Great Tank Bonanza: Gemma and Willow
It’s back! Our annual handmade tank top celebration returns for the second year, and this time around we’ve got even more sleeveless inspiration for you.
For the next two weeks, we’ve got a small blog tour lined up, but in a little different format than you’re used to seeing here. Different how, you ask?
Well, I think the best part of the indie sewing pattern world is that there are so many options! All of the slightly different variations on the same type of garment make for a plentitude of choices when it comes to your handmade wardrobe.
And for that reason, I’m a big fan of comparing and contrasting similar sewing patterns. I like finding out the subtle differences between designs that I might be more or less drawn to.
So, four ladies and myself will be comparing and contrasting two similar tank top patterns in each post. That way, you can make the best buying decision for your body shape, wearing preferences, and fabric choices.
Today I’m showing you two basic woven tank tops that have been quite popular among home sewists over the past year: the Willow Tank by Grainline Studio and the Gemma Tank by Made by Rae. While these two patterns are both basic woven tank tops, they are not at all the same. Let’s see how:
Willow Tank by Grainline
The Willow Tank is fitted through the bust and falls with an A-line shape to the hips. It has a dress option with a cool pleat detail and a bias-bound neckline and armholes. It has a nice, wide hem which works well in a structured fabric. The Willow Tank is intended for a wide range of woven fabrics from chambray to silk crepe de chine.
I sewed my Willow Tank in this Navy Chambray Linen (brand new to the shop!) for a neutral top that I could wear with dark jeans and shorts in the summer.
I sewed the size 2 (my normal Grainline size, but I’m probably closer to a 4 now) and I raised the darts by 1 3/8”. This is a normal adjustment for me on all Grainline patterns and a super easy one. I follow this tutorial and it takes less than five minutes. But after sewing it up, I realized I probably could have raised the darts by just 1”. Clearly my body has changed a bit since I sewed my last Grainline pattern!
I really love the look of this top in a structured woven that makes it stand away from the body. I consider this tank top a bit on the cropped side, so I think it looks best with high-waisted jeans or a fitted skirt.
Here I’m wearing my Willow Tank with my Birkin Flares. I have plans to sew the high-waisted Ginger Jeans which I think would pair well with this top too.
My other thoughts? I’m pretty narrow on top and this top does feel a bit wide through the shoulders on me.
But I feel very covered in this tank top, in a good way. I don’t foresee any accidental flashing happening, which is a nice feeling. My bra is totally covered by the armscye, which I struggle with on ready-to-wear tops. Overall the fit feels pretty good.
The Gemma Tank by Made by Rae
Gemma is a more relaxed, curve-enhancing silhouette with two neckline options and a curved shirttail hem. It also has a bias-bound neckline and armholes and is intended for the same kind of woven fabrics as the Willow Tank.
I sewed my Gemma Tank in this (sold-out) Polka Dot Double Gauze in a straight size XS and with the lower scoop neckline. The only change I made mid-sewing, was to raise the shoulder seams about 1/4”. I didn’t anticipate that this would make the darts too high for me, so next time I’ll lower those using the same tutorial as I used above.
I made this adjustment because, as far as I could tell, my bra would show a bit if I didn’t. Like I said before, this is a common problem I have with tank tops, so you may not notice an issue at all.
I’ve been wearing my Gemma Tank with my favorite boyfriend jeans and clogs. I think the relaxed fit of the Gemma pairs better with some relaxed jeans or shorts. The double gauze fabric keeps me super cool in hot weather!
Final thoughts: The Gemma Tank has a little less coverage from the shoulders to the bust (with the scoop neck version I sewed here), as the straps are narrow, but not at all scandalous or too revealing. The fit on me is amazing and I really loved the curved hem. I can easily see myself sewing five more of these and wearing them all summer long.
Overall, both the Willow Tank and the Gemma Tank are awesome additions to any closet. They’re both designed and written by industry veterans, some of the first women in the indie pattern scene.
Both sets of instructions are excellent and the drafting is spot on. Each tank top took the same amount of time to sew (just two pattern pieces each if you use pre-made bias tape!). It took me less than two hours start to finish for each.
Plus, these tanks don’t require much fabric: just 1 3/4 yards of 60”-wide fabric! Overall, I’m happy with both and can absolutely see more versions of both in my future.
It wouldn’t be our yearly tank top celebration without a serious sale. All tank top sewing patterns are 20% off (use coupon code GREATTANK at checkout). This includes standalone tank top patterns AND any pattern that includes a tank top option, like the Reef or the Saltbox. The sale ends June 30 at 10 p.m. MT!
Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram as we show even more tank top inspiration for the next two weeks!
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