Kate’s Take on the Willow
When I saw the Willow tank, I was really excited. It looked like a great, comfortable, standard tank that would work in woven or knit. I ran right out and bought three different fabrics to use this pattern for.
For the first fabric, a tropical-print shirt-weight cotton, I chose the pattern that best matched my waist and hip measurement, because I didn’t want to risk it bunching over my admittedly wide hips.The only other change I made was that I just turned the hem twice about 1/4” rather than using the full hem allowance; I like a little more length on my tops. I really loved how the tank came out — it’s breezy, cute, and as comfortable as I thought it would be. I think it’s my favorite of my Willow tanks. There are only two slight problems with it: it gapes just a little at the front of the armholes, and because it’s cotton I have to press or steam it before wearing (which of course I was prepared for, but still — if I’m in a rush in the morning, it can get irritating).
The wrinkle problem was already solved when I started work on my second top, as the other two fabrics I had chosen were ones that were unlikely to wrinkle. In this case, it was a fun light polyester with a random vertical line print in a wide range of colors. To solve the second issue, I decided to go down a size on the upper part of the pattern to actually match my bust measurement (I’m pear-shaped and my waist and hips always require a larger size than my bust). I drew a line starting under the dart and blending into the waist.
The second tank was more of a struggle to make, mostly because the fabric ravelled very easily, even on the bias strips, and it had a tendency to slip, so I was fighting the fabric the whole time. Once it was done, though, it was a great top. The armholes on this one don’t gape; however, the top is a tiny bit tight across the back of the shoulders and the upper bust. It binds movement just a bit. In the end, I think that the original is more comfortable, especially now that a few washings have pretty much eliminated the armhole gaping. I think in the future, I’ll make the original single-size version.
This was not important for the third Willow tank I made, though, because that one was made from a knit cotton covered in butterflies. I made it before I decided on my preferred sizing, so I made it with the split sizes. Honestly, though, I think I should have gone down another size or two to adjust for the knit fabric. The top is pretty baggy; I’ve actually considered taking in the side seams a little, but haven’t actually done it (yet). I also didn’t bind the arm and neckholes on this one — I just turned them twice and stitched them in place with a regular straight stitch. The shoulder and side seams I did with a serger, but the arm and neck holes are big enough that I didn’t think it was necessary to use a stretch stitch to finish the edges. They haven’t given me any trouble yet!
I really do like this pattern, and I wear at least one of my Willow tanks a week. I plan to make at least a few more this summer — I have a pretty cherry-print rayon that would be perfect for this pattern, and I also have some sample fabric that I’m thinking of piecing together for a colorblocked Willow tank.
I highly recommend this tank if you need to sew up a summer garment very quickly (I’ve done it in two hours or so; the binding takes the longest). It’s also a great stash-buster. Although the pattern calls for 1 3/4 yards to 2 yards of fabric, I’ve found that for 54” fabric, it can be double-folded to the middle and the pattern cut from the same plane plus a few extra inches for the binding. If you wear a small size, you may be able to do the same thing with 45” fabric. I plan on going through my leftovers to see what I can get a Willow tank out of! There’s also a dress version of the pattern included, so a cute summer dress could be in your future as well.
Amanda’s Take on the Willow
I have to admit that when I saw this pattern release, I didn’t understand the mass appeal. But I think that’s how it works sometimes with basics patterns…you slowly realize that they’re pretty genius and that you must, truly must, have them in your life.
I’ve made the Willow twice, so far, both in black, and they both get a lot of wear. And I’m planning one more now…it’s black and cropped (following a handy tutorial on the Grainline Studio blog). First up is my wearable muslin, made with leftover thrifted linen and some precious ikat scraps. In addition to the center stripe at front and back, I reduced the wide hem in favor of a straight split hem. The tank doesn’t have the structured wide swing to it that the pattern intended, but I did manage to make the most of the yardage I had on hand and got a good sense of the pattern sizing.
For my second Willow, I used a handwoven I bought while out of town. I realized later that I didn’t buy enough yardage – because of the wide hem, the bodice front and back are a bit longer than your standard woven tank – but I was determined to make it work. I sliced the back bodice pattern to make a yoke and cut the yoke piece on the bias…and it worked! I love the fit of this one – the handwoven fabric has a little more give than standard cotton.
As I mentioned, I’m plotting a third in basic black linen and with a slightly cropped hem. Maybe high-low? Maybe buttons up the front? The possibilities are endless with this tank…and that’s why I love it.