The Willow Tank (& Dress) Pattern from Grainline studio is a classic, slightly a-frame tank top perfect for summers and for layering under sweaters in cooler weather.
This was my second pattern from Grainline, the first being a simple shopping tote bag. I love that they do in-depth blog sew-a-long posts, which were helpful for a mega beginner like myself. I’ve now sewn five of these tanks (yes, you read that right) in slightly different variations, notes below.
Variation 1: The Original in Cotton
I started out with a standard Size 2 for my plain cotton muslin piece. I try to always make a practice, even with simple patterns, because I just never know how it might fit. Overall the fit was good, though the armpit and back shoulder area were a bit high / tight for me. The only modification I made to the pattern was to use french seams throughout.
No new photo to add here, but you can see it in my beginner-friendly sewing projects post.
Variation 2: Adjusted Armpit Clearance in Cotton
I’m sure there’s a more elegant name for this part of the tank – if so, please let me know. I added ½” width to each side of the tank top (so 1” total, when front & back are together) and also moved the bust darts up slightly. Grainline has a great tutorial for adjusting bust darts on a Willow Tank that I followed. Because I made this out of quilting cotton, it was a but too… boxy and loose for me. I may give this to my mom or donate it locally.
Variation 3: Silk!
My ultimate goal for this pattern was to recreate my favorite Everlane & Cuyana silhouettes in fun silk prints. This was my first time sewing with silk crepe de chine, and it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be.
Cutting was tricky (more on that in a separate post) and I had to be more careful with the fabric, but overall it went OK! I used the same adjustments from above – adding width to the armpit area and grading back down to Size 2 from bust darts downward. I also followed Grainline’s tutorial for a split-hem, a detail I really like on this one.
The classic french seam worked really well here – it looks beautiful and clean on silk. However, I think this resulted in a slightly larger seam allowance which left the armpit area slightly tight (though not as snug as the original).
Variation 4: Cropped Cotton
As summer progressed, I really wanted to make a cropped tank a la Elizabeth Suzann’s Petra Crop. I used quilting cotton and reduced the length by 4”, and really liked how this one turned out.
Variation 5: Cropped Silk
Silk again! I had just enough leftover silk to make a cropped variation in this fun black silk with a origami bunny print. I used the usual width and bust dart adjustments, and also lengthened the top of the straps by ½”. I should have adjusted the bust darts up by ½” as well – they sit a bit low on me now. Oh well, the fit is great overall and this one definitely allows for the most arm movement!
Overall, the Willow Tank is great pattern for beginner sewists – I liked the satisfaction of making something so wearable for both casual and professional environments. This is also a great scrap buster. I was able to squeeze out a cropped version with ½ yard of silk, and a regular one with just 1 yard with different fabric for the bias bindings.