Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Greetings from my happy place.

We're having a great time hanging out.  Playing in the surf, digging giant holes, taking long sandy walks, enjoying the breeze on the deck, hitting the fudge shop ...

It is lovely.

We've been vacationing on the Outer Banks since I was a little girl, and now my kids are creating the same memories I treasure from my childhood.  My girls love it so much that they actually started packing for this year's trip the week after we returned from last year's.

It's nearly impossible for me to be unhappy here; even last year, two months after my husband's stroke, I thoroughly enjoyed our vacation.  But this year - man.  This year, the usual joys of the seashore are layered with gratitude and delight.  Last year, we had no idea what our future would hold.  He had trouble walking in the sand, and was only able to venture into the ocean flanked by my brothers.  This year he is running races with G in the sand and swimming alone in the waves.  I just watch and marvel.  It feels as though, every day, I notice something - a new ability, skill, or even just a moment that would not have been possible a year ago.

And I don't forget for a minute how fortunate we are.


And unlike last year, this year I actually had some time to prepare for the trip, including making sure I had some clothes that fit me properly.  The newest additions to my summer wardrobe were these two Fjara racerback tank tops from Pienkel, for whom I tested the pattern earlier this month.

Both versions are tester versions. I made the striped one first, in a size 16 as dictated by my bust size.  It is a bit too snug in the hips.  The anchor print denim skirt I made earlier this spring  sucks in my belly a bit, but if I wear the tank with any of the linen bottoms I made, everything hangs out.  The pattern now includes bust, waist and hip measurements in the size chart so that you can grade between sizes if necessary (I should have graded the hips to an 18). 

The fabric is Riley Blake jersey knit I got from UrbanSew last year.  I had actually put the fabric in time out immediately after it arrived because the stripes are printed, not yarn-dyed, and, well, it turns out I'm a bit of a snob about such things.  Though I sew frequently with printed knits, they don't seem to hold up that well in the wash.  So why would you print a stripe when you could yarn-dye it?

Anyway.  The fabric is really comfy to wear, and the bindings are made of a scrap of Laguna jersey that happens to match the Riley Blake stripes perfectly.

After sewing the striped one, I made a couple of adjustments to the pattern to fix some armhole gaping.  I slashed the armhole and overlapped it 1/4".  When I did this, I cut a line vertically from the hem almost to the end of my armhole slash (leaving a hinge) so that the side seam could swing out freely when I overlapped the arm slash.  In addition to fixing the armhole gape, this gave me the room I needed in the belly and hip area, maybe 2.5" total at the hem.  I also ended up widening the racerback portion of the tank pattern - something Nienke did to the final pattern anyway.

The main fabric is Nicole Miller rayon spandex from the Joann Fabrics remnant bin.  It's printed with rope chains all over and feels appropriately nautical.  It's more of a metallic feeling knit than other rayon spandex I've used, if that makes any sense.  It feels cool to the touch and doesn't really warm up on the skin, which makes it really nice for a summer garment, even in black. I finished the neck and armholes with some brown cotton/lycra ribbing from the stash.  I cut it a little short - and looking at the photos, it also seems that I should have lowered the armholes to their original position after taking the wedge out (the tank feels fine on).  I do wish I'd used black ribbing instead - I think the garment would be a more versatile match for my shorts and skirt wardrobe.  Here I'm wearing it with my brown linen Simplicity 1887 shorts

These tanks are not my usual style choice - I don't have any racerback bras and I prefer not to have my straps showing.  I know they sell little doo-dads to turn your regular bra into a racerback but those have always looked really uncomfortable to me.  In any case, I go a bit more casual at the beach, and these tanks are getting a workout here, straps and all.  They are really comfortable and cool to wear in the humidity.  In fact, the day after I finished my first tank, I wore it on a short 1.5-mile hike with the kids while wearing Niko on my back.  I was surprisingly comfortable despite the heat and nearly 80% humidity that day.

The tanks are perfect beach wear - and being quick to sew, it's easy to whip a few up before vacation.  I am actually wishing I had a couple more to wear while we're down here.  Might need to invest in a convertible bra after all.


  1. Your tanks look great, Masha, as does the beach!! Tim and I are so happy to hear about how well Jeremy is doing. Tim says hi!

  2. We love the Outer Banks and are trying to figure out if we can get a weekend trip in in September or so! Cute tops, too :)

  3. Wonderful post!! You look so relaxed and happy and CUTE in your tanks! I feel the same about racerback tanks but you are making the look seem so delightfully casual and cool. I am sooooooo happy to hear about your husband's progress. It has been QUITE the year and change for your family, and I am so grateful that things are so dramatically improved! This post put a smile on my face. :)

  4. So, so glad to hear that your husband is doing better - wow! It's so nice to enjoy a place with that many memories. The tanks look amazing and comfy! I love racebacks as well - really nice and cool!

  5. It looks beautiful there, so relaxing and peaceful and happy things have improved since your last holiday. Lovely tops, I'm always the fan of a striped knit but think I'm a printed snob too, saying that it looks great in the photos. I'm on the fence about about racer backs, I'm not a bra strap showing girl either and have used a giant paper clip in the past to pull them in but not so much as it's uncomfortable, there must something we could sew for this??

    1. I know - printed horizontal stripes make no sense to me! I did not realize so many were conflicted about racer backs like me - I thought maybe I was just too prudish.

  6. The tops look very comfy. I am planning on making one or two for summer :) Life is so fragile isn't it? I am so glad to hear your husband is doing well now :)

  7. So glad to get such a happy update on your husband's recovery, and the tank tops are very cute and well-fitting!

  8. Such pretty tanks! I love the brown against the black. It's an unexpected touch, but it looks really pretty with the brown in the print. What a special place to go to with your family too!

  9. i always love the look of racerbacks (on other people) but then i remember that i don't race so why me? the thing is they make my shoulders look wider to match my wide hips so i keep on trying. i've tried the doohickeys they make to pull your brastraps together but they are super uncomfortable. so i give up on racerbacks. i can just enjoy yours.
    nice makes! (p.s. everyone here is a big fan of the outer banks and so is the traveling sewing machine.)


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