When we left off, my tank top had grudgingly come together into one lined piece of clothing. The tiniest bit was left: straps. Should be a breeze!

Or so I thought.

Day 2: Trough of Sorrow Continued, Wiggles of False Hope, Promised Tank Top

Step 6, again: Assemble the garment (this time with feeling!)

I wanted to straps to be pretty dainty at first – both because of my inspo, and because I thought they would look best at a tiny width.

Silk rips easily on the grain, so if you just cut into the material a little at the width you want, you can pull it apart with your hands and end up with straight edges. After a bit of ironing, I was ready to sew – because my strap turner is small but not hairline width, I decided to stitch at a 1/4″ thickness. That should be small enough!

Unsure if the silk might fray, I stitched a second seam 1/8″ of an inch away from the first, and trimmed right close to it. Cutting my long strip in half, I ended up with what would be my two straps.

Has anyone tried to turn a 1/4″ strap before? It’s incredibly frustrating. I tried to McGyver all sorts of contraptions, like ditching my strap turner entirely, and threading a needle through instead. When in doubt, use tape, right? WRONG. In order to get the damn thing turned right side out, I had to trim off my second seam (luckily, no fraying was occurring in the fabric, which is to say nothing of my nerves).

A full bloody hour and a half later, I had a single 1/4″ strap.

Unfortunately, I hated it. I tried on the top, fashioned the tiny strap onto it, and found that it looked unbalanced. Frankly, I also had no patience for creating a second 1/4″ strap.

So, I fiddled with the remaining piece of silk and decided on a 5/8″ thickness. It looked more like gift-wrapping ribbon at this thickness, which seemed appropriate for the luxurious and festive velvety fabric.

I trimmed, turned, and pressed the pair in 20 minutes.


Next, I had to attach the straps to the top front parts I had conveniently left open.

Here’s where I felt the first wiggle of false hope: the first strap attached beautifully. It went on exactly as it needed to, at a serendipitously perfect angle. Freaking look at it!

Obviously, it took no time to attach the second strap with equally ideal results.

Just kidding, I had to redo it 3 times, and it took an hour and 45 minutes. Behold!

I had to ask Alex to help me pin the backs of the straps in place. You need to be watching both the length and the placement, so I don’t know how one could do this alone. It took me a while to adjust them in a way I liked, but this felt worth spending the time to get right.

Seeing as how I didn’t conveniently leave any of the back open for the straps, I had to rip out the seams, sandwich the straps in, and stitch over them. Miraculously, this only took one try!

To finish off the tank top, I hemmed the lining and the outer shell, making sure to make the lining slightly shorter.

Trying the garment on, I felt another wiggle of false hope: one side of it lay perfectly. Even in the armhole, a place notoriously difficult to get the lining to sit correctly, was perfectly flush to my skin. The other side was a different story – the fabric was buckled and twisted, it pulled and gaped away from my ribs. Why? Simply because I had – all the way back on day 1 – sewn the lining tighter than the shell.

I did manage to rip out and redo the seam without pulling apart the entire piece, but the lesson was clear: don’t try to contract the lining!

Step 7: Wear it!

13 hours later, I had completed my first sabbatical piece. Here’s what it looks like:

Not bad for the first one, right? I kind of love it, and have been wearing it non-stop.

What I Learned

  1. Do not try to sew the lining smaller than the outer shell. This causes a crapload of problems.
  2. Working with velour is divine.
  3. Turning 1/4″ straps is really hard, actually.

Your Turn

So, what do you guys think? Has my experience been similar or quite different from yours? Did it make you want to make yourself a piece of clothing, or the opposite? Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email to sabbatical@mashakrol.com.

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