Today was another very productive day. Literally. How so? Well, I produced something!
Two things, actually.
I finished the super-secret project, which I will reveal soon. Not yet, but soon.
What I also made, and this is why we're here today - me writing and you reading - is a braided racerback tank top.
Yes, seriously! I made an item of clothing today, for realsies!
Well, I wasn't the only one doing it, I had great company. My friend Kevonne came by my house today, you'll remember her from all-time favourite Lifetime Movie classics such as The Stories of Pre-Carnival and New Year's in Tobago. She brought another friend, Sharia, who also played a vital role in the Carnival Fete Madness - the driver. Today though, we all played equally central roles as we all converted a plain orange t-shirt each into something new and really cool. Very grateful for the awesome company, I hope I get to hang out and create with these two again, it was a fun day.
First off, we had to scour the internet for ideas and tutorials, because we all came half-unprepared and didn't know just what exactly we wanted to make, then we were ready to get to work. With Kevonne's crafts box and my sewing kit, a music playlist fit for a party (an awkward party, but still a party) and good vibes, we were ready to make history. And two tank tops and a bag.
Kevonne decided she wanted to make a tote bag out of her t-shirt, Sharia and I settled on making braided racerback tank tops. We found this tutorial on YouTube that explains pretty well how to make the tank, even though the girl in the video seems to enjoy doing more than necessary. We found a few shortcuts - literally. Where the girl in the video cuts each sleeve individually, for example, we simply folded the t-shirt and cut once instead of twice. War is the mother of inventions? Nope, laziness is.
Here's a step-by-step for how to make your own braided racerback tank top. If you want to make one, you know. But make sure to also watch the tutorial or any tutorial, because I don't want to be responsible if yours turns out worse than mine because you only listened to what I told you. That's something you should never ever do, just FYI.
So, here goes:
First, fold your t-shirt in half so you don't have to cut twice and cut off the sleeves and the collar. For the sleeves, just see how low you want the cut to go, because it determines how much of your back will be exposed later. And because we're on the topic of exposure, see if the cleavage is deep enough for you with cutting just below the collar. If you're like me and it's not, take your scissors and go to town on that shirt. Freedom for all boobies!
OK, done with the inappropriateness.
When all is cut and you're sure it's more or less symmetrical, the kinda difficult part begins.
Take a piece of chalk and mark where you want to cut the sleeveholes further - but just on the back of the tank top! If you don't have fabric chalk then do it like me and steal a piece of chalk from your neighbour's kid, any chalk will do just fine. And he won't notice, because he hardly ever uses his chalk to draw on the sidewalk anyways. So you mark where you want to cut and then you cut. Carefully. And, again, only on the back of the tank. If you cut this far in the front, then that's too much freedom for your boobs. We don't want that.
Next, you cut along the collarline in the back and separate your new collar from the back fabric. I'm a smart cookie, so I didn't take a picture of that, but it's in the video. Then, you make two vertical cuts in that back piece so you get three strands of fabric. That's what you see in the bottom left part of the second collage. Note that that picture is upside down.
Once you have that, stretch the three strands out a bit and then braid them like you see in the last photo. When you're done with that, take a needle and thread and kinda secure your braid just so it won't come apart after all that careful work you've done.
Now, this is where what we did becomes different from what the girl did in the video. I know you watched it so you'll see what I'm talking about. She just sewed the braid onto the collar piece and then covered it with a little extra fabric, but I didn't really like the way that looked. It was a bit boring, to be honest. I wanted more braid. Also, I don't like how the edges of the tank, where we cut, don't have a clean finish (need to figure something out for that for the next one I hope to make) so I felt like I'd end up with a back full of orange fuzz, leaving it open so.
The solution: more braiding.
Cut off two pieces from the sleeves that you still have lying around because, just like me, you're a messy artisan - only cleaning up after everything's done, not during the doing. So, one piece per shoulder. About two fingers wide and about as long as your forearm, stretched out and then knotted onto the collar piece just behind the original stitching on top of the shoulder. After knotting it, the two strands that hang off should be of the same length. Also, the knot is on the inside so when you braid, the strands kind of come around to the top. Braid down to the middle of the back of the collar, using the collar itself as the third strand. Repeat on the other shoulder.
Again, I'm a dummy and didn't take any pictures of this either, mainly because I didn't really know what I was doing until I was done doing it.
The three braids then meet in the middle of the backside of the collar - I don't know what that piece of a shirt is called, thus the long description. Get your needle and thread back out to secure everything in place and then cover it with an extra piece of fabric, here we're back on track with what the girl in the video did.
A last few stitches after everything's covered, just to make sure it's all secured in place and won't come apart the first time you try on your brand not-that-new braided racerback tank top. I don't actually know what that means, racerback, but everybody uses that term so I'm just going with the flow here. If you know why they call it that, can you let me know in a comment? I want to learn!
Here's the finished tank top from the back, I love the colour (Thanks, Kevonne!!) and all the braids (Thanks, Sharia, for unknowingly convincing me not to make that vest thing!!) and, yeah, just the whole thing.
I lifted my right shoulder so it looks somewhat crooked in this picture, but it's a really cool top that I'm looking forward to wearing. I also got the cleavage just right, but there won't be a picture of that in this blog. I only write about the really inappropriate things, I don't show them.
What's that I'm doing with my hands in this photo? It's my gang sign! Double live-long-and-prosper stands for Nerdfighteria. Google that if you don't know what it means.
I'll keep posting about the random things I make and hope that you'll make some nice stuff too and then share it with me!
Until then, DFTBA.