Piper Tank Time!

Thank you for joining me on my stop on the social media tour for the release of the Misusu Piper Tank Top pattern.

(Please check out the gorgeous work of all the other testers – links to their blogs/Facebook/Instagram posts can be found on Misusu’s blog page; here.)

Piper! Pick your Pattern!

My previous, and only, experience of pattern testing (I’m a newbie to all this), the Doris Skirt by Misusu Patterns, was a super one. It was so lovely to be part of a group effort to assist in the perfection of  a great pattern. The group was full of talented, inspiring seamstresses with a wonderful atmosphere of support, sharing and generosity.  When I saw the call for testers for a new Misusu Pattern I jumped at the chance to be involved and I am delighted to have been selected.

This time round the pattern to be tested was the Piper Tank Top. A versatile pattern suitable for boys and girls with lots of options for different versions. And boy did I get sucked into making lots of them… This post is pretty long, so get a cup of tea, or else just have a browse down through all the lovely Piper Tanks I thoroughly enjoyed making.

A troop of Pipers; No.3 delighted with herself in her lovely penguin Piper Tank, with her messer brothers in the background.

Perfecting the pocket? Well, nearly…

I don’t know if it’s the architect in me, but I find the construction of Misusu Patterns’ really enjoyable. There are always carefully considered details and interesting diagonal lines. The Piper Tank is no disappointment! When I signed up for this test I was thinking, ah yes, a nice simple pattern; this will be a breeze… And I was right to a certain extent, but I was also happily surprised to find lots of options to the pattern that would allow me to stretch my sewing skills.

Version 1. A top stitched pocket, using the “back” of the fabric with stripe direction and texture in contrast with the main front panel. The fabric is a gorgeous cotton/polyester mix from Madeline deStoffenmadam.

I had never attempted a patch pocket before, and this patterns calls for a lovely little pocket on the left front breast (and 3 variations now in the tutorial!). It requires topstitching. Topstitching that will remain very visible. This has always put me off pockets in the past. Well, not any more!! As you’ll see, every version I made included a patch pocket, (or a decorative patch) and each one turned out great! Such pocket success inspired me to add a pocket to a pair of shorts I had in the mill, and I even stretched to using a double needle on that one!! Mightily adventurous for me! I’m guessing there will be pockets on most everything I sew from now on!!!!

As I said, the Piper Tank pattern comes with a host of options for the construction of the back panel. The highlight for me was the “penguin” version of the pattern that has the neatest, most satisfying construction to the bottom hem that I’ve had the pleasure to sew. A little tricky looking at first glance, but it comes together sooo very neatly…

Version 1. Size 80 Piper Tank, with penguin back and contrasting stripe patch pocket. (And obligatory cracker to keep her happy!)
Version 1: Lovely high-low look using the penguin back.

The first Piper I attempted, and although I struggled a little to control the loosely knitted fabric, turned out beautifully. It wasn’t the easiest fabric choice, but its challenges were offset by the forgiving texture that hides a multitude of flaws! I used a zigzag stitch for the bottom hem and, though you can’t tell without very close inspection, I ended up having to sew over the hem twice.

The pocket stitching ain’t perfect, but I’m happy enough to have missed out on perfection when the end result is as gorgeous as this!

It is light and soft and perfect for the astonishingly hot weather we’re having here in Ireland at the moment.

I paired this version with my first attempt at Misusu’s Culottes Tutorial. With the penguin back and the slight A-Line cut of the Piper Tank these culottes work perfectly. The fabric is a cotton double gauze fabric I purchased from Madeline deStoffenmadam at the same time as the stripy fabric – and the colour match is almost perfect. I love the contrast in textures afforded by the double sided nature of the Piper Tank fabric and an additional texture with the double gauze is lovely.

Light and soft; perfect pattern in this heat!

From Penguins to Petals

For my second attempt I went with the Petal version of the pattern. Once again there was an unusual element to the pattern that I enjoyed getting to grips with. The curved hem makes it a little tricky to get the hem to sit flat. The pattern includes a great suggestion to adjust the differential tension on your serger to make the fabric pucker a little; assisting the curve to sit flat. I tried, and I failed; however even a failed attempt looked great from the outside!

Version 2: Petal Piper, size 80, in a fishy French terry by See You At Six and navy French terry by Elvelyckan Design. Culottes in gorgeous yellow linen from The Fabric Counter.

I’m not one to let a hem beat me, so I tried the technique once again with another Piper Petal, this time in a more stable jersey fabric; it worked perfectly!!

Version 3: Petal Piper with a fleece front and a jersey back. (Fleece from Stoff & Stil, Jersey from Elvelyckan Design)
Version 3: Petal Piper in fleece for No. 3.

A pair of Pipers for a couple of Pranksters

At this stage the two lads were getting a little jealous of all the sewing I was doing for No.3. So for my next versions I decided to make a penguin version for No.1 and a straight backed version for No.2. In both cases I used the optional back yoke. It’s the perfect place to use a contrasting fabric/play with the direction of fabric. The penguin version is brilliant for playing with pattern too as it just cries out for using the diagonal line of the bottom hem.

Versions 4 and 5: A pair of pipers. No.1 and No.2 in their Piper Tanks, Size 116 and 104.

You’ll have noticed that Elvelyckan Design‘s fabric keeps popping up here. It’s a company that produces beautifully patterned fabrics with a lovely range of colours, in gorgeous soft jersey, interlock and French terry (what they call “college”) fabric. Unfortunately their shipping costs to Ireland are very expensive (they are based in Sweden) unless you order quite a lot of fabric. The positive side to this (oh there’s always a positive to HAVING to order lots of fabric) is that I waited till I had a few pennies to spend and splurged on a big order with lots of narwhals, waves and solids. No.2 loves “swimmers” (his term for any water borne creature) so the narwhals were his cup of tea. No.1 is getting very grown up in himself these days and the waves caught his attention. He’d love to be a surfer…

A dancing penguin!

All the Piper Tanks I made have a slight A-Line shape. It was suggested during the testing phase that a straight version might be useful for a more boyish look. Elles Lanfer (the exceptional designer and person behind Misusu Patterns) introduced this option to the pattern, so all bases are well covered! I used the A-Line version for all as I think it is very subtly A-line and works great for the penguin especially, but is perfect on my boys in all versions.

No.2 in his yellow “Swimmers” Piper Tank, size 104.

Perfecting Patterns…

One thing I didn’t mention with my Version 1 is that the pattern matching of my back seam got the better of me. I could blame the late night sewing or the tricky fabric, either way those diagonal lines just didn’t match up. So for my last Piper Tank I went back to the lovely soft stripy fabric I had used before and was determined to master matching those stripes…

Straight backed Piper Tank, with an added centre seam. The yoke option used to play with stripe direction and fabric texture. And BOOM! look at that stripe matching along the centre seam. Such a result makes my heart sing!

I also wanted to use that double gauze fabric to make a patch pocket and use the option for a yoke to enjoy the contrast between the front and back faces of the fabric and play with the stripe direction. This is what Misusu patterns are so perfect for!

Ooh look at that perfect pocket! Yes, my heart is singing again!! And with a double needle and all!

No.3 had been more than a little under the weather for the previous few days but she has taken to this modelling malarkey like a pro and managed to give me a few smiles…

Tired looking little chicken…
Nothing like the thrill of sitting on a big girl’s chair to make her smile… Yes, sewing makes my heart sing, but these happy moments make it melt.

I’m a little tired after all that sewing, but definitely not tired of the great pattern that Elles has come up with. Suitable for pretty much all levels; the Piper Tank has simple options for the beginner and interesting details to give the more experienced sewer something to enjoy. And for those of us in the middle, plenty to prompt us to push our boundaries.

I’m so grateful for having been given the chance to get involved in pattern testing again. It was another super opportunity to engage with and learn from the talented bunch of seamstresses and to stretch my sewing skills again. With the added benefit that my family are now well and truly kitted out for what continues to be an incredibly warm and dry summer!


A rarely caught snap shot of all three maggots happy to be photographed

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, or even just having a browse! The Piper Tank Top Pattern can be purchased here!

( Please also visit my fellow testers’ blog/social media Piper Tank Top posts here!)

UPDATE! A special birthday Piper…

Between writing this blog and setting it to publish I made a very special Piper for a friend of No.1…

A couple of weeks back No.1 finished his first year in school. He had met one boy from his class in our local park a couple of weeks before and they bumped into each other as they walked into school on their first day. They have been firm friends all year.

No.1 showed him the space alien that I had made from a drawing of his last year and his friend asked me if I could make him something too.

Space alien Mark 1 and space alien Mark 2

So I suggested he draw something and I’d figure out what to make. This gorgeous little drawing of a ladybird holding hands with a snail is what he came up with. It is such a sweet little drawing and is evocative of the lovely friendship the two boys have built. Who knows if they’ll remain friends as they grow up, and I hope they do, but it’s been lovely seeing them enjoy life together in this past year at school.

The sweet little drawing that came to life.

Friend’s birthday was coming up and I had conveniently just finished testing the Piper Tank so I decided I would make him one and try my hand at an applique. I had put a decorative patch on one of the tanks I had made for No.3 during the testing process so thought I could make a similar badge for Friend and that way replicate the scale of the drawing.

No. 3 in her Piper Tank with a fishy patch.

I made only a few adjsutments to the drawing; I simplified the number of legs the ladybird had and I added a swrl to the snail’s shell, just to make it a little clearer that it was a snail. Other than that, I similified the ladybird’s spots a little and was good to go!

I ironed bondaweb on each piece of fabric and assembled both animals separately by ironing their component pieces together. I then top stitched it all before fixing them to the patch and the patch to the front of the tank. I was surprised at how easily it all came together and was delighted with how well it represented his original drawing.

The patch assembled.

I went with the penguin back version of the Piper Tank – the shape reminded me of the ladybird’s shell. No.1 excitedly modelled the tank for me and was sure that his friend would be delighted.

Penguin back on the Ladybird and Snail Piper

No.1 is a little taller and broader than his friend, so I made the slightly smaller of the two sizes of Piper Tanks that I had made him during the testing phase and hoped for the best.

Patch in place!
No.1 pretty happy with the pressie for his buddy!

No.1 was very excited to be giving this to his friend and thankfully it got the thumbs up from his friend too!! My plan for world domination begins with dressing all the children in my son’s classes…

(All the links are included entirely due to my love of the fabric/shop/pattern. I think it is great to be able to give a shout out for all those talented, committed people who help me enjoy this sewing lark as much as I do!)

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