After I retired from the corporate world, I had a lot of fun testing sewing patterns. One that really caught my attention is the Escapade from 5 out of 4 patterns. It is simple, and very cleverly designed. Sews up quickly and is pretty fabric conservative. Swim top, casual bra (or both) nightgown, dress (or both) or cami/tank top, love the versatility that this pattern offers. You can have fun with the straps too. What follows are a lot of photos of me in the variations of escapade. You’ve been warned!
The first one I made in testing was from a thrifted jersey sheet and a bit of polka dot cotton lycra I had in my stash. This is a very casual fit photo of that one. I wear it as a night gown. Turns out the Flamingo print is from a sought after print designer. I often water the garden first thing in the summer. Hope that the neighbors assume this is a cute summer dress.
In keeping with the night gown theme, I used Tricot to make this blue one, with a slightly fuller skirt. Just added a few inches to the front and back of the skirt and pleated center front and either side of the back.
With a little more length in a light weight cotton lycra and contrast ties, a fun summer dress. There is a light purple athletic knit dress version somewhere in the closet.
Nick of Time Fabrics has a 92/8 Cotton Lycra that made a great layering/set with the Ultimate Bikini Bottoms. I like the upward curve of the bikini bottoms for extra tummy coverage. I modified the top to have just elastic shirring, without ties, and fixed straps. I bought a few colors to make this with, and could only find this photo. There is a hot pink version that saw a lot of wear with Annabeth over when the weather was cooler.
This is a simple version with elastic shirring made from supplex perfect under summer whites.
I stitched up some matching tricot Lola shorts to wear as a coverup to the pool.
And a Nylon Spandex Tricot version for more summer white tops.
The swim version made in testing from purple black and red swim scraps.
With a reversible top.
The Cotton Lycra Tardis version with Rad Panel Undies for fun.
And most recently, an athletic space dyed knit to go with Candy Shorts. As a mothers day gift for my daughter. Cause hanging out at the pool in an escapade and Candy Shorts will be the thing to do once school is out.
I sure have had fun making and wearing my Escapades since testing. You should try one too! The links in this post are my affiliate links. I may receive a small commission from the pattern designer if you use them to purchase a pattern. I appreciate your support, and happy sewing!
Note: This post is only for those adventurous or curious sewists who are adept at making this kind of bra. If you are new to sewing please, just look away, or skip to the bottom for links to other bra posts. This one gets complex. No whining allowed. Alternatively, you can follow to step #2 and add binding.
It all started with some Rambouillet wool a friend found on line. I bought all three colors, cause 92 percent wool and 8 percent lycra should be washable, and it is and very very comfortable. I also found some ready to dye white cotton ribbing fabric. I cut out my favorite Raglan and favorite Tank, which happen to both be in the same pattern. Spent a good deal of a morning cutting out 8 tops for me. The wool was to keep me warm or cool, wool is awesome that way. The white was to dye later, but that is totally another rabbit hole to fall into. When I tried on the white ribbing tank, I realized that since the back has a slight racer back cut, I needed some skin toned racerback bras to go under. So I hopped into my fabric stash, and pulled out some of this that I bought for the higher Lycra content.
I started by printing and gluing the pattern. Scotch quick drying glue is really a special glue. Use what makes you happy. Then traced it onto a larger page of news print, so that I could get a full pattern piece without the vertical fold. The next step was to locate the normal cut line for me. There are several cup sizes, each with different cut lines. Then I backed that up to 3/4 inch shorter. Since there is no extra to turn under -being two layers. Made that my new horizontal fold line. And cut these crazy cat dog tee shirt pieces of bra parts. Below the back is on top of the front with all four shoulder seams sewn, one side seam sewn, and the other side seam sewn only for one inch at the arm pits. leaving a huge opening on that side to manipulate this while sewing. Use a stretch stitch. I used a triple stitch here. Pro Tip: Make a notch in the center front and center back of your neckline. And if you are cooler than me, you will make a notch or marking on the edge of somewhere center on those arm openings too.
2. Reconfigure your bra so it is wrong sides together. At this point, you could finish that side seam, pop a you sized under bust elastic band in there, top stitch that, bind away and be quite happy with your bra. Did I do that? Hardly. I had this idea in my head that needed to be executed. So I started with the neckline. At the center back take both pieces and flip them so that just they are Right sides facing. . A twist of each piece away from each other, then back together RSF. clip that. Imagine couples dancing in the Regency era. He turns left, she turns right, and they are facing each other again. However we are only doing a half turn here. We start with backs facing. He turns left a half turn, she turns right half turn and suddenly they are right sides facing. There will be a clear direction to sew, and one that looks like an up hill battle. Take the easy road.
3. Apologies that I was more into sewing than taking photos here. With the majority of the bra wrong sides together and just the center back, zig zag baste the edges of the two right sides together. Sew a few inches, then re-arrange the piece, then sew a few more inches, then re-arrange. you will end up meeting yourself back at the start, and turning the bra completely inside out again. That is how it works. If you followed my direction and marked centers, then you have nice road signs to tell you that you are on the right track!
Then take this to your serger and add some clear elastic to that seam. Since you have already zig zag basted it in place, this part is fairly easy. Keep your elastic firm, but not too stretched. You just want to firm up the edges. Go all the way round. Push any fabric inside the bra away from the seam. Pull this right sides out.
4 Align arm holes wrong sides together. Flip at the arm pit, so that right sides are facing. Zig zag baste from arm pit to shoulder seam. Due to the narrowness of the shoulder seam, you will not be able to go all the way round. So get that far, then cut threads and start the process and go from the arm pit to the other side, to meet previous stitches at the top of the shoulder seam. Then pull this out. In the photo above one arm seam had been zig zag basted. The neck has the elastic serged.
To finish the arm opening, start at the top of the shoulder and serge clear elastic on top of that basting seam all the way round till you meet or come really close to the top of the shoulder from the other side. Repeat for the other arm.
5. Mark the center of the side seams that were left open. Sew that side seam closed from the center up to one side, easing as you go, then from the other side as far as you can get to the center also easing as you go. This can be done by hand too. Cut your you sized elastic band. 3/4 inch is what the pattern uses. Snake it through the bra and stitch it closed. Arrange it so that it is fitting snugly into the bottom of the bra. Clip in a few places, then top stitch.
6. I used a wide serpentine stitch on my 9 mm Bernina and hardly needed to stretch as I stitched. With a #20 coded foot, and my needle halfway to the left I triple stitched the open arm and neck edges.
And done. Halfway through I thought it would be easier to just do bands. but this worked out nicely. My first attempt was a hot mess and I had to cut the shoulder seams more than once. This one fits better. Although I am not sure how “invisible” it worked out to be. It will be great under all the Taylors I made in testing.
After being diagnosed with Costrochondritis, many years ago, I resolved to making my own bra and swim tops. I write about my journey in these other posts.
This post includes affiliate links. By using those links, when purchasing the seller (at no cost to you) may compensate me with a very small commission. These add up, and I appreciate any support you show.
I have a new grand baby. I am smitten. I want to make her all the things. She has a ton of 3-6 month size clothing that were received as gifts, so I jumped on the opportunity to test a new tank pattern in her next size! I learned a bit about sewing small that I would like to share. There are several patterns here and several different kinds of fabrics. It was a good learning experiment.
On this armscye I zig zag basted the band to the body of the top, on the edge, then serged and top stitched. On later garments, I used the stretch stitch on my machine, and it worked much better. Serging stretches out this rib knit. I hope it recovers in the laundry!
Those armscyes are tiny. With regular arm bands that measure about 8 inches, that is a less than a3 inch diameter. It will be much easier to get round them with a sewing machine. Experiment on scraps to find the best stretch stitch that works with your fabric. I ended up happy with this one, which may be called an overcast stitch.
It looks like a straight stitch from the outside, but those jags off to the right will add to the stretch and contain any seam allowance neatly.
After sewing shoulder seams, top stitch them with the seam allowance towards the back. It is my secret message to myself and parents, so we know which is the front and back of the garment. It is often hard to tell and tags on a baby are not a place I want to go.
2. Figure the center of the armscye location. Hold the ends together, and walk them both to the fold. Mark the center. On a traditional tank, this could be really close to the shoulder seam. On the example here, which is a racer back. It is not at or even near the shoulder seam, but about an inch back. Match up the center points, and sew a partial seam. Start the partial seam about an inch to an inch and a half back from the center point. Sew across the center point and about an inch to an inch and a half past that. no need to stretch the band here, or maybe stretch slightly. This will avoid that shoulder bubble that sometimes happens with tank tops. If you are using this technique for an adult size, you can make this partial seam longer, two inches on either side of the top of the shoulder will work fine.
3. Then take those band ends, match them up right sides together (without twisting) and sew a seam across the ends (right sides together) to make the partially attached band into a loop. I prefer to sew this with a machine, so that the seam can be opened to reduce bulk. On this example I was using a performance knit for the bands, and my serger handled it much better. The performance knit did not conform to the round shape as nicely as a cotton would.
4. Sew the side seam of your garment. I am happy to use a serger, but a regular machine stretch stitch will work here too.
5. I like to sew one side seam then serge around the hem before sewing the next side seam. makes the beginning and end of the serged edge less visible.
Yellow head pin holds body seam allowance to the back. Button headed pin holds band seam allowance to the front. actual seam is matched.
6. Pin the folded band to the right side of the garment and finish sewing the armscye. If both body and band seams are serged, move the seam allowances one way on the band, and the other on the garment. I like the garment seams pointing back to follow the shoulder seam. Since we did not stretch the band much on the top of the shoulder, take care to stretch without puckering round the rest of the circle. Start your seam just a little before the last one ended, and overlap about a half inch before they meet up again.
I serged one of the test garments afterwards, and that really stretched out the fabric. It could bounce back after a trip to the laundry. On an adult sized garment, serging the armscye might be a good idea. Can you tell which garment was stretched out with serging?
7. Lastly top stitch the seam allowance to the body of the tank or tee. It will help make that seam lay flat, and create less chafing on a little baby. I used my Bernina#20 foot here, perhaps you have a foot with a guide?
I sewed a fun hem on one of the rib knit versions, and will try to write a post on that one later. It is a favorite hemming technique with stretch. If you are interested in learning how to make a blind hem on the machine, check out this post.
I used multiple patterns to experiment with this process. And several fabrics, which is your favorite?
Affiliate links for favorite patterns that could employ this technique are below, if you are interested in supporting the cause, at no cost to you. I appreciate it!