Sporty Sewing – First Make!

Tiny Pocket Tank

I completed my first Sporty Sewing top by mistake! I had some fabric left over from my latest Afternoon Blouse and decided to make a Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. As I sewed the last stitches I thought, This will be good for cycling in. Boom! I’d made something to exercise in, without even thinking about it. This top has since been worn for cycling and dog walking. It’s a winner! (Though looking at this shot, I really need to dig out that discarded bra and use it to pad my dressmaker’s form to my real bust size. What does one use for padding? Socks?! Hello, teenage self, long time no see.)

I find these basic tanks to be more challenging than they first appear. First off, bias binding. It makes for a lovely finish, but it’s fiddly and time consuming. Second off, third off, and fourth off – fit. This isn’t a stretch T-shirt, it’s a woven fabric, so good fit really does make a difference. I’ve applied an FBA, three adjustments of bodice darts, widened the shoulders, raised the front neckline and finally traced my adjustments onto Swedish tracing paper. Grainline’s pattern drafting is second to none, but with such a simple top you do need to make drafting work for you. Do you agree?

Colette Pattern

Finally, my vintage culotte pattern has arrived! Which means I can move onto my second Sporty Sewing make. I’m intrigued by the construction. What fabric would you use? A twill? Chambray? I’m torn. And when I say torn, I mean clueless. Help, please!

How are you getting on with your Sporty Sewing?


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45 Responses to Sporty Sewing – First Make!

  1. Simona says:

    Like that tiny pocket top! So cute.
    Not sure what you would need to use to make your culottes!
    I managed to narrow it down to two shorts patterns one already cut fabric and the. Decided I wanna make the other . So washed my fabric and on to make my shorts. Might copy your idea with the top is you don’t mind! 😍

  2. rachel says:

    That print is amazing!

  3. I’d like to make culottes and I too am stuck in a cloth conundrum. I want to avoid lining the culottes but I’d also like them relatively light weight…

  4. Staci Carpenter says:

    I used an old pillow, pulled out the stuffing and used it to fill out the bra. Works nicely and doesn’t lump like a rolled sock does 🙂

  5. Amy says:

    I’ve got a BHL Polly top on my sewing table, and I vastly underestimated how important a proper fit would be to such a simple top! It’s close… but even close doesn’t really cut it!

  6. sedgepig says:

    I am going to make Burda 6905 box pleat culottes way hey! In navy linen if you please!

  7. lisa g says:

    you are so right! i’ve made several TPT’s and it’s amazing what a difference small adjustments make. i think i’ve finally got it right–and it’s worth getting right, because a simple woven tank is so versatile and functional! love yours, that fabric is awesome!

  8. Tash says:

    My dressform wears a bra 24/7. The shape of my dummy’s boobs are definitely not the same as mine look in a bra. Everyone laughs at my dummy as it does look a bit strange, but hey it’s way better than spending hours on a garment only to find out that the bodice fit is terrible.

  9. redsilvia says:

    Cute tank!

    Why not make the culottes in a denim with a bit of drape? Washable and cotton is pretty amenable with which to sew and press.

  10. Karen Orsua says:

    I just found out that my machine (Babylock) has a bias binding foot. I purchased it a couple of weeks ago and am so happy I did. I love bias binding, this foot gives such a professional appearance I can’t tell you how happy I am that I purchased it. Just a thought.

  11. Meg Kundert says:

    These would look great in linen or a linen blend.

  12. Tegan says:

    Linen is the best for comfort and durability. And you can have linens in non “linen-y” weaves if you’d like. I made linen twill pants for my partner’s birthday in April. It’s lightweight, breathes easily, and can withstand a beating and normal washing.

  13. mellincf says:

    Love the fabric of your top, it looks so fresh and cool! As to my own sporty sewing, I sew my own tennis skirts and tops and use the funkiest quilting cottons I can find. Just finished a skirt with Alexander Henry fabric “The Ghastlies”. Fun!

  14. missmarys says:

    Very nice. Love the drape of the material.

  15. karen says:

    Love the tank and choice of fabric. And if you are making coulottes for sport, I suggest you use a sstretch fabric for comfort like a ity knit or slinky knit or ponte knit. Good luck. Karen Minet

  16. Diana Deap says:

    I remember when I wore culottes and I had several ,that they wrinkled badly at the seat/crotch.Linen would be a nightmare I think. A knit as the last person said like neoprene or ponte would be my suggestion (for what it’s worth).d

  17. Yvonne Bennett says:

    Black ponte coulottes and that TPT above would look AWESOME together! Coulottes in linen are very dressy, IMHO, and chambray would be nice for more casual. You need to sew at least three pair!

  18. mlm247 says:

    Your culottes pattern is beautiful. Fabulous for golf, tennis, polo watching and for child care. Terrible for cycling. I think they would originally have been made in a gabardine-like fabric. I made some simpler culottes in a heavy silk knit years ago. Your pattern looks to me as if you are going to be trying to get pleats into a waistband without looking too bulky. You need to consider how this garment will look after you have sat in it. I suggest a firm knit that is not too thick for the first pair. Hmm. Second pair, really super sporty and bright.

  19. Kate says:

    I definitely need to get out an old bra. Just made a linen jacket for a wedding, it looks great on the dress form, but not so well fitted on me! I would use a cotton with some Lycra/stretch in it. It will still drape with the cotton but will have enough stretch for sporty activity. That’s what I always use for my golf shorts/skorts

  20. What about a gabardine?

  21. Philippa says:

    In a nutshell, yes. I think it’s having a (ahem) larger bust that does it. Regarding culottes, I would be drawn to a cooler fabric that isn’t too bulky. Maybe a linen cotton mix so that it doesn’t wrinkle too badly? Or a light twill might hold the shape well.

  22. Jennie says:

    My dummy also permanently wears a bra, her cups are stuffed with toy stuffing. Lovely top!

  23. pinka says:

    My dummy also wears a bra, my cup size is a bit bigger than hers. I used a cheap padded bra, because it’s quite sturdy and doesn’t need a lot of stuffing. It looks funny though, because it’s red… And since my sewing space and dummy are in the living room area, I have to dress her up every time someone visits:)
    also, I’m going to sew my first sweatshirt, inspired by your sewathon 🙂

  24. Fab culottes pattern. I think they’d be nice in a twill.

  25. Laurie says:

    I love the fabric, and the pattern is so cute. Bias binding is not always my friend though.

  26. Kristin says:

    I agree on the fussiness of fitting TPT. The lines are beautiful but I wish it had been drafted with different cup sizes–that way the dart size might be right, even if the placement has to be moved. Not that I’m lazy–just that Grainline drafts much better than I do!

  27. Candace says:

    Your culottes look like great fun. I’m thinking a thicker rayon might be the ticket. It’s cool and drapey enough not to look wrinkled or be awkwardly stiff when riding a bicycle.

  28. Fiona M says:

    Love the tiny tank, that fabric is gorgeous!
    I stuffed my dummy’s bra cups with pop socks partly filled with rice, very effective and you can mould the shape very satisfactorily.

  29. MeaganA says:

    To be honest I would not of picked that fabric to sew if I was out shopping. But when made up and put with your black skirt it just looks amazing. It is so bright and cheerful, and it looks great on you. I wish I could see how great something would look when purchasing fabric!

  30. Alice says:

    My dressform is a proud bra-wearer, too! I use quite an old bra (might have to rethink that actually, as often it is on show so perhaps I should get her a shining new bra to save her some embarrassment?)

  31. Very nice. Do you steam the curves into your bias before attaching? Simplifies the process no end. I use folded underwear instead of socks if I feel the need for some augmentation. As long as you use two identical pairs it’s all good 😉

  32. LinB says:

    A lightweight denim, a good sturdy broadcloth, or a bottom-weight linen get my vote for the culottes! Something in a natural fiber, at any rate. Solid or reads-as-solid so that you can pair it with more tops. There used to be something called “kettlecloth,” but they don’t weave that, anymore. It was a really, really heavy gauze sort of weave; and it was as much polyester as cotton. Non-wrinkly in the sense that pique and seersucker are non-wrinkly. Maybe a sporty seersucker for the culottes?

    These split skirts are fun to sew: a little more to do than for sewing either a pant or a skirt, but less to do than for sewing BOTH a pant and a skirt. Plus, you can do cartwheels in them without fear of all the boys seeing your underpanties. If you can do cartwheels … you can do somersaults, if not. Or hang upside down off the monkey bars (I first wore these sorts of skirts as a child in elementary school.)

  33. Jenna says:

    I love that culottes pattern! I would make it in chambray or a really lightweight denim, such a useful thing to have in your wardrobe!

  34. surfjewels says:

    I use a bra on my mannequin, it’s one I bought a while back, but has too much padding for me, but works perfectly for this and the clothes fit just about right for my size!

    I posted a pic here:


  35. coco says:

    You had me laughing! Yes, a simple tank can be a lot of work! I did the same thing with this little lovely (well, not all the binding add and remove. I apply bindings freehand, not pre-measured, much easier IMHO …) But widened shoulders, moved the dart, etc. And love the pattern. BTW I adore the fabric you’ve used!

  36. lisainaz says:

    Totally agree about the TPT. I love Grainline but this one gave me fits (pun intended)and still doesn’t fit all that well, and I’m pretty easy to fit. And for the culottes…sorry gotta go with some linen blend. Cheers!

  37. Beth says:

    I’m jealous of that pattern! Right now I’m making a slew of tank tops and dreaming of some summer culottes.

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