How I Created The Naoko Tank {The Flora Modiste Sewing Projects}

The Naoko Tank Sewing Project Featured Image

With this month's sewing project, we are getting a jump on that feeling of lightness that Spring brings. If New Zealand taught us anything (have you checked out our NZ travel guide yet?) it showed us how GOOD it felt to live minimally, and easily.

So this month's sewing project reflects how I am wanting to tweak life back at home this Spring: Minimalist, resourceful, and less wasteful. (But still beautiful!)

Which brings us to the Naoko Tank. And how does the Naoko Tank reflect all of those things? Well my friend, let me tell you:

  • Minimalist: The Naoko is the most basic, comfortable tank silhouette that I could draft up for this sewing project. An easy, breezy slip on that can be worn with anything.
  • Resourceful: All of the materials that I used for the Naoko were already in my sewing box. That includes the fabric, thread, everything.
  • Less Wasteful: Rather than just throwing the scraps of fabric away (because they were too small to use for anything else) I figured out a way to use them with the Naoko.
  • Beautiful: Because it is, right? I LOVE how all of the different textures go together, and all of the different colors.

After living minimally in a van for three weeks, driving across New Zealand, we felt like we had so much STUFF when we got back home. And mind you--Our home is only 400 square feet. It is NOT big.

But still, after living so minimally, everything that we came back to just seemed so excessive. In the few weeks that we have been home, we have actually sold our second car and my husband's motorcycle. And it feels GOOD.

We hardly ever drove the damn things, and we were paying for them every year with registration, gas, insurance.. It feels so good to just be down to one car and our bicycles.

Minimal, and it's just what we need to get around.

(But I won't get rid of my books. Not even a question.)How To Sew Spaghetti Straps Sewing TutorialThe Naoko Tank Sewing Project Front Side View

The Naoko Tank Sewing Project Back View

Anyways. We have started to look inward at the house with what we can condense. And of course, one of the first things that came to my mind was my enormous box of leftover fabric that I have in our closet.

I feel like every seamstress has one of these boxes, am I right? Fabric gets added to the box with leftovers from a sewing project, or sometimes a particular fabric didn't work for a design so it wasn't even used. (Or, like me, you inherit boxes and boxes of fabric from someone who has passed away.)

My go-to box of fabric is getting a little out of control, almost to the point where I can't close the damn thing up. And in my current mindset of living even more minimally, all I could think of was using said fabric for this month's sewing project.. Rather than heading to the fabric store and buying more to just add to the pile.

I think I would literally freak out if I added any more fabric to that box right now.

So, instead of freaking out, I decided to use my leftover fabric for the Naoko. I've used 4 different types that I had just lying around and that I wouldn't have ever used otherwise. The textures are all different, which is an (unexpected) added bonus that I especially love.

The Naoko Tank Sewing Project Full Side View

The Naoko Tank Sewing Project Full Back View

I'm typically not a huge fan of color blocking, I think it can be a lazy design cop out. But I think with this particular sewing project it works extremely well with the asymmetry of the Naoko.

It makes those asymmetrical lines POP, when they otherwise could have just gotten lost in the fabric with an unblocked color design.

THAT my friends, is when I think color blocking works well.

When it shows off an interesting or unusual design that you wouldn't otherwise be able to see.

When I was doing my research for SS18 trends, one of the trends for the season was a sort of 60's mod style. And to me, the 60's scream color blocking. Big, bold colors that contrast one another.

So I drafted those asymmetrical deep v shapes to contrast with the side panels, to give us plenty of color and plenty of blocking. Theoretically, the Naoko could also be sewn as just a basic tank, with no asymmetrical paneling. Or you could just do one deep v, for a bit of a cleaner look.

I feel like that's the beauty of our patterns here at The Flora Modiste.. So many different garments can be sewn by just taping a few pattern pieces together. Like, that's it. It really isn't any more complicated than that.How To Sew Spaghetti Straps Sewing TutorialThe Naoko Tank Sewing Project Front Mid View

Anyways. Every fabric that I used for the Naoko is pretty diverse, in its own way.

But they all still somehow go together.

Three of the four fabrics that I used for the Naoko Tank are actually woven. I had intended on using more knits for this project, but the colors and textures that ended up going together were more woven than knit. And I actually kind of like it--I think it gives the tank shape and volume. Very Japanese-esque, no?

The four fabrics that I ended up using for the Naoko include:

  1. Broadcloth: This was actually leftover fabric that I had from sewing up one of the Teri Dress variations. Broadcloth is most often used in making dress shirts, but I loved the lightness of it for the Teri Dress. (And now for the Naoko!) It's truly a perfect summer fabric.
  2. Sheeting: I pulled this fabric from the Emma Skirt leftover fabric. Sheeting has a smooth surface and can hold it's shape, which made it ideal for the Emma. And it isn't too heavy, but isn't too light, which now makes it perfect for the Naoko.
  3. Shantung: I haven't used this fabric for any sewing projects here on TFM, but have actually had it since I was at FIDM. Shantung is a fabric that uses irregularly shaped yarns to create that textured surface. This Shantung is definitely a lightweight one, which made it ideal for this project.
  4. Textured Knit: And finally, I pulled a textured knit from the Alice Knit. I used this same fabric for the contrasting sleeve cuffs, hem, and neckline for that project. I really wanted to throw a knit into the mix of this project, and the textured knit that I had leftover was the perfect light weight & texture.

Part of the beauty of this project is that you could use mostly knits for it, and it would have a COMPLETELY different look. Rather than having shape and volume like the Naoko, a knit tank using this same pattern would be slouchy and comfy.

Maybe I will make a variation for a future project? How To Sew Spaghetti Straps Sewing TutorialThe Naoko Tank Sewing Project Fabrics of the Naoko


Sewing the Naoko really wasn't too difficult.

The tank itself is the most basic of shapes, with two side seams. The most difficult part of this sewing project would have to be getting those points of the deep "v" perfect.. If those points are at all off, it would be pretty obvious since there are a few of them and they are all right next to each other.

I have also always struggled with sewing spaghetti straps. I have no idea why. When I was at FIDM, I would have my husband, Paul, do my spaghetti straps for me. Not even kidding. #strugglecity

I really don't know why I struggle so much with them.. But I do. They aren't difficult. My husband that knows literally next to nothing about sewing can make them.. While there's me, someone who has a vast sewing education, and I can't sew a damn spaghetti strap. The simplest of projects.

Anyways. I really wanted to finally figure out how to do them, so that's why I made learning how to sew spaghetti straps this month's sewing project tutorial. (Stay tuned next week for a full step-by-step tutorial!)

The Naoko Tank Sewing Project Close Side View

The Naoko Tank Sewing Project Close Back View

And finally, the namesake for the Naoko.

The Naoko is named after a main character in one of my favorite books by my very favorite author. That book is Norwegian Wood, and the author is Haruki Murakami. Murakami is a Japanese writer, and I have loved him since I was in college.

My husband was actually a Japanese studies major, and he was the one who introduced me to Murakami. And actually, the first Murakami book that I ever read was Norwegian Wood, a book that Paul had to read for one of his classes.

I don't know what it is that I love so much about this book, it's actually a really sad story. Most of Murakami's books have some sort of extraordinary, fantasy-like aspect to them, which is what I adore him for. He masterfully blends the ordinary, boring aspects of life with the fantastical and the impossible.

But Norwegian Wood is different in that there are no supernatural elements in the book.. It's simply just a love story.How To Sew Spaghetti Straps Sewing TutorialNaoko is the object of the main character's affection, and she is almost like this unattainable beauty that is always just out of his grasp. She is incredibly independent, but she also struggles intensely with depression and the pressures of every day life.

I think what I love about Naoko is that she isn't ashamed of her struggle, that she knows something isn't right and instead of just sitting back and letting it take her over, she tries to do something about it.

The Naoko Tank Sewing Project Close Front View

And I think that's one of the reasons why I am so drawn to Norwegian Wood and to Naoko. It's almost like a reminder to never be complacent, to always try to be better, but that it's also okay to not be okay. To just live your life and ENJOY IT.

That is what we're here for, after all.

A favorite quote of mine from Norwegian Wood: "But who can say what's best? That's why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a lifetime, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives."

What I think I'm getting at is this: Living minimally also means living how YOU want to live. And doing what YOU want to do. It means not conforming to the societal pressure of having the biggest house or the nicest car if that's not what you want.

If you want to sell everything and live in a van, driving around New Zealand for a year with nothing but your husband and your dog.. Do it. *cough, cough* How To Sew Spaghetti Straps Sewing TutorialAny thoughts on the Naoka Tank, or living a more minimal lifestyle? I'd love to hear it!

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