I was contemplating making a blue and white woven tank, I was keeping in mind the things I love about the Old Navy top, and wanted to recreate the things I love about it. The Gemma tank is the pattern Meg at Sew Liberated used, and after comparing a few of the indie tank patterns out there, I decided to just go with the Gemma. I liked that it took into account the upper bust measurement, as that's always been a problem area for me fit-wise. The Old Navy top skirted around that with the front keyhole opening, and the elastic shirring in the back, but I didn't want to add those particular details. The keyhole with the ties is pretty, but kind of annoying. And the shirring isn't quite as flattering as I'd like across my broad upper back. Plus, if I wear a bra it shows both in front and back, so it had better be cute and match. Ugh.

I cut out the pattern in a size 2, knowing it might be a bit large for my measurements, but that I could always take it in if needed, which I eventually did. I wound up with a size 1 in the side seam at the armscye, and graded back to the 2 at the hip so it would keep some flowyness.

I also altered the neckline a bit. I cut out a size 2 at the top shoulder, a size 3 at the top of the neckline, grading down to an L at the center bodice. That made the width of the shoulder a bit narrower, and the neckline deeper and a touch wider, which I knew from experience would feel less claustrophobic on my body.

I then added a bit over an inch to the length, just above the waistline. The pattern was actually already pretty good for my height, I'm 5'11", but I wanted to cut a bit long for the added butt coverage, knowing that I still have an addiction to yoga pants and leggings, but don't love how my butt looks in them. Just a personal preference. Also if the top is long enough, I don't worry about panty lines should I happen to have my grannies on.

I sewed it up relatively quickly, during Luna's nap times, and had it finished in about a 24 hour period. This is good in mom-time. I can't believe how much patience is required for parenting in general, but especially when trying to actually get stuff done. It just takes more freaking time. Ah well. I love her, so it works out.

The pattern specifies that you can finish the neckline and arm holes however you want, and the Made by Rae blog has an amazing post about different bias bindings for the Gemma tank in particular, here. My intention was to do the French, but in classic Victoria form I sewed my neck binding to the wrong side of the fabric and instead of ripping it out and trying again, I Bob Ross-ed it and called it a "happy accident."

I really don't mind how it turned out. It gives even a bit more interest to the top, I think. I used another Made by Rae post to make bias binding. I had a yard and a half of this fabric, but loved it so much I didn't want to cut across the large leftover piece to make one long continuous bias tape. Instead, I used the actual scraps from cutting out the pattern. I wound up with about 8 smaller pieces, around 10 inches each, that I seamed together. I knew that some of them would show (though I didn't realize quite how much, considering I was assuming this bias tape would be on the INSIDE instead of the happy accident outside), so I tried to match the pattern at the ends of the strips as best I could. I'm actually pretty proud of that nugget, because there are two seams on the front of my neckline that are pretty much invisible. I mean, I also got incredibly lucky. But I'm glad I took the extra effort to both be eco-conscious and aware of the color fluctuations. I now have very few unusable scraps from this project, and about another 3/4 of a yard to make something else. Shorts? A skirt? Another Gemma? The world is my oyster!

I've worn this top an embarrassing number of times since making it. I've been wearing other things out into the world, then coming home and changing into it for comfort. And THAT is how I know this top will be a truly functional part of my wardrobe. It's already been worn more than any other me-made item I have, and I hope more of the things I make can have this perfect blend of form and function.

Do you all have any tried and true patterns that you'd recommend? I'm in the market. :)

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