This was my first project trying to wing it with continuous /seamless crochet motifs. My tank top has a LOT of problems, but they were easy repairs, and at least I’ll know better for next time. I’ll tell you all of the problems I had in case it helps someone else’s first project come out a little better.
Here is the front, this is the finished product, after most of the repair. (There is one forgotten unconnected loop sticking out near the middle, but I’ve since tied that to an adjacent loop and that is fixed now too.)
Main Problem: There is a great need for planning. I just learned how to do continuous crochet (meaning making the motifs connected together as you go so you don’t seam any of them together). So, I hadn’t wrapped my brain around all of this that thoroughly and I just had the most general of plans. My plan was this:
I was going to make a tank top in this shape, with long straps only on one side which I’d attach at the back instead of making 4 identical straps to join at the tops of the shoulders. I thought that might help avoid a potentially bumpy over-shoulder seam. The width is long enough to wrap around the body and seam together under one arm. (This seam is pretty obvious, it is the stripe of big holes under the arm in the top photo – lack of planning. I’ll get back to that seam later.) The same lack of planning caused other worse problems, such as those you see below.
This has since been fixed, but this was how it looked. The back neckline is crooked, where you have a high motif and a low one, and another motif is folding over under the right arm because it is also a high one. This project would have been easy if my motifs lined up in a straight line, such as if you do granny squares and attach them together corner to corner. You can keep connecting them and get a bigger square or rectangle with even sides. If they had been the kind of motif that lined up evenly, the neckline and hemline would have automatically come out even, in a straight line. Easy peasy!
In the chart of motifs I chose, one row of motifs nestles into the spaces between the motifs on each adjacent row (rows really meaning columns as they are worked vertically). This makes for an uneven bottom, which was fine as it was decorative, and an uneven top, which was less fine. You have high columns and low columns alternating. (Excuse my bad art, but you get the idea.)
Such an organization of motifs can work, but it requires either some fudging at the end like I did, or more planning. If you plan in advance, and draw out your design, you will see how many rows you need between the shoulder strap-having rows, and whether they end up tall or short.
Things you can do:
1. Modify the number of rows as described in 2 pics below. 2. Plan to do half-motifs to fill in the gaps (this is what I did to fix necklines after the fact, but if you plan for them, you can work them in as you go in the first place leaving no need for repair). 3. You can decide to work in another direction. This top is worked vertically up and down, going across makes a straighter edge, but you may get the top portions of your motifs folding over at the necklines. You may have to swatch a few to see if this is a problem for you.
About #1: I needed only 2 rows between the straps using a size H hook and the yarn I chose. In other words, I had this (2 rows of motifs between the straps = uneven neckline):
If I had drawn it out and seen that, I could have planned for this instead (3 rows between the straps, giving 2 higher close to the straps and a lower one in the middle, making a reasonable looking design). To make that happen I could have used a smaller hook, or thinner yarn to make the top come out the same size.
About #2: If you have your heart set on a certain yarn and hook, you can plan to do half motifs instead to fill in any gaps. If you put some thinking into it, you can figure out how to do a half motif and work it into your design seamlessly, doing it much the same way as the rest of the motifs on your chart. This is how I wound up repairing the top edge – adding half-motifs after the fact. After the fact means I had to work extra ends in.
About that holey side seam – again, lack of planning. If I had drawn out what this design would look like, given the number of rows I was making between the straps and under the arms, I would have seen this row clash where the side seam was going to go. It was a low column and a low column…. (More bad art, but you get the idea):
…instead of this (a high and a low column next to each other, meshing together like they did for the rest of the tank top):
To make them mesh, it would have required adding a row, or removing a row. This can mean changing hook or yarn size, or it can mean adding rows and making a tank top with a little more give. You can see if this can work by drawing all of this out and planning in advance. You don’t need to be a major artist, just drawing rough circles in the place where they’d be will let you see how it will come out. You will probably need to swatch or at least just make the first row so you can get an idea of how many motifs you’ll need to draw where.
About seamless crochet for anyone who may not already know it: If you aren’t familiar with this technique, so far all of the seamless crochet I’ve seen consists of making a long chain, then working upwards on it to complete one motif, then moving on to the next motif by making a long chain, leaving off much of the outer edge on all. Once you have a row of motifs, you then work back up the row doing the outer edge on the top halves where you left it off. You still leave some outer edge off of the beginning motif because when the whole shirt is done, you will work that last edge of all of the rows as one. For my tank top, each row is worked upward, then down, (vertically), and the last outer edge was the bottom hem at the hip.
Charts are very helpful because they show you exactly how much to work on each motif and when, which gets it to come out looking good.
I used the above yarn and followed a chart from this book, putting my motifs into a tank top shape. I do not speak Chinese, but you only need to follow the pictures. In the handful of continuous crochet charts I’ve seen, the starting chain is always in blue, you do black next, then do dark pink last. Some charts use purple for the very last finishing outer edge (though not in this book, both are dark pink.) You can usually find this book in Chinese or Japanese on Amazon by searching for continuous crochet, and you can of course also find books in English.
For more on continuous crochet, see part 2 here, where I make a different style of tank top.
Book reference: Continuous Crochet Motif 60. Nihon Vogue-Sha. 2009. ISBN-10: 9866817466. I used design #2 for this tank top, pg. 9.
Yarn: Red Heart Shimmer in “Purple”. Art E763, Col 1536.