New tops: Mandy Boat Tee and Super Basic Tank – free patterns

Hi there! As per my last post on the Seamwork Tacara, I’ve been working on a lot of knits recently, which I tend to do after working on woven garments for any length of time. Woven, knits, woven, knits: I like variety! I need more simple summer tops in my wardrobe and decided to try out a couple of popular and free garments to see how they worked for me:

Mandy Boat Tee

The Mandy Boat Tee from Tessuti Patterns has been made by countless sewists, many of whom have made multiples. There are good reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that this is a free pattern, which is always a good incentive to give something new a go. But there’s more than that – this is a great pattern! Well-drafted, flattering: it deserves the accolades.

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I like the look of a boat-neck, but, again, it’s a shape I hesitate about sometimes, because I have a sizeable bust. I find that a high neckline is not always the most flattering on me. However, Tessuti have got the balance of this top bang-on perfect as far as I’m concerned. The neckline is just the right length and depth to make it both comfortable and elegant. There is a decent amount of ease in the body and this is also a nice feature as it’s extremely easy to wear.

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The dropped sleeve makes fitting at the shoulder a breeze, but the arms have significantly less ease than the body of the tee. This provides a good contrast and definitely adds to the overall silhouette, but I would advise that if you do regularly make sleeve adjustments or feel your arms to be on the larger side, relatively speaking (mine just about squeeze in), you might want to add a little width to the lower sleeve.

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It does also depend a little on your fabric choice. Tessuti advise that you use a “two-way stretch cotton, wool or viscose jerseys or knits with elastane, lycra or spandex content.” I used a lightweight cotton blend with plenty of drape to it and I think that was the right way to go.

Mandy boat tee

The Mandy tee is provided in four different sizes, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but they’re actually sizing bands and cover, for example, a 31.5″ to a 45.5″ bust. In addition, I made a straight Size 3 (out of the 4) with no adjustments, despite being between a 3 and 4 and, as you can see, there’s plenty of ease even so. So I do think it would work for measurements higher than those stated.

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The instructions are simple and clear and I loved the way the neckline was finished by turning and twin needling (or coverstitching in my case). It’s not a finish you see a lot on knit necklines, but I like the effect and it was drafted beautifully. Overall, the Mandy Boat Tee is a win and is a new entry on my TNT list!

Super Basic Tank

I wear tanks quite a bit, but actually haven’t made one, which is kind of weird. I had the Givre in mind, since I really liked the sleeved version, but then I saw Zoe from So Zo… blog’s review of this free Super Basic Tank from Halfmoon Atelier, so I thought I’d give this one a shot first. I think Zoe looks adorable in her versions and it suits her perfectly. Me… not so much perhaps, but I’ll get into that.

super basic tank

Getting the pattern is easy – just sign up for the newsletter and it’s yours to download. The pattern is drafted for, and I quote: “light- to mid-weight knits with 4-way stretch and an element of drape, such as jersey, bamboo or rayon jersey, rib knits, interlock or t-shirt weight merino with approx. 60% stretch and decent recovery. Similar fabrics with anywhere between 40% and 100% stretch will also work well, but may result in a slightly snugger or looser fit.” Did I pick fabrics that match these requirements? Would they work? Or would they be fitting disasters to which neither man nor beast could bear witness? Behold…

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Yes, I, being the adventurous type (or foolish – take your pick) decided to cut TWO for comparison. The first was in something pretty close to the requirements: a rayon knit piece (left over from my first Kielo dress), lightweight with good stretch and recovery. Possibly a little too much stretch, even, but excellent drape too. The problem with it, which is the same as it was with my Kielo dress, is that it’s super clingy, and this tank is a little more form-fitting than I was expecting.

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Let me be honest: I think it’s a mixture of the shape of the neckline, the width of the straps and possibly my choice of bra – but in some of these pics my boobs look like two melons in an onion bag. Or a spaniel’s lugs. Take your pick. I definitely have to wear this one tucked in, because otherwise there’s a nice little depression where my bellybutton is, haha.

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Nevertheless, it is just about wearable and would be fine under an open shirt or similar. Sizing-wise, there are 10 sizes covering a 30″ to a 44″ bust. I went for the size 9 and did a FBA of an inch – so half an inch on the pattern. I considered going to the 8 and doing a larger FBA, but the shoulder isn’t so definite on a tank, plus I didn’t want it to have too much negative ease. This was a wise move because, as you can see, the tank is fairly form-fitting even with the slightly larger size. Not uncomfortably so at all, but if you’re after a loose tank you might want to check the measurements closely.

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The second tank was made with Birch organic cotton jersey: which is always beautiful, with the requisite two-way stretch, but not much four way stretch and organic cotton is not exactly known for its recovery either. Having said that, this is probably the more flattering of the two as the thicker fabric skims over my lumps and bumps better.

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The construction of the Super Basic Tank is very simple as the pattern consists of just a front and a back, which you sew together, before adding bands at the neckline and armholes and a fold-over hem. Despite the simple pattern, the instructions are actually very thorough and give lots of tips for sewing knits, which beginners will find useful. I chose an orange ribbing band for this one, which works quite nicely, but gave myself a headache with the first tank as I chose a sinuous, slinky jersey for the bands for that one.

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You can see those black bands are nowhere near even on the neckline and armholes of the first tank, but, in all honesty, I was just happy I got the slippery little buggers serged onto the shirt. This tank was a definite muslin – I even pieced together (badly) the back of the tank as I didn’t have enough fabric in the end.

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Conclusion on this one? It’s a solid tank and easy to make – I just think the proportions are maybe a little off for me. For my bust size I think I need thicker straps and a slightly different neckline, not sure. But that doesn’t take away from the pattern – check out some other versions if you like and see if you think it’s a shape for you. As a free pattern you’ve got nothing to lose. In the meantime I’m going to give both the tanks a few wears and see how I get on.

Bye for now and hope you’re all having a great week! ๐Ÿ™‚

10 thoughts on “New tops: Mandy Boat Tee and Super Basic Tank – free patterns

  1. You just sold me on the Mandy tee.

    And I don’t know what it is about tanks in knitted fabric, but I always manage to screw up the straps. Every single time. So I stick with boxier tanks in woven fabrics because I’m too lazy to figure out the problem!

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    1. Thanks Liz!! You know, it’s funny, because I actually haven’t had much success with woven tanks, lol. I tried the Gemma and one other (I forget) but just couldn’t get a decent fit. At least without putting in more work than I want to for a tank. Do you have any recommendations or TNTs?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Hadley, by Grainline.

        It has both jewel-neck and v-neck options, and the v-neck is easily modified if people prefer a higher neckline or a scoop instead of a v.

        The size range is limited (max. 52″ bust), but it’s one of the easier patterns in my collection to grade up.

        My other go-to for woven tanks: I made a pattern from a shirt I owned, omitting the sleeves, et voila! Tank top!

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  2. Great review of some free tops! I just made the Super Basic Tank from Halfmoon Atelier for my DIL and she loved it. I have not tired it for myself…but maybe with the right fabric and some modifications in that neckline, I’ll give it a go! Thanks for sharing your experience on this one. I very much appreciate all the help I can get! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. Man, I love it too. I wish those Birch organics had just a littllee more recovery, but I guess that’s the price of environmental care, so I shouldn’t complain. I’ve worn this tank several times already of course!! ;D

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great pieces! I recently tried making knit tanks from two different patterns with not-amazing results. I had not heard of this tank pattern previously; I will check it out.

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    1. Yes, it’s funny isn’t it? You’d think something like a tank wouldn’t be too hard to get right, but I find those simplest garments are the hardest sometimes. I guess there’s nowhere to hide, so it’s all about the fit. This tank definitely looks fabulous on a lot of people – I’d check the IG hashtag and see what you think ๐Ÿ™‚

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