why not Y back......

I've been in desperate need of some new tank tops for a few years now.  If I was a girl all I'd have to do is ride down to my local Target and I'm sure I could pick up a few cute items super cheap.  Truth be told two of the last tanks in my closet were picked up in the juniors department of the Nordstrom Rack back in Sacramento, yeah, like I said it's time.  For guys  the options (cute ones anyway) are few are far between.  Usually I end up settling for the big pack of "wife beaters" we all love to hate.  Yeah they serve a purpose but really they're meant to be underwear...  They have other brands by 2xist and such but they're all a little too.... well, anyway.  Plus there's nothing unique about them and they're still not on the cheap by any means.

So I thought (ding ding)  Ebay!  Well the search turned up some very awesome looks from a company called SqueezeDog that seems to retail exclusively on ebay.  If you like those and don't mind even more steam in your milk take a look at their other selections.  I'm honestly not one for the fancy man panties but like my friend says, there's a chair for every seat (well he says ass).

Moving on....

The looks that intrigued me most were the Y back tanks.  I've always liked certain versions of this look and it's not that common in men's clothing outside the gym.  A quick google image search turns up lots of this type but you know that's just not what I'm out for!  However SqueezeDog puts out some very cute versions, the only downside is that they run in the $40s with international shipping.  What to do.....   what....  to.....  do?

 Well obviously I'm going to attempt to make my own!  I'll admit right now the part that scared me most was all the binding, jeez it looks like a lot of work right?  Actually it turned out to be pretty simple once I figured out a technique that worked for me. 
 I even pulled out the banished coverstitch!  This coverstitch machine I've discovered is actually a fine unit but requires a knowledge of tensions and sewing I simply have not possessed until just recently.  It was purchased off ebay a few years back and super cheap (for good reason).

It has no markings whatsoever for tension and one must do a LOT of trial and error to get everything just so.  God help me if I ever find anyone diddling with the knobs....

The other issue is the ridiculously minuscule clearance under the foot, what the hell is this all about?  We're talking a few layers of knits and that's it folks....   Maybe that's all that's necessary.....   so far it's always been just enough to squeak by.

The machine does a fine job where it counts and if it's skipping stitches it's always my fault somehow.  You can see here that I'm getting pretty good at catching the raw edge on the underside and keeping my stitching straight even on the top of the bindings.  I think I'll do a little video on how I achieve this later today.

Anyway, I drafted the pattern using Wild Ginger (as always these days) which admittedly has become extremely addictive.  Often I'll dream about pattern modifications and first thing out of bed in the morning I'm in the software moving lines and trying out new ideas.

Here's what I came up with for the tank top using the top photos for inspiration.  I started with my T-shirt pattern but modified it so heavily at this point nothing really remains except for possibly parts of the center back and front seam.

It took 9 tries to get it exactly the way I wanted it, considering they only take 45 minutes or so to sew up that's not so bad.  In the video it's hard to see the changes between each version mostly because I got it so close to being right on the first try.  Trust me, each of the nine is totally different and now that I have my final draft the other eight are seeming less and less wearable.

Here's video where you can see me try on and talk (possibly ramble) about each version and what I learned when making them.  I finally figured out how to get full quality out of my webcam, the downside is a HUGE file that's taking a few hours to upload.  By the way, this is my 80th! public video on YouTube, now I can't say they're all great but wow, that's a lot!

(part two of this posting is here) 

10 comments :: why not Y back......

  1. YIKES — $40 is steep for a tank. They are sweet tho.

    Good info, as always. At some point I'll get a serger again. Never had a coverstitch machine of my own, but this definitely makes it seem like a good idea.

  2. I'm taking knit serger classes thru a company whose other line of business is making RTW samples for major clothing designers/manufactures ... The idea being we get to learn some tricks of the trade. Along that line, the way they do bindings on the armholes is by serging the sides, but undo just a little of the seam at the top, just enough so that the binding can be sewn in the armhole seam to seam with binding tails hanging off the strat/end. The binding tails are pinched and stay stitched back, then cut. This eliminates the serger tail you mentioned and gives (still takes some practice) a nice finish.

    I had just had a long conversation with my instructor on this topic in the am -- then saw your post that evening! I was convinced that it would be much easier to serge the sides after doing the binding. Her reasoning was the same as your conclusion -- it doesn't give a clean/professional finish. Serendipity, I think.

    Love your blog!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.
  4. I just meant to edit the above, I had two typo's!
    I wrote this: If you make the binding just a tad shorter than the body, it will slightly cup the fabric towards you instead of away from you. Also you could use steam-a-seam, or Japanese fusible tape. I use it only with pricey fabrics since it costs quite a bit more.
    Judy Barlup has a pdf file using the Japanese tape on her site, uniquetechniques.com--its for both the armscyes and the neckline.

  5. Awesome tip about making the binding shorter. Actually I DO this but only in the areas where I want the garment to cup towards the body, mainly the center back and front. I apply the binding with no tension in all other areas and slightly stretch the front and back neck. Works great! You can see me do this in part 2 of this posting....

  6. I did see that after I posted and saw part 2. In a knit class I had, the instructor made the binding separate into a circle and then made it all fit by stretching the entire shirt to the binding, dividing it into 1/4 sections. I like your method better. At first on the video I thought you meant you adjusted the tension on the machine itself, say the pressure foot or a dial, but didn't see you do that so I knew you meant the fabric itself...

  7. Your very last shirt, the white one--you captured the $40 essence! All the subtleties came together!
    (I don't know why this is not publishing my name now, I didn't tell it to do that--this is Christianne from N.CA. The one you helped in regards to purchasing a Pfaff 30 for $20!)

  8. ack! I see I had bad grammar in the first response! haha. But deleting comments looks worse than leaving it. It does not let me edit on my end. Sorry!

  9. No problem!

    I feel like the 1/4 pin 1/4 pin method is a little old fashioned but still effective. The problem is that it doesn't allow you to adjust for different amounts of tension for different areas. I learned my technique putting elastic in swimsuit legs where I would want more snugness between the legs but not over the outside thigh where it would cut into the flesh and look too tight.

  10. brian, this binding is kick-ass and the how-to is great. thanks for sharing this.

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