Sunday, June 11, 2017

Testing, testing: Chalk and Notch Pony Tank (Plus Giveaway!)

When I saw Gabriela's sample version of the new Chalk and Notch Pony Tank in my Instagram feed, I was smitten. V-neck, close fitting at the bust and swinging out at the hip? Yep.

Lucky for me, I was a tester for the Pony Tank pattern, a simple tank-style knit top or dress with an A-line shape and curved hem.

I love the shape of the top! It swings out over your belly and hips, making a lovely silhouette. I think the back of this tank looks great on me, and I am typically pretty self-conscious about photos my back roll-y bits.

The fitted top covers your bra straps and those fleshy bits around your armpit, but still has enough cut away at the neckline and back to feel sexy (yeah, things feel real sexy around here after writing "fleshy bits around your armpit" and "back roll-y bits"!).

Gabriela worked hard to make sure the armscye situation was just right. I think she nailed it!

The Pony Tank was designed for drapey knits- think rayon, bamboo, modal, etc. For mine, I chose a super soft striped jersey in rayon, I think. I bought it in Hanoi last year and it wasn't labeled. You might remember that I also used this fabric for my Bento Tee a few months back. It's the perfect weight for the Pony Tank!

Stripe matching in this fabric wasn't too bad. I feel like I'm getting pretty good at stripe matching. Not perfect, but pretty damn good. 

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After a few people asked on Instagram, so I thought I'd share some of my personal tips for stripe matching, particularly for knits:

1. Trace your pattern pieces onto sheer-ish paper. I like to trace my patterns (even PDFs!) because my tracing paper is somewhat translucent, which helps me to see the stripes through it to make sure they're straight. Bwa ha, had you asked me a few years ago if I would ever willingly trace a PDF and I would have laughed and laughed, but I am a convert now!

2. Draw horizontal lines across the pattern pieces. I draw lines across the pattern pieces connecting the notches and use those lines to align the stripes. That, combined with the sheer tracing paper, ensures that the stripes stay straight.

3. Trace whole pieces and cut flat. For pattern pieces meant to be cut on the fold, I trace them twice and combine them into whole pieces so I can cut flat. Cutting flat, rather than on the fold, saves fabric in addition to allowing for easier stripe matching.

4. Focus on key points. I make sure the stripes align at key points (hem, underarm, shoulder, notches) and the rest seems to fall into place.

5. Use double-pointed pins. I pin every few stripes with double-pointed "fork" pins. I find this type of pin really helps prevent the stripes from shifting around as I sew.

6. Use the stripes. For cutting and sewing accurate striped neck and arm bands, use the stripes as your guides! I like to measure the width of the band pieces in stripes (for example: the neckband is 3 navy stripes and 2 white stripes wide) and then cut long strips (width of fabric) from the fabric using the stripes as my cutting guide. Then I trim those long strips down to match the band pattern piece lengths. When sewing, I also use the stripes as my stitching guide rather than being a slave to the seam allowance.

7. Use your sewing machine, not serger. I find I'm more accurate when I apply striped bands using my sewing machine rather than my serger. I just serge afterwards to finish the edges. To be honest, on this top, since the neckline doesn't have to stretch to get over my head, I just used a straight stitch for maximum accuracy!

I hope my tips are helpful! They're not earth shatteringly novel, but it's what works for me!

Back to the Pony Tank pattern now: this pattern is great and a lovely addition to my stash. Great on its own or as a layering piece, too! It looks cute under a blazer or cardigan.

Here I've paired it with my Style Arc Georgie jeans... kinda having a bit of an Americana thing happening with this outfit. Maybe this will be my Fourth of July outfit when I move back!

Long story short: get thee the Pony Tank, stat!

Gabriela has also generously offered a copy of the pattern for me to give away to one lucky reader... to enter, comment below by Friday, June 16 (11:59 pm ET) and I will randomly choose a winner: what fabric do you have in mind for your Pony Tank?
*UPDATE: the giveaway is closed; a winner has been chosen and notified.*