The Perks of Sewing Wallflowers – Bailen Tank Inspired by Pinterest

What up, readers?! It’s 2018. It’s also February already. Yes, the dust settles deep on this blog in between posts. Still, I’m back with a project and some sewing musings, so let’s carry on.

This is a tank top I made last fall from silk crepe de chine with a little lycra in it. It was inspired by one I found on Pinterest.

I really wanted to post this project, no matter how long it took me (err… 3 or 4 months), because it’s made from a pattern that I think deserves a little more love in the online sewing community. The pattern is Pauline Alice’s Bailen Tank/Dress, a FREE pattern that was released at Christmas time a few years ago. I made a few modifications, including adding the fancy shmancy straps.

The pattern is simple enough. It’s a bias cut top/dress with single bust darts, a scoop neck, and bias binding that forms the straps. It’s a nice basic. I downloaded it immediately. But I never saw it pop up on any of the sewing blogs I follow. No one else seemed to latch on to this one. Currently, Pattern Review only has two reviews for it. (I’ll have to go up this to three.)

Then, roughly seven months later, True Bias released the Ogden Cami, a similar style.

There are a few differences. Ogden isn’t designed to be cut on the bias. It has a soft v-neckline in both the front and back, and it has a half lining instead of being finished with a bias binding. Also, no darts. Still, like the Bailen top, it’s a simple tank with thin straps. A good wardrobe basic. Unlike the Bailen, the online sewing community has gone NUTS for this pattern. If you do a Google image search for the Ogden cami you’ll see what I mean. There are so many out there, although only 18 have made it up on Pattern Review so far.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 8.10.16 PM
a sampling of Ogden camis from Google images

Why is the Ogden pattern so much more popular than the Bailen, especially when it costs $10/$16 (pdf/printed) compared to FREE? I won’t deny, Ogden is a cute pattern, and most people seem very happy with it. I’m sure it deserves its moment in the spotlight. But I feel like Bailen is a great pattern too, so I’m posting this review to say so.

Black strappy tank - 20180206_123850

One thing I prefer about the Bailen tank is that it has bust darts. They add subtle shaping, and even as a small-busted person I appreciate that. I’m sure those with fuller busts REALLY appreciate it. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a lot of reviews for Ogden by busty ladies, although you could certainly add darts if you know how. One thing I prefer about the Ogden tank, however, is the use of the half lining. It’s a super simple way to finish the neckline and armholes, much less fiddly than a bias binding. So I stole that feature for my Bailen. I also stole the v-neckline.

Black strappy tank - 20180206_130459
my tank inside out – half lining

I made a test version first out of rayon challis and got a pretty great fit just following the sizing chart and grading from one size at the bust to two sizes larger at the hips as I usually do. I didn’t cut either version on the bias because I was being stingy with my fabric. They still worked great, but I bet doing this on the bias as intended would be REALLY great. I took a little out of the center front on the black version for a closer fit, but I will probably add a little of that back on future versions. This one is just the tiniest bit snug, but since the fabric has lycra it’s no problem.

My rouleau loop straps were the biggest pain in the butt to make. I think I made three versions before one worked. In one version I threaded a piece of yarn through the fabric tube, but that was a mistake. It was too stiff to curve nicely around the neckline.

Black strappy tank - 20180206_124300

The Pinterest version also only had one strap going over the shoulder, but I wanted two. That caused lots of extra frustration because there were extra pieces vying for space in corner of the neckline (where the straps are sewn between the facing and outer fabric). It was really tough to get things positioned correctly there. I understand now why the original tank is designed the way it is.

Now that frustration has passed, I’m very happy with my tank. I think it’s not a bad copy of the original inspiration garment, and it’s fun to wear. My only regrets are 1) doesn’t really work with a bra, 2) I’ve become self conscious that others might think it looks like lingerie. I tried it with a cardigan for work, but I don’t think I’ll do that anymore.

Black strappy tank - 20180206_124103
my tank

So guys, go give the Bailen some love. It’s not going to even cost you anything! It’s also really made me want to try other Pauline Alice patterns, which I think is the point of these freebies. And if you’re interested in hearing about some other wallflower patterns, you should check out the Pity Review Sew Along on Pattern Review. People are seeking out patterns that haven’t been reviewed yet and giving them their moment in the spotlight. I think it’s a fabulous concept. Remember, just because everyone and their mom hasn’t already tried out that pattern you’re looking at doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. You might be on to something good.


  1. It’s a Lovely Tank / Cami / Top. I think you’re analysis Ogden Vs Bailen is spot on! Great job with your scrappy traps btw. Much nicer than Pinterest


  2. Bailen has been in my to try list forever. I’ll now give it a try. And no, I didn’t understand why it didn’t take off either. May be the lack of marketing for Bailen.

    The ogden really has a nice neckline and neckline finish. I didnt buy it (wouldn’t buy a simple camisole pattern as I have a couple from Burda that I can just change the neckline) but I have observed that pattern on multiple bodies and it looks darn great on everybody.

    But yes, I will try the Bailen as I want to see how well Pauline Alice patterns are made.


  3. You’re so awesome at sewing AND at spreading the love! ❤️ Love the creativity and technique, as well as the thriftiness and community-building.


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