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organic tank top - making my own?  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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I went to get some new tank tops the other day and my local shop now only has synthetic fabric.  So I go to some other shops.  Same thing.  So I go online and boy oh boy are they expensive - that's before exchange rate and shipping and customs.  Then there are the organic ones which are up to $120 US (some as low as $60US).

1. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places?  Maybe there are affordable organic or failing that just non-synthetic tank tops out there?

2. Maybe I'm better off learning to make my own.

I tried making one based on my most comfortable tank top, but I don't have any knit fabric so my would be tank didn't have any stretch.  I think my ahem endowment to body ratio is too large for a woven fabric tank top. 

I found some organic knit cotton fabric for $14 a yard.



Width 64-66”

Weight 8.5-9oz

It's ready to dye in that it doesn't have a lot of chemicals I have to scour out. 

Is this the right weight to make tank tops from?  Is that a good price for this kind of fabric?  How many yards would I need to make, say 3 tank tops?  Is it possible to sew on knit fabric with only a straight stitch machine (old singer treadle)?
Maybe I should just suck it up and pay the high price for an organic tank instead... it's just I want to save my money for rainwater storage tanks.  Any thoughts?
(ps, used clothing seldom works for me because of all the residue from detergents and cleaning agents takes about 12 washes to get out before it won't give me blisters.  Too much water and too much wear on the cloth)
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've not had success sewing knits with just a straight stitch - the stitches tend to pop when the fabric is stretched.  This will likely be a big problem if the tank needs to stretch a lot to fit a curvy body.
 
r ranson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I've not had success sewing knits with just a straight stitch - the stitches tend to pop when the fabric is stretched.  This will likely be a big problem if the tank needs to stretch a lot to fit a curvy body.


That's good to know.  I do have an old zig zag attachment I can see if it works.  But it moves the fabric back and forth, not the needle.  Would that work with this kind of fabric?

Any hand sewing stitches that might work? 
 
Judith Browning
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I live in tank tops all summer and am not sure what I would be wearing if I couldn't get them at the thrift store. 

That aside, I think you should easily be able to get a nice one out of each yard of that fabric at that width.  Looks a little thin maybe?  The one I'm wearing now has a rib to it and the neckline and armholes are bound with the same knit fabric. 

Seems like it would be easy to cut a pattern from an old top that fits well and then cut binding from the fabric also.  I like the binding that is cut twice the width needed, folded in half and those raw edges sewn along the edge to be bound.  Then I usually finish by hand because it's hard for me to do that final top stitch neatly, especially when its a stretchy fabric.

Do you have a machine that sews knits well?  I found I can on even my treadle, by using the old 'stretch and sew' method but others say a serger is the only way and it does do a lovely job finishing the seams and avoiding too much stretch.

Sounds like they would be a lot of fun to dye once finished.  I seem to remember sites with 'ready to dye' organic cloth bags and t-shirts..maybe they would have tank tops also...and be cheaper in bulk?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I sew some stretch fabrics by hand using a whip stitch:  https://quiltingoneness.wordpress.com/tag/whip-stitch/  ; Small stitches close together will allow more stretching and look better, but may not be as stretchy as a machine zigzag.  It might be difficult to sew a knit fabric on a machine that moves the fabric instead of the needle because knit fabric wants to bunch up and fight the machine anyway and moving it from side to side is likely to make it even harder.  But you won't know for sure without testing it with the actual fabric.

Have you looked at this shop?  http://www.rawganique.co/womens-organic-cotton-linen-hemp-t-shirts-tank-tops-tees-s/231.htm
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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For what it's worth, Dharma Trading has tank tops for much less than that. http://www.dharmatrading.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?query=tank+top. This one in particular is 100% cotton, although not organic cotton: http://www.dharmatrading.com/clothing/junior/junior-fine-jersey-tank-top.html. They do have t-shirts in organic cotton, just not tank tops: http://www.dharmatrading.com/clothing/organic-cotton-clothing-and-fabric.html. The highest cost for the organic T is $9.99 for 1-11 shirts, 2x-3x size. Cheaper for smaller sizes or higher quantities. Highest price for the tank top is $8.59 for juniors 2x, again with lower prices for smaller sizes and higher volumes. Note that the tank tops are on clearance though.
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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By the way, I'm starting to see back to school stuff being advertised, so part of the issue may be that it's the "end of the season" from a vendor point of view.
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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I happened to find another: https://www.landsend.com/products/womens-cotton-tank-top/id_298977. They're 100% cotton, but not organic.
 
Galadriel Freden
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It's possible to make a tank top from a woven fabric, but cutting out your pieces on the bias.  Here's one I made several years ago.  I used a fairly light-weight muslin fabric, but I've also used heavier woven fabrics too.  If using a more tightly woven fabric, the pattern pieces might need to be cut out in a size larger.

I would suggest if you are going to buy expensive organic fabric specifically, that you also buy a pattern.  Or make your own pattern--and make a mock up in scrap fabric first to make sure it fits you (actually, I recommend doing this if you buy a pattern too).  Having a pattern to go back to is so much easier than trying to wing it each time you need to make another garment.  I "winged it" on this one (I made it to be a nursing tank top, hence the buttons), and it was so many years ago I don't think I'd be able to recreate it accurately;  it's a shame because I really liked it--so much that I wore it out.  And I don't have a pattern to make a new one!

 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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Actually, if you've ever made a broomstick skirt, you can do something similar with light weight cotton or gauze to make a top too. I used to have one (store bought) that I really liked for summer. It acts "stretchy" because of the wrinkles even though it's woven fabric.
 
Peter VanDerWal
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I don't think you'll find any organic cloth with much stretch.  Perhaps you might try a different design that doesn't need stretch?

Maybe a tunic style with laces on the side, or a vest style?

Some ideas from a quick google:
Like this but without the high collar:



or
 
Larisa Walk
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Thyri Gullinvargr wrote:For what it's worth, Dharma Trading has tank tops for much less than that. http://www.dharmatrading.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?query=tank+top. This one in particular is 100% cotton, although not organic cotton: http://www.dharmatrading.com/clothing/junior/junior-fine-jersey-tank-top.html. They do have t-shirts in organic cotton, just not tank tops: http://www.dharmatrading.com/clothing/organic-cotton-clothing-and-fabric.html. The highest cost for the organic T is $9.99 for 1-11 shirts, 2x-3x size. Cheaper for smaller sizes or higher quantities. Highest price for the tank top is $8.59 for juniors 2x, again with lower prices for smaller sizes and higher volumes. Note that the tank tops are on clearance though.


You could take an organic T-shirt and remake it into a tank top. If the neckline is OK then you just need to cut off the sleeves and use some of the fabric to edge the armholes. I too have left used clothing behind in a cloud of toxic scents. No amount of washing or hanging in the sun takes out the new "fragrances" they are putting in laundry products these days. BTW it also makes it nearly impossible for me to go to indoor public places because of this or allow people into my home or to sit on fabric chairs after others who have transferred their perfumes, even though they have long left. I'm even noticing that second hand hard goods like kitchen wares need cleaning and airing out before being used in my home. Either they are getting rub off scents from clothing/textiles, or the perfumes in dish soaps are getting more obnoxious as well. Maybe the manufacturers can't smell anymore after decades of being inundated with toxins?
 
Genevieve Higgs
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Here's my home made ish tank top recipe, it's good if you don't want want to sew much or do a pattern.  I've heard it described as a handkercheif shirt.

You need 1 square of fabric - a pre-hemmed handkercheif is perfect.  You also need 3 ribbons, or strings.  A pair of shoes laces will work if you cut one in half.

Fold over one corner and sew it down so it makes a tunnel. This will be the neck line.  Put a ribbon though the tunnel and tie it at desired neck line diameter.

Attach ribbons to the corners adjacent to the one that is folded into a neck line.  These wrap behind you and become the back ties.  You can just tie these corners together or sew them together instead.

The fourth point is your front hem.  I've done this with satin and made a slinky evening shirt, with an actual handkercheif for casual wear and with linen as a shirt for under a business jacket.  It's low grade engineering, just play around with the dimensions of the square of cloth and the tightness of the ties.

 
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