Testing in the RV: New Horizons Maui Tank

I wondered, when we started our journey, whether or not I’d be able to test patterns while traveling. While I’ve cut back alot recently, I still love testing patterns, both for the incentive to sew and the motivation to try new techniques.

The biggest hurdles to this however, were printing ability and fabric. My “home” printer is a huge laser model- super fast, and efficient, but not ideal for small spaces or smaller jobs. I soon realized that I wanted to sew more than just the few patterns I brought along with me, so I decided that a new, smaller printer was in order. A dedicated RV printer can also come in handy for homeschool/entertainment reasons- my kids love me to print them out coloring pages, and I can see using it in the future for schooling, when we need to print worksheets, etc. Costco had an inexpensive, efficient model, and I grabbed it (along with several reams of Costco paper- won’t be needing to re-stock on that any time soon!).

The other obstacle to pattern testing in the RV is fabric- since there aren’t always fabric stores available in every town (especially garment fabric stores- I’ve seen plenty of cute quilt shops, but none that carry good knits or other garment fabrics yet) I would need to be sure to either A) stock a variety of colors, weights and substrates or B) be in one place long enough to order and receive fabric. Option B is a little dicey on this trip- we are staying about a week in each location, but thats not enough time for most shops to process, pack and ship an order to me, to say nothing of the need to then sew the test pattern with the fabric. A longer trip/stay in a given location would make ordering more viable, but I’d still need to watch shipping times.

I jumped this hurdle, then, with option A, bringing a variety of fabrics, but also gaining a few more pieces from my So Sew English and National City Swap Meet stops in San Diego. I tried to be intentional with my purchases, grabbing 2 yards for pants, 1-2 for tops/hoodies, 1 for athletic gear or swim. Even if I didn’t have a specific pattern in mind, getting those quantities assured me I’d likely have enough for a variety of projects in my size. I plan on adding a few more pieces to my RV stash when we get to Denver, as they have a vibrant sewing community and a few shops I’d like to drop in on, but I only have so much storage space, so restraint is key! There’s nothing like living in 200 square feet to make you a minimalist!

When I saw the tester call for the women’s Maui tank last week, I knew that this would be a great opportunity for me to try out my new testing set-up, so I applied. My go-to racerback tank thus far has been a modified version of the Greenstyle Lille, but I loved that the Maui offered options for a ruched center front, full back, racerback and cami all within the same pattern. I chose the simplest view (racerback tank with binding) to sew first, wanting to be mindful of the time I would have to sew as well as plan for any obstacles that might come up along the way.

Thankfully, both the test and the sew went pretty smoothly, and I knocked out the tank in a couple hours after the kids went to bed in the evening during our stay in Cortez, Colorado. I’m going to blog the trip sequentially, in future posts, but I have to say that I absolutely adored this small little town, and could actually see myself living there. Colorado is really winning me over with its low cost of living (at least where we’ve been so far, compared to California!), friendly population and amazing outdoor recreation opportunities. The photos of this tank were taken at one of a dozen beautiful community parks in Cortez- all seem to come equipped with children to play with, an innovative playground, plenty of shade and a fountain!

The fabric I used is a double brushed poly from So Sew English (available as a bundle here)- I’ve always had a strange hankering for a boho-elephant print top, and now I’ve got one! Looking at this listing it appears I cut this on the cross-grain, so the elephants would run horizontally across my body. The difference in stretch didn’t have any affect with this tank and fabric, and I like it that way better for a top.

I used my signature single fold binding method for the neck and armholes- (check out the TUTORIAL here).

Next time, I would shorten my neck binding a tad for this fabric- it should be applied at about 90%, so there’s a bit of stretch, especially around the curves, but not as much as a neck band. The Maui also includes a shelf bra option, which I didn’t add, but will certainly do for my next tank- I’m all about needing to do less laundry and simplifying these days!

I styled the tank with a pair of jeans (grabbed from the outlets in Palm Springs- I’ve always wanted a pair of pastel jeans!) and a cardigan- its cooler than I expected here in Colorado, especially in the mornings, and I’m grateful for these layers (but wanting to sew some more of my own!)

If you want to grab the Maui tank on sale, you can do that here!

The Maui also dropped at the same time as a couple other new patterns, and you can find them available as a bundle here.

What do you think? How would you plan for purchases if you had (extremely) limited storage space? Have you ever sewn a pattern away from home?

Note: you can follow our crazy adventures on Instagram here. I tend to post all manner of things in my stories, to document our trip- today you can expect to see some Alligator pics (any guesses where we might be, then?)

Get notified of new posts via email


  1. Barbara Douglas on June 26, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Awesome as usual, Sarah! I did your binding technique on a tank this week and it looked so great. Thank you for the great tutorial and inspiration

    • Sarah on July 3, 2019 at 4:29 pm

      You’re so welcome! Thanks Barbara!

  2. SARAH ZIMMERMAN on June 27, 2019 at 4:49 am

    I’m headed to Denver next week. What fabric shops would you recommend adding to our itinerary? Ps, my husband loves when I have us make a detour 🙂

    • Sarah on July 3, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Hey there! Probably too late, but Fancy Tiger, Treelotta and Colorado fabrics were all well worth the stops!

  3. Stephen Connell on June 27, 2019 at 6:26 am

    I forgot to mention, the ace hardware store near monument valley had a pretty good size fabric and craft section. Just past the gas cans, ha!

    • Sarah on July 3, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Oh, now you tell me!

  4. Amy Menges on June 27, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    First, only a Californian would put “Colorado” and “low cost of living” in the same sentence! Ha! But I agree Cortez is lovely. When in Denver, I’m sure you’ll be visiting Fancy Tiger, also you’ll want to visit Colorado Fabrics (I teach garment sewing classes there), Allyn’s Fabric in Englewood (it’s an experience just to marvel at the over-stuffed shelves) and Elfriede’s in Boulder (she’s an icon in the sewing community). I also travel with my sewing machine in our RV, although our trips are shorter than yours. I find space to cut out fabric the hardest part and rather back-breaking at times. I dedicate one cubby to my fabric and supplies, and when it’s full, that’s it!

    • Sarah on July 3, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Hey Amy! I did end up vising Fancy Tiger and Colorado fabrics- both were awesome! We ran out of time, but I’ll keep the other two on my list for sure- thanks so much for the inside scoop!

  5. Sharon Aguilar on June 29, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    You need to make a detour to Texas!!

    • Sarah on July 3, 2019 at 4:27 pm

      so so true! That’s going to look like a great idea in the winter too!

  6. Sarah B Zimmerman on July 4, 2019 at 10:23 am

    WELL!! I’m going to be one busy lady in Denver! Thanks for all of the fabulous recommendations!!!

    • Sarah on July 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      youre so welcome!

Leave a Comment