Who Made It Best is a friendly challenge hosted by Melissa of mahlicadesigns where she pairs up with a fellow blogger and they sew the same pattern to see Who Made It Best. The challenge rules are simple: 1. We agree on a pattern to use 2. Sew it up to suit our personal styles 3. Share it and ask you to vote for your favorite.
You can check out Melissa’s version of her Greenwood here.
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For this tank, I used this pistachio/white tie-dye rayon lycra from Fabric Mart. This stuff was amazing to work with. It’s opaque, it has incredible recovery, and it gathered beautifully for the ruffles.
Zipper Ruffle Tank
Do you stalk RTW sites like I do looking for sewing inspiration? It seems I’m always on the hunt for cool design details that can be incorporated into my next project. When I saw Philip Lim’s Zipper Detail Ruffle Top, I knew I wanted to hack it. Net a Porter describes it thus: “3.1 Phillip Lim’s off-white top has zip-embellished white ruffles that can be unfastened to create a cool cutout effect. ” So zipped up, it’s a frilly girly tank. Unzipped, it turns into an edgy cold shoulder look. Pretty cool, eh?
I’m working on editing a 3 part video to show the construction process of the zipper cutout, but I’ll break down in this post the changes to the pattern that needed to happen first.
Widen the shoulder
For the zipper ruffle to work, it needs to be on a wider shoulder than what’s available on the Greenwood Tank. I could’ve saved time by starting with a tank pattern that already had a wider shoulder (on my video, I’ll share several options), but I’m playing by the rules here and using Greenwood! To widen it, I overlaid my TNT t-shirt pattern’s shoulder. I determined that I wanted the shoulder to be about 2″. I slid the edge of the t-shirt pattern out to meet that 2″ mark and traced the armscye. It helped that I had previously altered the Greenwood to have the same armscye as my TNT t-shirt for fit reasons. You want to do this on the front and the back.
Measuring for the zipper
After you widen the shoulder, draw a line 1″ away from the raw edge of the armhole. This is where the zipper is going to sit. Measure that line minus the side seam allowances. This length is the length of zipper you need. You can use zipper by the yard or a closed end zipper. The Philip Lim top uses a 2 way zipper which also works. Whatever you choose, use a metal zipper. This is an exposed treatment, and you won’t like the look of a nylon or plastic zip, plus you need steam and heat to set the zip in place. Metal can take the heat!
The sewing preparation for the zipper is a bit like a welt pocket. You sew a long window into place that’ll sit behind the zipper so that when it’s open it’ll still have a clean inside finish. I used fusible interfacing sewn wrong side up so that when it’s pressed to the inside it fuses in place to make a clean edge. You could just sew the zipper unit into place and slash behind the zipper, but it’ll be pretty messy under the zipper and the fabric could become unstable. I’m really happy with how the inside finish worked out, and I’m hoping the video shows it well.
I did not sew the window the entire length of the zipper because I found in my practice that the cold shoulder had a spot where it draped well. Past that point, it just looked like a big old zipper was hanging off me. That magic point for me was 3.5″ down the back from the shoulder. The window doesn’t go all the way to the bottom of the front armscye either for the same reason. The window stops 6.5″ down from the shoulder along the placement line. You could put a zipper stop at the end of the back part of the opening, but I’ve found in wearing the top that it’s not necessary. The zipper does not want to go past the end of the opening.
I cut four 2″ strips 2x the length of the zipper. Next, I sewed a gathering stitch along one edge. Then I gathered the strips so that they matched the length of the zipper. I applied Steam-A-Seam to the front side and back sides of the zipper on all sides of the teeth (so 4 strips of Steam-A-Seam per zipper). After the SAS was taken off on the topside of the zipper, I applied the ruffles to either side and steamed them down to activate SAS’s glue. Then you stitch down the ruffles. You can remove the gathering stitches at this point, but it’s not necessary.
Getting the zips into place
When the neckline and arm bindings were sewn on, I could add the zipper. Once the window is sewn and pressed back, I matched the back of the zipper teeth to the window and fused it in place. The zipper should open towards the back, and I started the pull at the front side seam allowance. The you sew down the tape to the tank. I chose to sew in the zipper flat which required me to sew the ends of the zipper before I sewed the side seams. Alternatively, you can finish the tank, then you can sew the ends together first and then sew it it in in the round. In the round it’ll be a little harder to get the zipper teeth into place. Either way works and both have their advantages!
I love this hack for the drama you get with the zippers. You can go soft and romantic zipped up or more trendy zipped down. It’s also always nice to have a garment that can be worn multiple ways. Zipped up could take you to work, and zipped down would be a great top for a nice dinner out. Or wear it halfsies because you can.
So what do you think? Please visit mahlicadesigns for more pictures and details on her version, then place your vote for Who Made It Best. The poll will be on both sites, so you can see both versions before you choose your favorite. Voting will be open for one week.
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.