today i present to you the first piece of my austin/nyc handmade wardrobe! my trip is actually ending tomorrow, and i’m proud to say that i have worn 100% handmade items for the duration (except pants/shorts…maybe next season). this was a vague goal of mine several months ago, and i succeeded with a few preexisting items, mixed in with some new projects. this tank is particularly special to me because it has such a great backstory.
months ago, many bloggers began buzzing about quilt market in portland. cherie mentioned a booth she was particularly excited about, and snapped a photo that so captivated my attention, i had to investigate (since then, many big bloggers have written about their excitement for this line…it was the runaway hit of quilt market). i hopped over to leah duncan’s website, and was instantly smitten. never, ever, ever have i seen an aesthetic that speaks so personally to me. it was me. if i were an artist, i would make what she’s making. i had to see more. i read about her at art gallery fabrics, the folks carrying her much anticipated fabric line, tule. but still, it wasn’t enough. i was so blown away by her designs, i had to contact her personally. so of course, i did.
i received an automated response stating she’d be out of town for two weeks. i had really only emailed her to tell her i was stoked about her line and excited for it to come out in a few months, so the compliment was given, and i was happy. but that wasn’t the end. ONE DAY after her automated response stated she’d be back in town, i received the sweetest response from leah, thanking me graciously for my words and asking that i stay in touch about what i made with her beautiful prints. she evidently has a deep appreciation for what people create with her fabrics; it adds an extra layer to her own artistry.
this began a nice email exchange between us–leah is an austin native (no longer there or you know i would have stalked), and with my upcoming trip, i picked her brain for food suggestions, etc. she kindly obliged me with a list of taco food trucks (we both love tacos dearly). tule finally hit stores at the end of august, and i bought approximately 10,000 yards. the fabric is gorgeous, yes, but a word on customer service–so much time elapsed between my introduction to tule and its release–had leah not gone above and beyond in her kindness, thoughtfulness, and attentiveness, it’s quite possible it might have slipped my mind in those months. instead, my excitement remained vivid, and i was thrilled to support this talented and gracious designer. it was so difficult to limit myself, truly. much of it will be hacked into napkins, cowls, quilts, and who knows what else for art fair. but i absolutely had to make something for myself, and given that art gallery cottons have a garment-worthy hand, a tank it would be.
but it couldn’t be just any tank. the fabric is too beautiful, too anticipated. i wanted to design something special just for the fabric (and being now a tank expert, i was prepared for the task). i have seen some contrasting yolks around, and figured i’d try my hand at one of those. but after drafting the front, i decided i wanted the back to be even more special. with a hole. and a button closure. i got in a little over my head at that point…the first hole in the back was so large, it was structurally unsound and would have shown a lot of bra. i redrafted the hole much smaller, but that altered the shape of the button placket, which looks fine on the outside, but a little wonky on the inside. also, my bra straps still show!
the back bodice was gaping a bit, so i added a box pleat, but that was an unintended design element. now i feel like there’s too much going on back there. also, i’m not sure if i pleated too much, but the tank is ever so slightly tight on the bust where the yolk meets the bodice. honestly, i’m such a design rookie, i feel like that could be the result of any number of things, and i can’t pinpoint what. additionally, i wanted some subtle gathering at the center front, and did about 1″ worth, but i feel it’s too subtle. in spite of this, the whole thing goes on over my head without undoing the buttons, so that’s all for show. other than that, there is a little contrasting topstitching on the yolk, a little curved hem, and that’s my native fringe tank! problems aside, i like the shape of the piece and the concept of the yolk (not so much the execution). it was a lot of fun to draft a more complex pattern–just the challenge i needed amid monotonous art fair projects. thank you, leah, for this beautiful fabric line that i know will inspire much creativity for so many people. and clearly, my next big addition to my sewing room should be a dress form! i will be back soon with more of my handmade vacation wardrobe.