Three Gemmas

Way back when I first started blogging in 2010, there were a handful of notable kids sewing bloggers. Made by Rae was one blog I enjoyed reading and I used to participate in her Shirt week series every spring. Since then, she has gotten into the ladies pattern business. Washi anyone?

I never did try one of Rae’s patterns until I recently bought the Gemma tank. I liked how the tank looked fitted on those who had made it, and not shapeless like other tanks. Sorbetto and Willow come to mind. Due to my major hate for taping together PDF patterns, I don’t buy many indie patterns unless they come out with paper versions. But the Gemma tank is pretty simple to put together, and only takes up twelve pages.

I also liked that the Gemma pattern came with a bodice designed for a D cup.

I did notice when cutting out my first version that the side seams for the D cup were at a different angle than the back bodice side seams. When I lay the patterns on top of each other with the dart closed, the front piece jutted out more at the bottom than the back piece.  So I reshaped the side seams of the front and to match the back. I remembered  something from fashion school about side seams throwing off the grainline of a pattern when they are at different angles. Making an FBA changes the angle of a side seam. I would be curious to line up the smaller cup size front with the back to see if that was the reason.

I made three versions of the Gemma tank. The first two versions were made in a size small and the third is a medium D cup For reference, my upper bust is 34 inches which put me between a small and a medium. My hips are 37 inches, also putting me in between the small and medium.

I made my first version in a straight size small D cup with no changes. I didn’t make a muslin and just steamed ahead with some of my favorite bug printed silk I bought a few years ago at The Fabric Store in Hollywood. The top has too much room in the bottom half and I don’t like the way it poofs out. The dart is also a little high and it’s too tight across my back. But I can live with it and I’m hoping to lose a few pounds anyway. The pattern recommends making a muslin, so I have only myself to blame. But at least the top was quick to make. I have more of this bug fabric and may make a bigger one. Unfortunately, I serged my seam allowances so I can’t let it out. I cut out the recommended 1 1/4 inch bias bindings for the silk bug print top, but they were too thin to work with and press in this silk charmeuse.

The second top was made in a striped silk I’ve had in my stash forever. I removed about four inches of fabric from the bottom width, blending up to the dart on this version. I like the more fitted silhouette of this slimmed down version more than the first one, but it’s also just a little too tight on top. Dang it all!The black stripes had bled and the fabric became dull and mottled when I washed and dried it, so I didn’t really care too much about it. Plus, I only paid two dollars a yard for it. But still….time wasted! For this striped top I made the bias bindings two inches wide instead of 1 1/4 inches. That was much easier to press and fold over then the thinner binding which was just too fiddly.. you can see my bindings are wider.The darts on this top are also too high. The joys of aging!

My third top is made from some batik double gauze by Studio M I bought at Superbuzzy. I live near their brick and mortar shop. That place is Japanese fabric heaven, people! This fabric isn’t Japanese, though. It’s from The Missouri Star Quilt Company. I’ve felt other double gauzes which are so soft, but honestly, this one feels just like quilting cotton and isn’t very soft at all.

I cut out a size medium and ended up removing about four inches of width from the bottom. I also shortened this version by two inches and lowered the bust dart by one inch. This top feels a lot more boxy than my other two, due to the stiffness of the fabric. I prefer the silk fabric, but this one fits better. I have a feeling I will wear this one a lot since it matches so may of my clothes.


So what are my final thoughts on this pattern? It’s a good basic, although I think it has too much volume and flare in the hip area for my taste. And the design is quite plain.  It does, however, come with a higher neck version. There isn’t much ease, so size up if in doubt. It’s a quick sew and a perfect summer staple.


Share Button


  1. Sandy Osborne says

    Lovely tops — and that pink silk bug fabric is fabulous! Nice work and great info.

    P.S. I adore Superbuzzy, too. I’ve never made it to the store, but I order online from their wonderful selection. Kelly is wonderful and oh, so helpful 🙂

    • says

      Thanks Sandy. I couldn’t figure out what to do with that print since it’s so loud so a simple tank was perfect to show it off without being too busy

  2. Brenda Kimberlin says

    Glad to read this, I am getting ready to make an adult knit version of a similar PDF pattern – Green Style’s Lacy Slope Tank. I usually avoid PDF patterns, but I figured a tank wouldn’t be too bad and it wasn’t — both the pattern and the tank (child’s version) came together very quickly (as long as you don’t look too closely at the finishes!) This will motivate me to get going on the adult version.