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Customized Tank Top with Crochet: Update

Remember I started to customize a tank top with crochet?

I cut a tank top to crop it and to give it a deep V-neck. Then I added crochet to it to customize it.

It’s mostly done now, and I like it. This is a size Medium tank top on a Small-size mannequin. In standard sizing, Lindsay the mannequin is on the Extra-Small side of Small. I’m on the Large side of Medium. On me, the waistline of the top sits higher, like an Empire-waist top. Also, on me there is no ruffling where the crochet meets the cut hem.

Customized tank top with crochet.
My new tank top customized with crochet.

I uploaded a bunch of photos of this project to its Ravelry project page. (If I take a selfie I’ll add it there too. Maybe even here on the blog if I’m not too shy.)

This is my first attempt at a customized tank top with crochet. Thank goodness for a timely email I received from designer Sue Perez! She shared with me her sewing experience: a V-shaped neckline needs special reinforcing. I took that into account when I chose the crochet stitches and gauge for the neckline.

This experience of refashioning store bought clothes answered lots of questions I had. For example:

1. The thickness of the yarn is fine. It’s standard sport weight, very smooth, and is a cotton mixed with rayon for drape. In crochet thread sizing this would be a Size #3.

I wouldn’t want to go with a yarn that’s any thicker than this, or that has any fleecy loft or friction on the yarn’s surface.

A thinner yarn (a.k.a. a crochet thread Size #5 or #10) would work great, especially for fancier, fussier garments. This sport weight thickness works for the casual nature of a daytime tank top, or for a tee shirt. It also gave me the feeling of making progress quickly enough to stick with it.

2. Amount of yarn: I’d say it took up to 1.5 balls of Lotus yarn; that’s 325-375 yds.

3. Attaching the crochet: Worked out so far. It will also have to hold up to washing and wear. Crocheting right onto tee shirt fabric like this? Yes, it can be done. I used a needle-sharp steel crochet hook. It was the largest I have and was not quite large enough for the yarn. A larger one might have left noticeably big holes in the fabric though.

I didn’t loooove doing the first row. Funny thing about crochet – it’s often the case. Crocheting into the foundation chains isn’t my favorite thing either, nor is crocheting foundation stitches. I usually want to get whatever the first row is, over with. Same with this top.

I mostly don’t want to look at the holes where the crochet stitches meet the fabric, but I don’t notice it at the hem when it’s on me (only in this photo because it’s rippling a bit). At the neckline, though, I added a row that covers the holes.

A customized tank top with crochet looks pretty nice, doesn’t it? I super love the hem. Those are split clusters of triple trebles.

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On The CGOA Runway: Doris Chan’s Lotus Bolero and Lace Pants

Vashti Braha models Doris Chan’s crochet designs in Lotus yarn.

CGOA member Irene Iannelli brings her photography-savvy husband, Alex, to Chain Link conferences. Here’s one Alex snapped at the 2014 summer fashion show banquet, during the guild’s 20th anniversary crochet conference.

Doris Chan designed the lace pants and the bolero in her signature construction method of crocheting in the round from the top down. The drape and fit feel naturally comfortable and sleek. She waited to design these garments until we developed the Lotus yarn for them. They’re made for each other.

Click on the photo for more details on the patterns. Bolero pattern and our Lotus yarn are in the shop.

Even Alex and Irene’s adorable toddling daughter modeled on the runway for the first time! July 26, 2014 at the Radisson in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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New Crochet Yarn Preview Photos

Want to see some preview photos I took of my new crochet yarn? I’m adding two new yarns to my shop: Treat and Lotus Snacks.

Top row: Treat fine merino wool yarn! I couldn’t resist a special purchase of this premium hand dyed crochet yarn in a gazillion colors. It comes wound as a Hook Ready™ center-pull cake-shaped ball. This means it sits flat while you crochet. It’s packaged in its own clear protective project bag. Hook Ready™ means just add crochet hook and crocheter, and go!

Second row: Lotus Snacks: cupcake-size balls of our original DesigningVashti Lotus yarn. They’re shown in sixpacks below but they’ll be available singly too.

More about Lotus Snacks: All 14 colors of my Lotus yarn in cute cupcake-like balls! They’re a third of the size of the large 256-yard Lotus center-pull cakes. That means 85 yards per ball (approx. 33 g or 1.16 oz).

More about Treat Medium-Z: It’s a standard worsted weight single ply z-twisted pure premium imported merino wool. A luscious new crochet yarn. I’ll also be adding more kinds of Treat in other thicknesses, colors, and plying.

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Lab Experiment: I’m Customizing a Tank Top with Crochet

Customizing a tank top with crochet: hem in progress with pink DV Lotus yarn.
Crocheting the bottom hem. Armholes & neckline next.
Crocheting the bottom hem. Armholes & neckline next.

This is my first attempt at customizing a tank top with crochet, so I’m using a $4 scoop-neck tank top from Walmart (White Stag brand).  Update: It’s coming along well! See this followup post.

It looks dowdy on me, so I drastically cropped it and turned the neckline into a deep V. The crochet you see adds length along the bottom hem. I’m using standard sport weight yarn and a US/F (3.75 mm) crochet hook. The steel hook you see here is the largest sharp-headed crochet hook I have. I wish I had one that’s slightly bigger for pulling through loops of sport weight yarn. Crazy?

The real reason I’m doing this:

  • What is it like to crochet DesigningVashti Lotus yarn onto t-shirt fabric? Is sport weight yarn a good match? (If I have to use lace weight yarns, I might as well just crochet the whole darn thing.) What does the texture of this yarn look like with a plain cotton machine knit fabric? 
  • I have mill ends of this “Pink Sugar” color; the dyeing looks more tonal than solid (not in this photo though). Do I like it? What is it generally like to pair Lotus colors with my tee shirt colors?
  • Can I use a super sharp crochet hook when customizing a tank top with crochet? I want to be able to start crocheting right onto fabric and get a result I like. Would I enjoy doing it more than sewing along the cut edges first? (I sealed the cut edges with an invisible permanent washable no-fray liquid.)
  • How will it all hold up to wearing, machine washing and drying, and the Florida sun? Will the no-fray liquid add enough strength to the edges?
  • How will I like wearing it? Will I find I have a preference for customizing a tank top with certain kinds of crochet stitches? What if the crochet adds too much weight to the top?

Lots of what-ifs. Will I want to do something similar with my cashmere sweaters? ::gasp::

I have a few pullovers that I want to convert into cardigans. Ideally, give them a roomier fit while I’m at it. Heck, add beads. Cashmere love is a many splendored thing.

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Why We’re Excited About Our New Lotus Yarn

Two crochet designers — Doris Chan and Vashti Braha — asked each other,
“What if we could create just one yarn. What would it be?” Lotus is the answer.

Lotus has an inner glow that makes captivating crochet stitches as they come off of the hook. Then, watch what happens when you spritz with water later: simple blocking brings out a full drape, and plumps up the stitches just enough to make them pearly cute!

Why we love it:

– It’s spun in a final “Z-Twist” (counterclockwise) direction for superior compatibility with crochet! For most crocheters this reduces “splitting” (that’s when the crochet hook splits the plies – catches on only some of its strands during crocheting). Crocheting with a z-twisted yarn speeds up crocheting, looks prettier, and the yarn stays new-looking longer. The average plied yarn available in the US today is spun with a final “S-Twist” instead (clockwise direction).

– Almost NO Mill Knots! It’s proudly made in an American mill that also serves the fashion industry.

– The starting yarn end at the center of each ball is HOOK READY: It’s waiting for you because we’ve attached it to the yarn label. No more fishing around for it and ending up with “yarn barf.”

– It blends 52% Cotton with 48% Rayon in a special way. The rayon (a.k.a. viscose, which is derived from plant fibers) contributes a fine-grained shimmer, and the cotton keeps it from feeling too limp and slippery. Then, watch what happens when you spritz with water later: simple blocking brings out the rayon’s silky drape, while the cotton fibers plump and soften a bit to create cute, snug, pearly stitches!

The fiber blending and plying characteristics of Lotus interact so beautifully with crochet stitches.

– It’s a double-size ball. (And 1-pound cones are coming soon!) Each 3.5 oz/100g ball has 256 yds/235 m.

– Lotus is a versatile “sport weight” thickness (equivalent to #2 Fine Weight; “Light DK” or “5-Ply” in the UK). It can be used for many of your favorite patterns; see below.

– It’s available in fourteen colors! Best of all, we never have to worry about someone discontinuing this yarn. In fact, more colors are planned.

– Machine wash and dry Lotus on a gentle setting with like colors, although as with most fashion fabrics, hand washing and air drying will extend its life.

Patterns to Use With Lotus Yarn

We’re designing up a storm with Lotus! To find out about new patterns, subscribe to Crochet Inspirations newsletter.

How to Substitute Lotus Yarn: Start with the crochet hook size called for in the pattern. If it falls in a range of US-5 (F/3.75 mm) to US-7 (G/4.50 mm), then look next at the type of yarn. If it’s primarily cotton or rayon (a.k.a. viscose, bamboo, tencel) and looks smooth, chances are great that Lotus will give you the results you’re looking for.

This yarn can also work well for some fashion patterns calling for a “DK” or “Light Worsted Weight” (CYC #3 Light) yarn. Doris successfully crocheted her Jolimar Skirt with Lotus and a US-8 (H) hook. It was originally designed with Naturallycaron Spa (a discontinued yarn) and a US-9 (I/6 mm) hook. Even larger crochet hook sizes often work better for Tunisian and slip stitch crochet lace.

Especially with jewelry, bags, belts, and kitchen projects, Lotus Yarn also works great in a tighter gauge, for example, Vashti successfully substituted Lotus colors for her Aran Rozsanas Wristcuff pattern. We recommend crochet hook sizes as small as US-4 (E/3.5 mm) for jewelry, bags, and sturdy home decor, and from US-5 (F/3.75 mm) to as large as US-8 (H/5 mm) for fashion projects, depending on the amount of structure and drape needed, and the specific crochet technique used.

We carefully tailored Lotus Yarn to crochet for exciting crochet results, but of course you will love knitting and weaving with it too!