Friday, June 17, 2016

Tank Top Testing - Finding Our Favorite Muscle Tank Pattern, a comparison of 15 patterns!


Levi asked me to make him some more tank tops, his favorite style of shirt for the summer.   I had a look and realized I had 18 different tank patterns!    Some of these are free ones, some are ones I've tested for various designers, none of them I actually bought.    In the past, I just chose one of my patterns without thinking too much about it, but I know some of Levi's tanks fit better than others, so I decided to find out which we like best.

I ended up sewing a total of 15 tank tops, and I even convinced Levi to pose for pictures for every single one of them.

I'm going to share a little about each pattern, some key measurements, and pictures of the front, armcye and back fit.   I'm putting these in order starting with Levi's least favorite and ending with his favorite.

AND if you stick it out to the end of the post, you will find a giveaway to win your very own tank top made from one of these patterns by The Little Sewing Shop.

First a quick comparison on a measurement chart, these are all size 6, or the equivalent Euro size.

Armcye depth - Pink Line
Shoulder width - Blue line
Chest width - red line
Length - Turquoise line

(All titles are clickable links!!!) 

15. Mini Sun by Aefflyns To Go
Size: 74-140 (about 12m-10yrs)
Price: FREE
Armcye/Neck: Bands-  Measure openings to determine length
Notes: This pattern is not in English but comes with great pictures and Google Translate does a good job as well.    Check out the other patterns on this blog too, there is a mom's version of this one too!

I had high hopes for this pattern because I liked that it is the only one with a more "racer back" style.  Unfortunately, it seemed to run pretty small despite remembering to add seam allowances (European patterns often don't include them).   I plan on trying this again in a bigger size because I like the look!

14.  On Your Mark by Kelly J Designs
Size: 12m-18yr
Price: $9
Armcye/Neck: Binding, with cutting chart
Notes: This has fun color blocking with pockets!   The On Your Mark pattern is not just a tank but also a short or long sleeve shirt too.   Layered printing on this one too which saves ink!

I was surprised that Levi ranked this one "low" on his list of favorites, because another pattern in the same bundle came in higher even though they have the same fit.

13.  Maui Muscle Tee by Peek-A-Boo Pattern Shop
Size: 3months-12yrs
Price: $7.95
Armcye/Neck: Bands with pattern pieces
Notes:  Peek-A-Boo has very clear instructions, nice easy pattern to follow.

12. Blank Tank by Blank Slate Patterns 
Size: 18months- 8yrs
Price: $7.95
Armcye/Neck: This one is unique - neck and armcyes are folded under and topstiched
Notes: Slight flare to the shape, curved hem, and a pocket as well.   I used a fun meerkat embroidered design for the pocket.   Levi likes the deeper arm holes.   I like the details on this one and because it doesn't have bands its even faster and easier to sew than the other tanks.

11. The Tank by Fishsticks Designs
Size: 12m-5T  (I made a 5T on this one!)
Price: FREE
Armcye/Neck: Bands with measurement chart.  Has instructions for adding the armcye bands flat
Notes:  I found that the measurements given in the pattern are different than my finished tank - it is narrower and longer than the pattern says.   But a good basic tank, this was a favorite when Levi was smaller.

10.  5K T-shirt and Tank by Elliedactyl
Size: NB-12yrs
Price: $9, or FREE in the Facebook Group
Armcye/Neck: Bands, measurements on the pattern pieces
Notes: Lots of options - tank, short sleeve, long sleeve, color blocking.   Layered printing.

9. Ottobre Designs: Free tank top
Size: 80-122 (about 18m-6x)
Price: Free
Armcye/Neck: Binding, stitched on flat instead of in a circle
Notes:  I made this from an upcycled Tahoe shirt, its 'burnout" fabric.

8. Pickled Pepper Top by Pickle Toes Patterns
Size: 2-16yrs
Price: $8.95
Armcye/Neck: Bands, hood option too
Notes:  This one has a few options - hood or not, ruffle, band or hem at the bottom, and color blocking for the front and/or back shoulders and a kangaroo pocket.   Slim and regular fit options.

7. Justin & Justine’s Muscle Tank by Snuggle My Baby Patterns
Size: 2-16
Price: $8
Armcye/Neck: Bands, uses measurements
Notes: This is a good basic design, quick and easy to sew up.  Seems to run a bit short.

6. Go! by Kelly J Designs
Size: 12m- 18yrs
Price: $9 or $20 as part of the Race Day Collection 
Armcye/Neck:  Bands, instructions for sewing in the round and flat.
Notes:  Tank, short and long sleeve options (both with layered look options).   This one has a fun kangaroo pocket.

5. Mini-Muscles Tank by Stinkin’ Adorable LLC
Size: 12m-10yrs
Price: $3
Armcye/Neck: Bands, uses measurements
Notes: Has color blocking - stripes down the sides

4. Tyler Tank Top by Funktional Threads
Size: 12m-16
Price: $1
Armcye/Neck: Bands - cutting chart OR pattern pieces
Notes: Another good basic tank, this one is only $1!

3. Freebook Sommertop by Klimper Klein
Size: 56-158 (about NB-16yrs)
Price: Free
Armcye/Neck: Bands, you measure them yourself
Notes:   Good basic pattern, has an add-on option for the faux placket.   There are some other good free patterns on this site as well.   Its not in english, but google translate works well!

2. Matey Muscle Tank by Patterns for Pirates 
Size: 3m-14yrs
Price: $5
Notes:  Looser fit, basic style.  Matching mens tank 

1. Safari Tank by Pickle Toes Patterns
Size: 2-18
Price: $5
Armcye/Neck: Bands
Notes: This is the more basic version of the Pickled Pepper Tank, it has ruffle, hem, or band options.
This was Levi's favorite!!

All of the tanks together

In order from first place to last place
Row 1: Safari Tank, Matey Muscle Tank, Sommertop, Tyler Tank Top , Mini-Muscles Tank
Row 2: Go, Pickled Pepper Tank, Justin & Justine’s Muscle Tank, Ottobre, Elliedactyl 5K
Row 3: The Tank, Blank Tank, Maui Muscle Tee, On Your Mark, Mini Sun

Buy one here or Enter the giveaway!!

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Pattern Review: Love Notions Tidal Tank and Top

I test a lot of sewing patterns, but the vast majority of the time they are clothes for Levi.   I rarely sew for myself, but lately I've had the opportunity to test a few women's patterns.    This is one that I really like and plan on making more of.  

Pattern Description: Love Notions:   Tidal Tank and Top 
Comes with 3 lengths (top, knee and maxi), short sleeves, sleeveless or tank.     I learned that "tank" and "sleeveless" mean different things, "tank" is the narrower straps, and "sleeveless" is fuller coverage straps.   Option of banded or bound neckline/arm holes. 
Pattern sizing: Comes in sizes XS-XXXL.   I made the size small.  There are also instructions for a full bust adjustment.  
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern when you were finished sewing? yes
Were the instructions complete and easy to follow?  Yes, this is a super quick and easy pattern to sew up
Fabric used: Pattern is for knit fabrics, but woven fabric can be used for the middle panel (still need to try that!).   I used knit fabric I found at a thrift store for one, and Joann knit for another.  
Did you alter the pattern in any way?  I shortened the first one (purple) by about 2" at the "lengthen/shorten" line included on the pattern.    On the floral dress I chopped 3" off the bottom before hemming because I forgot to shorten sooner.   
Was there anything you disliked or would change?  Nope, it is great the way it is.   The pattern went through 6 different changes in the testing group to make sure it was perfect. 
Would you sew it again?  Yes, I have the top version printed and am going to try that next, my mom also wants me to make her one.  
Would you recommend it to others?  Yes
Do you consider the pattern beginner/intermediate/advanced?  Beginner with a knowledge of sewing knits, its a super fast and easy pattern for me, but the bands or binding might be tricky for someone new to knits. 
Shirts/dresses: Were the sleeves cut on the on the fold?   I haven't made sleeves, but they are different front and back.  
Does the pattern include layers for easy printing?  yes 
Seam allowance used in the pattern  3/8" 
Is the pattern cut or no cut pages?  No trim pages

Overall, this is a great pattern.  It is really really fast to make, and very comfortable to wear - no side seams!  

Pattern can be bought here

Friday, May 13, 2016

Viera Hospital Field Trip

Levi learned a lot on his field trip to Viera hospital today.   He was a bit apprehensive about going on this trip (worried about seeing blood!), but quickly realized that they weren't going to show him anything gross.    We had just a tiny group of 5 kids on this trip, but they split us into groups anyway.  

First, we looked at Radiology.   A teddy bear demonstrated how one gets an X-ray, and the kids even got to see what an X-ray of a bear looks like (he has some metal bits inside that showed up on the film).  


Checking out how the machine works...

They got to see real X-rays of people too, and were able to identify all of the "body parts" shown.  

After that, we saw the CT machine, and the bear demonstrated once more.

Next, they went to the ED, and looked at all of the equipment.   They were given hospital gowns to try on, tested the moving bed, the call buttons, and even the lights!   They also got their blood pressure and heart rate checked.  

There was a game of "who can put on the doctor gear the fastest"

Smurf hands!  

Lastly was the highlight of the experience, meeting the hospital's service dog Paco.   He comforts patients, but also has lots of training - he can pick things up off the floor, open doors and even get a bottle of water out of the refrigerator.

This is his "baseball card"

His handler "released" him so the kids could pet Paco.

And even check his heart beat along with some belly rubs!

The kids went home with a whole bunch of loot as well - a goodie bag, their doctor gear, a coloring book about nursing and even a pedometer!    It was a great experience and hopefully made the hospital seem a little less scary.    The staff was wonderful with the kids and complimented how smart homeschoolers were.    Thanks Viera Hospital!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pi Day! Raw Vegan Apple Pie

Today, March 14th is "Pi Day" (3.14.....), and because we are trying to cut back on sugar, I made a raw vegan healthy apple pie.

Raw Vegan Apple Pie

1 cup of dates (pitted and chopped)
1 cup of nuts (walnuts or almonds)

5 apples (choose ones you like to eat!)
Bit of lemon juice (about 1 TBS)
1/2 cup dates
cinnamon (to taste)
nutmeg (pinch)
3 tsp chia seeds (optional, but holds everything together better)



  1. Soak dates in some warm water for about 15min, then drain. 
  2. Meanwhile, put the nuts in a food processor (I use my ninja) and pulse until very finely chopped.   Remove and set aside. 
  3. Pulse the dates until finely chopped, then throw in the nuts and pulse some more to combine.  
  4. This should hold together when you smush it - press into a pie pan. 

  1. Peel the apples.  Chop up 2 of the apples and put in the food processor with the 1/2 cup dates, lemon juice and spices.   Pulse and blend until it looks like apple sauce.  Throw in the chia seeds and pulse a bit more to combine. 
  2. Chop the other 3 apples (peel if you want) into small pieces.   Stir into the apple mixture. 
  3. Put the filling on the crust and sprinkle on some more cinnamon if you want. 
Thats it!   Pretty easy to make and healthier than most pies.   

The "sauce" makes it look like a cooked pie

mmmm pie....

Levi approves, he wanted to taste it when I was taking pictures but I made him wait until after dinner.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Blue Spring

Levi, James and I went to Blue Spring State Park.    Levi and I had never been to a springs before so this was our first adventure.   We really enjoyed it and plan on going to see other springs as well.   We had a picnic lunch, swam and snorkeled in the springs, watched a rain storm, and then walked up and down the wooden path while Levi kayaked.    

Hello dragonfly!

 Thursby House -  Before this was a state park, people lived in this house and the spring was their front yard.   How different it would be before all the wooden paths, camp areas, buildings, playground, and all those people!

 Because fishing is not allowed, there were a ton of huge fish who make their home at the springs.    These are mostly alligator gar, nearly as long as Levi.  

We put on snorkel gear and swam towards where the spring starts.  At the head of the springs, there is a big deep hole with a fallen tree branch across it.    Diving down, you can see how far it goes.   I can't hold my breath long and the pressure down there is amazing making my ears pop.     There were lots of people in this area, making noise, swimming around, splashing - some with no concept of personal space.   But if you could tune them out or go underwater, you could focus on seeing the beauty of the spring.    And there were moments of open space, where one could imagine what it would be like to be in this place all alone.  

 The water is super cold, so when we decided we were freezing, we swam back to where we got in.   A storm rolled in and we waited under a covered picnic area, watching Levi play on the playground in the rain and pick beauty berries.   Beauty berries are edible and can repel bugs, unless maybe you have stinky feet in which case I don't know what works.  

When the rain slowed down, we had a look at the river, and then got Levi's kayak out.   Blue Spring has a "boat" area for kayaks, and a "swim" area, separated by a rope and a sign.

 Levi launched his kayak by shoving it down the stairs into the water, and took off.    Because there were only 2 other kayaks in the water, I didn't think he would stay in for long without us.

We walked up and down the path.

And watched the water, the fish, and the boy. 

 That kid stayed in the kayak for a very long time, going back and forth just exploring and experiencing nature.    A calm and mostly solitary activity for someone always in motion.   He occasionally followed the other kayakers but for the most part was on his own.   He even scared some people who thought he was going to get eaten by a gator.   Right before he got out, he picked up a foam cup that was floating in the water, removing a piece of something so out of place.  

Me, just looking.

 It was a wonderful introduction to Florida Springs.   We left with a guidebook of more places to visit, this was just the first of more adventures to come.